Volunteer of the Year honor fitting for Miner, who has navigated many formidable tasks as CWGA president and CGA co-president
by Gary Baines
“I’m a comer, I’m a doer, I’m a participant.”
That was Juliet Miner’s matter-of-fact reaction after answering in the affirmative when recently asked if she had attended each G4 Summit since the event’s inception in 2014.
Indeed, when it comes to volunteering in Colorado golf, Miner does far more than her fair share. And she’s not just a passive volunteer. She plays key roles, and doesn’t hesitate when tough decisions have to be made and big-picture planning is needed.
In that regard, she’s been in the right position at the right time. For the past two years, Miner served as president of the CWGA, and this year she’s a co-president of the CGA along with Joe McCleary.
And during her tenure as president/co-president, she, along with other association leaders, has been where the buck stops as the CWGA switched executive directors, conducted a series of celebrations as part of its 100th anniversary, and as the CWGA joined with the CGA to become a single Allied Golf Association serving both men and women in Colorado.
It’s little wonder why Miner was named Volunteer of the Year for 2017 at the recent CGA Women’s Annual Meeting.
“It’s been unbelievable working with her,” said McCleary, who was sole president of the CGA for two years before he and Miner agreed to be co-presidents. “She’s a thinker, she’s a doer. I think everything came together at the right time because we have an excellent working relationship.”
Asked about all that’s happened in her time as president/co-president, Miner won’t deny that it was more than she expected, but she didn’t shy away from doing what needed to be done.
“I’m from the Midwest (she grew up in Iowa) and we’re big on duty,” she said in a recent interview. “I was surprised that it was as much of a challenge as it was. Fortunately for me, I thrive on challenges, so I just set to it and got it done.
“If we all do our part, it makes it easier for all of us. If we all gave a bottle of water, people wouldn’t be thirsty. If we all gave food, nobody would be hungry. If we all volunteered, people would be helped. It just takes a big effort from a lot of people. If everybody did their part, it would be easy.”
And Miner is quick to point out she’s gotten plenty of help during her time in a leadership role.
“I have a sense of great pride for the accomplishments that I’ve been able to make through all the wonderful friendships and collaborations with everyone — the men, the women, commitee chairs, golfers, members,” Miner said. “I’ve gotten feedback from everyone I’ve come into contact with and if I didn’t know the answer (regarding a particular issue), I’ve asked for help from people. I’d have to say Laura Robinson and Kathryn Davis (former CWGA executive director and president, respectively) were my pillars of support, along with Joanie Ott, who was my predecessor” as CWGA president.
Robinson, currently the managing director of membership and integration at the CGA, served with Miner on the CWGA board of directors before becoming executive director in 2016, heading the staff that carried out the wishes of the CWGA board.
“It’s been very special with Juliet,” Robinson said. “We really do complement each other. Juliet sees the big picture so clearly. Her job is to set the vision and strategy and my job is to execute. We were fortunate that we had complementary sets of skills. We actually had a lot of fun. I’m going to miss her (when she steps down as co-president at the end of the year) as far being as my boss.”
With the executive director change, the CWGA’s 100th anniversary celebrations and the integration with the CGA, “She made all that happen,” Robinson added. “Juliet has a lot of courage to make change happen. She saw the need for change a couple of years ago and knew that kind of change would be better for women’s golf.”
Miner, a criminal defense attorney since 1984 and a Colorado resident since ’83, was helped in her current role by experience she gained in the 1990s. That was when she served as the president of the club at Perry Park Country Club in Larkspur.
“Not the ladies group — the club (overall),” she noted. “It was a similar situation (as now). They got me on the board and the vice president resigned, so I was president for two years, which was unprecedented. I went through the death of a club manager (and other significant issues). This is nothing new to me.”
Like McCleary and other association presidents in the past, Miner volunteers considerable time to the role. It’s not unusual for her to spend 20 hours a month on her volunteer duties during busy times of the year. And in 2017, she racked up 4,000 miles of driving while serving the CWGA. She averages four meetings a month, along with a like number of phone calls. Overall, this is her seventh year on the board of the CWGA/CGA. She’s a past captain of the Colorado Girls Junior America’s Cup team and she continues to serve on the CGA Course Rating Committee and on the board of trustees for the Colorado Open Golf Foundation. Still, she notes that there are other women’s golf volunteers in the state who devote even more time to the cause.
