The Steering Committee
What is the Steering Committee?
Members of the Comprehensive Plan Executive Steering Committee serve as the "public face" of the project. They were appointed by Mayor John Suthers to represent the community, actively engage in public outreach and advocate for the Comprehensive Plan.
Who is on the Steering Committee?
Click on a name to see each member's bio and additional information. Click on the name again to close the additional information
Merv Bennett, Chair
Merv Bennett is a member of the Colorado Springs City Council.
He has provided leadership to the YMCA, one of the largest community not-for-profit organizations, for more than 40 years. His career began in Elgin, Ill., where he worked in leadership within the YMCA’s fitness and wellness programs. He then came to Colorado and spent 38 years at the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region where he worked as the vice president, president and CEO. Under his leadership, the Pikes Peak YMCA grew from a $4 million annual budget to nearly $20 million annually and nine new centers were built which serve more than 120,000 persons through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
In addition, the YMCA Camp Shady Brook was rebuilt after extensive wildfire damage in 2002 to ensure children continued to have learning and recreational opportunities. Besides his work with the local YMCA, he provided international leadership as a council member of the North American YMCA Development Organization (U.S., Canada and Mexico) and later served as chair for three years.
As your council member at-large, Merv served on the Memorial Hospital Task Force and was the council representative on the lease negotiations. He also established the Colorado Springs Health Foundation. In addition, he served as the chair of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board. Currently, he is council president, chair of the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority, a member of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Board and an ex-officio member of the Regional Business Alliance Board of Directors.
Merv has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Anderson University in Anderson, Ind.
He, and his wife of 45 years, Roseann, have three daughters, Julia Wallace, Angela Merckx and Leah Vanagas, and five grandchildren.
Jill Gaebler, Vice Chair
As the former Development Director for Greccio Housing, a local nonprofit, President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler is an advocate for a connected community. She co-founded Colorado Springs Charter Academy, a public school in District 5, and currently serves on the boards of the Pikes Peak Library District’s Foundation, the Downtown Development Authority, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, The Colorado Springs Public Market, and The Colorado Municipal League. In addition, she is an ex-officio board member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
During her term as Board President at Colorado Springs Charter Academy, Jill oversaw the $7 million purchase of the school campus and led the school during significant state budget reductions. During her tenure at Greccio, she raised over $2.5 million to provide affordable and safe housing for hundreds of low-income families in Colorado Springs.
Jill arrived in Colorado Springs in 2000 after seven years as an Air Force officer, where she served as contracting officer, guaranteeing the efficient and effective use of millions of taxpayer dollars. She and her husband of 23 years are raising their two teenagers in the Patty Jewett neighborhood. Jill received her bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Arizona.
Rachel has worked in municipal government policy, research, and communication for 15 years.
As a former public information officer for the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities, and as a consultant, Rachel has helped citizens access their municipal government, understand community issues, and has helped craft initiatives to improve the region’s infrastructure and land use.
She is currently the Government Affairs Manager for the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors for CONO, and is a past board member of the Palmer Land Trust, Colorado Springs Press Association, and UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art. She is also an active community volunteer and a graduate student at the George Washington University.
For the past twenty-seven years the Trails and Open Space Coalition has worked to preserve open space and parks, and create a network of trails, bikeways and greenways for the Pikes Peak region. TOSC has roughly one thousand members, dozens of local partners, supports 20 regional Friends Groups and has been instrumental in preserving thousands of acres of open space plus creating hundreds of miles of trails.
Two of TOSC’s primary goals: see that this region is “branded” as a “world class recreation destination,” and to secure stable public funding for our parks, trails and open spaces.
Prior to joining TOSC in August of 2009, Susan was a television news journalist/weather anchor and worked in various TV Markets: Green Bay,WI; Syracuse, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Cleveland, Ohio and finally Colorado Springs at KOAA. While in Pittsburgh and Cleveland she occasionally anchored the weather for ABC in New York on Good Morning America as a back-up for Spencer Christian.
During her years in journalism she developed a passion for environmental reporting and embarked on a graduate program in Environmental Science and Management at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, completing it in 2000.
With her husband Bill Beagle and teenage daughter Elizabeth Beagle they embrace the Colorado life style and enjoy hiking, camping and snow-skiing and live in Monument.
Charles served four years active duty in the United States Air Force. After being honorably discharged he joined the Air National Guard for 22 years. He joined the Department of Defense and transferred to NASA-Johnson Space Center. He retired from Federal Civil Service in 1995.
Charles joined Rothe Development LP aerospace company as Deputy Project Manager responsible for engineering and manufacturing of flight unique hardware for the Space Shuttle and Space Station Programs.
Retired to Colorado Springs in 2001.
Interests include family, reading, fishing, wood turning, and running a small antique business.
Kent Fortune is vice president and general manager for USAA, a large insurance firm specializing in serving the needs of military families. He holds a B.A.. in business from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He and his wife enjoy life in Colorado Springs, giving back to the community and watching his nephews play hockey.
Joshua Green is a champion for creating an integrated community in Colorado Springs that is friendly and engaging for youth, emerging, and mature professionals. He holds a Masters in Nonprofit administration from the University of Notre Dame, is passionate about the nonprofit sector and has worked across organizations such as Cheyenne Village, United Way, and Compassion International. He's currently a strategic planning consultant with Mission Accomplished Consulting and a leader in the ConnectCOS community.
