As the community organizing manager at The Independence Center, Courtney Stone works in a profession that not only matches her college degree in social work, but feeds her calling to help people who have disabilities.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to find a job that fits my passion and my skills,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to work on structural barriers” for people with disabilities.

Stone helps people negotiate barriers such as cracked, broken and potholed downtown sidewalks, and she helps people find public transportation to and from work.

“I’m pretty disengaged from partisan politics,” she said, “but I work with people — especially Millennials — to become more engaged in voluntary activities and to pay attention to the (Colorado Springs City Council) elections in April 2017. That’s where we can help make real change — in transit and transportation opportunities. I do think civic engagement is the first step in empowering people to make real differences in their communities.”

Stone is a member of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments’ mobility coordinating committee and of the Citizen’s Advisory Council. She is chairwoman of the Transit Passenger Advisory Committee and serves as vice-chairwoman of the Civic Engagement Committee of Colorado Springs Rising Professionals. She’s also a member of the city human relations commission.

Last year, Stone was named the Colorado Springs Rising Professional of the year.

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“Courtney brought energy and passion to our Rising Professional civic engagement committee,” said Jessica Gladney of Security Service Federal Credit Union. “Through her hard work and fantastic ideas we put together one of the best events of the year. She has succeeded me as committee chair, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Born in Texas, Stone moved with her family to Denver when she was 14. She has invested in this community unlike anywhere else.

“The more I give, the more I get back. The more I get back, the more I want to fight for making the reputation of the Springs match my experience of it. It’s like being warned away from a restaurant and then finding your favorite meal there. There’s something beautiful about unexpected surprises,” she said.

— John Hazlehurst