Stephany Garza, member engagement manager at the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, is pretty new to the city — but the 33-year-old is already making a positive impact. Her responsibilities at the chamber include connecting members to business resources and finding ways to engage them with the community through the organization’s Ambassador Program (ambassadors are a group of volunteers dedicated to growing relationships).
“Each month, I strive to provide speakers the resources they would find helpful in their professional and personal lives,” Garza said. “I also organize monthly new member orientations for members so they can better understand how the [chamber] helps businesses thrive in the community.”
But, due to difficult life experiences, Garza’s influence has expanded beyond the business community and into the field of mental health.
Garza is originally from McAllen, Texas but attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied journalism, and calls the state’s capital home. During that time, she became an Army spouse and spent some time in Italy, where she endured physical and emotional abuse from her husband. She divorced and moved back to Texas, sometimes working several jobs at once to get back on her feet.
One of those jobs was in a marketing position for a Texas mall, which led to a transfer to the Pueblo Mall. She was hired by the Chamber & EDC in January 2020, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m really proud of fact the that we’ve been able to keep our members engaged with the chamber and help business owners get the resources they need, especially during this time,” she said.
The hard work is worth it when she sees business owners make connections at chamber functions.
“One of our ambassadors is a banker and one is a business owner. The owner, at the beginning of COVID, was struggling to keep his doors open,” Garza said. “Luckily, the ambassador connected him to [Paycheck Protection Program funding] and he’s keeping his business afloat. He’s actually doing amazing — booming right now, and I believe it’s because of his connection through the chamber. I love seeing connections happen right in front of me.”
Garza, due to her background as an abused spouse, has also become deeply involved with mental health programs in the Pikes Peak region, particularly the National Alliance on Mental Health, Colorado Springs.
“Early on in my relationship I was struggling ... and depressed and needed someone to talk to outside my friends and family,” she said. “That led to seeing a therapist, which was a great experience. It helped me understand myself better and, when faced with challenges in life, to cope better. It helped me with coping mechanisms.”
In addition to participating in their workshops, Garza has volunteered with NAMI and helped with fundraising efforts.
She offered advice to business owners and employees struggling with the pandemic: “Be your own advocate if you know you’re having a rough day or rough week. It sounds counterintuitive to share with your supervisor but a lot can come from sharing where you’re at mentally with the people around you. ... One thing I learned from NAMI is you don’t always know what the person next to you is going through. Give them grace, be kind, because you just never know.”