Women Thriving. Colorado Rising.

Colorado Springs Chat4Change:

Raising Women's Voices: Honoring Colorado Springs SheroesColorado Springs Chat4Change event graphic with panelist images

Colorado Springs has had its fair share of SHEROEs over the years and we are pleased to be able to honor three of these women for their contributions to the founding of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Pikes Peak Women.

A Community Conversation With WFCO and Pikes Peak Women

Through their actions, words, and deeds, they have demonstrated the importance of community focus, philanthropy, and being the change we want to see in the world today.

Please join us in welcoming Yolanda Avila, Mary Lou Makepeace, and June Waller as they share their stories, life lessons and help us all see that when Women Thrive, Colorado Rises.

September 23
5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Register here

Meet The Panelists

Yolanda Avila headshot Mary Lou Makepeace headshot June Waller headshot
Yolanda Avila Mary Lou Makepeace June Waller

 Read her bio            

Yolanda Avila’s family has lived in Colorado Springs since 1958. Yolanda started in kindergarten at Fort Carson and graduated from Colorado College in 1985 with a BA in International Political Economy. In 1990 Yolanda began work as a criminal defense investigator in Orange County, CA. She also worked as a field supervisor and mentor to the local university students. In 1998, Yolanda was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that has a prognosis of blindness. Avila retired in 2011, she returned to Colorado Springs to be near her mother.

Avila immediately championed several causes in District 4 by improving transit accessibility, fixed bus routes and frequency.

Her commitment to improving infrastructure in her district resulted in an unprecedented amount of infrastructure construction, including roads, bridges, sidewalks and ADA ramp construction. She is thrilled that designs will commence on the Airport/Circle and I-25 bridges as well as the Airport Road over Spring Creek bridge. As there hasn’t been an Urban Renewal Authority Project in Southeast, she has been championing this effort and she expects to have one, if not two, such projects by the beginning of 2021. Avila is a resident leader of the R.I.S.E. (Resilient, Inspired, Strong, Engaged) Southeast Coalition, which sponsors activities for projects in Southeast and is currently spearheading the Panorama Park initiative. Avila has also advocated for the Community Hub at Mission Trace to include retail space and services. She is an alumna of:

  • 2019 Senior Executives in State and Local Government course at Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • 2015 Leadership Pikes Peak Signature Program

Yolanda’s guide dog Puma accompanies her to the many boards, commissions, and committees where she serves gratefully as both a City Councilmember and a CSU board director.


 Read her bio            

Mary Lou Makepeace came to Colorado in the early 1970s as a caseworker working on child abuse cases and an administrator for the El Paso County Department of Social Services. Her work in the nonprofit world began when she became the Executive Director of the Community Council of the Pikes Peak Region, which established programs like a homeless shelter and Project COPE, designed to assist the elderly and the poor with their utility bills. That agency’s interactions with City Council got her interested in city government, and in 1985 she was appointed to fill a council seat that was being vacated. She remained on the Colorado Springs City Council for 12 years, where she had a reputation as a voice of reason during some contentious times. She was the Executive Director of the adolescent child placement agency STAY from 1995-1997. As councilmember, Makepeace helped form The Colorado Springs Women’s Network in response to the growing number of women who voiced concerns about discrimination against women.

Makepeace was elected Colorado Springs’ first female mayor in 1997 and served two full terms. Colorado Springs had been Ground Zero for Amendment 2, which restricted what cities could do in terms of offering equal benefits, equal opportunity, and equal protection for gay and lesbian citizens. It was ultimately overturned, and under Makepeace’s leadership as mayor, the Colorado Springs City Council passed several equality measures, including domestic-partner health benefits. The city’s first female municipal judges were appointed by Mayor Makepeace. She had a substantial impact on the community through her tireless efforts as the city’s most senior public servant.

After leaving public office, Makepeace was driven by her beliefs in equality, diversity, and inclusivity to become the Executive Director of The Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, whose mission is to enhance Colorado’s equality of life. She has been responsible for awarding an annual average of $2 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations across Colorado and helping those organizations grow, flourish, and succeed while collectively instigating a cultural shift to inclusivity and equality for all citizens, building healthy families, and encouraging civic involvement.


 Read her bio            

June is a retiree from a career of affordable housing management. In the Colorado Springs community for more than one-half century, she has served on numerous boards and commissions, including NAACP, ACLU, Colorado Black Women for Political Action (CWBPA, Founder Colorado Springs Chapter), The Women's Foundation of Colorado (founding body), National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officers, League of Women Voters, Catholic Community Services, Urban League, Buffalo Soldier Memorial Committee, Colorado Springs Black and Latino Coalition, the Colorado Springs Transportation Advisory Commission, and Colorado Prince Hall Foundation.

Waller has a B.S. degree from UCCS, with undergraduate and graduate studies from University of Maryland and University of Northern Colorado. June is a graduate of Leadership Pikes Peak and attended the Center for Creative Leadership twice. She has received various awards from the NAACP, CBWPA, the 2014 Divine Award by Citizens Project, and was a Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction in 2016. Currently she serves as a Southside Community Resource Connector for the Hillside Advisory Team through the Colorado Trust and continues her effort to meet her neighbors one- on- one.


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