Marketing expert Kelly McDonald gives the keynote address at the Accolades event.

Diane Price, president and CEO of Early Connections Learning Centers, was named business leader of the year by the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce today.

Early Connections is the oldest nonprofit child care organization in Colorado, according to its website, providing “comprehensive, high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education to children from families of limited means in the Pikes Peak Region since 1897.”

Over 30 years at Early Connections, Price has expanded services to include behavioral health, infant and toddler care, literacy-focused curriculum, family engagement and support.

Price was presented with the honor at SCWCC’s annual Accolades Awards celebration, held at The Antlers hotel. Other nominees included Megan Bell, UCCS; Jennifer Boylan, Springs Homes; Donna Carlson, 360 Life Strategies; Jessica Fierro, Atrevida Beer Co.; Catherine Hammond, Hammond Law Group; Susan Hodges-Strasbaugh, Buckingham Strategic Wealth; Pam Johnson-Carlson, Children’s Hospital Colorado; Patricia Kessack, The Eastern Colorado Bank; Traci Marques, Pikes Peak Workforce Center; Shawnee Starr, TechWise; Heather Steinman, Colorado Springs Conservatory; and Andrea Warner, Colorado Peak Real Estate.

The SCWCC also recognized Whitley Crow, project analyst for the interagency relations division at El Paso County Centennial Hall, as Young Professional of the Year. She coordinates and produces cross-departmental and cross-organizational projects to benefit El Paso County and Pikes Peak region residents and business. Last year, the Business Journal named her a 2018 Rising Star.

Elizabeth Mota, executive board member and treasurer for Concilio Hispano de Empresas de Colorado Springs, the city’s Hispanic Business Council, was honored with the Minority Owned Business of the Year award. Mota has owned her own accounting business, ProBooks Accounting Solutions, since 2006, supporting local Hispanic-owned small business enterprises with bookkeeping and tax services.

- Advertisement -

The SCWCC recognized Kari Reyner of fab’rik Colorado Springs, as member of the year. Reyner hosts fundraising events for Children’s Hospital, Colorado Springs Conservatory, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region, Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center and Exodus Road, among other nonprofits.

Lola Woloch, president and CEO of the SCWCC, said Accolades winners “go above and beyond their duties to serve the community, provide leadership and impact economic vitality.”

Marketing and consumer trends expert Kelly McDonald gave the keynote address, about how to work with and lead people not like you, and how diversity is an advantage to every business.