Gilmore earned her bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration at the University of Kansas, a master's in business administration from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, and a certificate in community economic development from the Bloch School of Business at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
From 2003 to 2014 Gilmore was president and CEO of the Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation which oversaw commercial revitalization and cultural preservation of the 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City. She founded the Heritage Consulting Group that June, then left in October 2016 to become manager of the Historic Properties Redevelopment Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington D.C.
Gilmore came to Birmingham in 2018 to accept the newly-created position of "Director of Cultural Preservation" in Randall Woodfin's mayoral administration, overseeing the preservation of landmarks relating to the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, including the A. G. Gaston Motel.
Gilmore has also served as a national officer of Delta Sigma Theta and is active in the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
- "A Q&A with Denise E. Gilmore, New Manager of the Historic Properties Redevelopment Program" (November 8, 2016) "Forum Online". National Trust for Historic Preservation.
- Edgemon, Erin (July 16, 2018) "Woodfin appoints director of cultural preservation to oversee Gaston Motel renovations." The Birmingham News
- "Denise E. Gilmore named Director of Cultural Preservation for City." (July 19, 2018) Birmingham Public Information Office / The Birmingham Times