For Cindy Aubrey, love of community dovetails with her professional life.

As former news director for KOAA Channel 5 and former chief of communications for the city, Aubrey is focused on improving the region where she grew up.

“She bleeds Colorado Springs,” said Stephannie Finley Fortune, executive director of university advocacy and partnerships at UCCS, who is also a longtime colleague and friend. “She has such a love for her hometown. If you ever wanted to look for a community cheerleader, you’d find it in Cindy.”

Aubrey is a Colorado Springs native, a graduate of Mitchell High School. And when she’s not cheering on the local community through her efforts at her newest position — COO at Pikes Peak United Way — she’s cheering on the Rams at Colorado State University.

Her latest job has shown her the way to make Colorado Springs a better place.

“It opened my eyes to the need in the community,” she said. “I knew there were needs, but I didn’t know the depth of those needs. There are many, many people in our region who need help with utilities assistance, keeping children in school, youth success and family stability.”

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And she’s combined her natural empathy with loyalty to her hometown to combat low graduation rates at her alma mater, Mitchell High School.

[su_note note_color=”#7db9ff”]Personal Mantra: “Always recognize what we can do, but don’t put limits on success because God made us powerful and awesome. We need to discover our gifts and how to best use them to serve others.” [/su_note]

“One of the things we’ll be focused on at United Way is really trying to move the needle on graduation rates,” she said. “We’re starting at Mitchell. And we’re bringing in mentors, speakers to talk to the students, bringing ideas and encouragement. We’re creating a community support system for the school. It’s a pilot project. If it works, then we’ll expand it.”

That’s just Aubrey’s style, Finley Fortune says.

“She’s very dedicated to Colorado Springs,” she said. “I don’t say that lightly or because it’s easy to say. She puts the right things first. It’s not about her ego, and she has no personal agenda. She’s a strong leader who puts people first.”

Aubrey’s taken on leadership roles her entire career — from a tough-but-fair news director at KOAA to heading up former Mayor Steve Bach’s communications team. Now at the United Way, she says she has no regrets about the path her career has taken.

In the TV news business, she found herself acting in a role normally reserved for males. That, she said, was a challenge.

“The news team is always very professional,” she said. “It was never a problem there — it was more from the outside where I felt the challenge. It’s so important to publicly demonstrate responsibility for those people you are leading and that includes communicating consistently, being available.”

Then when she moved to city government, she learned different leadership lessons as she assisted city efforts during one of the worst wildfires in Colorado history.

“City personnel are smart, good people,” she said.  “I loved to work around them — and when you go through something like the Waldo Canyon Fire together, you really grow very close to people.”

Through it all, Aubrey keeps one thought in mind: “If serving is below you, then leadership is beyond you. I think you have to have a servant’s heart to be an effective leader.”

— Amy Gillentine Sweet