Alumna named executive director for international car race

Sebastien Loeb Testing

Megan Leatham ’06 is ready to start her engines.

The Colorado Springs native was recently named the executive director for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the second oldest motor sports race in the nation.

The annual race first took place in 1916 to mark the completion of Pikes Peak Highway. Back then, 29 competitors sped to the summit of the Colorado mountain on a narrow, unpaved course, and winner Rea Lentz finished in just over 20 minutes.

Meghan Leatham

Since then, the race has grown to 162 competitors from more than 10 countries. At the 91st annual climb this summer, the paved course stretched 12.4 miles uphill from 9,390 feet to the 14,110-foot summit, and racers made their way to the top in both cars and bikes.

Leatham has been involved with the climb for three years now, and she is eager to take on a leadership role and to help make the race more successful. Even though she wasn’t a car expert when she first started working with the PPIHC, her love for sports and her ability to manage events made her a valuable addition to the team.

“Regardless of how much I know about cars, I know how to run and event, and I know the impact that sports make in people’s lives.  Those two things help make me successful at what I do,” she said.

The race is a one-day event, but Leatham works 365 days a year to coordinate the details. It’s an overwhelming task, but Leatham enjoys it.

“I love coming to work every day, because I’m always doing something different. One minute I’m moving boxes, then I’m designing T-shirts, and then going to press conferences. The diversity of the job is great,” she said.

Such a wide variety of tasks requires a wide variety of skills, many of which Leatham honed while at Whitman.

As an undergraduate, Leatham studied psychology and education and was a member of the women’s basketball team. She believes her time working with Head Women’s Basketball Coach Michelle Ferenz helped her build up the drive she needed in order to successfully network and find a job.

“She demanded my best and wouldn’t let me settle for less than my maximum potential. I think I took a lot of that attitude to my professional life in Colorado Springs,” she said.    

Strengthening her ability to communicate effectively was equally important, both for networking and for working in her new position as executive director.

 “In my job, communication is so important. You have to talk to all sorts of different people, such as competitors, sponsors and the media. Many Whitman classes are structured around participation, and students really learn how to communicate,” she said.