Gretchen Bliss and Sloan Gonzales receive Community Leadership Awards 

The Leadership Pikes Peak 2023 Community Leadership Awards were held on Friday, June 16. At the awards luncheon, Gretchen Bliss received the Gary Bostrom Community Inspiration Leadership Award and Sloan Gonzales received the Emerging Leader Award.  

Every year, Leadership Pikes Peak (LPP), the region’s premier leadership development organization, honors four outstanding leaders in the community. These leaders have demonstrated a dedication to building a thriving community through leadership and service. This year, they hosted the Community Leadership Awards Luncheon during the annual LPP conference. 

“Both Gretchen and Sloan were selected from a pool of nominees by a committee of LPP alumni and community members,” said Sabrina Wienholtz, executive director of Leadership Pikes Peak. “In both cases their nomination packets included many examples of volunteerism and service that has had a broad and lasting impact on the Pikes Peak Region. Both Sloan and Gretchen are LPP alumni, as well as having stayed connected through service to the organization — Gretchen as a long-time board member and Sloan as a facilitator.” 

The Gary Bostrom Community Inspiration Leadership Award is given to an LPP alumni that consistently makes every effort to go above and beyond as a community volunteer for the Pikes Peak Region. The nominee motivates and encourages the people around them to be engaging members of the community. 

Gretchen Bliss leads UCCS’ academic and research efforts in cybersecurity as the Director of Cybersecurity Programs. Since joining UCCS, Bliss has been a relentless advocate for the campus and the community. This year UCCS earned third place in the nation for cybersecurity community outreach. 

“It is quite an honor,” said Bliss. “Gary Bostrom was leaving the LPP Board when I joined eight years ago and he was an inspiration, always tirelessly advocating for the community and personally putting in the sweat equity needed to get things done — a true inspiration to me and my work. I am honored to represent UCCS and cybersecurity across the community from Middle School Summer camps from across the region at UCCS to regional leadership positions in the National Cybersecurity community.” 

Bliss has an extensive background in cybersecurity, with over 30 years of experience. Before joining UCCS, Bliss spent five years with Pikes Peak State College leading cybersecurity efforts. Her previous work experience includes 25 years as the NORAD Deputy Senior Analyst and Chief of Plans, supporting the government’s efforts in understanding the evolution of cyber information operations and warfare as well as computer network defense and attack. 

The Emerging Leader Award is given to an LPP alumni, under the age of 35, that is positively impacting their community through their professional and volunteer efforts.  

Sloan Gonzales serves as UCCS’ inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Education and Outreach. In this position, she provides a critical role in developing, coordinating and assessing DEI educational initiatives and resources to help promote individual and institutional agency and social responsibility for DEI at UCCS. Additionally, she works to foster partnerships and collaborations with key stakeholders and develop and design innovative outreach communications that help elevate the impact of DEI at UCCS. 

“Leadership Pikes Peak is where I first learned the impact of community-based leadership over 10 years ago,” said Gonzales. “Since then, I have made deep connections to our Colorado Springs Community and grown as a leader in large part to Leadership Pikes Peak. I am beyond honored to have received their Emerging Leader award. I love the work I do at UCCS, and it is heavily influenced by my experiences with Leadership Pikes Peak.” 

Sloan Gonzales has served in several roles at UCCS including program director for The Chancellor’s Leadership Class and the UCCSlead program and as an adjunct instructor in the department of Communication and gateway Program Seminar. She has worked in nonprofits and higher education for over a decade supporting leadership development, community engagement and DEI development. She also is a community advocate, trainer, program developer and public speaker that focuses on ethical leadership, communication, social justice, leadership development, community and culture building, strategic planning, and civic engagement. Sloan is a UCCS alum.  

About Leadership Pikes Peak 

For 40 years, LPP has been dedicated to building a thriving community through leadership and service. LPP provide community leadership programs for experienced professionals, young professionals, women and teens. 

LPP educates current and aspiring leaders about the community — its needs and its resources. Leaders are connected to each other and engage through the Experience the Springs educational tour, programs, alumni association and partner programs.  

LPP alumni become active members of the community. Alumni serve on boards, committees and give back through volunteer opportunities. LPP also strategically aligns itself with other organizations to improve the civic health of the Pikes Peak region. 

Learn more here.