Raised on a farm in a “nurturing community” in eastern Colorado, Connie Brachtenbach was involved in 4-H, Future Homemakers of America and Future Business Leaders of America.
Along the way, she was three-time state champion in track, set the state shot put record, and competed in international track and Junior Olympics.
Recently, she changed career paths from the corporate world to the nonprofit arena, and feels “blessed” to be able to touch people’s lives directly.
Position: Executive director
How long have you lived in the Pikes Peak region: I have lived in Manitou Springs since October 1990.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan. Completed graduate courses toward a master’s degree in sociology at Arizona State University.
A few words about your organization: TESSA is the only agency in our community that solely and comprehensively addresses domestic violence and adult sexual assault. We play a critical role in stopping current and preventing future violence.
We also are the only victims’ services organization that, by state statute, can offer complete confidentiality to clients.
TESSA’s vision is a community committed to peace, equality and social justice, and TESSA’s mission is to help women and their children achieve safety and well-being while challenging communities to end sexual and family violence.
Recent accomplishments: I think my family is my greatest accomplishment, and in particular, I am very proud of my daughters, who are very concerned for the well being of others, compassionate, involved and community-minded people.
Obviously, most recently, I am very pleased to have been selected to be the executive director at TESSA.
Biggest career break/accomplishment: I was very fortunate to work at Deluxe/Current/Checks Unlimited for the first 18 years of my professional career. Their career development and training programs foster the development of leadership and business skills, which absolutely prepared me to take the helm at TESSA.
The toughest part of your job: I think that the biggest challenge facing TESSA is the secrecy and shame that surrounds domestic violence and sexual assault.
Because people believe these are “private” matters or are uncomfortable discussing these issues, there is a “veil of silence” that makes it difficult for victims to speak out and for our community to have the kind of open dialog necessary to create change and promote safety for all people.
Someone you admire: My partner, my mother, my daughters and Professor Rose Arnhold, (chairwoman of the sociology department at FHSU).
About your family: My partner of 18 years, Vicky, and I have two beautiful daughters, Emma, who is 14 and will be a freshman at Manitou Springs High School in the fall, and Nora, who is 7 and will be in second grade at MSES.
Something else you’d like to accomplish: I would like to get the entire Pikes Peak region engaged in active dialog regarding the impacts that domestic violence and sexual assault have on our sense of safety and well being in our community.
At TESSA, we are working to move this discussion out of the realm of being a “private family matter” and a “women’s issue,” to a broader audience through our community outreach programs in the schools, which are focused on teen dating violence and healthy relationships, and our “It’s Your Business” program, which is designed to educate employees in business settings about domestic violence and available community resources.
How your business will change in the next decade: I believe that deepening and widening community engagement and education efforts will bring a needed cultural shift around what is defined as acceptable and healthy behavior in our intimate relationships, and that this cultural shift will lead to a decline in the numbers of people needing our help.
What book are you currently reading? Peter Drucker’s “Managing the Non-Profit Organization,” Thomas Joiner’s “Why People Die by Suicide” and Hymowitz’s and Weissman’s “A History of Women in America.”
What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I would like to see adequate investment in our police department and other critical city services so that our community can be a safer place, both for people who live here now and so that we can attract smart growth for a more robust economic future.