Maureen is a partner with the firm Widner Juran LLP. She has practiced law for 26 years, mostly representing Colorado municipalities and special districts on a broad range of local government matters, including contracting for comprehensive plans and advising on land use decision making involving comprehensive plan guidance. Maureen currently serves as the Deputy City Attorney for the City of Centennial, as Town Attorney for the Towns of Hot Sulphur Springs, Lochbuie and Palmer Lake, and as counsel to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.
Maureen has lived in northwest Colorado Springs for 17 years, where her husband runs a software company that was born in the Springs. Along with her husband and two college aged children, she takes advantage of the city’s and the state’s numerous outdoor features and opportunities whenever she can, and enjoys the ever developing urban amenities of Colorado Springs.
Hannah Parsons leads the Community Development team of the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC. This team covers Government Affairs, Business Climate, and Workforce Initiatives. It is her priority to ensure the political environment, business processes, and workforce pipeline are optimal for businesses today and in the future. Hannah is a strong supporter of Downtown Colorado Springs. She currently serves as Board Chair of Downtown Partnership. Additionally, Hannah serves on the board of Ormao Dance Company.
Eric is the current chair of the Colorado Springs Planning Commission. He is a military veteran with a long history in the City. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree business/ management from the University of Phoenix. He has held executive and elected positions with non-profit entities including the Community Associations Institute and the Community Partnership Project, Inc., and has been active in the urban League.
Jim received his PhD. from the University of Colorado in management with an emphasis in public administration. His career was focused in urban planning in both the public and private sectors. He worked primarily in Aurora; Lakewood; Boulder; and Denver in addition to many other Colorado cities. In addition he taught Urban Planning in the School of Environmental Design at the University of Colorado. He also was an administrator in the Colorado Community College System. He has lived in Colorado since 1950 and in Colorado Springs,with his wife Kathy Loo,since 2009. He serves on the Urban Renewal Board and as a Trustee for the CSFAC.
Proud Colorado Springs resident since 1972
Residential Real Estate Broker in Colorado Springs for 44+ years
Salzman Real Estate Services, Ltd., Owner/Broker 1978-2015
ERA Shields/Salzman Real Estate Services 2015-present
Colorado Springs Business Journal 2014 “Best of Business” in Residential Real Estate
2015 Recipient of the “Spirit of the Springs” Award from the City of Colorado Springs and the 2015 “Community Support Award for Excellence” from the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance
Tim is the owner and principal of N.E.S, Inc., a full service planning firm that has served the land planning needs of a wide variety of private, institutional and public clients for more than two decades. He is currently the president of the Housing and Building Association and has served on a myriad of other committees, boards and commissions including the Board of the Thomas MacLaren School, the Quality of Life Indicators (QLI) project, and the City Code Scrub Committee. He is a member of APA, ASLA and the Congress of New Urbanism. He holds a Master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado. Tim and his family have lived in Colorado Springs for the past 18 years.
Robert Shonkwiler is currently a member of the City Planning Commission (past chair) and Urban Renewal Authority. He relocated from Boulder Colorado in 2005 after a 30+ year career in real estate and development. While in Boulder, he served as an officer and/or founding member of a variety of organizations including their Downtown Management Association and BID. In addition to his work with the PC and URA, Robert chaired a transit solutions team and is active in the Code Scrub Committee. He is sharing his “retirement” in Colorado Springs with his two children.
Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Classic Companies
Mr. Stimple is responsible for the home building, land development and engineering operations of Classic Homes and its family of companies. Mr. Stimple’s direction and oversight is showcased in many of El Paso County’s flagship communities including: Flying Horse, High Forest Ranch, Stratton Forest, Promontory Pointe, Forest Lakes, University Park, and Indigo Ranch, to name a few. Prior to joining Classic in 1995, he was the managing partner of a local law firm. He received his law degree from the University of Iowa and his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University. Doug is an active member of the community and has served on numerous boards and steering committees throughout the Pikes Peak Region.
Taj is lead pastor at Passion City Church, serving the needs of the southeast community.
He is the co-founder and director of Thrive Colorado Springs, an entrepreneurship training program geared towards SE community revitalization by taking residents of the SE community and teaching them how to launch their own small businesses to create community success from within.
Graduate of Charis Bible College in Woodland Park, CO.
Community Organizer, regularly partnering with local institutions to promote a strong sense of community and healthier neighborhoods on the SE side of town.
Member of CityServe, a multi-church effort to bring the entire faith-based community of our city together to serve on a single day of the year with a single purpose: to seek the city's peace & prosperity.
Account Executive at Workplace Resource
List of Co-Creators
Who are Co-Creators?
- The commit to the two year process of updating the Comprehensive Plan.
- They are special participants and ambassadors for the Comprehensive Plan process
- They can represent their neighborhood, organization or other constituencies
- They are committed to participating in key community events
- They are willing to review and comment on the vision and Plan as it develops
What do Co-Creators do?
- Help the City obtain high quality, informed stakeholder input
- Ensure there is informed representation from broad perspectives, geographic areas and neighborhoods all over the City, especially for constituencies and communities that are traditionally underrepresented
- Arrange meetings with formal or informal community groups (for example Kiwanis, a neighborhood group, school superintendents etc.)
- Willingness to actively participate in key points during the Plan's two-year process
- Willingness to facilitate, represent, and convene as necessary
- Willingness to "sign-up" and provide a little information about yourself such as where you live, work, age category etc.
Not sure if your group is already being represented?
Check the list of Steering Committee members, their bios and the list of current Co-Creators on this page.
Sign up to become a Co-Creator or request more information
To sign up or request more information about becoming a Co-Creator, please fill out the questionnaire or email Carl Schueler at email@example.com
The Consultant Team
The City has hired consultant firm Logan Simpson to assist in the Comprehensive Plan process.