When Keeley Griego graduated in 2018 from the women’s and ethnic studies program at UCCS, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She took a chance and signed up for Leadership Pikes Peak’s LeadershipNow! program.
“I was pretty much looking to figure out my next steps after graduating college,” said Griego. “I found out about this program and I thought it was a really good way to get involved and learn more about what opportunities might be here in Colorado Springs. After I graduated [LeadershipNow!] I stayed as a volunteer for the Women’s Community Leadership Initiative program, and after a year of doing that I was hired as a program manager for both.”
Not only did LeadershipNow! lead Griego to future employment, she said it was a good opportunity to develop both personally and professionally, especially as a recent college graduate.
“I’ve lived here my whole life, and I learned more about Colorado Springs in the five months I was in the [LeadershipNow!] program than I had learned my entire life living here,” she said. “It gave me such a deeper level of appreciation and love for the city. I also learned a lot about myself, that it’s OK to be an introvert. I think sometimes being an introvert isn’t as desired as being an extroverted, outgoing person. I learned it’s OK, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just have different skills and qualities than the idea of what I thought I was ‘supposed’ to be. It gave me a better appreciation for myself also.”
As a program manager, Griego helps facilitate the LeadershipNow! and Women’s Community Leadership Initiative programs. Griego said Leadership Pikes Peak boasts over 2,500 alumni, including District 4 City Councilor Yolanda Avila, and council candidate Regina English.
“All of our programs focus on leadership of the self, leadership of community and in the city,” she said. “A lot of our programs we start off by doing assessments, including the [Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator], so you learn more about what your personal skills are, and how you can utilize them to be more effective. We also learn a lot about the infrastructure of the city, local government and local history, so it’s a really great way — especially if you’re not from here and not familiar — to really plug in and learn about Colorado Springs, and about the businesses and nonprofits and what the challenges are and opportunities are to get involved. It’s a community leadership program, so it touches on different aspects.
“LeadershipNow! is for young professionals in their 20s and 30s. The women’s program is our only tuition-free program, so it really eliminates that cost barrier that would prevent or deter participants from being part of a program like that.”
Griego said her goal with Leadership Pikes Peak is to continue to ensure a diversity of perspectives in its future programming.
“One of my big focuses is making sure, especially in recruitment and reaching out to all different people, we really want our program to be reflective of the community, diverse in regards to gender, race, also [careers],” she said. “We want people from nonprofits. We want the career paths to be balanced out so we have a good mix of people in the programs. I want to have diverse voices and points of view, so participants can hear from all types of folks and get different information from people all across the city.”