Karla Grazier, president & CEO of Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado, has been recognized with the 2019 ATHENA Award for her community service, mentorship and leadership.

The Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC honored Grazier during a ceremony Apr. 4 at The Antlers hotel.

The ATHENA Leadership Award celebrates and honors businesswomen for their professional excellence, community service and mentorship of other women, according to a news release issued by the Chamber & EDC.

More than 7,000 women from over 500 communities in eight countries have received the ATHENA Leadership Award since its inception in 1982.

Grazier is a well-known and respected figure in the community. She serves on numerous local, state, and national boards and committees, including Colorado State Workforce Development Council, State of Colorado Rehabilitation Council, Pikes Peak Workforce Investment Board of El Paso and Teller Counties, and Goodwill Industries International, including a term as their board chair in 2017-2018.

As president and CEO of Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado, Grazier leads a diverse and growing workforce of more than 1,300 employees and oversees a program with an annual revenue of more than $60 million.

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“Her business accomplishments are numerous and significant. She obtained the territory rights to an additional 16 counties in Colorado, extending Discover Goodwill’s reach from Kansas to Utah,” the release stated. “She led the $10.6 million project to consolidate Discover Goodwill’s programs and operations into a new campus and oversaw the opening of new stores in Pueblo, Monument, Durango, and Colorado Springs for a total of 13 in her territory.”

Grazier launched Discover Goodwill’s Possibilities in 2012, a first-of-its-kind program that teaches essential life skills and provides community integration opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Goodwill Industries International awarded her their 2016 Watkins Award for Mission Achievement for her work in launching the program.

She was also named Goodwill Industries International’s 2016 Matthews Entrepreneurial Award recipient for growing Discover Goodwill’s revenue and expanding job creation through its strategic and collaborative workforce development programs for veterans, people with disabilities, and the economically disadvantaged.

“Karla’s dedication to serving the people of Southern and Western Colorado is evident in the impact her leadership of Discover Goodwill has had on tens of thousands of individuals annually, via programs that help seniors, the financially disadvantaged, and individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities live more independently,” Aileen Berrios, senior vice president of 5Star Bank and Discover Goodwill governing board member, said in the release.

Mentorship is also a cornerstone of Grazier’s work. Goodwill pairs new CEOs with veteran CEOs from another Goodwill organization. Currently, Grazier is mentoring three Goodwill CEOs from Nebraska and Texas, all of whom are women. Grazier visits their organizations and engages in over-the-phone mentor conversations, positioning them for success.

“I live my life by a personal mantra — nothing great was ever achieved by being realistic. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people that believe in you,” Grazier said. “I am so very honored by this award. Thank you.”

The ceremony also recognized fellow nominees and included a panel of past ATHENA recipients sharing their experiences as business leaders in the community.

ATHENA nominees are nominated by their peers and judged on a points system by a panel of past recipients. The 2019 ATHENA nominees included:

  • Windy Bailey, Equity Colorado Real Estate
  • Deborah Balch, Elevated Insights
  • Amy Coffman, Missile Defense Agency
  • Jennifer Cunningham, Gallery132
  • Kameron Easler, Harris Corporation
  • Kristen Faith, Break the Silence against Domestic Violence
  • Karla Grazier, Discover Goodwill of Southern & Western Colorado
  • Lisa Grubesic, LoanDepot
  • Kay Collins Maloney, Harris Corporation
  • Diane Price, Early Connections Learning Centers
  • Megen Schlesinger, Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC)
  • Joan Selman, Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care
  • Morgan Straus, Harris Corporation