Washington, D.C.—Today, Emerge America, the nation’s premier organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office, announced that Colorado Springs City Councilmember Yolanda Avila will receive their 2017 Trailblazers Award. The accolade, which recognizes a woman who saw a need and didn't let the fact that no woman had come before her stand in the way of fixing it, is one of three Emerge America bestows to its alumnae each year as part of its Ambition to Action Awards. Avila, who is legally blind, advocates heavily for accessibility for all and is committed to the revitalization of her district. Additionally, she was the only Democrat elected to the Colorado Springs City Council and was one of three women nominated for the honor out of Emerge’s more than 3,000 alumnae. The winners were chosen through an open voting period, in which the public voted for their favorite nominee.
“We’re thrilled that we are able to recognize Yolanda’s accomplishments, because she exemplifies the very principles of Emerge America and our network,” said Andrea Dew Steele, Founder and President of Emerge America. “Our country continues to fall behind in women’s representation, at all levels of government, and our decision-making bodies desperately need more of the unique talents and perspectives women like Yolanda bring. We hope that her groundbreaking work and uplifting story will inspire more women to run for office.”
Avila, a 2016 graduate of Emerge Colorado, pulled a huge upset earlier this year in conservative Colorado Springs when she won her city council race, unseating an incumbent. Avila campaigned with her guide dog Puma by her side and won despite being heavily outspent in a three-way race. In 1998, Yolanda was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that has a prognosis of blindness. She slowly lost her sight, and stopped driving in 2000. Her experience made her a strong advocate for improving the infrastructure in Colorado Springs, including a robust transit system. In addition to her advocacy, Yolanda is also committed to economic development and bringing jobs to her district.
“Believe in your worth - even when underestimated - because that is where the space for success is created.” -Councilwoman Yolanda Avila
The voting and awards will culminate with Emerge America’s annual Ambition to Action Luncheon in Silicon Valley on Nov. 17. Avila will be a guest of honor at the event and receive her award on stage.