Have You Met?
Name: Steve Farber
Education: J.D., University of Colorado School of Law, B.A., University of Colorado
Profession: Attorney - President & Founding Partner of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck (now with offices in 12 different cities).
Status: Married to Cindy Farber – going on 37 years
Family: 3 Sons: Gregg, Brett, & Brad
Story by: Nancy Koontz
It was a modest, hard-working lifestyle for the Farber family as Steve Farber grew up humbly in the Westside neighborhood (right off of West Colfax) during the '40s, '50s and '60s. After being a popular and good student at Colfax Elementary, Lake Junior High and North Denver High School, Steve, along with his good friends Norm Brownstein and Jack Hyatt, went on to graduate from CU and CU law school. The highly-motivated, enthusiastic college roommates decided to – as Steve put it: “Hang out a shingle as Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber” - which has since become one of Colorado’s most successful law firms.
Now as the President and Founding Partner of Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck, Mr. Farber's practice involves corporate and partnership business transactions, public and private business transactions, acquisitions and mergers, real estate, business and contract transactions. The firm has also taken on the title of being one of the key ambassadors for the City of Denver and helping the area grow into a true metropolitan city throughout the last 40 years.
Farber who says: “I always believed that I met people for a reason” credits much of the firm’s early successes to collaborations with such great people as Larry Mizel and the late Marvin Davis. Working together closely with civic and community leaders, the law practice’s visionary ideas for Colorado seemed appealing and attainable, and their hard-working, “get the job done” reputation put the firm on solid ground.
Mr. Farber's successful partnerships include the representation of the ASCENT Corporation, former owner of the Denver Nuggets NBA franchise and the Colorado Avalanche NHL franchise, in connection with the Pepsi Center, legal representation for the new Denver Broncos football stadium; and he currently represents ISC Corporation on its interest in bringing a NASCAR race to Colorado.
Mr. Farber is also actively involved in many political, charitable, and community causes. He is currently co-chair and a member of the executive committee of the Host Committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention; and Steve was instrumental in bringing the convention to Denver for the first time (since 1908) - beating out 34 other cities that applied. He’s also a commissioner on the CU Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and on the board of directors for the University of Colorado Hospital Foundation.
As you can see, Steve Farber isn’t just, as the media has coined him, a power player, he’s a power house! Voted one of the most influential men in Denver year after year, with plenty of nice guy charm and charisma, Steve Farber has a sense of fair play and dependability, and he has found his own rhythm that has exalted him in his industry for many successful years. Steve Farber is a man with the Midas touch who has his finger on the pulse of Denver. What Farber touches, seems to turn to gold. Steve says part of his success is always staying focused on what needs to be done.
In the competitive world of non-profits these days, there are a few names you can add to your sponsorship list to ensure the success of a fundraiser. Steve Farber is one sure-fire guarantee that people will stop, listen – and attend. The philanthropic Mr. Farber is deeply rooted in the city and state that he loves, and the people of Denver, Colorado obviously have tremendous faith and respect for him. Thanks to Steve’s skills in human interaction, his mastery of negotiation, and a belief that everyone counts, he’s become one of Denver’s top “Go to Guys.”
One might think that Steve Farber has always had it good – until his kidneys began to fail for the second time in his life. The first time was when he was 18 months old and nearly died of nephritis, a serious kidney disease, and his parents were told he might not make it. The Children’s Hospital in Denver stepped in and gave toddler Steve the appropriate treatment which ended up saving his life. At age 60, Steve's choices were: find a kidney, go on dialysis or die. With many obstacles ahead, Steve learned that his community stature didn’t provide him with a solution any quicker. Organs can be bought in other countries – such as Turkey, but ethical and safety issues were of concern to Steve.
Then came the greatest gift of all, Steve’s eldest son Gregg, donated his kidney to his father. The life-saving journey, was needless to say, life-changing. Steve has co-authored a book which talks about his transplant experiences and his future goals – one of which is to eliminate the unfortunate shortage of transplant organs. Farber now strives to help other families with organ transplant issues. Of utmost importance to Steve is creating better legislation; and he serves on the board of the Donor Alliance Council.
Steve Farber was also inspired to create the American Transplant Foundation. The relatively new non-profit takes on many of the tough problems that need to be solved. The American Transplant Foundation is leading the way in eliminating gaps in the transplant process.
