Women of Influence

Honoring Women of Influence in the Colorado Springs community that have numerable professional accomplishments and consistently give back to the community

Barbara Zoet Vidmar has been told she has too many good ideas. But her track record of accomplishment argues that, in her professional life and her service to the Pueblo community, there’s no such thing. Vidmar broke the glass windshield in the automotive industry, starting as a payroll clerk and...
Bonnie Martinez barely warranted a passing glance from her peers when she walked into her first board meeting as managing officer for Norwest/Wells Fargo Bank’s San Antonio market. Finally a male executive, noticing the only woman in the room, told Martinez he would take his coffee with sugar. “I looked at...
Karen Palus credits her father, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, with instilling in her a “leadership heart.” “My dad set that example well for me,” Palus said. “He always showed me what servant leadership looked like — not only putting your life on the line for your country, but...
As a child in Upper Michigan, Shawna Kemppainen was always aware of her privilege. But it wasn’t until her time volunteering for Care and Share Food Bank in 2004 that she came face to face with it. While manning the food bank’s phone lines, Kemppainen answered a call from a...
Not long after Cynthia Chung Aki retired from the military and moved to Colorado Springs, she felt a need to give something back to her new community. Since her arrival 21 years ago, she’s volunteered her time serving on numerous boards and committees for city and county government initiatives, as...
Imelda Ruiz is a woman of immense self-confidence — and with good reason. She landed her dream job fresh out of college, worked her way up into a leadership position in a male-dominated field of engineers at Colorado Springs Utilities, and still somehow finds time to volunteer in her faith...
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...
Donna Nelson first arrived in Colorado Springs in 1994 — but not by choice. She was stationed at Fort Carson and, like so many before her, thought that Colorado Springs would be a great place to settle down and start a post-military career. Leaving the Army in 1996, she...
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 and start working for the family,” she recalls. “I told my mother, ‘Mama, this is not right.’ And she said,...