Higher education is rarely a solo venture, and Antonio Huerta knows this better than most. Huerta’s father, a migrant farm worker born in Mexico, changed the course of his future children’s lives for the better when he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree — an accomplishment that would have been impossible if not for Huerta’s […]

A nonprofit’s core mission rests as much in the hands of the employees as the community. For a nonprofit to do all the good it can, its board needs to hire and retain the right people for the job. But that isn’t always easy. There’s a certain public perception of how nonprofits work that lumps […]

Surviving and escaping domestic abuse demands an incredible strength and reliance on community; the effort is nothing short of titanic. Recovering is no less a feat. But what comes next? Kristen Faith started Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence in late 2011, while she was earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism at San Diego State […]

It’s hard to miss Chrissy Williams’ ambition to improve those around her. In her work at Ent Credit Union and out in the community, Williams knows her efforts have an impact — and she leads by example. It’s a lesson she says she learned throughout grade school, where her teachers built a positive foundation and […]

Ashley McNeely recognized at an early age she’d one day help people financially. McNeely’s grandparents raised her and provided a stable childhood. But when Ashley was 11, her grandfather died. Financial hardship followed. “My grandmother didn’t know what to do; she didn’t have resources and didn’t know who to turn to,” McNeely said. “When I […]

Zac Egeler is defined by his faith — it both sustains and guides him. “I believe in Jesus Christ,” he said. “My faith is what drives me to get up and make a difference in the world.” The Colorado Springs native says his Christian faith is part of the reason why he wanted to work […]

Few of us are fortunate enough to find our career path early, and fewer still find the job and organization of our dreams on the first try. Shana Lachowicz is one of the fortunate few. After graduating from Colorado Christian University in 2006, Lachowicz took some time off and traveled the country. She soon returned […]

Shane Sherman was born “dirt poor,” as he says, into a family where no one had ever graduated college. “My dad left when I was 4, and my mom worked at a florist shop,” he says. “We didn’t have much. I’m the first in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree, to earn a master’s […]

Ian Hancock was a puzzling applicant on paper: What, Vice President Wylie Lewis wondered, did someone with a background in e-commerce want with a yard staff member position at Bill’s Equipment & Supply Inc.? That question was quickly answered: When a branch manager position opened up at the construction equipment supplier’s Platte Avenue location in […]

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When students question whether they really belong at Pikes Peak Community College, when they struggle with cultural or socioeconomic gaps, when they worry about their citizenship status or when they just need an empathetic ear, Ben Gallegos-Pardo is there. And when he offers advice, they can count on it being good. “It’s all about sharing […]

Danielle Gaffney has made a name for herself at Stockman Kast Ryan + Co and in the Springs by helping her clients to plan for the future and her colleagues to stay connected. “I’m an accountant … which doesn’t always turn into being in the community,” she says. “I think a lot of people think […]

Reanna Werner has always had a passion for people — so it’s fitting she’s made her career working in the field of human resources. The 39-year-old owner of consulting firm HR Branches got her introduction to the industry when she was barely old enough to drive. “I actually started my career in HR when I […]

Zuleika Johnson came to the Springs from New York City to live with her older sister, Cinthya Lucas, and for a change of pace. But looking at her résumé, she brought the work ethic and discipline she learned surviving the New York rat race along with her. In a brief two years with UCCS, she’s […]

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Julie Ramirez is the first to say she has big shoes to fill. Her father, Julio Cesar Ramirez, was a formidable advocate for Fayetteville, North Carolina, until his death in 2016 at age 54. The senior Ramirez, a native of Linares, Mexico, and a retired Green Beret, elevated Fayetteville’s Mexican-American contingency in the annual International […]

Brandon Eldridge thinks of himself as “almost a native” of Colorado Springs. He’s been involved in and dedicated to this community since arriving here in 1998. “My Dad was in the Army, and he was stationed here,” Eldridge recalled. “We moved from Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and I’ve been here ever since.” After graduating […]

Long before she came to work at the Space Foundation Discovery Center, Rachel English was fascinated with science and history. “I’ve always enjoyed [history],” English said. “It’s people telling stories about themselves as a way of understanding each other and understanding ourselves.” The 28-year-old is a Colorado Springs native who graduated from Air Academy High […]

Each year, Noah Botkin invites a group of people to a “Friendsgiving” potluck dinner. But it’s not just food and fellowship that brings them together. The friends choose a local charity, dedicate their support and help raise funds for the organization — and that event typifies Botkin’s unique and creative approach to giving back. According […]

Matt Kubiak has a track record of achievement. A runner in high school and college, he earned an endorsement from Reebok and competed professionally for several years. He was also a professional rodeo cowboy until an injury ended that career. “As an athlete, I was very much focused on myself,” he said. But after the […]

Nico de Vries knows what it’s like to be without a voice. The Miami native has battled a stutter all his life, but it was that hurdle that ultimately drove him toward his purpose: educating young people. A graduate of the University of Florida, de Vries earned a bachelor’s degree in physiology and a master’s […]

Corrie Smith has always been drawn to people who need someone in their corner — and she has a knack for helping them tackle big issues in practical ways. The signs of her vocation were there, in her bachelor’s degree in social work from Indiana’s Taylor University and her master’s in crisis response and trauma […]

