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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
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Becky Zimmermann

CEO & Chair of the DW Board of Directors

Design Workshop

Location: Denver, CO

Founded: 1968

Industry: Landscape Architecture

Becky Zimmermann likes to tell people that she’s had three or four careers, but they’ve all been at Design Workshop, the firm where she serves as CEO.

“That’s one of the things I love about our firm,” she said. “With a strategic initiative, you can really define your own career path.”

Founded in 1969, Design Workshop is a design firm specializing in landscape architecture, urban planning and strategic services with eight studios in the U.S. and projects spanning the globe. “Our work focuses on the intersection of art, community, environment and economics to increase social equity and create places of meaning and resonance,” the company said.

Zimmermann joined Design Workshop in 1985 after responding to a help wanted ad in the Denver Post. The firm had two offices with 20 total employees. In 1990, at the age of 27, she became the firm’s business manager. Two years later, she was named chief operating officer. In 1992, Zimmermann launched the Strategic Services division, which focuses on integrated research and analysis strategies to support planning and design initiatives. Strategic Services helps clients decide whether to build, what to build, and where to build it.

Zimmermann was named president of Design Workshop in 2006 and has been instrumental in its growth and success while maintaining an active practice advising clients across the nation. The same year she was named president, she led the succession plan that recognized Design Workshop’s long-term future was predicated on changing its ownership structure from individual shareholders to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Over time, the ESOP owned an increasing percentage of the company and, in 2020, Zimmermann led the company’s conversion to 100% ESOP-owned.

Zimmermann’s commitment to helping others led her to step back from Design Workshop in 2012 to become the CEO of the National Sports Center for the Disabled, a nonprofit based in Denver and Winter Park Resort. In less than five years, the organization went from an uncertain future due to annual revenue losses to regaining its prominence in therapeutic and adaptive recreation services.

In 2017, Zimmermann returned to her role as president of Design Workshop, dedicating the next two years to bringing the company back to a profitable enterprise by leading strategic decisions related to office locations and staffing. In the fall of 2021, Zimmermann was named CEO of Design Workshop, “ensuring the firm remains the thriving organization it is today through her entrepreneurship and leadership,” the company said.

Zimmermann has served on the boards of directors for AAA Colorado, The Auto Club Group, Weifield Group Contractors, the Kareen Jackson Foundation and the Riverfront Park Community Foundation. Each year, Zimmermann teaches real estate marketing to graduate students at the Universidad de Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala. She is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO Gold), Urban Land Institute and American Planning Association.

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Becky started her life in custody of the City of Denver Department of Welfare and was adopted when she was 11 days old.

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