Julie Villiers Lewis McMillan Penrose

Inductee Name

Julie Villiers Lewis McMillan Penrose

Date of Birth

Born 1870 Died 1956

Year Inducted





Colorado Springs

Marianne Egeland Neifert, MD, MTS
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An astute community leader, dedicated philanthropist and patron of the arts, Julie Penrose was one of the most influential women in the growth and development of Colorado and Colorado Springs. In the 56 years that Penrose lived in Colorado Springs, she was instrumental in the founding and success of numerous institutions, including the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and Fountain Valley School. She also made seminal contributions to Central City Opera and what are today Early Connections Learning Centers, Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region, St. Mary’s High School, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Penrose-St. Francis Hospital and many more. Penrose’s commitment and leadership, particularly to arts and cultural organizations, led many institutions to invite Julie to serve on their respective boards. 

 Her tireless work in advocacy for arts, education, human services, and healthcare is posthumously recognized in the form of the Julie Penrose Fountain in America the Beautiful Park, Julie Penrose Elementary School in Colorado Springs School District 11, Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, and The Broadmoor resort’s Café Julie’s. Unlike many other profitable mining-boom entrepreneurs, Penrose’s  husband, Spencer, joined her in doing something unusual for the era: investing where they lived – in Colorado Springs and around the state. In 1937, they established El Pomar Foundation with a modest initial contribution of $129,000 and shares in their business, followed later by combined gifts from their estates of approximately $21 million. This ensured that Julie’s spirit of generosity and their shared commitment to the state would continue to serve the people of Colorado for generations to come. The Foundation, now 85 years old, has grown their investment and awarded more than $700 million to date through community stewardship programs and grants to nonprofit organizations serving the communities of Colorado. 

 Upon her death, Penrose left the bulk of her estate to El Pomar Foundation. In doing so, she cemented the couple’s vision that El Pomar Foundation’s endowment would continue to serve the people of Colorado in perpetuity. On her 150th birthday on August 12, 2020, El Pomar Foundation dedicated a sculpture of Penrose at Penrose House as well as a “Julie Penrose Room,” and established the inaugural Julie Penrose Award in her honor. The day was proclaimed, by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, “Julie Penrose Day.” The award is presented annually to outstanding women who, like Penrose, made or are making significant contributions to their communities through their leadership and dedication. Through the award and ongoing recognition of Colorado’s female leadership,  El Pomar Foundation continues to advance Julie’s inspiring legacy. 

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