Twenty years ago, powerful community funder El Pomar Foundation launched a new program, Forum for Civic Advancement, with a nod to founders Spencer and Julie Penrose.
The wealthy and caring couple who bought the property of the Broadmoor Casino and Hotel in 1916 and were involved in other projects in the town, started the foundation in 1937 with a mission to “enhance, encourage and promote the current and future well-being of the people of Colorado.
The mission of the foundation and the forum remains the same.
The forum was created to provide an opportunity for civil discourse and public-minded citizens, who know much or little about Colorado Springs, to learn more about what’s going on in the community, said Matt Carpenter, vice -Executive President and Head of the El Pomar Foundation. Head of Operations.
“Communities improve and get better when people are engaged and active, so if we can bring people together to talk about hot topics or hear what’s happening in our community, it helps them to be better informed and to consider being more engaged,” he said. noted.
The theme for this year’s first forum is “A Changing City: Planning the Future of Colorado Springs.”
The in-person-only program will take place from 5-8 p.m. on April 21 at the Penrose House Conference Center, 1661 Mesa Ave.
Local leaders and experts will discuss Colorado Springs’ rapid growth and how the city can expand in a “healthy and fair way.”
With a population of 478,961 at the 2020 census, Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in the state, but is expected to become the largest in coming decades, according to forecasts.
The program is free and open to the public, but reservations are required at www.elpomar.org/programs/forum-for-civic-advancement/.
The event will begin with a keynote by state demographer Elizabeth Garner, on 2020 Census data, which shows Colorado Springs’ population grew about 14% from 2010 to 2020, and its domestic product gross exceeded $40 billion in 2021.
A panel will discuss the implications of the data.
Panelists include Professor Tatiana Bailey, University of Colorado Director at the Colorado Springs Economic Forum; Aikta Marcoulier, Executive Director of Pikes Peak Small Business Development; Eric Phillips, economic development specialist and business owner; and Tony Rosendo, CEO, Founder and Partner of Spur Philanthropy.
The moderator will be Johnna Reeder Kleymeyer, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber & Economic Development Corp.
“It seems like a timely topic to have in 2022,” Carpenter said.
The first forum was held on January 10, 2002, featuring State Rep. Chuck Berry, who spent 14 years in the Legislative Assembly, beginning in 1984, and served four terms as Speaker of the Bedroom. Why people should get involved in public service was the topic of the inaugural event.
Subsequent forums could be held this year, Carpenter said. The forum presents two to four programs a year, he said, and often hosts nonpartisan candidate debates in a civil manner.
Up to 100 people normally attend, he said. Last year’s forum was virtual and no presentations took place in 2020.