Krithika Prashant was in seventh grade in India when she discovered many girls didn’t have the opportunities she had.

“I realized that after fourth grade, they have to leave [school] and start working for the family,” she recalls. “I told my mother, ‘Mama, this is not right.’ And she said, ‘Fine, that’s the problem — then do something about it. What do you want to do?’ And that was a turning point in my life. That’s when I pitched the idea to her: ‘Why can’t I teach those girls?’”

Soon she was teaching five girls in her home after school and, as the years passed, those girls started teaching others. Her very first student kept coming until Prashant left India in 2001 “— and then she finished her college education,” Prashant said. “That just gives me goosebumps. And that cycle continues because we had coached somebody and gave them that strength to say, ‘Yes, we can break the barrier.’’’

Breaking barriers, mentoring, and helping youths, children and women are the threads that run through Prashant’s life.

On the long list of organizations she has served with: CASA of the Pikes Peak Region, the Mayor’s Young Leader Awards, the Olympic City USA Taskforce, Pikes Peak Complete Count Census Committee, Care and Share, Colorado Springs Dance Theatre and Colorado Springs Rising Professionals.

Prashant is an independent PR and marketing consultant, and the owner and director of Krithika’s Performing Arts Center. With her 15-year-old daughter, she also works on a project that uses performing arts to relay the messages of anti-bullying and suicide prevention.

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Prashant is known for her energy and impact in a broad range of partnerships, for tireless volunteerism, and for skillfully navigating differences with her combination of “productive dialogue, over-communication, and compromise.” But in 2016, life threw her what could have become an insurmountable obstacle.

“I had a very bad fall on ice. I had a lot of nerve damage. I was just broken in many places…” she recalls. “I thought at that time that if I do all the number of surgeries, then it will get better. But now I’m realizing that there are some things that I can’t fix. … It affects my day-to-day activities, and there are some very unpredictable days. But I had to make a choice: Either I had to embrace that and say this is the new me now — and how do I cope with that and move on? Or I’ll feel so bad about it all the time, that I go into that [downward] cycle. So I decided I’m going to continue — and in fact, maybe the new me will help me understand other people who are going through the same things.”

For Prashant, leadership is about giving, and leading by example.

“A good leader is someone who practices what they preach,” she said. “It’s all nice to say everything on paper, but if you have the capability to do the things that you are advising others or mentoring others, I think that has a greater impact. The person who is receiving your guidance now feels, ‘Oh, wow, she’s doing it — that means it’s achievable.’ My philosophy is, I give because it brings me joy. And now that person is motivated to give to somebody else. Then the cycle of giving is contagious. And that’s a good thing to happen.”