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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Elycia Cook

Chief Executive Officer

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado

Location: Centennial, CO

Founded: 1918

Industry: Positive Youth Development Nonprofit Mentoring

Elycia Cook has more than 18 years of experience working with positive youth development programs in the nonprofit sector, and that includes her current CEO role with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado (BBBSC).

The mission of BBBSC is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. To help youth tap into their highest potential, BBBSC programs use a whole-child mentoring approach to create, monitor and support matches between adult volunteers and children/teenagers.

During Cook’s first year at BBBSC, she envisioned becoming the leading youth-serving organization for one-to-one mentoring in Colorado. In doing so, she has made justice, diversity, equity and inclusion (JEDI) the guiding principle in volunteer and board recruitment, employee and donor engagement and program development. Under Cook’s leadership, BBBSC has expanded recruitment efforts for diverse candidates for staff, board members, associate board members and volunteers. The nonprofit went from 20% of people who identify as a person of color or LGBTQ+ to almost 40% of the staff.

“The many unintended consequences and the long-overdue realization of inequity in this country over the past two years have been devastating for youth,” Cook said. “BBBSC has had to become more informed … and innovative than ever. We had to get out of our comfort zone and become more culturally relevant in our pursuit of equity of opportunity and mentoring support for youth.”

In May 2022, BBBSC received a gift of $3.6 million, the largest single contribution in BBBSC’s history, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Scott recognized BBBSC’s commitment to JEDI, which aligns with her philanthropic intentions. BBBSC intends to use the $3.6 million for initiatives to dramatically expand the number of communities and youth it supports.

Cook has been recognized for her many accomplishments. In 2014, she received the Woman Making History award from Colorado Black Women For Political Action. In 2017, Cook received the African American Making A Difference award from the Urban Spectrum news publication. In 2019, Cook was named a Girls Scouts Woman of Distinction. In 2020, she was named an Urban Spectrum Courageous Woman and a Denver Business Journal Outstanding Woman and she was honored by National Mentor with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Mentoring. In 2022, she was recognized as one of Denver Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs and Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business.

Cook’s life motto is that she wants to be the person that she needed most as a child. As a national keynote speaker and workshop presenter, Cook’s signature topic is called “Twisted, Unraveled, Refined.” She uses her own personal testimony to take women on a journey of overcoming and triumph, hopefully inspiring them to not let their past define their future. It is Cook’s goal to ensure that young people always have a mentor and pay it forward by being a mentor.

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Elycia is fluent in spoken Japanese.


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