Chicago native Lola Woloch doesn’t believe in doing things halfway. She’s all in or not at all — and that philosophy and drive has led the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce to success after success.

The CEO of the women’s chamber has a long history of business wins. An entrepreneur at age 20, Woloch put herself through college by starting and running a business.

She spent years in the telecommunications industry, and at one time was responsible for covering the Rocky Mountain region for Sprint PCS. She lived in Colorado Springs, but spent most of her time in Denver.

And then came the Waldo Canyon fire.

“I live in Mountain Shadows and needed to be home for repairs to our house,” she said. “I was so impressed and inspired by the way the community came together to help out after the fire. Everyone moved so quickly to help rebuild. It made an impression on me.”

And Woloch started to look for opportunities in the Springs. She found one at the women’s chamber.

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“My husband has always been so much more focused on philanthropy than I was,” she said. “But after the fire, I wanted to give back. When I heard about the women’s chamber — I thought it was a way to help out.”

In the years since, Woloch has given new life to the chamber. She’s working on a partnership with U.S. Ignite, a national effort to raise funds for and draw attention to the economic opportunities that arise from high-speed internet connections. She said the chamber should be a key player in economic development and economic vitality.

“I told the board if they wanted more of the same, I wasn’t their person,” she said. “But if they wanted to make the chamber become an economic vitality driver in the community, then I was the right choice. I am not interested in maintaining the status quo. I believe in ‘Go big, or go home.’”

It was that drive for success that gained the attention of Rodney Gullatte, a small business owner.

“I nominated Lola Woloch for this award because she is the best,” Gullatte said. “You can feel her intensity radiating off her when you are around her. Lola’s results-driven attitude towards business has made her very successful throughout her professional career.”

He said Woloch transformed the women’s chamber.

“When she decided to turn her attention to the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, that was the beginning of a phenomenal change in that organization,” Gullatte said. “Her ability to rally the SCWCC as a team to work towards a new vision is an amazing accomplishment.”

And he says he was impressed by her collaborative leadership style.

“When I talk to Lola, it’s about collaboration and bringing people and businesses together to do amazing things,” he said. “When there is someone in your community who is working to change the landscape to make it better for everyone, you get to know them. You befriend them, and you nominate them for Women of Influence. She is a great friend, leader and someone I admire.”

For her part, Woloch doesn’t plan to rest on past successes. She wants to continue to increase the women’s chamber presence in southern Colorado.

“We need more women involved in business, on public boards of directors, we need a seat at the table,” she said. “Businesses thrive when there is balance and equity. And the lack of women’s voice is an issue.”

The women’s chamber will continue to provide a platform for women’s voices, she said.

“Someone asked me: ‘Why do we need a women’s chamber?’” she said. “Colorado Springs has the highest percentage of nonprofits in the state and women lead those nonprofits. They are in senior level positions and they are getting paid less than their male counterparts. There’s room for improvement; there’s a need for these discussions.”

— Amy G. Sweet