2018 Mayor’s Young Leader award winners
Mayor John Suthers, third from left, presented the 2018 Mayor’s Young Leader awards to (from left) Jeff Finn, Ian Ratz, Suthers, Aisha Ahmad-Post, Erik Huffman and Erin Miller.

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum rolled out the red carpet last night to honor young professionals at the fifth annual Mayor’s Young Leader awards.

Mayor John Suthers recognized individuals in five categories for making extraordinary efforts in their fields and having a positive impact on the Springs community. 

“The quality of work presented by this year’s Mayor’s Young Leader Award finalists was exceptional,” Suthers said. “I am consistently pleased with the young professionals who are serving Colorado Springs across all industries and am grateful for their contributions to our city. The 2018 winners are fantastic representatives of Olympic City USA, and I look forward to following their future success.”

The 2018 winners are:

Creative Industry: Aisha Ahmad-Post, director of the new UCCS Ent Center for the Arts, which opened in January. Ahmad-Post was selected for the role in August 2017 after a national search. The center produced more than 125 events in its debut season, welcoming more than 110,000 people in 18 weeks. Ahmad-Post’s presenting series alone drew nearly 7,000 patrons in its first three months with an average sell-out rate of 60 percent, significantly higher than average.

Community & Economic Impact: Jeff Finn. A project design manager for Nor’wood Development Group, Finn has been an integral part of creating and implementing more than $250 million in current downtown projects. His leadership as a technical advisor on the application process and other aspects of City for Champions projects has been crucial. He was one of the key players to help bring the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame to Colorado Springs. Among many other projects, he serves as project executive for Greenway Flats, a 65-unit permanent supportive housing project that will provide safe and supported housing to some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

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Education: Erik Huffman. The founder and CEO of Handshake Leadership, Huffman also works for SecureSet Cybersecurity Academy. He collaborates with Academy District 20 and Widefield School District 3 to educate teachers about cybersecurity and has helped them develop cybersecurity classes that are benefiting the technology leaders of tomorrow. Huffman has won multiple awards, including the 2018 Pikes Peak Region Small Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and he was named a 2018 Colorado Springs Business Journal Rising Star.

Technology: Erin Miller. The founder and managing director of the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization, southern Colorado’s first technology transfer and transition-focused nonprofit, Miller said her proudest accomplishment has been implementing Air Force CyberWorx as a collaborative opportunity for private industry to design hand-in-hand with airmen and cadets. Her commitment to bring innovative ideas from the private sector to the Air Force has laid a foundation for C-TRAC and Air Force CyberWorx to redefine how the Air Force views and resolves issues. C-TRAC unites public, private and academic ingenuity that helps the military become more technologically capable. To date, hundreds of companies have been recipients of C-TRAC campaigns, and C-TRAC has recruited for more than a dozen design programs valued at more than $4.5 million.

Sports and Wellness: Ian Ratz. The assistant director of student success for the UCCS College of Business, Ratz works in the sport management program. Under his guidance, program applications have increased from 259 to 637, with enrollments growing by 75 percent, concurrent with some of the most rigorous admission standards of any undergraduate program at UCCS. He has overseen 350 student internships with 115 sport organizations. He teaches a sport science class and has helped graduates secure good jobs within the highly competitive sports industry.

The Mayor’s Young Leader awards were launched in 2015 to celebrate the outstanding achievements of young professionals aged 40 and under.

The 2018 winners were selected from 25 finalists, including:

  •  Stephanie Adams, The Apartment Association of Southern Colorado
  •  Max Cupp, Council of Neighbors and Organizations
  •  Jake Eichengreen, Quad Innovation Partnership
  •  Jeff Finn, Norwood Development Group
  •  Chelise Foster, Waldo Waldo 5K, Inc.
  •  Seth W. Gross, CloudSense Inc.
  •  Amanda Metcalfe, Quality Life Counseling; United States Air Force Academy; UCCS
  •  Tyler Peoples, Mission Catering
  •  Aisha Ahmad-Post, UCCS
  •  Jesse Clark, Hellscream Entertainment
  •  Matthew Hiner, Hiner Landscapes
  •  Melodie Jordahl, Black Tie Beverages
  •  Katie Weckerly, SSPR Public Relations Agency
  •  Heather Cassidy, University of Colorado School of Medicine; Kaiser Permanente
  •  Erik Huffman, Handshake Leadership
  •  Rachel Laufer, Harrison School District 2
  •  Brinkley Myers, Colorado Springs School District 11
  •  Konrad Schlarbaum, Pikes Peak Community College
  •  Jason Cahill, Freedom Chiropractic
  •  Zac Chapman, Colorado Springs Food Rescue; El Paso County Food Policy Advisory Board
  •  Timothy Corner, Man to Machine
  •  Fara Gorsi, International Cricket Council
  •  Ian Ratz, UCCS College of Business
  •  Seth Harvey, Bluestaq
  •  Erin Miller, Center for Technology Research and Commercialization

More information about the Mayor’s Young Leader Awards, including a list of past winners, is available at coloradosprings.gov/myla.