The organization is hoping to get the public's support and involvement with these upcoming initiatives: Health insurance initiatives; Organ and donor registration initiatives; Clarify elimination of the family veto; Legalize private organ exchange; Support stem cell research; and Expand payments allowable under NOTA (National Organ Transplant Act) where the goal is to reform policy to expand the allowable payments to support organ transplants.
Steve Farber wears his fame quite naturally. When chatting with Steve, he puts you at ease, and being able to “hang” with him in his conference room for almost 2 hours (which has got to be worth at least a billable $500 an hour) for this interview was delightful.
Steve Farber’s experiences have clearly defined his present priorities. Growing even more appreciative and thankful for the blessings he has been given, Steve Farber has reached a peak undreamed of by most attorneys. And now comes a new challenge: To go out and do even more to expedite change and make a positive impact. His life-changing experience of almost dying has made him more determined and committed to achieving his goals. Steve Farber is still striving to make even bigger contributions to better our world. So, Steve, you must have been destined for greatness. As your dear mother said: “You were saved by God, and you are here for a reason - so go out and do something great with it.”
What progress has been made since you founded the American Transplant Foundation less than 3 years ago? It was interesting, when I first went through my experience, I really didn’t think I‘d go public with my story; and the more I started thinking about it, there needed to be a public story there to create a greater awareness of this issue. I knew very little about transplantation patients prior to experiencing it, and about going through the maze of the transplant issues: Who gets on the list? How long is the list? Can you get up the list faster? – The answer to that is No; there’s a lot of integrity in the system, and it’s the right system. If we could just reach a lot more potential donors, and educate them, since to my knowledge, we don’t need our organs after we die, we can save other people’s lives.
There are 90,000 people on the organ donor waiting list, and 16 of those people die everyday, and that’s a sad thing, because there are organs available. People don’t have enough information and are fearful of donating. The Foundation has been around now for almost 3 years. When people sign up to become an organ donor on their driver’s license, we don’t have many other opportunities to go back to them after that. We met with the Department of Revenue and suggested they put a donor registration form on all tax returns. In the first four months after creating that, we had a 30 percent increase in donors. We have created several endowments, and we have endowed a chair at the University of Colorado where we can ensure that the Transplant Team will stay. We have a great team at the University of Colorado.
We are also taking some of our programs nationally. I think we’ve made a major impact. We plan on having several good events each year to support our programs; and this year, we are excited to announce that Crosby, Stills & Nash will be performing a benefit concert for the American Transplant Foundation on June 26, 2008, at 8:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Theater in Denver. David Crosby had a serious health scare in the mid-nineties when his liver failed. His life was saved by a liver transplant in 1995. It’s going to be a memorable evening.
How did your transplant experience change you? It was a settling experience, and it became life defining too. You are faced with your mortality. It was interesting because I got together with a number of rabbis and clergy from other religions, and we talked about spirituality, and it gave me a chance to really think through it. I felt that if I made it, I had a lot more to do; not so much for me, but for a lot of other people. If I didn’t, then I guess whatever my contributions to this earth should be, has already been made.
Who was the most influential person in your professional life? It’s pretty interesting. I met a number of people who have influenced me in my personal and professional life going back to law school and in the law practice. I’d have to say in some respects it was Norm Brownstein. The two of us have been partners now for 40 years. I think we’ve had a mutual impact on one another in terms of our individual focus on the practice and growing our law firm together. He’s been my friend longer than anybody.
What are your thoughts on the political race this year? People never talked about politics like they are now. They are participating. There’s never been so much interest from kids to adults. They are interested in who is going to be leading this country, and that’s important. The apathy that we had in this country where only 30 percent of the people go out and vote makes you think about the dedicated drafters of our constitution. We had such strong leadership with Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, James Madison – we need leaders like that around today. More people need to participate in our democratic process and take leadership roles. The Democratic race has been good for our country. This country was built on the principle that it doesn’t matter who you are, what your religion is, or what the color of your skin is, so it’s exciting to have an African American and a woman bidding for the top job in the nation.
How have our roles as parents changed today? The roles haven’t changed that much. The most important thing for a parent has always been providing unconditional love to their children and helping them make good decisions. I think that was applicable 60 years ago, and it’s still applicable today. Also, your actions as a parent are indelible with your kids. That’s a problem that’s been created today, kids hear and see their parents, and they think that’s the right standard to follow. Good values and what you have in your heart should still be the same, and that’s what you need to share with your kids.
