Jessica Gladney, manager of the North Academy Boulevard branch of Security Service Federal Credit Union, has been involved in finance most of her adult life.
After she moved to Colorado Springs in 2006 with her high-school sweetheart husband, an Air Force air traffic controller, they left the city almost every weekend for the entertainment of Denver or the mountains. A co-worker introduced her to the Colorado Springs Rising Professionals organization, and now she’s a leader of the organization. That opportunity showed her a Colorado Springs she’s grown to love.
Energetic and optimistic, Gladney spoke to the Business Journal about her job and being a young professional in the Springs.
How did you become involved in banking?
My next-door neighbor worked for a credit union in Florida. She said, “Get a job there.” I did and I loved it. I still feel like I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, kind of. Right now, I love this, and I wake up every morning happy to go to work and excited. I love what I do.
Is Colorado Springs welcoming for young professionals?
The environment for young people is getting a lot better. It feels like a more nurturing environment than it was five years ago. I’ve been here about 10 years. When I first moved here, I didn’t pay enough attention to what was around me and I had to have my hand held. I know there’s organizations now that welcome new people into the city and help them find resources. People always said they care about young professionals, but now there’s more action behind the talk and more things happening that make a more nurturing environment.
How did you hear about the Rising Professionals?
[A co-worker] told me, “You need to get involved in this organization. They will connect you with things that are interesting to you. They will connect you with other people who are interesting to you, with things to do.” I went from being pushed into it a little bit to where now I’m totally in love with the organization. I joined the civic engagement committee three or four years ago. That’s where my passions lie, with the Rising Professionals.
How can young professionals affect the political climate here?
People are trying … Jariah [Walker] and Nick [Lee, both of whom ran for Colorado Springs City Council] … I think we have a ways to go before we see young people in office. But we start at the grassroots level, by making sure young people understand why it’s important, what impact local government has on them, encouraging them to vote, making sure they’re registered. I think that will help. Obviously, the stipend City Council gets [$6,250 annually] is a barrier.
How would you advise other young professionals here?
Get out there and get active in an organization, even if it’s just being a member. There are so many out there. There is an organization that meets whatever your desire is. If you want to go out and have fun, there’s an organization for that. Or if you want to learn more professionally, there are places you can do that. If you want to become more involved civically, there are organizations that can do that for you.
How do you feel about the future?
I like the direction we’re going. I had the opportunity with the Rising Professionals to sit with the mayor, City Council and county commissioners. I honestly have a lot of hope for the future of the city. There’s so much negative stuff about our city. One way to counteract that is to share our success stories, making sure people know there are young people who are not only happy here, but very strong advocates for Colorado Springs.