Women of Influence: City should feel proud

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As you probably noticed on page 2 of this issue, one of the Business Journal’s most popular traditions is continuing beyond our change of ownership three months ago.

That tradition, of course, is the Women of Influence honors, with the 2012 winners to be recognized at a special luncheon event on Thursday, Sept. 20, at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

We have made one significant change to the format this year, actually, more like going back to the future. In the past few years, Women of Influence had grown — or perhaps we should say exploded — from a dozen or so honorees to 30 and a whopping 40 at a time.

Certainly, one could make the argument that Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region have plenty enough influential women to justify choosing 40 a year. But that would mean a good-sized number of repeat winners from previous years.

We also have heard from numerous people in the community — including a few previous honorees — saying that perhaps 40 was too many. The winners were as appreciative as ever, but with 40 sharing the stage (and the limited time) instead of 10 or 12, it was hard to make sure that everyone shared the full, appropriate experience.

Our solution: We’ll be honoring a baker’s dozen of 13 incredible women this year, none of whom have been recognized previously. And that’s intentional.

Of course, the selections weren’t easy, in part because we would rather not have repeat winners any longer, except perhaps in extreme circumstances. The reason: Once you’re a Woman of Influence, you’re part of a special sorority for life, not just until the next September.

Instead, every year starting now, we’ll be sure to turn the event into a reunion of sorts — introducing and applauding every previous winner in attendance. We also will have the opportunity to mention how past Women of Influence continue to make a difference every year. For example, one of last year’s winners, Sandi Yukman, was honored primarily for her efforts with Colorado Springs Utilities. Nobody knew how her leadership on the county’s wildland firefighting team would come into play with the Waldo Canyon fire.

In some cases, being named to this group serves as a career award for years, even decades, of community leadership and dedicated involvement. That’s the case now with Carolyn Kruse and Lisa Lyden. Others obviously have prominent positions in businesses as well as charity work, including Robin Roberts, Carrie Perkins, Shawnee Huckstep, Christina Baker and Judy Kaltenbacher. Being dedicated activists or nonprofit volunteers brought Martha Marzolf and Rosemary Harris Lytle into the spotlight, and being Colorado College’s new president obviously made Jill Tiefenthaler worthy.

Then, of course, we have those who suddenly found themselves assuming highly influential roles for unusual reasons. But nobody can question how they have responded, which explains why Jerri Marr of the U.S. Forest Service and the “first lady” of Colorado Springs, Suzi Bach, are being honored.

The beauty is this program is that there is no ranking the winners. From first to 13th, they are all equal. On Sept. 20, please join us in making sure they know how special they truly are.