Iris Clark didn’t begin her career with the intention to achieve success and influence.
It just found her.
Clark, who is vice president of business lending at Vectra Bank and a member of several business boards and organizations, said a defining point in her life was 10 years ago when she decided she wanted a change.
That meant packing up and leaving Pueblo and moving to Colorado Springs to continue a career path that has straddled the fields of business and science.
The change resulted in Clark developing a reputation as an authority on natural resources, banking and business.
And although her involvement and leadership have brought her recognition, she remains reserved about her reputation and influential reach.
“I just really can’t imagine myself being called a woman of influence,” she said. “I just like to be involved, but I don’t know if influential is the right word.”
Alan Roth is a financial planner who worked with Clark when they served together on the Peak Venture Group board.
“She’s got a lot to be proud of, but she hasn’t let it go to her head,” Roth said.
Even if Clark is hesitant to be called influential, one could argue that her many years of business experience and community participation build a strong case for recognition.
And, even though Clark said her move to Colorado Springs was a transitioning point, her success story began years before.
Clark attended Adams State College in Alamosa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1974 and later a bachelor’s degree in secondary science education.
Her studies led to involvement with energy resource boards and a job as editor of an energy resource publication.
Then, Clark started her own company, Clark Communication, and later became director of special projects for the San Luis Valley Board of Cooperative Services, which funds and manages federal and state grants for 14 school districts.
Her work on the board of cooperative services won her the Governor’s Outstanding Individual award in recognition for building successful coalitions. The honor included a trip to Washington, D.C., where she was recognized by the first President George Bush.
In 1993, Clark received a master’s degree in organizational management.
She later became a franchise owner of General Business Services, which provided tax and consulting services to business clients. Clark wrote and taught curriculum for the business’ strategic planning workshops.
In 1996, she began working with Pueblo Community College’s Small Business Development Center, and in 1997, moved to Colorado Springs to lead the Small Business Development Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Clark was then recruited into banking.
She continues her involvement with natural resource management, sitting on the board of directors for the Southern Colorado Energy Resource Center.
Clark also is a member of the boards of Southern Colorado Economic Forum and the Pikes Peak Minority Business Foundation, and was founding board member of the Peak Venture Group.
She has contributed business columns to The Colorado Springs Business Journal, and wrote a business advice column, called “Ask Iris,” for The Gazette.
“She has the highest ethics, and everyone who knows her loves her,” Roth said. I’d trust her with my life.”
Roth also said Clark deals with business clients in a way that’s not often seen.
“Everyone says they put their clients’ needs ahead of their own,” Roth said. “It’s easy to say but hard to do – Iris does it.”
Roth believes Clark is sought by so many organizations because of the way she deals with clients and her solution-oriented approach to business, and he said that’s really what’s made her successful.
“The result of those solutions has been her success,” he said.
Clark credits it to her inquisitive nature.
“I’m just curious, I guess,” she said, “and I like to help.”