A lawyer with lots of love
Several months ago, RE/MAX Holdings promoted attorney Susie Winders to be its general counsel. Her eventual success was never doubted by any who knew her. What could not have been anticipated was the height of the pinnacle attained, so quickly and so young.
Born to Bob and Sharon Winders in Springfield, Illinois, she had remarkable examples. Her dad was a radiologist; her mom an extraordinarily gifted community leader. Winders’ bar was set high early on. By her early 20s, she was graduating from Pritzker Law School at Northwestern University in Chicago.
Across town, another rising star, Blake Van Emst was wrapping up his MBA at Loyola University. A mutual friend connected them, and in 2002 they married. They embarked on separate careers, his in satellite television, hers largely litigation.
Like many of us, they saw the light, relocating to Colorado in 2003. Enjoying each other in the spring of their marriage, they bonded mightily, working and playing hard, pursuing all manner of outdoor adventures, especially skiing.
Though Winders and Van Emst had surfed the waves of professional success for their first decade, they were tempered like steel in the second decade of their marriage. They had no choice…
By 2005, they were pregnant. It was a challenging moment in their love, as twins Carson and Connor were born very early, weighing a minuscule total of 5.9 pounds together. The 35-year-old Winders was bedridden for months prior to their birth, then the boys’ lives hung in the balance for months after their birth. At that juncture, Winders and Van Emst gained a new appreciation of life and its frailties. Winders noted, “One gains a new perspective on life after having preemies.”
The twins survived. Given the many calamities which could have befallen the 29-week-olds, it was the strength of love and attention that carried them through.
Connor and Carson grew up rapidly, joining mom and dad in their lust for the great outdoors. Their parental examples, Village surroundings, and even dogs Nash and Cooper have shaped them nicely. Winders noted that the boys each have “their own buckets” (of interest). High school juniors now, Carson leans more toward the easygoing, social mien of his dad, while Connor can benchmark projects and likely looks at the scoreboard more often. Lest they take an effete, 40,000-foot view of things living on their parents’ nickel, Winders helped them adjust to the lower altitude where we live, finding them dishwashing positions at Sanctuary Golf Course.
Life has been grand for their family, as has Castle Pines. Wildlife is a key element for everyone: for Winders, her morning walk with their dogs among pines and wild animals energizes her. That, and exercising at Pure Barr.e. Van Emst loves his Peloton bike. Despite busy lives, their family is closely knit and Winders points out that the key to her bliss is “having a supportive spouse. Marriage at its very best is a lifelong friendship.”
Having met her for this interview at MiYO Cafe, I first reached out to shake Winders’ hand. Clearly, success left her unchanged as she instead reached out for a big hug. Yet there was a commanding presence about her. I asked about litigation, her forte through the early professional years. Acknowledging that her talent and performance in that arena had served her well, her future thrust, she advised, was to build, lead and inspire her RE/MAX team.
By Joe Gschwendtner; photos courtesy of Susie Winders