Stephany Rose Spaulding recalls one of her first in-person interviews 10 years ago for her teaching position at UCCS. The Chicago native was told of all the living things that make the area home, including plenty of deer — and the occasional mountain lion.
When a faculty member asked what might prevent her from accepting the position, Spaulding said, “Y’all live in an open zoo!”
That didn’t deter the now-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Colorado Springs and associate professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the university. But those are just two bullet points on a résumé bursting with public service and activism.
Prior to her interview in the Springs, however, Spaulding had never been to Colorado.
Roger Butts said of Spaulding: “She is a community leader. She has helped time and again with forums and discussion groups. She is looked to when other leaders need to know what is important, what is moral, in local, state and national policy debates. She is graceful and a bridge builder.”
Butts continued: “Ask her who her friends are. They are a diverse group of folks wanting to make a difference in our world. She keeps her heart open and her network wide!”
Spaulding says her proudest professional achievement has been starting the Truth and Conciliation Commission this year, “because it feels like all of my assets of creative, professional and public life are all converging.”
The project, Spaulding said, “is a national call for a federal commission on racial justice. We’ve never as a nation had one before.”
Spaulding added that her opinion of the Springs has changed over the past decade.
“When I first moved out here, people were certainly cautioning me on the lack of diversity,” she said. “But over last 10 years, the population has shifted and there are some nuances to the city — there are more open and progressive communities.
“There’s so much diversity thriving on the Southside of the city, and even the move to being Olympic City [USA] will bring another population.
“There are changes happening,” she said. “We’re not as static as people might want to stereotype us as.”
And what does it mean to Spaulding to be named a Woman of Influence by the Colorado Springs Business Journal?
“It’s extremely humbling to have others recognize the service and the work that I’ve been doing in community, not for accolades,” she said, “but because it’s my heart and my passion. It takes my breath away to have other community members ... bestow the honor on me. I would do what I do regardless. To have other people see that and elevate that work is truly humbling.”