Women of Influence: Doris Ralston

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Doris Ralston is a modest woman who’s most comfortable shining the spotlight on the people around her.

Ralston works as executive director of the Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation. She’s also the only employee, so she does it all there, from making bank deposits to organizing board meetings and writing the annual report.

Ralston holds a master’s of public administration degree from UCCS and her bachelor’s degree in community health education from East Carolina University.

Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Ralston to the Commission on Family Medicine, a three-year volunteer commitment.

With Ralston at the helm of the foundation, it was named the outstanding grant-making organization for 2012 by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence’s Partners in Philanthropy.

She also won the John H. Drabing Award for “extraordinary dedication and support” in 2010 and the National Award for Excellence in Financial Development, awarded by the Congress of Lung Association staff at its national meeting.

The Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation is a private organization that provides grants to health-related nonprofits. The foundation also gives scholarships to osteopathic medical students “hoping they return to Colorado to practice,” Ralston said.

In 2012, the organization gave $157,500 in grants and $51,000 in scholarships.

With an annual budget of $350,000, “we’re very lean,” Ralston said. “We believe in taking the resources and using them in the most responsible way.”

Board member Michael Welch, D.O., praised Ralston for her tenacity during the 10 years she has worked for the organization and he has been on the board.

“Over those years, I always found Doris to be extremely capable in the performance of her various duties,” Welch said.

She also continues to volunteer for the American Heart Association.

“Throughout my time with her, Doris has demonstrated outstanding leadership and maintained a constant sense of dedication to our cause,” said Dot Teso, executive director of the southern Colorado chapter of the American Heart Association.

Ralston has worked in the nonprofit sector most of her career, and she spoke with gratitude of having “great volunteers and an incredible board.

“The volunteers have made my job a joy and successful,” Ralston said. “It’s a team that contributes to the success.”

Seven years ago, her husband Grant died, leaving her as a single parent to raise their 10-year-old son, Robert. Last year, they lost their home to the Waldo Canyon fire.

They chose to not rebuild. Instead, she and Robert together went shopping for a house, and she let her son select their home.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges,” she said. Her son is “an incredible human being. He volunteers at the soup kitchen,” she said. “A friend of mine reminded me that we can choose to be bitter or better when faced with unpleasant obstacles and challenges, and I try to choose to be better.”

Also, she added, “I didn’t do this alone. I’ve had great support in the community.”

— Marija B. Vader