In the early years of your career, did you feel you had to prove yourself, or did success just come to you naturally? I have always been driven by a poem called “The Man in the Mirror.” “When you get what you want in your struggle for self, and the world makes you King for a Day, then go to the mirror and look at yourself, and see what that guy has to say….” (Dale Wimbrow (1934). I have lived that philosophy. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone but my self. If at the end of the day, I can look at myself, and feel good about what I did, then that’s okay.
Finish this sentence: By age 12, you already showed signs of: Knowing the importance of becoming successful in life.
What song will forever be your favorite? “Chances Are” by Johnny Mathis. And I love songs by the Beatles – and the Eagles.
What do you see as your greatest accomplishment? 1. My family. 2. Maintaining the relationships we’ve had at this firm for 40 years.
What defines you the best? A continuous search for why I’m here and what I really was intended to do.
As far as our country, what are you most optimistic about? Right now I’m optimistic about the interest that has been created over this presidential race. Never in my life have I seen people talking about what’s going on with the election - that never used to mention or talk about politics before. More people watch CNN or FOX News; they are riveted to what’s going on, and they want to be part of the process. It’s encouraging. I think that means they are thinking, they are learning and want to participate.
Do you see any solution for overcoming the obstacles to finding a lasting peace in the Middle East? It has to start with the youth. People meeting and coming together and talking and interacting with one another. By the time they are adults, maybe the hate won’t be there.
What might surprise people about you? I truly feel like I’m the same person I always was. I’m a pretty normal guy. I like people, I enjoy people. If I see an older lady, I will help her across the street, and I walk away with a smile on my face. Maybe it would be that I’ve written a book. Rodeo Press has agreed to publish it. We’re still working on the title. It’s a novelistic approach to what I faced with my organ transplant experience, as well as what the people in the rooms next to meet faced, we’d trade stories. It also talks about what would be the ideal organ donor system in this country, and we personalize it. Also, what it was like subjecting my son to the process of giving me one of his kidneys.
What makes a perfect day for Steve Farber? Knowing my wife is smiling and my kids are healthy and happy.
What is something that was instilled in you from the time you were young? Be kind and respectful to everyone.
What are you most looking forward to in the future? Going to Palm Springs next week and playing golf.
How do you want to be remembered by future generations? It’s hard for me to go there at this time. What we are talking about is a legacy. I guess I’m too focused on today to think about how I’ll be remembered. You want to know that you’ve done the right things for your family, but you can’t dwell on how people will perceive you, you can only dwell on how you perceive yourself - and what’s going on in your life now.
How do you stay so upbeat? Life is a great gift. I come in here, and I look out at the snow-capped mountains, and I say how can any day be a bad day? The magic of what we have in Colorado is unbelievable. I enjoy and partake in nature, sports, and major events – especially if it’s with my family. Finding your niche, and doing what you love every day can make you upbeat; and I’m lucky to have found mine.
What do you still hope to accomplish? I wish I knew. Let’s talk in 20 years.
Steve Farber’s Awards & Recognitions: From 1992 until 1996, he served as a commissioner of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. He was chairman of former Colorado Governor Roy Romer's successful gubernatorial campaigns and was a member of the Site Advisory Committee for the 2000 Democratic National Convention. He serves as co-chairman for former Governor Bill Owens’s College for Colorado.
Mr. Farber is immediate past chairman of the executive committee of Colorado Concern and immediate past chairman of the board of trustees of the Rose Community Foundation. He is a member of the board of trustees for the Anti-Defamation League, Children's Diabetes Foundation, Race to Erase M.S. Foundation, the Children's Hospital Foundation, Denver Metro Chamber Foundation and the University of Denver. Further, he is a board member for Citywide Banks. Mr. Farber is also a fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and a fellow of the Colorado and American Bar Foundations. Mr. Farber was appointed in 2003 by then Colorado Governor Bill Owens as a member of the Commission of Civil Service Reform.
Mr. Farber's past community involvement includes serving as chairman of the board of trustees of The Rose Health Care Systems, parent company of The Rose Medical Center, and chairman of The Rose Medical Center. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Allied Jewish Federation, functioning as campaign chairman in 1984 and 1985 and president in 1986. He served on the board of directors for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Denver Metro Chamber Foundation from 1997 to 2003.
In 2004, Mr. Farber received the Del Hock Lifetime Achievement Award from the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Private Practice from the University of Colorado Law School. He is also the 2007 recipient of the Barbara Davis High Hopes Award in recognition for his many contributions to the community and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation