Have You Met?

Katherine (Kathy) Loo’s collection of awards for her philanthropic contributions keeps growing – and growing. Kathy, who just received the “2007 Outstanding Philanthropist Award in Colorado,” was recognized at an award ceremony on Friday, November 16, 2007 – as part of Colorado’s National Philanthropy Day.

Katherine Loo has been a resident of Colorado Springs since 1961. Along with her late husband, Dusty Loo, Mrs. Loo created a significant collection of 19th & 20th Century Colorado landscape art which will be given to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Loo has served in the public and non-profit sectors, held public office (as a City Council member), served and serves on several boards and is one of Colorado Springs’ most well known and respected philanthropist. Mrs. Loo says: "I think it's important for people to give, no matter what non-profit they give to."

Mrs. Loo recently co-chaired the successful completion of Colorado Springs’ largest philanthropic endeavor – a $43.4 million Comprehensive Campaign for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

After holding political office and serving the community in a number of ways, Kathy Loo is highly recognized for her conservation leadership in Colorado. Kathy Loo has said that two of her true passions are nature conservation and supporting the arts.

Loo started the docent program at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and in addition, she had put her personal support and leadership behind several conservation and open-space issues such as the Stratton Open Space and Aiken Canyon projects. Mrs. Loo, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Nature Conservancy, also created the Pikes Peak Conservation Fund at the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

Her work with The Nature Conservancy built up their donor base and inspired other people to stretch themselves by generously supporting the mission and vision of the Conservancy. Loo’s concern for the environment runs deep, and she has said: "We only have 10-15 years to save the best of what's left."

A true daughter of the West, Kathy has also given generously to The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Junior League of Colorado Springs, YMCA of Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Hospice and many other Colorado non-profits.

Suzanne Connors, Vice President, of the Robert B. Sharp Company of Colorado described Kathy well by saying: “Vision, heartfelt determination, a down-to-earth demeanor and uncommon kindness are the qualities that set Kathy Loo apart from many philanthropists.”

Katherine says that she is looking forward to spending more time in the future pursuing her many interests - weaving custom designed textiles, painting, hiking, biking, and composing.

Katherine Loo admirers say she leads by example and is driven, dedicated, sincere and truly walks her talk. Mrs. Loo has passed on her commitment of generosity to her children who are now actively involved in the charitable sector. What greater gift can you give to the community than keeping the legacy of giving going from generation to generation.

What philosophy has guided you throughout your life? My grandmother taught me to live by the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

You have said two of your true passions are conservation and nature. What are you doing now to draw attention to the environmental issues you are most concerned about? I am presently chair of the Colorado Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. It is a global organization whose mission is to protect the biodiversity of life on earth.

This is no easy task but The Conservancy has been making great strides. By using good science to determine the most important places to save, working with local people to find answers and solve problems, and collaborating with a wide array of partners the Conservancy plans to preserve and protect 10% of all of the natural major habitats left by 2015.

In Colorado we have a goal to protect as much land in the next 5 years as we have protected in the last 40. But it's not just about land. It's about healthy and sustainable rivers and forests and the effects that climate change will have on our environment in Colorado and elsewhere. TNC can't solve these problems alone but, working with others, much can be accomplished.

What keeps you going on days where you feel like you are losing steam? Sometimes you just need to take a day off. Rest, relaxation and outdoor exercise are key. I've been studying tai chi for about a year and half. It touches on all of these things.

Mrs. Loo, I have found out you are quite the accomplished musician. You play a number of instruments, and you have several successful recordings out. Which instrument is your favorite? I play the piano, French horn and (kind of) the ukulele. I like the piano the best because it's the most versatile and I play it the best. I also have made two recordings of music I have composed.

You travel often, what is your favorite vacation spot? I have lots of favorites - I've rarely been a place I didn't like. I especially like Santa Fe, Hawaii and Montana where my family lives - after Colorado, of course.

What do you love most about living in Colorado Springs? Colorado Springs is a nearly perfect place to live. Pikes Peak with the garden of the Gods in the foreground are the perfect backdrop. There are dozens of great hiking and biking trails in my backyard, The climate is just about perfect, we have a vibrant arts community with outstanding music, theater and fine arts and there is a wide variety of interesting people. We even have some great restaurants.

What can we, as parents and grandparents, do to make sure our children develop an interest in the arts? Take kids to museums, to plays, to concerts. All kids should learn to play music and have fun playing with art. They also need a good dose of the out of doors - walking in the woods, playing in streams, camping under the stars. And, grandparents are the best for teaching kids values. There is much beyond TV, video games and shopping - things kids seem to get too much of these days.

Also, how do we get our younger generations interested in philanthropy? Many schools are now teaching kids about philanthropy - about getting involved in the community at an early age. This is a great start. And many colleges now also require kids to do public service. I admire the steps Colorado College has taken to give students experiences with non-profits that will benefit them later.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? I don't really think about what I do in that way. I do what I do because I want to help make a better future for my grandchildren. We have a lot of work to do.

What would you still like to accomplish in the future? I'm ready to retire from volunteer work. I've been doing since I was a teenager and that's been over 50 years. My goals for the future are to write more and play more music, paint for fun, have time to spend with family and friends.