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Girl Scouts Honor Women of Distinction in Colorado Springs

September 19th, 2014

By Hannah Staller

I recall my first Girl Scout meeting. At six years old, I sat in a circle of girls I knew from school. I was a shy child, and felt nervous starting a new activity. My mind quickly changed when my Troop leader introduced me as a new member, and the circle of girls enfolded me in giddy hugs and excited squeals. I held my hands high in the Girl Scout Sign as I performed the Girl Scout Promise and Law, making commitments to respect and honor my fellow troopers, my country, and myself. Read the rest of this entry »

The Durango Discovery Museum: Preserving the Penrose Mining Legacy

September 18th, 2014

Molly Brown

With the mission to spark curiosity, ignite imagination and power exploration it is fitting that a Utah Copper Company boiler dated from 1906 resides in the Powerhouse Theater of the Durango Discovery Museum. Spencer Penrose, a man accustomed to adventure himself, was a shareholder of the Utah Copper Company in 1906.  Though he could never have known it, the money that he left to El Pomar Foundation continues to support the engaging work of the Durango Discovery Museum today. Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese Government Officials Meet Colorado Political Leaders

September 18th, 2014

Rising Chinese political leaders arrive in Denver tomorrow to engage with state politicians and Rocky Mountain culture. The nine-member delegation will spend two weeks in the United States, hosted by El Pomar Foundation and the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL).

“ACYPL provides unique access for the world’s future leaders to a broad spectrum of seasoned experts in diplomacy and communication, and prepares them for effective future service,” reflects William J. Hybl, CEO of El Pomar Foundation and Chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

While in the U.S. the delegates will visit Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Denver and Colorado Springs. During the program, delegates will participate in open discussions with government officials, community, business and nonprofit leaders, as well as local citizens. Through these interactions they will examine government policy making, American politics, political advocacy, and the diplomatic bonds between the U.S. and China.

On September 21 through 25, the group will travel through Denver and Colorado Springs, where the delegates will examine political leadership at the state and local level with the Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, members of the Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County Commissioners board, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

While in Denver, delegates will also learn about the Congressional election process through meetings with campaign staff for United States Senator Mark Udall and State Representative Cory Gardner. They will have the opportunity to question state media representatives, including the Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover, CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy, and Rocky Mountain PBS’s Kristin Jones. The delegation will be hosted by longtime ACYPL partner organization El Pomar Foundation.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mandela Washington Fellows – From Africa to Colorado Springs

September 16th, 2014

(Colorado Springs, CO) – In August El Pomar Foundation welcomed Mr. Abdirizak Ali from Somalia and Mr. Mustapha Gwary from Nigeria who are participants in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.  During their eight-week internship, both Fellows gained valuable leadership experience through contributing to El Pomar’s programs and participating in professional development activities.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the new flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

Abdirizak Ali comes to El Pomar Foundation for his two-month internship with a background in community education and outreach.  Prior to his arrival he participated in the Civic Leadership Institute at Rutgers University.  He leaves the Foundation strongly motivated and well-equipped with skills from nonprofit development courses and leadership training to effectively promote civic development and economic growth, and is eager to share his experience when he returns home to Bosaso, Somalia to start an institute for leadership and governance. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Food Week Organization Feature: Colorado Springs Food Rescue

September 16th, 2014

Andy Post, Internship Class of 2014

As the harvest season descends upon Colorado Springs, the Local Food Movement is in full swing. This week Colorado Springs celebrates Local Food Week, featuring a rich concentration of events seeking to bring the food economy, from cultivation to compost, back to the local community. Colorado Springs has witnessed an explosion of businesses and organizations focused on restoring the food system to promote the health of economy, community, and natural resources.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections from LeadershipPlenty

