CEO Patricia Yeager to Retire; Indy Frazee Named as Successor

After 10 years as The Independence Center’s (The IC’s) chief executive officer, Patricia Yeager, Ph.D., has announced she will retire from the organization effective November 1, 2021. At that time, Indy Frazee, currently The IC’s home health administrator, will assume the role of CEO.

Yeager, who has a hearing disability, has spent her entire career promoting and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. She served as the executive director of the Denver Center for Independent Living from 1989-1991, held the same position for the Access Center of San Diego from 1992-1997, and again for the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers from 1997-2005. She moved back to Colorado in 2006 to complete her Ph.D. in rehabilitation administration and in 2011, was offered the job of CEO at The Independence Center.

In the years since joining The IC, Yeager has been instrumental in modernizing the organization, expanding the services and supports it offers to people with disabilities, and growing its reputation as a trusted resource within the community and beyond. Under her leadership, The IC has worked with city, state, and business leaders to improve their understanding of disability and how they approach accessibility. From advocating for Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliance within the city, to insisting on inclusion in emergency preparations, to providing health care providers with accessible medical equipment, Yeager has helped change Southern Colorado’s social and physical landscape for people with disabilities.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve as The IC’s CEO. I’m so proud of the work the staff and I have done over the last decade to help people with disabilities create the lives they want to live. But I believe now is the right time for me to retire,” she said. “The IC is on solid footing and positioned for future growth and success. Our board and senior leadership team have a solid vision that will help guide The IC for years to come. Most importantly, I have great confidence in Indy’s ability to take the organization to the next level.  After working closely with her over the last seven years, I know that she has both the skillset and the passion for our mission that is so necessary in this position.”

Upon Yeager’s recommendation, and after an interview last June, the organization’s board of directors unanimously selected Frazee as chief executive officer.  Frazee joined The IC in 2014 as its chief financial officer, where she built a responsive and efficient accounting, information technology, and facilities team. In 2018, she took on the role of home health administrator, once again building a solid, cohesive team that provides crucial in-home health care services to area residents. Under her leadership, the team was able to continue providing the same high-quality care and service throughout the unprecedented health care crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most recently, before joining The IC, Frazee served as the director of finance for Goodwill of Colorado for six years, where she was instrumental in shaping the strategic plan for the organization. Prior to that, she was the investment operations manager, treasurer, and secretary of Mountain Asset Management. Frazee holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.

“I’m excited and humbled to have the opportunity to lead The IC into the future and I look forward to building on Patricia’s legacy,” Frazee said. “It is important to me that we continue to grow our mission and look for ways to expand our message and reach. By providing critical supports and services to people with disabilities, while also advocating for change on both a local and national level, our goal will be to focus on the unique abilities of our community, so that all are known, valued and included.”

Image of Patricia Yeager and Indy Frazee

Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC, and Indy Frazee, incoming CEO

Patricia Yeager, CEO, Honored as a 2020 Woman of Influence

Photo of Patricia Yeager with the words Congratulations to The Independence Center's CEO Patricia Yeager

Congratulations to The Independence Center’s CEO, Patricia Yeager, Ph.D., who was recently named as a 2020 Women of Influence award winner by the Colorado Springs Business Journal (CSBJ). She is one of 15 outstanding women who were honored at a virtual celebration on November 5th for creating a legacy of leadership in the Pikes Peak region through positive change.

Since 2011, Patricia’s leadership, dedication, and passion have empowered people with disabilities to live more independent lives while positioning The IC as a national leader in the Independent Living movement. Learn more about her vision and accomplishments by clicking here for a profile written by CSBJ or read below for an accessible version.

Patricia, thank you for all you do!

“This has gotten bigger than anything I dreamed of.”

Throughout her decades-long career leading in­ dependent living centers, Patricia Yeager has fought to change public perceptions and empower those with disabilities.

Yeager, who has served as the CEO of The Indepen­dence Center of Colorado Springs for the past nine years, knows all too well the stigma faced by those with disabil­ities. Growing up in Huntington, West Virginia, she saw some of them firsthand.

“I lost a good part of my hearing at the age of 2, which is an important time for speech development,” Yeager said. “When I was a kid, people would see my hearing aids and make all sorts of assumptions of, ‘Oh, she’s not very smart. What can we expect from her?’

“So I know, at least a little bit, that feeling of being less-than – not because of anything you can control but because of that disability. And it just pisses me off, frankly. It makes me frustrated and angry and makes me want to show people that I can do this, and so can all these other people with disabilities.”

Yeager’s career working with those with disabilities has taken her across the country. She was the executive director of the Denver Center for Independent Living from 1989-1991, held the same position for the Access Center of San Diego from 1992- 19 9 7, and again for the California Foundation for Inde­pendent Living Centers from 1997-2005.

“Living in West Virginia, it’s hard to get out,” Yeager said. “So when I got a chance I just had to keep going west until I couldn’t go west any further. And I did move around quite a bit – although the more you do it, the harder it is. So I think I’m done moving around.”

Yeager moved back to Colorado in 2006 to complete her Ph.D. in rehabilitation administration and in 2011, was offered the job of CEO at The Independence Center of Colorado Springs. Her primary mission in taking over the position was to help modernize the operation, and she’s since led the organization through a period of significant expansion.

“When I came in … we had 160 people working here and we were still doing things a family way, which is not bad when you’re small, because it’s a great culture to work in. But when you’re large, you have to do some things differently.”

Yeager led efforts to computerize the organization’s accounting and human resources programs, acquire tracking software for its home health business and sub­stantially grow its staff. She also helped diversify its funding streams which, before her arrival, were completely dependent on Med­icaid.

“This has gotten bigger than anything I ever dreamed of in 2011 when I first started here,” Yeager said. “We now have about 340 people working here and our reve­nues have doubled.”

And though she’s proud of the growth she’s overseen at the center, she said what’s been most rewarding about her career thus far – she plans on retiring in two years – has been making a difference in individual’s lives.

“When I see people with disabilities who have never spoken up at a city council meeting or county commis­sioner meeting … and they speak up about what they need and what will make the community better for peo­ple with disabilities, when they’ve never done that before, it makes me a little emotional,” Yeager said. “Because you can see that, all of a sudden, they see someone’s listening and that they might see change occur. And it makes them see themselves differently.

“So it’s about building social capital and seeing peo­ple with disabilities not as takers, but as people who can contribute to make the community better. When they have that opportunity, man, there’s just nothing better.”