March 2023 - Colorado Springs Leadership Institute - CSLI

March 2023 Newsletter




It is hard to believe that an entire year has passed since I accepted the role as your Executive Director. I am delighted to share with you the exciting progress and achievements that we have made at the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute (CSLI).
As we reflect on the past year, I am proud to report that CSLI has experienced significant growth and success in various areas, thanks to the dedication and support of our Board, founders, members, partners, and stakeholders.

One of our key accomplishments has been the substantial increase in membership renewals, which speaks volumes about the value that CSLI provides to our community of leaders. Through targeted outreach efforts we have successfully retained existing members while also attracting new ones who share our commitment to leadership development and community engagement.

Furthermore, our events have seen unprecedented success, with record attendance across the board. We have worked diligently to enhance the quality and relevance of our events, ensuring that they provide meaningful opportunities for networking, learning, and collaborating. By listening to the feedback of our members and leveraging strategic partnerships, we are creating a calendar of events that cater to the diverse needs and interests of our community.

I am also pleased to welcome the addition of new Board members who bring a wealth of experience and expertise to CSLI. With their guidance and support, we have developed successful strategic initiatives aimed at furthering our mission and impact in the community. These initiatives will enable us to reach new heights and strengthen our position as a leading force for positive change in Colorado Springs.

Additionally, we have made significant strides in supporting our new members, providing them with valuable resources, mentorship, and growth opportunities. Our enhanced Alumni Partner program, which pairs new class members with CSLI alumni, has proven to be instrumental in fostering meaningful connections and facilitating knowledge exchange.

In our commitment to excellence, we have also worked tirelessly to improve our selection process, ensuring that we identify and cultivate the most promising leaders in our community. I am grateful to the selection committee and our Board members for their unwavering support of this initiative.

Our Celebration of Leadership breakfast allowed our membership to recognize and award two remarkable women for their outstanding leadership roles and contributions to the community. Stephannie Fortune ’09 (posthumously) and Karla Grazier’s ’12 achievements serve as an inspiration to us all and highlight the transformative power of effective leadership.

As we look ahead to the future, I am filled with optimism and excitement for what lies ahead for CSLI. With your continued support and engagement, I am confident that we will continue to make a lasting and positive impact on the Colorado Springs community and beyond.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to CSLI and for being an integral part of our journey towards excellence in leadership.

Warm regards, Karen
Karen Palus, Executive Director


Save the date for our next event, the New Leader Meet and Greet on Wednesday, May 15, 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Penrose House.

CSLI, in partnership with El Pomar Foundation, will welcome leaders who are new to the city or new to their position in our community. Register by clicking here.

Alumni Assistance Needed: Do you know a new leader to our community or someone who has recently promoted into a new leadership role? If so, please complete the form linked here.

We look forward to having a robust invite list from a variety of organizations representing diverse sectors of our community. Thank you for your assistance!

Thank you to El Pomar Foundation for partnering with us on this event!

Special thanks to our event sponsors!

If you are interested in sponsoring this event please email us at


It was wonderful to see so many of you at the recent Class Coffees! We especially loved seeing alumni linger before and after to chat and reconnect.

I want to thank Downtown UCCS and Pikes Peak United Way for hosting us! The conversations were engaging and we learned a lot about our Alumni and their involvement in the community! We also took the opportunity to ask two engaging questions to assist the Board and staff with upcoming program plans and the value of membership in CSLI!

If you were unable to attend and would like to provide your thoughts please email them to me at Here’s what our alumni had to say.

What is the VALUE of CSLI Membership?