September 9th, 2014

All communities contain an untapped pool of people with the potential to improve their own lives and the lives of those around them. This idea is the driving force behind LeadershipPlenty, a leadership training program designed to empower individuals to “think in new ways about who can be a leader, how diverse leaders can work together effectively, and what action they can take.” Rather than focusing on issues and problems in communities, LeadershipPlenty recognizes that the key to long-term success is identifying community assets and mobilizing them to be positive forces for change. Read the rest of this entry »

The Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun

September 5th, 2014


Nathan Mackenzie

The Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun is one of Colorado Springs’ great landmarks, offering visitors an unrivaled panorama of the city and surrounding area.  In addition to the wonderful view, the Shrine has a rich history that, as with many things in Colorado Springs, began with Spencer Penrose.

In 1932, upon learning that he had throat cancer, Spencer Penrose began planning the construction of a memorial tomb on Cheyenne Mountain. Designed to resemble a medieval tower, construction of the Shrine lasted from 1934 to 1937. The tower was built with a 200,000-pound steel frame and 6,500 cubic yards of granite quarried from a single Cheyenne Mountain boulder.  The 114-foot tower is a “singing tower” with chimes and a vibraharp that can play 125 selections.

Read the rest of this entry »

15th Annual Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program

September 3rd, 2014

“My participation in NELP had a great impact on my personal life as well as on my professional efforts. Because of the open sharing environment during the NELP program, I came to realize that many others are dealing with similar situations and that there are ways to work through them that make a nonprofit even stronger.”

-2013 NELP Alumni Mary Stegner, Executive Director, Partners in Housing

On August 11 – 14, 2014, El Pomar Foundation and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) partnered to welcome 23 participants to the 15th annual Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program (NELP). NELP is a four day leadership training program for Presidents, CEOs, and Executive Directors of Colorado nonprofits with annual operating budgets exceeding $750,000. The program provides participants the opportunity to develop their individual leadership styles, in addition to understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, this experience allows nonprofit leaders to better serve the communities they work with across Colorado.


Please click here to learn more about the program. Past program participants have particularly benefitted from the environment of peer feedback and self-reflection that the program encourages:

“NELP was the most in-depth training I’ve ever received. The data and feedback was extremely valuable, and the coaches were top-notch. The training was helpful in giving me the perspective of so many other Executive Directors sharing their similar struggles and stresses.”

-2013 NELP Alumni, Tony Shawcross, Executive Director, Open Media Foundation

“Managing employees is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of my job. I have used the Situation Behavior Impact (SBI) feedback tool with employees and appreciated having a tool to help me lay out my thoughts ahead of time.”

-2013 NELP Alumni, Teresa Malone, Executive Director, Durango Education Center

“What an inspiring and invaluable week learning about leadership, mentoring and myself. I’m so grateful to El Pomar Foundation for the opportunity to spend time with colleagues and experts in such a world-class program. I’m constantly learning there is still so much to learn and this experience was no exception – in fact, it exceeded my expectations in every way.”

-2012 NELP Alumni, Joanne Kelley, CEO, Colorado Association of Funders


Weathering the Storm

August 29th, 2014

Hannah Staller

Today marks the nine year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast. Today, we remember the nearly 2,000 people who lost their lives and honor the recovery efforts of those who call the Gulf States home. Those of us far removed from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath may not have experienced the storm’s direct impact, witnessing the storm unfold only through haunting images of destruction as almost 80% of New Orleans went under water. After the hurricane, a girl from New Orleans joined my eighth grade class. Her family migrated all the way to Centennial, Colorado while they made plans to rebuild their lives.

As our community recovers from its own devastating natural disasters with the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires, many among us can understand the utter tragedy of losing homes, a sense of safety, and perhaps even loved ones. Beyond empathy, the Colorado Springs community is more connected to Hurricane Katrina than you might think.  Katrina drove 400,000 people from their homes in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf. Of that number, 10,000 people found their way to Colorado, and 2,000 came to Colorado Springs.

