Hannah Parsons is leaving her position as chief economic development officer at the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, to become CEO of Exponential Impact, a new Colorado Springs nonprofit security tech accelerator.
Parsons has been with the Chamber & EDC since October 2015, when she came on as chief community development officer. She was promoted in January 2017 to chief economic development officer, a position that oversees business attraction, retention and expansion initiatives, government affairs, and workforce development.
“I’m entrepreneurial by nature,” Parsons said, “and had the opportunity to work with Exponential Impact when it was in the formative stage and I learned what they are doing.”
Parsons said she will remain at the Chamber & EDC through November, adding Vance Brown, who co-founded Exponential Impact with his wife Betsy, asked her to take the position. Brown is also interim CEO of the National Cybersecurity Center.
“I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t be here doing this — we would not have a thing called Exponential Impact, I wouldn’t have done this without Hannah Parsons,” Brown said Nov. 1 at the kickoff for the NCC’s inaugural National Cybersecurity Symposium at The Broadmoor hotel. “I also want to thank the city of Colorado Springs and the Chamber & EDC for allowing so much in terms of what she was able to do … I’m telling you, the Chamber & EDC and what they have done to get us here tonight is epic. I want to give a hand to the Chamber & EDC. … She’s the absolute perfect person to lead Exponential Impact.”
Chamber & EDC President and CEO Dirk Draper praised Parsons and said the search to replace her will soon be underway.
“She was a big contributor in her time here,” Draper said. “Things have moved quickly since she told us yesterday that she is leaving. It was a bit of a surprise. I’d say it’s highly unlikely we’ll have someone in place by the end of the month. I’m meeting with my executive committee this afternoon to tell them my plan. I won’t speculate on time, but if we do a national search it could take longer. We do want to have someone of high quality in this position.”
The duties of the chief economic developer officer will temporarily be divided among existing economic development staff, Draper said.
“The Chamber & EDC is well positioned to accelerate economic development and continue our work to enrich and raise the profile of business in Colorado Springs,” Draper said in a news release. “We are currently weighing our options and will use this time to evaluate any opportunities that may be leveraged.”
Parsons said her time at the Chamber & EDC was gratifying.
“It’s been challenging and rewarding,” she said. “We’ve done a lot in the last two years. They’ve got an amazing team in place.”
As for her next step, Parsons said she’s extremely excited.
“I’ll be working with some of the same people at the Chamber & EDC, but in a different capacity,” she said.
According to the Exponential Impact website, the company is a new holistic accelerator ecosystem focused on security technologies.
“We provide leadership development and mentoring to high-tech entrepreneurs who have potential to bring exponential impact to the world,” the website reads. “Though we work across industries, we give preference to entrepreneurs focused on security technologies such as Cybersecurity, Blockchain, and [artificial intelligence]. In order to provide ongoing coaching and assistance, we also encourage companies to locate their headquarters in Colorado Springs (although not required). XI is a nonprofit accelerator committed to support the efforts of the National Cybersecurity Center, also headquartered in the Springs.”