Rebekah – Rising Stars 2020–37

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, Gans decided to stay in Colorado and launched herself into a vastly different career — fundraising for nonprofit organizations.

“I always used to say that the perfect career for me would be if I could simply be a volunteer my whole life,” Gans said. “I love working in the community, volunteering, and helping other people, but that doesn’t pay the bills. So when I graduated from CC, I fell into the nonprofit sector. It wasn’t my plan, but I really found my passion there.”

Gans’ first job out of college was serving as the development director for the Children’s Literacy Center.

“I knew absolutely nothing about fund development,” she said. “So I googled a lot of things. When you’re passionate about something … it’s actually easy to be successful in it, because you put your all into it.”

Gans is now the development director for the nonprofit preschool organization Early Connections Learning Centers, where the kids who benefit from her fundraising are never far from her mind.

“My job is bigger than myself,” she said. “It really impacts multiple lives. So if I ever need a reminder, I’ll walk downstairs and go sit in the classroom with the children for a few minutes. And it just reminds me how important the work is that we’re doing.

“I have always felt that children are our community’s future. And we need to make sure that they have the things they need to be successful.”

Outside of Early Connections, Gans spends much of her time giving back to the community through her work with other nonprofits.

She’s the immediate past president of the Junior League of Colorado Springs, which works to support women in the community, and she still sits on its board of directors. She is also on the board of Newborn Hope, which supports premature babies and their families as they transition home from the hospital.

“Most of the organizations that I support currently, and also have in the past …  support women and children,” Gans says. “That seems to be where my calling is.”

Asked what’s drawn her to serving those populations, she said it’s about giving others access to the same opportunities she had.

“I haven’t experienced a lot of adversity in my life. I’ve been very fortunate,” she said. “But I realize how important it is to be able to fulfill my own dreams and my own goals, so I want to make sure that everyone has that opportunity.

“I try to be involved in as many things as I can to support the community … and I plan to continue that.”