In 2013, KRDO featured a story on one such man named Robert Brunet, who brought his family to Colorado Springs after Hurricane Katrina forced them to leave their Louisiana home. Although the transition was not easy, Brunet opened a successful home cook business and now owns Momma Pearl’s Cajun restaurant in Colorado Springs. In KRDO’s interview with Brunet last year, Brunet said, “my heart goes out to those people who have found themselves victim to recent fires around Colorado Springs, as I know how it feels.” According to KRDO, Brunet participated in fundraisers and cooked dinners for victims of the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires because he remembered those who helped his family after Katrina.


Chef Robert Brunet at Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen

Although our state is not fire free this year, I feel thankful that our community has experienced a safer summer. I am also thankful for our disaster response teams throughout Colorado, and all the people who volunteered their time during the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires. On Monday, New Orleans reporter Ted Jackson published a photo essay documenting the city’s recovery in The Times-Picayune.  He concluded his essay with a statement that I believe rings true for any community which experienced a disaster and continues to recover: “We’ve helped each other to rebuild and adjust. Our resolve is strong. Our endurance through tragedy has proved to be our distinction, not our eulogy.”

To read KRDO’s full article and Ted Jackson’s photo essay, follow the links below:

Hurricane Katrina survivor brings Cajun culture to Colorado Springs:

Photos of Katrina then and now:


“I’d Rather Wear Out Than Rust Out”

August 29th, 2014

Each year, The Emerging Leaders Development Program honors a Southern Colorado minority community leader with induction into the Milton E. Proby Cultural Heritage Room. The Proby Room was dedicated in 2006 to pay tribute to Reverend Milton E. Proby’s legacy of civic involvement and fellowship across cultural boundaries. This year, with over 400 community members gathered in celebration, El Pomar Emerging Leaders Program proudly inducted Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Thomas H. Martinez.

With both his family and Reverend Proby’s son present, LTC Thomas H. Martinez joined the group of esteemed leaders honored in the Milton E. Proby Cultural Heritage Room. To commemorate the moment, musician Bob Abeyeta played three of LTC Martinez’s favorite songs; Las Mañanitas, De Colores, and Volver Volver. In addition, leaders from the ELD selection committee spoke about the impact the Emerging Leaders Development Program has had on their ability to serve their communities. The event showcased not only LTC Thomas H. Martinez’s many successes, but the expertise of many leaders that keep Colorado Springs so vibrant.


The Martinez family honoring LTC Thomas H. Martinez

Born in Sopris, Colorado, LTC Martinez graduated from Huerfano County High School in 1933 and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942. While in the military, LTC Martinez served during WWII and the Korean War. While in Korea, LTC Martinez discovered the importance of giving back to the community, even if his presence in the community was only temporary. Experiencing firsthand the value the local hospital provided to soldiers, LTC Martinez began raising funds to ensure the hospital could continue its work.

Upon retiring from the military and settling in southern Colorado, LTC Martinez dedicated his time to increasing access to education, specifically for Hispanic youth. With the belief that education is a birthright of every American, he was instrumental in establishing the Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF), a fund that aims to reduce barriers for Hispanic students in attaining college degrees. LAEF is a one-stop center of information, providing guidance to parents and students navigating the college application process. Through his career as a civil servant, LTC Martinez has inspired and enabled countless underprivileged youth to continue their education. The Emerging Leaders Development program is proud to induct such an influential community leader into the Milton E. Proby Cultural Heritage Room.

To recognize in perpetuity LTC Martinez’s dedication to education, in 1988, a district 11 elementary school was named in his honor, LTC Thomas H. Martinez Elementary.  In addition, Martinez served as Chair of La Raza Unity Council, President of St. Vincent De Paul Society, and President of the Colorado Springs Chapter of the American G.I. Forum. In 1978, he was the recipient of the “Hispanic Employment Program” from the U.S. Civil Service Commission. He lived a life of tireless service exemplified by a favorite quote, “I’d rather wear out than rust out.”