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Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Makes Major Gift to Make New National Western Center A Reality

Rancher, businesswoman and philanthropist Sue Anschutz-Rodgers has made a major gift to the Honoring the Legacy…Building the Future campaign supporting the new National Western Center, and one of the redevelopment’s centerpiece facilities will be named in her honor, the Western Stock Show Association announced today.

The new Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Livestock Center will be the hub of all livestock activities and provide multi-use, flexible indoor and outdoor facilities year-round. Those facilities will include a stadium with up to 5,000 seats; a free-span barn; a new junior market barn; an enlarged auction arena; and trade show and retail space, meeting rooms, suites and flexible conference space. It is no overstatement to say that the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Livestock Center will be among the most accommodating—and most-used—on the new National Western Center campus.

Anschutz-Rodgers serves on the board of the Western Stock Show Association, which oversees the National Western Stock Show, and as a vice-chair of the Honoring the Legacy campaign. For decades, she has made concerted efforts to support rural Colorado. 

Her participation in a “Philanthropy Day” in Mesa County in 1991 introduced Anschutz-Rodgers to the stark disparity in philanthropic giving between rural and urban areas of the state. Her vision and efforts led to Rural Philanthropy Days, a twice-yearly event to connect urban foundations with rural nonprofits and the communities they serve in eight multi-county regions. By 2017, more than $400 million in grants went to rural Colorado, up from just $3 million two decades prior.

In 2006, she was the first woman in her own right to receive National Western’s Citizen of the West award. 

“The Citizen of the West award is given annually to someone who embodies the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer, and who is committed to perpetuating the West’s agricultural heritage and ideals. Sue Anschutz-Rodgers was – and did – all that in spades, and hasn’t stopped since,” said Pete Coors, chairman and chief customer relations officer of the Molson Coors Brewing Company, as well as chairman of Honoring the Legacy campaign. “Her gift marks a huge step forward for the National Western Center and the Honoring the Legacy campaign.”

Anschutz-Rodgers is perhaps best known for her philanthropy as trustee, chair of the board, and president of the Anschutz Family Foundation, as well as for her service on many nonprofit boards. But she considers herself a rancher first. She grew up in a Kansas family whose ranching background harked back generations, and she owns and operates Crystal River Ranch, a prominent cattle and hay ranch in Carbondale, Colo., which she grew from a single bull and 33 cows in 1987 to a herd of 1,700 today.

“I grew up in the West, and Western heritage has always been a part of my life and who I am,” Anschutz-Rodgers said. “It should be preserved for all.” 

Anschutz-Rodgers, inducted in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2008 and in the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 2017, has sought to foster and preserve the ranching way of life in a variety of ways. One of many examples is her key role in establishing and leading the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, the prominent advocate and resource for voluntary preservation of ranchland in future generations. 

Pat Grant, chairman of the Western Stock Show Association board, praised Anschutz-Rodgers’ generosity and added that her contributions have gone far beyond financial support. “Sue has provided National Western with crucial advice and direction as we’ve grown this event over the past three decades,” Grant said. “This gift, and her continued leadership and guidance, will prove indispensable as we move forward with this once-in-a-lifetime project.” 

Added Paul Andrews, president and CEO Western Stock Show Association, “Sue’s legacy as a rancher, a businesswoman and a philanthropist is already cemented. This gift came from the heart, and will bring untold benefits to her fellow ranchers, Colorado and the West.”

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