The annual Mayor’s Young Leader Awards program recognizes young professionals ages 40 and under who are stepping up to current challenges and serving as leaders in Colorado Springs through their work and/or volunteerism. Nominations are accepted each August and winners are announced during an award ceremony each October. The award categories are Community & Economic Impact; Creative Industry; Education; Military Leader; Sports, Health & Wellness; and Technology & Sustainability. The program began under Mayor Steve Bach in 2015 and has been hosted annually ever since by Mayor John Suthers.
Military Leaders Award: TSgt Stephanie Bandy | United States Air Force
As a professional military education instructor stationed at Peterson Space Force Base, Technical Sergeant Stephanie Bandy is responsible for educating and mentoring the junior non-commissioned officer ranks on leadership, management, mission, and cultural topics. She has educated and led more than 300 service members, totaling 2,000 hours of instruction. She also coordinates seminars and became certified in lesson development on topics related to emotional intelligence, diversity, and inclusion for members across the Air and Space Force. She volunteers for a variety of community programs and organizations, including TESSA, Mary’s Home, and the New Life Family Care Ministry Team.
Technology and Sustainability: Rebecca Jewett | Palmer Land Conservancy
As president and CEO of the Palmer Land Conservancy and the former executive director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Rebecca Jewett is committed to community health and building through land and water conservation. Driven by on-the-ground impact, she has led the exponential growth of Palmer Land Conservancy, growing the organization more than four-fold and securing millions of dollars to conserve critical natural landscapes and water resources. She has led high-impact projects, such as expanding Ute Valley Park, conserving Jones Park Open Space, and navigating and ensuring public access through the conservation of Strawberry Hill in North Cheyenne Cañon Park. Rebecca has also served on the boards and committees of numerous nonprofits, including the Land Trust Alliance’s National Leadership Council, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Conservation Futures Project and the Trails and Open Space Coalition. She currently serves as the founding board chair of Keep it Colorado.
Sports, Health and Wellness: Aubrey McCoy | Colorado Springs Sports Corporation
As the chief operating officer for the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, Aubrey McCoy, plans and operates some of the largest events in Colorado Springs, including the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off, the Star Spangled Symphony & 4th of July Block Party, the Broadmoor Cycle to the Summit, the Pikes Peak Regional Airshow, and the Rocky Mountain State Games. Aubrey also volunteers as a board member for the Police Foundation of Colorado Springs and serves on both the Medal Valor Committee and the Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax (LART) Advisory Committee. She also cochairs the Colorado Springs Sports Economy Team, which evaluates the Colorado Springs sports industry field, and is involved in her church and children’s school.
Education: Sloan Gonzales | University of Colorado Colorado Springs
As the program director for the Chancellor's Leadership Class and UCCSlead, Sloan Gonzales is helping to develop future leaders in the Pikes Peak region. Her leadership development program helps students engage and build relationships with the community, instilling civic pride and a stronger connection to Colorado Springs. Sloan’s volunteerism includes hosting a variety of community trainings, working with Inside Out Youth Services, Kids Hope Mentoring New Life Downtown, and the Colorado Springs Rising Professionals Group. She is an advisory board member for the Pikes Peak United Way Family Center and committee chair for the Pioneer Technology Arts Academy.
Creative Industry: Jeresneyka Rose | Trust for Public Land and ArtByRizzo
As a freelance visual artist who founded ArtByRizzo and a fellow for The Trust for Public Land, Jeresneyka Rose has contributed her expertise and passion to empower community members in southeast Colorado Springs. Over the last few years, she co-led the RISE | Southeast Colorado Springs Youth Advisory Council on several projects to improve access to quality public spaces, including the successful renovation of Panorama Park. She also volunteers for Food to Power, Grace Be Unto You Outreach, and the CommUNITY pantry.
Community and Economic Impact: Natasha Hutson | U.S. Bank
As a business access advisor for U.S. Bank, Natasha Hutson works to expand business opportunities for minority-owned small businesses by collaborating with community partners. She is an active member of several boards, including the Colorado Springs Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Springs Black Chamber of Commerce, Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Pikes Peak Region (CASA), Downtown Partnership, The Thrive Network, and Women of Impact. An advocate for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Natasha is married with three children. She received the 2022 Rising Stars award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal.
Community & Economic Impact
An individual who has measurably impacted the community or local economy through their business, community involvement or events. The community impact should have a tangible, measurable effect on the community, including job creation, workforce development, volunteer efforts, board service, or an innovative business model that promotes social goals.
- Samantha Chapman, Sentinels of Freedom
- Cecilia Harry, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC
- Natasha Hutson, U.S. Bank
- Kayla Nelson, Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation
- Erica Romero, Pikes Peak Workforce Center
An individual who is using creative methods or systems to transform their given industry and demonstrates the power of art and business working together to make a positive impact.
- Kristin Kotera, TDG Architecture, Inc.
- Victoria Lipscomb, Springs Recovery Connection
- Caitlin Lowans, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
- Jeresneyka Rose, Trust for Public Land and ArtByRizzo
- TerryJosiah Sharpe, Anthem Music Enterprises
Uses creative, non-traditional approaches to improve education, thereby fostering future generations of innovative thinkers.
- Cordelia Feess-Armstrong, Food to Power
- Sloan Gonzales, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
- Nathaniel Lohmann, Colorado Springs School District 11
- Dr. Sarah Long, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
- Jesse Perez, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
A team player who leads by example to embody the values of integrity and excellence in service. This individual’s positive impact extends into the greater community.
- Stephanie Bandy, United States Air Force
- First Sergeant James Herrington, United States Army
- Isaac D. Johnson, United States Space Command
- Captain Kyle Kravitch, United States Army
- Technical Sergeant Dearatha D. Nelson, United States Air Force
Sports, Health & Wellness
An individual who is making a standout contribution in any of the sports, health and wellness sectors, whether as an entrepreneur through business, events or volunteer commitments, or as a health and wellness champion tangibly improving the lives of others, physically, emotionally and/or mentally; implements compelling new ideas or provides, grows or enhances sport/recreation initiatives; uses sport/recreation to bring community together; or someone who has worked to make it possible for more people and societal groups to live healthier, happier lives and whose work in sports/health/wellness has had a meaningful social impact.
- Michelle Beyrle, El Paso County Public Health
- Brendan Burke, Switchbacks Football Club
- Jennaya Colons, Penrose Hospital, Centura Health
- Justin Hayworth, Ent Credit Union
- Aubrey McCoy, Colorado Springs Sports Corporation
Technology & Sustainability
This individual provides enhancements in technology and/or sustainability that advance productivity, improve efficiency, increase performance, provide innovative results or pursues sustainable initiatives to make our community a better place for future generations.
- Csilla Brimer, Willenrimer Consulting
- Kelly Bull, Kelly Bull Permaculture Design
- Izzy Hankes, Bluestaq
- Rebecca Jewett, Palmer Land Conservancy
- Mackenzie Tamayo, Catalyst Campus for Innovation and Technology