Five outstanding individuals receive a Mayor’s Young Leader Award

Aisha Ahmad-Post, Jeff Finn, Erik Huffman, Erin Miller and Ian Ratz awarded for their contributions to Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – During Tuesday’s fifth annual Mayor’s Young Leader Awards, Mayor John Suthers recognized five individuals for making extraordinary efforts in their field while making a positive impact in the Colorado Springs community. Launched in 2015 to celebrate the outstanding achievements of young professionals age 40 and under, the 2018 winners were selected from 25 finalists across five categories.

“The quality of work presented by this year’s Mayor’s Young Leader Award finalists was exceptional,” said Mayor Suthers. “I am consistently pleased with the young professionals who are serving Colorado Springs across all industries and am grateful for their contributions to our city. The 2018 winners are fantastic representatives of Olympic City USA, and I look forward to following their future success.” 

The 2018 winners are as follows:
Creative Industry: Aisha Ahmad-Post, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Ahmad-Post serves as director of the new UCCS Ent Center for the Arts, which opened in January 2018. Selected for the role in August 2017 following a national search, she has already proven to be a capable leader at UCCS and has had early success connecting the community with the new Center. She has also built an impressive advisory board, and more than 125 events were produced in its debut season, welcoming more than 110,000 people in just 18 weeks. Ahmad-Post’s presenting series alone drew nearly 7,000 patrons in its first three months with an average sell-out rate of 60 percent, significantly higher than average. 

Community & Economic Impact: Jeff Finn, Nor’wood Development Group
A project design manager for Nor’wood Development Group, Finn’s work spans the spectrum of building projects – all combining to make meaningful impacts while raising the quality of life for all Colorado Springs’ residents. He has been an integral part of not only creating the vision, but also implementing more than $250 million in current downtown projects.

Finn’s leadership as a technical advisor on the application process and other aspects of City for Champions projects has been crucial. He was one of the key players who worked tirelessly to help bring the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame to Olympic City USA, and he serves on the building design and construction committee, which has helped ensure that the museum’s design is deeply connected to the community. Among many other projects, he serves as the project executive for Greenway Flats, a 65-unit permanent supportive housing project that will provide safe and supported housing to some of our most vulnerable citizens. He also led the effort to bring UCCS downtown with the recent opening of the UCCS facilities on Tejon Street. 

Education: Erik Huffman, Handshake Leadership
The founder and CEO of Handshake Leadership, Huffman also works for SecureSet Cybersecurity Academy Colorado Springs. Through these roles, he closely collaborates with Academy District 20 and Widefield School District 3 to educate teachers about cybersecurity and has helped them develop cybersecurity classes that are benefiting the technology leaders of tomorrow. In addition to his work with local school districts, Huffman has won multiple awards, including the 2018 Pikes Peak Region Small Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and he was named a 2018 Colorado Springs Business Journal Rising Star. Through Handshake Leadership, Erik was invited to speak at NASA about research in cybersecurity, and he serves on the board of the Information Systems Security Association. His goal is to help K-12 school districts become more cyber aware, work that is critical for the future success of cybersecurity.

Technology: Erin Miller, Center for Technology Research and Commercialization
Miller is the founder and managing director of the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization, which is Southern Colorado’s first technology transfer and transition-focused non-profit. Her proudest accomplishment has been implementing Air Force CyberWorx as a collaborative opportunity for private industry to design hand-in-hand with airmen and cadets. Her commitment to bring innovative ideas from the private sector to the Air Force has laid a foundation for C-TRAC and Air Force CyberWorx to redefine how the Air Force views and resolves issues. Under Miller’s leadership, C-TRAC unites public, private and academic ingenuity that helps our military become more technologically capable. To date, hundreds of companies have been recipients of C-TRAC campaigns, and C-TRAC has recruited for more than a dozen design programs valued at more than $4.5 million. 

Sports & Wellness: Ian Ratz, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Ratz works in the sport management program for the UCCS College of Business where he is the assistant director of student success. Under his guidance, program applications have increased from 259 to 637 with enrollments growing by 75 percent. These substantial increases have occurred concurrent to some of the most rigorous admission standards of any undergraduate program at UCCS. In addition, Ian has overseen 350 student internships with 115 different sport organizations. He also teaches a sport science class, which consistently earns some of the highest student evaluations in the college, and he has helped graduates from the sport management program secure good jobs within the highly competitive sports industry.

More information about the Mayor’s Young Leader Awards, including a list of all 2018 finalists and past award recipients, is available at