Spotlight Series

Spotlight Series: March 2021

By March 16, 2021No Comments

Colorado Springs Conservatory
Jacob Eichengreen – 2009 Conservatory Alumnus, Conservatory Board Member, and Executive Director: Quad Innovation Alliance

Colorado Springs Conservatory is privileged to be guided in its mission by outstanding community leaders who recognize the importance of arts immersion and musical performance.

This month, we’re proud to shine our spotlight on one of Colorado Springs Conservatory’s accomplished alumni turned board member and innovative business leader in the Colorado Springs community, Jacob Eichengreen. Jacob recently took some time to share some thoughts on his time as a student at Colorado Springs Conservatory, as well as a bit about his fascinating educational and professional journeys, and more!

Jacob, we know our current students, parents and donors would love to hear about your journey with the Conservatory and in your professional life!

You attended Colorado Springs Conservatory for six years and graduated in 2009! What initially made you want to attend the Conservatory, and how old were you when you started?

One of my best friends in the world attended Conservatory and told me that he “needed” someone to play guitar with him to start a gypsy jazz band when we were 12 or 13. I signed up for lessons – well, technically my mom signed me up for lessons – and we played gypsy jazz together at CSC and in the community until we both graduated high school.

Which instruments do you play?  In which other areas did you study at the Conservatory?

Guitar, primarily. While I was at CSC, I also dabbled in piano, drums, and one time borrowed a banjo.

What are some of your favorite memories of your time as a student at the Conservatory?

I have so many favorite memories. What I loved most was being in an environment where creativity was constant, where everyone was always invited in and their ideas were embraced, and where expectations and standards were high. One year the school was invited to perform at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration – there were probably 10 or 15 of us involved in the performance, and we created our own program in 24 hours. Myself and other musicians learned the music, some of the dance students choreographed an original dance, and we performed in front of 800 community members the following evening. That took everyone contributing, everyone being open to feedback and new ideas, and everyone meeting each other’s expectations in order to be successful. It is one of many examples, but made me who I am today.

Did you attend high school in Colorado Springs?  Did you participate in music/theater in high school?

I did! I attended Palmer High School, downtown, for all four years of high school. I didn’t participate in music or theater through school – CSC scratched the itch for me!

You are a Fulbright Scholar and worked in Uganda, researching and piloting an alternate Microfinance bank.  Can you talk a bit about that experience?

As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to live with families in Uganda. Over multiple extended research trips, I learned how rapid economic development there had also unintentionally destabilized local culture. New forms of economic competition, brought about by the rapid expansion of microloan-funded small businesses, conflicted with local norms of cooperation and community, built through generations of collaborative farming. Though the communities I lived in were richer due to this development, in many important ways they were not actually better off. My Fulbright was focused on testing an alternative micro-sized investment product that might ultimately support the development of larger businesses whose ownership could be shared across a community – in some ways similar to how the stock market in the U.S. allows individuals to become fractional owners of massive corporations. For over a year, I lived near Arua in far northwest Uganda and worked to launch the first business using this investment tool – I still fly back to visit that business from time to time (at least, I did before Covid). There are plenty of stories from that time of my life…some fit the stereotype of “crazy” stories from other parts of the world, but most are stories of amazing people, genuine relationships, and strong communities.

How did the Conservatory contribute and/or impact your educational (and now professional) journeys.

In ways both big and small. The smaller, more tactical lessons that come to mind are learning how to tie a tie, how to speak and perform in front of an audience, how to represent myself and my work to others, how to receive and incorporate feedback, how to set a standard of “good isn’t good enough”, how to hold myself accountable to both myself and others. On the bigger scale, though, my Conservatory experiences taught me how to embrace ambiguity, how to apply creativity and a culture of “yes” to problems big and small (like my work in Uganda – yes, we can do something better than the status quo), and how to bring the different, diverse talents of those around me together into something better than I could do on my own.

You are now the executive director for Quad Innovation Partnership in Colorado Springs.  Can you tell us a little about Quad’s mission in the community?

The Quad is a joint initiative of Colorado College (CC), Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC), University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), and the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) that facilitates teams of students, faculty, and other university resources to advance priority issues for Colorado Springs-area companies, organizations and initiatives. For our clients, we provide a collaborative, neutral forum for gathering key data to inform strategic decision making. For our students, we provide paid opportunities to explore career paths, solve problems, and develop professional readiness.

We at Colorado Springs Conservatory are very lucky to have you on the Board of Directors. What inspired you to return to the Conservatory as a board member, and what is your personal mission for CSC, as a board member?

Well, honestly, Linda asked! My goal is for my board service to help the organization focus on the kinds of impact that only happens at CSC and strengthen the culture that makes CSC so special.

Any advice to parents or guardians who are on the fence about committing to sending their kids to Colorado Springs Conservatory?

Do it. The Conservatory is more than an arts program. It’s a life program. I learned who I am and how to be in the world. Colorado Springs Conservatory offers opportunities for self discovery through the arts that don’t exist anywhere else.

What are some of your favorite places and things to do in Colorado Springs?

In non-covid times, shows at Lulu’s downstairs are usually quite good. Always, I love being outside.

Who are you listening to (music), right now?  Any up-and-coming artists we should be following?

Ha! I am on the tail end of “discovering” most new artists. I have been on a Chris Knight kick recently.