Those close to Justin Hermes say his real estate career is about far more than the commission check he receives at the end of each transaction. “If his clients aren’t raving fans throughout the process, he feels like he has failed,” wrote nominator Martha Marzolf, managing broker of RE/MAX Properties Inc., where Hermes has been […]

Jini Bornes is helping unite people of color in a new and positive way, through her social enterprise business, MyBlackColorado.com. “She is creating sweeping changes in the landscape of this community,” said her nominator, Rodney Gullatte. “She’s inspiring other women business owners to reach and achieve.” Bornes owns BornesPro Media with her husband, Brandon, who […]

Sam Minneti is a storyteller. But you won’t find her work in books, nor will you see it in theaters. She tells her clients’ stories through her work with Design Rangers, where she’s a partner, project manager and content strategist. Her work has earned her a strong professional reputation and a fair few awards — […]

Stephanie Adams has one of the most visible workspaces in Colorado Springs. In fact, if you live, work in, or frequently visit our downtown, you’ve probably walked past Stephanie’s lair a dozen times. She’s the site director at UCCS Downtown, a ground floor space on Tejon Street just south of Colorado Avenue. To passersby, it […]

Rebekah Gans may not be a Colorado Springs native, but she’s just as invested in bettering her community as anyone from the Centennial State. Born in northern California, the 31-year-old came to Olympic City USA more than a decade ago to attend Colorado College, where she earned her degree in biological anthropology. But after graduation, […]

If anything defines Alexis Thompson’s approach to managing client accounts and marketing efforts at local IT company Amnet, it’s her focus on customer service. She worked as a server at The Broadmoor hotel for six years, which she says ingrained good customer service practices into her DNA. Though Thomspon is a Springs native, she grew […]

Clay Guillory still has the $400 “monster” that first propelled him into the world of 3D printing. “I wanted to get into make-n-bake 3D print stuff,” he recalls, “but I started with a little kit I found online. It was a terrible kit — kept falling apart — so I got to learn how to […]

Show Melissa Howard a challenge, and she’ll dive in head first. “We heard the Carter Payne Chapel might be available … nobody knew if the tenant was going to stay or not,” she recalls, “so like a crazy person I got in the car and drove to Texas and found the lady that owned the […]

Poverty means more than not having money. It means lacking education on how to organize one’s personal finances, and it means being stuck in patterns of behavior that help with survival but make it difficult to escape poverty. Rising Star Bree Shellito knows that better than many — she grew up in a family impacted […]

Chelsea Gaylord worked with entrepreneurs in Uganda through the Peace Corps before moving to Colorado Springs about a year and half ago. “Uganda is a country the size of Oregon, but has a large population of almost 40 million people,” she said. “And 70, 80 percent of them are people 35 and younger. “There’s a […]

Chad Eckles is committed to serving his country and community. At 21, the southern California native joined the Air Force. He served four years active duty before transitioning into the Reserve. About two years ago, Eckles decided to switch from enlisted to officer and received his commission as an information wartime officer in the Navy […]

No matter who’s doing it, no matter how supportive their surroundings, coming out is difficult and scary. It was true for Sophie Thunberg, a Manitou Springs native, which might surprise some, given Manitou’s liberal reputation. But she had help. She found Inside Out Youth Services while looking for resources. “I went in for drop-in hours […]

Liz Denson considers herself fortunate to have found her dream job, she said. “I’m so lucky because I’m in the position I’ve always wanted to be in,” said the vice president of community engagement at Early Connections Learning Centers. The Conroe, Texas native’s path to Colorado included a stop in New Mexico for a few […]

Two things have been fixtures in Jason Feld’s life since childhood — Colorado and helping others. “It’s one of those things that gets instilled in you by your parents,” said Feld, who grew up as the son of two firefighters in the suburban Chicago area. “I like to help people and I like to keep […]

Lana Rodriguez didn’t become one of the best Realtors in Colorado Springs by paying for sources or leaning on gimmicky sales tactics. She was rated the seventh-best Realtor in the city in 2018 on referrals alone using the strength of a simple secret. “You work for people, you follow up with people, you stay in […]

Deborah Mynatt moved to Colorado Springs as a 13-year-old Army brat. The El Paso County Sheriff’s sergeant hopped around from school to school before settling at and graduating from Sierra High School. Today, Mynatt heads the office’s community relations and outreach unit. For instance, the sergeant oversees the office’s Citizens Academy, taught in Spanish, which […]

Francisco Montes has built his life around two bits of wisdom he received from his parents. “My mom said, ‘Cisco, I don’t care what you do — just be the best at it. You could be the garbage man, just make sure you’re the best garbage man,’” Montes said. “And my dad told me, ‘Continue […]

Adam Morley stands out. He’s tall, so that gives the mustachioed 32-year-old an instant advantage when it comes to visibility. But mix in his eye for fashion (check out the socks), his involvement in the community and convivial personality, and Morley rises from mere standout to a 2019 Rising Star. Morley moved to Colorado Springs […]

Mattie Gullixson is no stranger to shaping public policy. At only 30 years old, she has built an impressive resume effecting tangible change for her fellow Coloradoans. “I like new challenges,” Gullixson said. “There’s no doubt about that.” Gullixson rises to those challenges, both in her job as a senior regulatory compliance analyst for Mayor […]

When Natasha Main stepped up as executive director at Peak Startup in June last year, she also took a “step back.” “For Peak Startup, we took a step back when I was hired — in a really great way — to reassess and speak with the community … looking to co-develop what it is that […]