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El Pomar Celebrates the 150th Birthday of Julie Penrose with Inaugural Annual Award

By Will Keyse
Statue of Julie Penrose at the Penrose House

On August 12, El Pomar Foundation celebrated the 150th birthday of its co-founder, Julie Penrose, which was declared Julie Penrose Day by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. In her honor, the Trustees held a socially-distanced celebration at Penrose House to commemorate her tremendous impact on the Pikes Peak region and her leadership in establishing the Foundation as an institution to enhance, encourage and promote the wellbeing of the people of Colorado. In addition to re-naming a room at Penrose House in her honor and unveiling a sculpture in her likeness in the Penrose House garden, the Trustees decided to dedicate a yearly award in Julie’s honor, intended to highlight influential female leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic worlds.

Trustee Andrea Aragon offered her reflections on the ceremony and on this important milestone for the Foundation: “It was a true honor and privilege to pay tribute to Julie Penrose on what would have been her 150th birthday. Most people know that Mrs. Penrose was an incredible philanthropist, but what they may not know is that she was an astute businesswoman and a tremendous leader who was well ahead of her time. Thanks in great part to her vision and generosity, El Pomar Foundation has given hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit the citizens of Colorado for over 80 years. Through the creation of the Julie Penrose Award, we will be able to acknowledge other deserving women who exemplify her strength and trailblazing spirit for many years to come.” Trustee Nechie Hall added her thoughts on the special impact Julie had in establishing the Penrose name as a philanthropic driver of the region, saying: “Julie was a powerful individual, and the true genesis of El Pomar Foundation given her dedication to the communities of Colorado and her philanthropic spirit. She and Spencer were a dynamic couple, as he led many successful business ventures that formed the financial basis of their philanthropic ventures, while Julie oversaw the disbursement of those funds for good and was invaluable to the Foundation through those efforts. The Penrose legacy and the impact of El Pomar remains so strong today because of the synergy and partnership between Julie and Spencer.”

El Pomar historian and archivist, Sarah Woods, spoke to Julie’s keen leadership ability and her impact on the Penrose legacy on El Pomar today: “Julie Penrose was President of El Pomar Foundation for 16 years from 1940 until her death in 1956. Her leadership during these formative years fostered the identity and mission of El Pomar Foundation that prevails today. Julie’s legacy is one of determination, vision and selfless leadership. The creation of the Julie Penrose Award allows us to recognize contemporary women who, like Julie, are forging legacies from which the people of Colorado benefit today and will continue to do so for years to come.”

For their inaugural honoree of the Julie Penrose Award, the Trustees nominated the late Margot Lane. Ms. Lane was a dynamic and engaged individual in the Colorado Springs philanthropic community and contributed years of board service to organizations including the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and First Presbyterian Church. The Foundation looks forward to honoring Ms. Lane at a ceremony on August 12, 2021.

El Pomar Foundation is honored to continue carrying out Julie Penrose’s legacy through grant making to nonprofits that support the people of Colorado, and is tremendously excited to embark on this tradition of honoring female excellence in nonprofit and philanthropic leadership around the state.


Statue of Julie Penrose at the Penrose House

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