  1. Advocacy
  2. Breakdown silos
  3. Brings people and resources together
  4. Collective impact
  5. Collection elevation
  6. Community connections
  7. Diversity
  8. Foster trust
  9. Informative
  10. Multiplying affect 1 plus 1 equals 4
  11. Networking
  12. Relationships beyond your work sphere
  13. Support
  14. Work together
Pictured above Class Coffee March 20. Photo Credit: CYF

Photo above Deb Walker ’17, Kimberly Gold ’24, Lorrie Orwig 23, and CJ Moore ’03. Photo Credit: KP
Photo above Marty Trujillo ’21, Chris Garvin ’15 and Chip Frazer ’21. Photo Credit: Renee Behr

What are the most pressing ISSUES for our community? (Programming Opportunities)

  1. Affordable housing (attainable, workforce)
  2. Aging population
  3. Childcare-infant/policy issues/access/costs
  4. Growth
  5. Health care-mental health/access/costs
  6. Natural resources-water
  7. Transportation-busing
  8. Unhoused (continuum of care panelists)
  9. How to get resources to the right folks-211
Pictured above Class Coffee March 22. Photo Credit: KP


Pictured above: Susan Edmondson ’04 and Harrison Hunter ’20, Photo credit: Lauren Hug


  • Susan Edmondson ’04 : Congratulations to Susan, her entire team and all of the CSLI Alums who support our downtown on a great State of Downtown event.
  • Samantha Kruper-Peck ’22, Shirley Martinez ’23 and Sarah Vass ’21 on being named Heroine’s of the Pikes Peak Region by Pikes Peak Women.



  • Forge Evolution formerly known as Teen Court has their annual fundraising luncheon coming up. Come support Morgan Mote ’21 and Barbara Furr -Brodock ’20. Tickets:
  • Diversus Health is hosting their 3rd Annual Heroes in Mental Health Golf Tournament to benefit: Forge Evolution and Working Fusion. Support Diversus Health Board member Brian Burns ’21, Forge Evolution team listed above, and Working Fusion Board and Advisory Members Jill Gaebler ’14, and Lynne Telford ’05. Click the link below to learn more and show your support for these organizations that are doing great things within our community.…/heroes-in-mental-health…/
  • New Walking Tour: The Downtown partnership, Susan Edmondson ’04 and Carrie Simison ’16, is hosting Secret Selfie Spots on Saturday, April 6, grab your phone and your bestie and meet us at noon for a tour of some of Downtown’s best selfie spots. Learn about lighting and angles from a professional photographer across four locations, utilizing — and learning about — public art, architecture and more. At the end of the tour, enjoy a treat provided by Frozen Gold. Spots are limited, so grab your $15 ticket here.


  • Support Sarah Johnson ’18, City Clerk as the City of Colorado Springs embarks on the required City Council Redistricting. To learn more click on this link. ColoradoSprings.Gov/2024Redistricting.

What are you, your CSLI classmates, or other alumni up to? Please let us know, so we can share! Email us at with items to include in this section of the newsletter.


Thank you to everyone who has already renewed their membership! Dues are a key part of empowering CSLI and our alumni to create meaningful impact in our community.

If you haven’t received your 2024 dues invoice yet or if you’re encountering difficulty with the online payment options, please send us an e-mail and we’ll help you get paid up.

Thank you for your continued support of CSLI and its mission to develop authentic, bold, innovative leaders and connect them to each other.


Pictured above is of the Class of 2023. Photo credit: KP

The CSLI Class of 2025 recruitment is officially open. Please complete the nomination form for each candidate you are nominating. All candidates will require a current nomination by an alumni to be considered. Recruitment for the class of 2025 will close May 24th so applications can go out the first week of June.

As you are considering those to nominate please review our definition of a leader and our WHY statement! We look forward to your nominations as we prepare for an exceptional group of candidates. Let us know if you have an questions by emailing us at


We believe in Colorado Springs.

We believe our city needs authentic, bold, and innovative leaders.

We provide leaders with professional development, a diverse network, and continuous learning opportunities.

Working collectively, CSLI graduates have a meaningful impact in our community.

CSLI Definition of a Leader

1. Leaders are authentic, bold, and innovative … and have the ability in their organizations to exercise bold and innovative ideas and thinking

2. Leaders believe in Colorado Springs … and presumably active in both their vocation and avocation

3. Leaders are predisposed to continuous learning opportunities and improving their capacity and reach

4. Leaders that are able to have a meaningful impact in our community for the community … which may have something to say about their position and scope in an organization

Past newsletters