Native Coloradan Amber Coté has been a go-to person in the Colorado Springs nonprofit world for more than 20 years — and she’s far from finished. So extensive is her resumé that it might be that of someone a generation older, about to enter a well-deserved retirement. She’s served on the boards of the Fine Arts Center, the Community Prep School, Urban Peak, the Pikes Peak Arts Council and the Give! campaign. She’s currently the board president-elect of Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, co-chair of El Pomar’s Asian Advisory Council and an active volunteer at half a dozen other nonprofits.
Since 2015, she’s served as director of education and service enterprise for the Colorado Nonprofit Association, a statewide organization that works to “educate and inform Colorado nonprofits about new ideas, best practices and pressing public policies so they can achieve greater impact on Colorado communities.”
“If you work for a nonprofit in the state of Colorado,” said nominator Stacey Poore, “you know Amber and you know she is on board to ensure you have the tools you need to succeed. … There isn’t anything Amber hasn’t made better by her commitment, experience and drive.”
In a lighthearted bio Coté wrote for Peak Radar, she told her story.
“I am a mother, wife, artist, daughter, friend, teacher, poet, explorer, joke-teller — a singer of songs, laugher of laughs and sometimes a magnificent mistake-maker. I feel like everyone’s neighbor and believe profoundly in the power of ‘the village.’”
And Coté’s walked her talk.
“She’s been a tireless advocate for youth experiencing homelessness, the arts, women exiting domestic violence, families striving to put food on the table, the LGBTQ community, social and racial justice, children within the foster care system and people at the end stages of life,” said Poore. “Amber calls on all of us to do more, never settle, and see the possibility in each and every person.”
RMWF executive director Linda Broker, who has served in the position for nearly two decades, has worked with more than 50 board members during her tenure.
“I can say that Amber rises to the top of that list,” she said. “In addition to her extraordinary commitment of time and energy to RMWF. I’m consistently amazed at all the other community events that Amber supports and influences… . She is a true champion of Colorado Springs.”
“There were many times when I was veering off the path,” said Coté, recalling her much younger self, “and if I didn’t have other people helping me then I could really have gone off. So what I’m doing now is the least I can do.”
So what’s next? Will the arc of her career lead to bigger jobs in bigger (not necessarily better) cities?
“I definitely don’t want to be a CEO or executive director — been there! The Colorado Nonprofit Association covers the whole state so I get to go out through the state and see what’s to be done,” Coté said. “I think a lot about equity and inclusion in nonprofits, but the future — you don’t know. The only reason I’m in the nonprofit world is that I interviewed to be a volunteer at CASA, and asked whether they ever hired their volunteers. They encouraged me to apply for a job, and that was the beginning of my career. And I’d be happy to spend the rest of my career right here where it started.”