If Judy Cara has one thing to lament, it’s that her mother did not live to witness the boundless accolades bestowed upon her daughter during the last five years.
“Mummy would never even believe that I spoke in front of 5,000 people,” said Cara, community relations manager for Intel Corp. and one of this year’s Women of Influence honorees.
Speaking to a large crowd is small potatoes compared to Cara’s achievements as a professional woman and community activist. Since landing in the Springs in 1987, she has volunteered hundreds of hours and served on several nonprofit boards.
In 2000, she was selected as the DOVIA (directors of volunteers in agencies) Volunteer Manager of the Year. In 2002, Cara received appreciation awards from School District 20, the Salvation Army and the Colorado Springs Fire Department. In 2004, the Girl Scouts Wagon Wheel Council presented Cara with the Woman of Distinction award, and later that year the Denver Post, Lockheed Martin and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado conferred on Cara the Unique Woman of Colorado award.
In 2005, Cara received the YMCA Partner’s Campaign “Rookie of the Year” award and the Athena award from the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.
As she receives this latest recognition, Cara credits her “mum” as her own “woman of influence.”
“When I was growing up in England, my mummy was active in PTA,” Cara said. “I used to go along with her when she collected money for the fundraisers. She taught me community involvement.”
At age 10, Cara joined the children’s program (now called the Paw Prints Club) of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and raised money for the animals through bake sales and other projects.
In her early 20s, Cara received a letter from a man who ran an orphanage in Zambia. “The letter moved me,” she said. “I had to do something to help them.”
Cara’s idea: dealing stamps. She knew there was a market for foreign stamps – common in England, she said.
With the help of the local newspapers, Cara’s project went public.
“People from all over the U.K. sent me stamps,” she said. Cara sold the stamps to the dealers and gave the money to the orphanage.
She eventually visited the orphanage and today describes what she observed with a lingering sense of disbelief.
“The children in the home were primarily girls – their parents gave them up when they were born because they didn’t want to provide a dowry for them,” she said.
If Cara inherited her compassionate spirit from her mother, her father’s legacy was a strong work ethic.
“My dad was the son of a bus driver and later became the art director for J. Walter Thompson,” she said. “He came from a simple background.”
And although he died when Cara was 10, she said his “stellar” career influenced her choices.
Cara’s own stellar career has spanned the globe, from her native London to Colorado Springs.
In her position as spokeswoman for Intel, Cara has embraced the corporation’s philanthropic focus: education.
Cara has championed Intel’s national program, Project Lead the Way, which promotes engineering careers by intercepting elementary and middle school students. She started a summer camp for minority girls interested in math and science. She established two Intel-sponsored Computer Clubhouses, an after-school program for kids. Cara oversees an Internet-based program that introduces engineering to teachers and middle school students, and has helped orchestrate Intel’s public television series on math and science in elementary schools.
The list goes on, and so does Cara’s influence.
“Judy Cara has been so influential in this community,” said C.J. Moore, Kaiser Permanente public affairs. “There are few nonprofits here that have not benefited from her expertise, and there are few of us … who have not relied on her expertise and her wise counsel and advice. The thing about Judy is that she gives so freely and with such graciousness. We are very fortunate, and Intel is even more fortunate, to have a woman of her caliber and influence here in Colorado Springs.”
Her influence extends to her family life as well.
She takes time to be a “proper step-mom” to Kelsey, 16, and Kim, 14. Her husband, Jim, is supportive and “wonderful,” she said.
Leisure activities include gardening, walking the dogs or golfing. Although she said she isn’t influential on the golf course, concentrating on “that golf ball” keeps her mind off work.
She may not anticipate a hole-in-one in the near future, but she does cite two major feats: moving to the United States from London and earning a bachelor’s degree last year.
Cara is motivated through others’ successes. “I want to have made a difference in people’s lives … it might be one kid at a time, but it’s making a difference,” she said.
Something “Mum” may have known a long time ago.