Look up the term “self-made” and an image of Alana Lipscomb would be fitting.
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast two months after she graduated high school, right as she was getting ready to start college in Mississippi. She and her family had lived in Colorado Springs, so she moved back to Colorado to pursue her education at Pueblo Community College. After two semesters, Lipscomb headed back to Mississippi for a year, taking classes in administration.
Lipscomb, now 36, never forgot the people and agencies that helped her family after the hurricane, — and that feeling of gratitude left her wanting to pay it forward. She worked as a massage therapist in Mississippi to help clients become healthier and even thought about a career in nursing, but realized science wasn’t her strong suit.
By 2012 she was back in Colorado.
“There was a time I couldn’t offer anything to anyone,” she recalls. “I was in need of all the services that Colorado could offer so that my children and I could survive. I took advantage of every resource and opportunity that I could find and Colorado’s services helped put me back on my feet.”
Settling in Colorado Springs, Lipscomb enrolled at Pikes Peak State College, where she joined student government, became chair of the State Student Advisory Council and served on the board of Open Educational Resources and as Phi Theta Kappa vice president.
She traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and efforts to end food insecurity.
I try to be a walking resource so that no one ever has to be in need as I was.
She also was named PPSC’s Community Member of the Year and became the first in her family to graduate from college.
Lipscomb graduated in 2019 with an associate degree in general studies in her hand and a passion for working with nonprofits in her heart.
She spent more than five years using her skills in leadership development as the administrative lead for Shine Nation, an after-school program that helps students pursue their interest in theatrical arts.
“Nonprofit work requires a lot of dedication and commitment, so it’s important to choose a cause that you care deeply about,” she says. “Reflect on your personal experiences, values and interests to identify issues that motivate and inspire you.
“Be patient and persistent: The nonprofit sector can be challenging, and it may take time to find the right job or make a meaningful impact. Stay committed to your goals, and be open to learning and growth opportunities along the way.”
Lipscomb has also worked for the El Pomar Foundation and Pikes Peak United Way, volunteers with food pantries and clothing drives, and advocates for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. She volunteers to coach sports and after-school clubs, including the Gay-Straight Alliance. During the summer, she volunteers as a camp counselor and manages youth internship programs.
“I try to be a walking resource so that no one ever has to be in need as I was,” she says.
“Alana is one of the most passionate and hard-working young professionals I know,” Donna Nelson, chief development officer at PPSC, wrote in her nomination. “She pours her heart and soul into our community, and honestly, I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition.”
Now, Lipscomb is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in leadership and management at CSU-Pueblo and is an independent contractor, helping to build youth and adult programming curricula for Leadership Pikes Peak, Kingdom Builders Family Life Center and Solid Rock Community Development Corporation.
At Solid Rock, Lipscomb directs the Civic Ambassadors Program, which works to reduce juvenile violence in Southeast neighborhoods. She supports young adults doing community service in that area, with a focus on helping older residents.
Somehow, she also has time to raise three children with her spouse, Victoria.
“I have always had a passion for building up the community that invested so much into me as a child and young adult,” Lipscomb says.