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Helen Young Hayes


Helen Young Hayes

Helen is the founder and CEO of ActivateWork. ActivateWork’s mission is to connect diverse, qualified talent to leading employers through rigorous skills training, community resources, and professional and life skills coaching. ActivateWork is the culmination of Helen’s past for-profit and nonprofit experience, harnessing the power of the marketplace to achieve profound social impact. By moving individuals to sustained economic mobility and professional success, ActivateWork creates triple wins for job seekers, employers, and the community.

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Helen is a believer in and the embodiment of the American Dream. But the American Dream – a life of flourishing – is elusive, as generational poverty becomes the default for too many men and women from underrepresented populations. ActivateWork bridges the gap between individual potential and realized success by matching and placing individuals into self-sustaining careers and through intensive coaching of personal, professional, and financial skills. ActivateWork seeks not only to advance economic and professional success but to transform lives through the learning and mastery of new habits, mindsets, and disciplines.

Helen is a 20-year veteran of the financial industry. She was the portfolio manager of the flagship Janus Worldwide Fund, Janus Overseas Fund, and related assets totaling approximately $50 billion at Janus Capital, a mutual fund company headquartered in Denver, Colorado. She also served as managing director of investments, heading up the 100-person research and investment arm of Janus Capital, encompassing equities, fixed income, money market, and trading.

In 2018, Helen was selected as one of the Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business for her leadership at ActivateWork (previously Activate Workforce Solutions). In 2021, she was awarded the Colorado Technology Association APEX Awards Talent Champion of the Year for launching ActivateWork’s tuition-free technology training and professional development program to create equitable paths in IT for individuals seeking careers and employers seeking talent.

Helen is the author and executive sponsor of the Colorado Inclusive Economy Movement, a CEO-led movement to build a community of shared opportunity and prosperity, and she is a governor-appointee to the Colorado Business Experiential Learning Commission and a member of the American Enterprise Institute Leadership Network.

Helen is a frequent speaker and writer on topics including workforce development, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, corporate culture, performance management, diversity and gender issues, economic development, and economic mobility.

Helen, her husband Matt, and her family have called Denver home for 30 years. Helen is an avid albeit average athlete and enjoys biking, swimming, running, skiing, and surfing.