(And despite her job as a lawyer and her volunteer duties, Miner still plays more than 100 rounds of golf per year. “I try to play golf every day that I can,” she said. “I’m no spring chicken and I’ve only got probably 20 years left (to play regularly). I want to play every day that I can in the 20 years that I have left.”)
Pivotal in the bigger picture of golf in Colorado was the integration with the CGA, which was long in the making. As part of efforts to streamline its relationship with state and regional golf associations, the USGA announced that starting at the beginning of 2018, it would partner with just one full-service Allied Golf Association in each state or region. That directive led to the unification of the associations, which was finalized in the case of the CGA and the CWGA late last summer. The board of directors of the two associations formed into one leadership team, with McCleary and Miner becoming co-presidents. And the staff of the associations merged, based out of the existing CGA offices in Greenwood Village.
Integration of separate golf associations in some other states/regions didn’t go as smoothly. But a foundation that Miner and McCleary laid in the fall of 2015 — before they were presidents — paid dividends in that regard.
The USGA had held a town hall meeting in K.C. regarding its Allied Golf Association plan. On the flight back to Denver, Miner had boarded first, and when McCleary later walked down the aisle, he sat in an available seat in the same row. The two chatted on the flight — mainly about personal things rather than the USGA plan — and hit it off well.
“I firmly belive if you know someone personally, you can do business with them,” Miner said. “That’s the beauty of golf. If you can play a round of golf with someone, you can do business with them. You know what their ethics are, you know what their goals are, what their challenges are. That’s the way to do business.”
Said McCleary: “I didn’t really know her until we went to Kansas City. Our friendship — which is what I’ll call it because I think it’s applicable — really started to develop on the plane flight back.”
From there, as presidents of the CGA and CWGA, McCleary and Miner met regularly for breakfast or lunch, and called each other whenever needed.
“We constantly met and refined the goals of both organizations in the unification (process) so we could combine them to make a better organization,” Miner said. “We’ve always had the same vision — to be the best Allied Golf Association there is and to continue to do the groundbreaking efforts both the CGA and the CWGA have made.
“Although we have a written transition agreement (for the unification of the CGA and CWGA), I would say this is a handshake deal. He promised me and I promised him that we would both get what our members wanted. Although we confirmed it in writing, it was a handshake deal. When I say a handshake deal, that’s a good thing. We trusted each other to understand what each other wanted and needed. We were working toward a common goal.”
McCleary has pointed out at recent public golf functions that he and Miner share the same initials, including the middle name — JFM. McCleary is Joe Franklin McCleary and Miner is Juliet Frances Miner. If that wasn’t a good omen for the two getting along, what is?
“It’s been one of those connection points,” McCleary said. “A lot of time it’s chemistry that gets things done and there was a certain amount of chemistry in getting everything finished (with the unification). That just made it easier for me. I’ve always had a good working relationship with the women from the time I was at Saddle Rock (Golf Course), and this took it to the next level.”
After Miner and McCleary had put so much effort into the integration process, their terms as president were supposed to expire at the end of 2017. But to them — and many others — it didn’t make sense to possibly lose that momentum. So they agreed to stay on in a leadership role for 2018 and presented a united front by sharing the CGA president’s role.
“That sent the right message to everybody involved,” McCleary noted.
Given this unexpected third year as a president, Miner jokingly says she’s the reluctant president — similar to the names of films such as the Relucant Astronaut and the Reluctant Debutante.
“No, I never hesitated (in adding a year to her term),” she said. “It was a show of unity and unification and (McCleary and my) personalities just melded because we have the same work ethic. He’s more detail-oriented, I’m more overview-oriented but together we’re pretty fantastic. I think we were able to present a united front that was best for both organizations and the united organization.”
The unification process was smooth to the point that the CGA nominated the CWGA for the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Service Award, which will be formally presented on May 20 at Sanctuary.
At the recent CGA Women’s Annual Meeting, where Miner received the Volunteer of the Year Award, she was happy to have her husband, Butch Pike, on hand.
“I got to share the award with my husband,” she said, noting that he has driven her to many golf functions over the years. “I think it’s important to say nobody can volunteer without the support of the families because the families are the ones that give up the time with you. It was really fun to have my husband there so he could see what it’s all about because he’d managed to avoid it up until then.”