Nuggets celebrate Women’s History Month: Deb Dowling’s impact in the community

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Although that phrase didn’t come directly from Deb Dowling, it may as well have given her emphasis on treating people with respect and hoping to improve lives with a touch of kindness here or there.

“Sports in a time of uncertainty can bring pure joy,” Dowling told Nuggets.com “It can take you out of yourself. In our department (Community Relations), we are very lucky because we are often the heart and soul of the teams. We have the opportunity to work with the most vulnerable fans. It’s a privilege to use the power of sports to put a smile on someone’s face.”

In her second stint with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Dowling has served as the VP of Community Relations since 2002. Dowling previously served as Special Events Director for the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche from 1993-96.

In her current position, Dowling coordinates and executes community involvement initiatives for all KSE entities, a job she looks forward to every single day. Despite graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in technical journalism and serving as the public service, promotion and programming director for KHOW and KWBZ Radio throughout her career, Dowling felt an urge and desire to help those in the community around her.

A desire to become a sports reporter waned as a result of the industry’s limitations for women and a lack of focus on the lighter side of a player’s story.

“When I look back on my life, I was the person in high school where if one of our players got hurt and there were overwhelming medical bills, I was looking to come up with a fundraiser to help out there,” Dowling said. “I also realized that sports reporters weren’t really looking for the good side of the players and that’s what made my heart happy, thinking about how they were using their platforms to do good in the community.”

Dowling also received a first-hand look at how involvement in the community can benefit everyone. Right out of college, Dowling earned a job at the number one radio station and the program director at the time placed an emphasis on working to improve the community.

The station worked to help non-profits such as Special Olympics Colorado (one of KSE’s signature community partners today) and March of Dimes. As Dowling recalls, the director believed that “we are part of this community and need to make it better, and by doing that it will make it stronger.”

That message rubbed off on Dowling and continues to inspire her every day. When faced with roadblocks, Dowling reverts back to the simple message of being kind and welcoming.

“Everyone faces roadblocks. Everyone faces challenges,” Dowling said. “It’s how you meet those challenges and your attitude towards them. I remember my parents would always tell me that it may not be fair, but it is what it is and you need to figure out how you’re going to deal with it.”

Dowling would go on to emphasize that everyone is dealing with some sort of challenge in their lives and with the right attitude, things can work out.

“Everyone is facing challenges, so just be kind. It’s not all roses and not always easy but strives are being made and people are becoming more open and welcoming.”

Special Olympics Colorado has been a shining example of this mindset coming to life, which Dowling appreciates.

“That’s what I love so much about Special Olympics and their Unified program that we get to support. It’s giving people an opportunity to accept someone who is different and allows them to be kind and open.”

Dowling’s own personal involvement in the community reflects her character and desire to help those around her whenever possible. Dowling’s personal involvement with non-profit and civic organizations in Denver has included volunteer leadership roles with Special Olympics Colorado, ALS Association, National Philanthropy Day and others.

As the industry continues to develop and grow, Dowling’s advice for young women focuses on basic, essential components of one’s life and work in an industry.

“Do a good job, set high standards for yourself and don’t take no for an answer,” Dowling said. “Don’t take the easy way out. Just because you hear ‘you can’t do that because you’re a woman or because x, y and z.’ Have confidence in yourself and assess why you’re in the industry, regardless of what industry it is. Why are you in that industry and what can you contribute to it? Look at yourself and don’t use excuses.”

Ultimately, it comes down to passion. Although she understands that it isn’t always easy to work in a field you are passionate about, Dowling certainly understands the importance of working hard to reflect back on one’s character and value.

“Find something that you’re passionate about and keep working in that field. If your job is something that you’re not passionate about, do a good job because you’re selling yourself. You can’t take back what your name stands for. Find something out of work that makes your heart happy. Look at your life as a total.”

One thing is clear: Dowling has found that passion through her work in the community and will continue to share that passion with those around her for the benefit of the community.

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