Kyle Hybl stepped into the role of president and CEO of El Pomar in December 2018 and immediately had some big shoes to fill — his father’s.
But Kyle Hybl knows there is much to be learned from family — in his office he keeps a chair garnished with recognitions his grandfather earned during his time as a Maytag salesman.
“When my grandfather died in the early 2000s,” Hybl said, “my grandmother was going to throw out the chair.
“I told her, ‘You cannot throw out the Chair for Outstanding Achievement. It’s the Chair for Outstanding Achievement!’”
That legacy of hard work and commitment to Colorado Springs and the greater Centennial State was not lost on Hybl.
The attorney and Colorado native has taken the reins of one of Colorado’s largest philanthropic foundations. He shared with the Business Journal some of the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Are you originally from Colorado Springs?
Yes, I was born here and I went to Cheyenne Mountain High School. I grew up here when Ski Broadmoor was open, went to its ski school there and was part of its ski racing program. … I did that when I was 14 or 15 and was second or third in the country for my age group. I started my undergraduate degree at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine — they had a Division I ski team. Then I transferred to Boulder. My now-wife and then-high-school-sweetheart was at Fordham in New York. She transferred to Boulder and we finished up our undergraduate degrees there.
Talk about your relationship with El Pomar.
In a significant sense, I’ve grown up at El Pomar. In 1972 or ’73, my dad was here at El Pomar — he was born in Iowa and his dad came out here as a regional salesman for Maytag.
My dad grew up in Pueblo, went to Colorado College and law school in Boulder. He was in the Army and was stationed in Ethiopia during the Vietnam War. He was in the [District Attorney’s] office and ended up No. 2 in the DA’s office and served in the Colorado Legislature. From there he was recruited to The Broadmoor/El Pomar Investment Company and Foundation.
The Penroses, at the time, owned The Broadmoor and various other assets. Tax law now requires that a foundation can’t own more than 20 percent of an operating business. In 1989 El Pomar sold 80 percent of the hotel to the Gaylords of the Oklahoma Publishing Company and sold the remaining 20 percent in 2003 to the Gaylords. Anschutz bought it in 2011.
What are some things that have El Pomar’s fingerprints on them?
In everything we do we try to honor the legacy of our founders. Look at El Pomar being a major funder — I think it’s around $32 million — into the World Arena. The [first] Broadmoor World Arena was opened by Spencer Penrose. The Ice Palace was opened in 1938. We really appreciate when we help carry on something they started. Colorado College hockey had a great run there, the 1980 hockey tryouts happened there, Peggy Fleming trained there — a lot happened there. When The Broadmoor took it down in the early ’90s there was a community campaign and El Pomar came alongside the community to help develop that. It was open land and has led to economic development around it. … In 1977 the trustees gave $1 million to attract the United States Olympic Committee here out of New York. We continued to help support that when they moved to their new location on South Tejon [Street] and we support the United States Olympic [& Paralympic] Museum, which is carrying on the desires to have the athletic component that Spencer Penrose truly appreciated.
Julie Penrose was more on the arts side. She built Pauline Chapel; her daughter’s name was Pauline. She was a founder of the Fine Arts Center, the Broadmoor Art Academy. When we’re making grants in the arts, we feel we’re honoring her memory. … And take Children’s Hospital coming into Colorado Springs — that’s a wonderful asset for the community. We provided some support to them and when we looked at our grant history, the first grant to Children’s Hospital was in 1942. That has Julie Penrose’s fingerprints on it.
It’s important to the trustees that we honor that legacy.
Talk about your responsibilities.
I’m ultimately responsible for the operations, the interaction with the board, helping the board with strategic directions, and encouraging the staff to pursue a direction. In large part I think leadership is bringing people together and creating a common vision for the future and empowering people to stretch themselves and pursue that vision — supporting them when they ask, and holding them accountable for the results.
I also represent the foundation at events.
The city is home to a lot of nonprofits. Does that make your job more challenging?
I’ve heard, per capita, Colorado Springs has the second-largest number of nonprofits in the country behind Washington, D.C.
I think it poses a challenge in trying to determine where to apply our limited resources. We have a general grant making function where people submit grant applications. Those could be $2,500 to $10 million per request. We vet those and at each meeting we probably have a couple hundred grant requests to consider, all from within Colorado.
So I look through the lens of those three things: Are we honoring the Penrose legacy? Is the mission of the organization good? And how is the leadership? We try to look for those three things so that dollar we send them can turn into $3, which is a great result.
Sometimes in the Pikes Peak region we work toward helping nonprofits while trying to come alongside economic development issues like our support of the National Cybersecurity Center or the Ent Center for the Arts. Colorado College is one of our larger historic grantees too because higher education — whether college or university — is important for the economic health of an area.
We have supported those two organizations certainly in their efforts to ensure we have a vibrant Colorado Springs.
Join Phil Long Dealerships and the Colorado Springs Business Journal for the 2020 COS CEO Leadership Lessons with Kyle Hybl, 4:30-6 p.m., Jan. 8, at The Pinery at the Hill, 775 W. Bijou St. A portion of the proceeds go to the 2020 Give! Campaign. Sponsors also include Amnet and Stockman Kast Ryan + Co.