Profile: Shannon Rauen

Posted on Jul 6, 2015 | 0 comments

shannonrauenHear from Fresh Perspective’s board member Shannon Rauen for this week’s Fresh Perspective Profile! She’s got some great thoughts on building a better community in Colorado Springs!

Tell us about yourself!

I’m an Arizona native that had the good fortune to discover the beauty of Colorado early in life. My family lived in Denver for almost 7 years and Colorado has always been one of my favorite places to be. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in political science, I moved to Washington, DC for an internship and never returned home. I just loved the energy and focus of DC, where I worked for a nonprofit working to engage more young women in politics and public policy. As their executive director, I saw first-hand the positive impact diverse representation can have on policy outcomes and recognized the challenges that young people face when trying to engage in the political process.

While living in DC, I met my husband – an Army officer who is currently assigned to Fort Carson. This is his third assignment here and we consider the Springs home. Trust me, when the Army sends us someplace else, we cross our fingers and hope to find our way back to this beautiful city! I’m proud to be the first Program Coordinator of the Colorado Springs Rising Professionals (CSRP), a membership organization creating a conduit for all rising professionals to find meaningful involvement in the Pikes Peak Region. I also have two children and two fur-babies. In my free time, I volunteer with the Ft. Carson Family Readiness program and serve on the board of directors for Fresh Perspective and Connect! Colorado Springs.

2. What are the top 3 issues you see facing Colorado Springs?
First and foremost, I believe we need a compelling vision for our city’s future. We need bold leaders willing to make difficult, and possibly unpopular, decisions with regards to our infrastructure, taxation, city planning/zoning, and economic growth overall to ensure we have a vibrant city befitting our beautiful natural surroundings. I think diverse perspectives are critical to creating and achieving this kind of vision.

Secondly, we need to get young people more engaged in the political process on a local level. Every day, I interact with young professionals who love this city and care deeply about its future. They are passionate and have a vision for what Colorado Springs could be. However, I haven’t seen this concern translated into political action in a meaningful way. When only 7.5% of people under the age of 40 vote, what message does it send to city leaders and older generations about our attitudes towards the city? I know young people care greatly about the Springs, but we need to match our actions to our words.

Finally, economic development is critical. As the old saying goes, “it’s the economy, stupid!” The city needs to attract primary employers while also encouraging small business and entrepreneurship. People may be attracted to the beauty of our local surroundings, but without a job to pay that will pay their bills (anyone else drowning in student loan debt?!?!), how can they choose to stay?

3. What do you love about Colorado Springs?

This city is beautiful, with lots of opportunities to be active and outside. Plus, it is full of inspiring and passionate people. I firmly believe that we need to change the tone and tenor of our narrative, which tends to be very negative and self-defeating. There are amazing things happening here and people working hard to make a difference.

4. What would you change about Colorado Springs?
As a military spouse, I will say that one of my greatest frustrations is a lack of engagement and involvement from fellow military families. I think, all too often, we view ourselves as transitory and never fully engage with our surrounding community. There are so many opportunities for everyone in Colorado Springs, and especially for military families, and it would be nice to see us take full advantage of those opportunities. I believe the installations could do more to engage and connect the military with the local community on the whole.

5. Would you ever consider running for office in Colorado Springs?
Why? Are you asking me to run? Only kidding. Running for political office is one of my long-term goals. Trying to find the right balance between small kids, a husband who is frequently deployed around the globe, work and life sometimes makes it seem like an impossible balance. I definitely hope to make a run someday.

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