2023 Rising Stars: Chelsea Gondeck

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Chelsea Gondeck (Photo by Bryan Oller)

If you have ventured through AdAmAn Alley in Downtown Colorado Springs, you’ve seen the results of Chelsea Gondeck’s bold vision and extreme attention to detail.

The $2.2 million project required coordination with scores of stakeholders, patience and negotiations, and continual problem-solving, says her nominator, Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs Executive Director Susan Edmondson, and Gondeck, director of planning and mobility at the Downtown Partnership, brought all of that, as well as a commitment to and love of Downtown.

“It’s the most exciting thing I’ve gotten to do,” Gondeck says. The project, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the AdAmAn Club’s first New Year’s Eve climb to set off fireworks from the summit of Pikes Peak, launched Dec. 28 and has already generated more than 18,000 place views on Google Maps, Edmondson says.

Gondeck joined the Downtown Partnership two years ago and manages a growing portfolio of projects, including large residential developments, that are improving and vitalizing Downtown. Some of those projects aim to make it easier to get around, enhancing walkability and bike and scooter

She also stewards the Experience Downtown master plan, which lays out principles and action steps for economic development, placemaking, branding and Development of Downtown, and recently became executive director of the Greater Downtown Business Improvement District, which maintains a clean, safe, engaging and welcoming environment.

It’s a many-faceted job that keeps her busy, but that’s the way Gondeck likes it.

“There’s something new and different every day,” she says. “It never gets boring.”

Gondeck, whose military family moved here in 2007, graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in psychology and political science from UCCS and earned a master’s in political science from the University of Colorado-Denver.

“I love creating a sense of community.”

While working on her graduate degree, she worked full-time as an economic development specialist for the city of Fort Morgan.

“I initially had been interested in state or national politics, but I think my time at Fort Morgan made me realize the direct impacts and being able to see outcomes of things you’ve worked on at a local level,” she says.

She returned to Colorado Springs in 2018 to work with special districts and local entities as assistant public manager at CliftonLarsonAllen until she was offered a position at the Downtown Partnership in 2021.

“It seemed like a dream job where I could work adjacent to what city government does while also having a little bit more flexibility and getting to work on fun projects,” she says.

Gondeck loves volunteering and has opportunities to do so both in her professional role and on her personal time and is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion.

She serves as vice chair of the board of Inside Out Youth Services.

“I started volunteering with them, and just by being active and contributing your voice, people are interested in having you play a bigger part,” Gondeck says. “So I was asked to join the board after volunteering for about a year.

“I love creating a sense of community,” she says. “I think a lot of young people feel like there’s nothing to do or there’s nothing that interests them. But I think it’s pretty easy to find something that is meaningful to you and get involved and feel like you’re a part of the fabric of your community.”

Gondeck thinks younger people can bring a different and valuable point of view to organizations with which they become involved.

“I like to think I’m breaking groupthink sometimes, because people can get pretty set in their ways or what they think is an understanding of what’s really going on,” she says. “And I think when you can kind of come in as an outsider or somebody from a different generation, you can provide a different perspective that I think can help everybody develop better opportunities that are options
moving forward.”

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