Dubbed the “Girl of the Golden West” by her friends, Barbara Neeley Yalich ’53 found more than she bargained for when she arrived at Colorado College in the fall of 1949. She met her husband (Milo “Mike” Yalich ’50 – WWII veteran and 1950 NCAA hockey champion), became a lifelong sports fan, and launched a career in public service and higher education that lasts to this day.
Attending Colorado College for one year, 1949-1950, before leaving to marry her college sweetheart and love of her life Milo, Yalich devoted her future to service and community involvement. In 1968, Yalich launched her career in the public service sector, as the international president of the Association of Junior Leagues of America, an organization of women committed to volunteerism, improving communities through leadership, and effective action. Broadening her involvement in the Pikes Peak region volunteer community, Yalich also served as the first executive director of Health Association of Pikes Peak Region, and as the executive director of El Paso County Mental Health Association.
Colorado College never left Yalich, though, as in 1971 she returned to serve briefly as an alumni trustee of the college – a position she resigned from in 1973, when she was appointed director of alumni support. Two years later, in 1975, she was promoted to director of alumni affairs – a role she would come to thrive in for 10 years, revitalizing alumni relations and supporting the creation of 20 metropolitan alumni clubs across the U.S. and Canada. Continuing to be active in the community beyond the college, Yalich dove headfirst into work with Citizens United (now Leadership Pikes Peak) since its founding in 1976. In 1978, she was appointed president of the group, expanding community partnerships and service across the Pikes Peak region. Yalich’s involvement in community volunteerism also includes a lifelong connection to the Inasmuch Foundation, established in 1982 by Edith Gaylord ’36. The foundation, based in Oklahoma City, continues its late founder’s interest in Colorado Springs by giving to nonprofits that directly serve the residents of the city. The Gaylord family has been associated with the college for over 100 years. Of all her experiences, Yalich says “one of the assignments I enjoyed the most was serving as a trustee of the Myron Stratton Home for 12 years.” The Myron Stratton Home provides community support and housing to senior citizens and homeless families, named for Winfield Scott Stratton – one of the early philanthropic founders of Colorado Springs.
Back at CC, in 1985 she became the director of development; handling the day-to-day responsibility for all the fundraising efforts of the college. In her time as director, Yalich was directly responsible for dramatically increasing the financial well-being of the college. Ever the groundbreaker, in 1991 Yalich was one of the three first ever women in the history of the college to be appointed to vice president positions within the administration. As the VP for development and college relations, her workload grew significantly; she now handled all alumni, community, and media relations. She remained in this position until her retirement in 1994. Following her retirement, Yalich was awarded an honorary bachelor of arts degree by the trustees of the college.
Yalich’s long and distinguished career spans some of the most tumultuous and important times in the college’s history – from the implementation of the Block Plan in 1970, to the Vietnam War protests and construction of the World Arena. In 2003, Yalich was the induction speaker at her class’s 50th Year Reunion. Today, she serves as the civic leader for Innovations in Aging Collaborative – a local grassroots effort she helped found in 2010 to connect the local aging population with resources and opportunities across the Pikes Peak region. We at CC will be proud and thrilled to honor Barbara Yalich ’53 on September 9, 2015 in naming the boardroom of the newly redeveloped Spencer Center the Barbara L. Yalich Class of 1953 Boardroom.
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