Sallie Clark, a self-described “rabble-rouser,” first jumped into the political fray in a bid to save a neighborhood fire station in Colorado Springs -- a fight she ultimately won. And even as she has advanced from activist to city council member to an El Paso County commissioner (and president-elect of the National Association of Counties), Clark says much of her work is still focused on public safety and neighborhood issues. Recently, for example, she worked to reduce child fatalities due to abuse or neglect in El Paso County, where she has served as a commissioner for 10 years. She helped create the county’s “Not One More Child” program in response to the deaths of 10 children in 2011, a number that dropped by half once the program was launched. El Paso County leads the state in the number of reports related to child abuse and neglect.
Clark, who owns a bed and breakfast, credits her time as a military wife for showing her that women could thrive in business. At age 20, Clark became a medical assistant in the San Diego area while her husband was serving in the U.S. Navy. The doctor who hired Clark became her mentor. “[She] did it all. She had kids, she had a business,” Clark recalls. “That showed me that women could achieve just about anything they set their minds to.”