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That's what she said

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Bob Yates, former business leader, attorney dedicates time to civic service in ‘adopted hometown’


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Council candidate Bob Yates is pictured working at Columbia Cemetery as a volunteer with the Columbia Cemetery Conservation Corps. While the city owns the historic cemetery, there are not enough funds to properly preserve it in honor of those who built Boulder. Yates is among a group that gets together on some Saturday mornings to right headstones and cut back weeds. (Photo courtesy of Bob Yates)

Council candidate Bob Yates is pictured working at Columbia Cemetery as a volunteer with the Columbia Cemetery Conservation Corps. While the city owns the historic cemetery, there are not enough funds to properly preserve it in honor of those who built Boulder. Yates is among a group that gets together on some Saturday mornings to right headstones and cut back weeds. (Photo courtesy of Bob Yates)

Bob Yates typically heads into his home office around 4 a.m. and doesn’t call it a wrap until the sun goes down.

This is what retirement looks like for the 54-year-old, who, on his 50th birthday, retired from his senior vice president position with Level 3 Communications. Now, he dedicates his time to civic service, volunteering for numerous nonprofits and civic groups in Boulder. He’d like his next civic role to be serving on the Boulder City Council.

“It’s so much more satisfying to work for a ‘thank you’ than a paycheck,” Yates says. “I’ve been afforded the opportunity to do so, but I still consider my service a job—however, it’s not work, it’s a passion.”

Yates recently served as chairman of the Museum of Boulder, and he led the drive to raise $8 million to build a new museum of history and science, which will have also house a children’s museum. The campaign included raising money from donors and, in 2014, passing ballot initiative 2A, a Boulder sales tax that is raising money for safety and cultural projects.The museum, which will be housed in a former Masonic lodge at Broadway and Pine Street, will debut in 2017. It will feature interactive science and technology exhibits, recognizing the city’s leadership in science and the presence of Boulder’s federal labs.

Yates is also treasurer of the Colorado Chautauqua Association and secretary for the Dairy Center for the Arts. He is the past chairman of the Boulder Parks & Rec Advisory Board and past president of the Boulder History Museum’s Board of Trustees. Yates also has volunteer experience with several groups, including CU’s Conference on World Affairs, the YWCA Reading to End Racism program, the Columbia Cemetery Conservation Corp and the Boulder Greenways Advisory Board.

“I think we all have an obligation to serve each other,” he says. “There may come a day when I’ll truly retire and travel, but what fulfills me and makes me happy is finding opportunities to serve. Boulder is my adopted home town. I love this city and want it to continue to thrive.”

Former Boulder City Council member Suzy Ageton is endorsing Yates’ campaign and says she’s impressed with how invested Yates is in the Boulder community—including his involvement with the Boulder History Museum and the Colorado Chautauqua Association.

“He’s someone who really does his homework and is always prepared,” says Ageton.

Ageton also says Yates’ personality and his comfort working with people makes him a good collaborator.

Yates, a former attorney who was a partner at Fraser Stryker Law Firm, is a part-time law school professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. His experience practicing law and working as a business leader, he says, makes him a good fit for council.

His legal background can help the council navigate legal issues, with the help of the city attorney, whether it’s applying a zoning law or interpreting issues surrounding municipalization, he says. As a business leader, Yates says, he has experience preparing hundreds of budgets.

Yates moved to Boulder in 2001 after living abroad in London, where he was the president of Level 3 Communications European operations. Yates appreciated the walkable neighborhoods in London, where he could do shopping by foot and would routinely run into neighbors on the street. Yates, wanting to replicate the experience when he and his family moved back to the United States, concluded that Boulder would be the best place to live.

He lives in north Boulder near 19th Street and Kalmia Avenue, with his wife Katy. They have two sons, John and Will, who are Boulder High School graduates and are both pursuing careers in Brooklyn, New York.

Yates enjoys walking in Chautauqua, attending performances at the Dairy Center and reading The New York Times in local coffee shops.

“You can never run out of things to do in Boulder,” he says. “It’s a town with so many art and cultural opportunities.”

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