Peak Education board chair Steven Mullens has announced the permanent appointment of Jon Stepleton, a journalist and long-time civic and nonprofit leader, as CEO. Stepleton has held the position on an interim basis since January, following the departure of former CEO Dee Beaudette. “Jon Stepleton brings a wealth of community connections and knowledge of what our students and their families need from us to help them achieve breakthroughs in their lives,” Mullens said. “He already has helped to energize our board and hone its focus on our best opportunities going forward. “Every one of our students has incredible potential. In a truly committed partnership with them, our staff, their families and their schools, we aspire to make sure none of that potential goes to waste,” Mullens said.
Peak Education recruits Harrison District 2 students into its program during middle school. All qualify for federal free or reduced cost lunch programs. Each student makes a commitment to pursue educational excellence and the family makes a commitment to provide their full support. In return, both students and families participate in Peak Education’s leadership development camps, experiential education programs, community service opportunities, and mentoring. All of these opportunities are designed to complement school-based support, and they extend through high school and into students’ college years.
“A Quality Education is an absolutely essential foundation in building lives of true hope and possibility. So is setting high expectations and creating accountability for students as they make choices that determine the course of their future,” Stepleton said. “I can think of no better place to be at this point in my career than helping our staff, board, families and community partners touch students’ lives in such a meaningful way.”
Mullens, a long-time local attorney, and periodontist Dr. Dalton Conner, co-founded and launched the initiative in 1998 with their first 10 students, recruited from Carmel Middle School with the assistance of Principal Rick Price. Today, nearly 150 students are benefiting from Peak Education programs in Carmel and Mountain Vista middle schools as well as Harrison and Sierra high schools. Over the history of Peak Education, approximately 95 percent of its students have graduated from high school on time, and 93 percent of those have entered an educational program beyond high school. More than 88 percent who began a higher education program have completed their educational goals or are still engaged in their studies.
Stepleton is a former editor and associate publisher of The Gazette. His work was instrumental in the founding of Gazette Charities, and he served as its president prior to leaving the Gazette in 2002. For more than nine years, he served as executive director of the Pikes Peak Community College Foundation and also has served as interim president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Silver Key Senior Services. Additionally, he is the founder of Cheyenne Mountain Civic Solutions, a nonprofit engaged in nonprofit sector capacity building, serving as a catalyst for more meaningful civic engagement, and encouraging new ways of thinking and action about how to best achieve true prosperity for those living on our community’s margins.