Stella Hodgkins knows the importance of preparing for the future — and not just because of her background in sustainability.

As a sustainability specialist for GE Johnson Construction Company over the past six-plus years, Hodgkins led the company’s efforts to meet the needs of its clientele through ecologically, socially and financially responsible means.

Hodgkins moved into a new role as the company’s corporate citizenship manager earlier this year and now spearheads its efforts surrounding philanthropy and corporate sustainability, with a heavy focus on community engagement.

Who better to lead those efforts than a sustainability expert who has been involved in volunteerism and philanthropy in the Springs since she was still a high school student?

“I’ve been engaged in the community since I was 17 years old in various capacities, and it’s something I feel strongly about,” Hodgkins said. “Every individual in a community needs to be engaged in some way. In order to create the kind of community we want to live in, we all have to step up and be active in it to help create some momentum and the kind of change we would like to see.”

Sustainability isn’t just a career choice for Hodgkins, it’s also a deeply fulfilling passion.

“Being able to work on sustainability efforts where I feel like there are tremendous opportunities — not only in the construction industry but for the built environment — is fulfilling in knowing we’re creating pretty dynamic change right now,” Hodgkins said.

And it’s not only through her work that Hodgkins tries to better her community. She is currently serving or has served on numerous boards and commissions in both Denver and Colorado Springs, including the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute Selection Committee, the City of Denver Office of Sustainability Advisory Council and the Denver-based The Alliance Center, which brings together industry leaders from different sectors to break down silos and promote sustainability throughout the state.

She is also a longtime member of El Pomar Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Development program, which focuses on building leadership opportunities for diverse and minority populations.

“That’s something I’m pretty passionate about, because boards and commissions have not changed very much for decades,” Hodgkins said. “They historically and currently are predominantly older, white men who fill those roles. So to be able to increase the number of women and minorities on those commissions is something I feel is very important, because boards and commissions should represent the communities that they serve.

“We all have different perspectives … those varying perspectives need to be given voice.”

Since being recognized as a Woman of Influence, Hodgkins said she’s begun to think more about how she can be more effective in encouraging locals to get involved in their community, to effect positive change.

“We as individuals, we’re the ones that create our community,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you are in life … no matter where you sit, there are still opportunities for you to get engaged.”