Since she was a child, Christy Le Lait has been involved in politics. At the age of 14 she volunteered at Planned Parenthood — and her course in life was set.

“I had good liberal parents,” she said. “They made sure I was involved.”

From acting as a state director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to serving on the local board for the American Civil Liberties Union, she’s stayed true to progressive politics.

Le Lait just wrapped up a seven-year stint as executive director of El Paso County’s Democratic Party, no easy feat in a Republican stronghold like Colorado Springs. As she moves to Florida, Le Lait reflects about the impact she’s had on the community. She says she’s leaving the local Democrats in good hands.

“There are some really good people in the party now,” she said. “They are bringing a lot of new energy.”

Life in the minority party hasn’t always been easy, but Le Lait is confident she made a difference.

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She is proud of the fact that under her tenure, the Democratic party is stronger than its ever been in El Paso County.

“It’s being recognized locally in ways it hasn’t been before,” she said. “I’ve never chickened out. I’ve never backed down. I always say what I think. And that’s made a difference.”

Katherine Ricker, who also works at the El Paso County Democratic Party, says Le Lait provided the public a strong leadership for the local group.

“She has given the local Democratic Party a public face and social empowerment in the midst of a conservative community,” said Ricker, who nominated Le Lait for the award. “Her leadership skills and kind warmth and low-key manner have brought people together for causes and change.”

Ricker said that Le Lait has a special ability to inspire people.

“Folks want to work with her because in her quiet and passionate way, she makes you feel special and needed on these important projects,” she said. “She imparts an air of compassion and dedication that you can feel and want to emulate.”

But despite her professional successes, Le Lait says she’s proudest of her son.

“I have an amazing son,” she said. “He’s giving back to his country as an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the Navy Special Operations.”

And her tenure with the Democratic Party can be summed up with her personal mantra: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me,” a quote from libertarian author Ayn Rand.

— Amy Gillentine