This year, we’ve seen both the best and the worst of humanity. We’ve seen frontline workers continue to care for patients, nonprofits step in to fill gaps government won’t, and an increasing push for racial justice. 

This week, we honor some of those trailblazers, these dreamers and doers with our annual Women of Influence awards. During 2020 and before, they have been on the forefront of making things happen for our region. And this year, unlike any other in memory, they deserve a standing ovation for their efforts. Please read the magazine enclosed in this edition to learn more about this year’s group of women leaders. 

This year, we received nominations for so many women who deserved the award, we did something different. We’re honoring 15 women for their accomplishments, an increase from the 14 we usually celebrate.

Legacy winner Laura Neumann faced adversity not once, not twice but three times, and the experiences — from earthquakes to being at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, to the Waldo Canyon Fire — shaped Neumann’s leadership skills as she directs one of the city’s ambitious City for Champions projects. 

City Councilor Yolanda Avila stands up and speaks out for residents of Southeast as part of her commitment to the city’s most diverse area. Erin Miller leads the Space ISAC to greater heights and Amy Long serves one of the city’s largest employment sectors at Visit Colorado Springs. 

We honor Blackpacker Executive Director Patricia Cameron’s determination to introduce nature to people of color, and Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding’s commitment to speaking out about social injustice, while also teaching classes as a tenured professor at UCCS and leading a church congregation. 

In the magazine, you’ll discover how Public Health’s Susan Wheelan is leading El Paso County through one of the worst pandemics since the AIDS crisis. You’ll see how Patricia Yeager advocates for people with disabilities and how Cory Arcarese fights for small businesses and Southeast Colorado Springs. Jessie Pocock leads the region’s sole nonprofit for LGBTQ teens and young adults, offering many the only safe place they know: Inside Out Youth Services. Carrie McKee runs Rocky Mountain PBS’s regional services and Dr. Debra Dean advocates for better workplace cultures. 

We celebrate Dr. Detra Duncan for her work as a member of the Fountain City Council and for UC Spectrum Healthcare. Shelli Brunswick is a leader in aerospace for the Space Foundation and Ellie Red Cloud helps businesses develop successful strategies. 

As a woman, these honorees are extraordinary. They serve their communities; they fight for necessary, important change. It’s a privilege to honor their contributions to business, to nonprofits and to our region. 

Please join me in congratulating the 2020 class of outstanding professionals, community leaders and nonprofit activists.

Amy Gillentine 

Publisher and Executive Editor


Amy Gillentine is publisher and executive editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. She is an award-winning writer and editor. Amy started at the Business Journal as its health care and defense reporter in 2005.