A passionate advocate for cultural arts and arts education, Mary Lou Anderson was an influential leader in Colorado Springs, and across the state and the nation through her work in the development of programs that engage students, educators, and business leaders in the cultural arts. Anderson founded the National Parent Teacher Association Reflections Program and the Arts Business Education Consortium. For the last 50 years, the program has advanced the support and recognition of nearly 15 million students and educators for their artistic talents and achievements. More than 55% of the students recognized were girls. Anderson had a “big idea,” and she strategically created a frameworkthat ensured the extension and legacy of that idea far beyond her initial efforts.
Anderson believed that recognition at an early age could help to combat gender discrimination by raising young girls’ awareness of and confidence in their artistic and leadership capabilities. These same experiences benefited all students, including boys and special needs students.