We had the good fortune of connecting with Alisha Zellner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alisha, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I live my life E.P.I.C. which means to live life with (E)xcitement, (P)assion, (I)ntensity, and (C)uriosity. Every single choice we make on any given day has some sort of risk attached to it. By definition risk is about being exposed to some type of danger, but I believe that taking risks can lead to great rewards. If I approach every risky situation by being E.P.I.C., then I will never look back and wish I’d done it. Yoda said, “Do or Do Not. There is no try”. The only way to crush your goals and accomplish your dreams is by doing and being afraid to take risks is never going to get you there. I use that fear as fuel and it has led to some of the most incredible experiences in my life. In high school, I became the first female to make the Men’s Varsity Football team. After five knee surgeries, I ran a marathon in Athens, Greece. And in the midst of social injustices and racial unrest, I founded Bike Ride for Black Lives as a way to unite communities as a Black, female police officer. Nothing in life comes easy, but it is in these moments that we can truly change the world together.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am currently a corporal with a local police department. I began my career in 2014 after being a mental health counselor for 5 years. I worked primarily with adolescents who experienced behavioral and drug/alcohol abuse problems. They would talk about the times officers would respond when they were in crisis, and not all of the stories had positive outcomes. I felt like my skills in the hospital setting could be beneficial on the front line. Additionally, in the fall of 2014, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, MI. Among many things, the community called for more officers of color in uniform. Mahatma Gandhi’s message about being the change you wish to see in the world spoke to me and I knew I could answer that call. I wanted to truly make a difference in my community. The journey has not always been easy navigating a white, male dominated profession as a Black woman. I have had unbelievable highs with some excruciating lows, but I have survived because of an incredible support network that reminds me why I started in the first place. A career or job does not have to be a place where you just show up and complete tasks. The world is full of people with so many talents and passions. I am lucky that I have been able to combine my passions in mental health, criminal justice, and exercise into one with the bike initiative Bike Ride for Black Lives.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am definitely a Colorado summer months fan in comparison to the winter. I love Rockies or Broncos games. We are home to some of the best breweries the nation has to offer and I love an awesome rooftop with a great view. A drive through the mountains and some scenic hikes are also going to be on the agenda. If the trip is long enough, it will likely include camping. My absolute favorite though is to spend time boating on the water with family and friends. Throw in some phenomenal BBQ and I am set. -River off 16th St -Any of the bars/restaurants around Coor’s Field -Armida’s Karaoke -Tacos Tequila Whiskey -Backyard Tap (in Loveland) -Horsetooth Reservoir -Any park
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Community. The bike initiative or myself would not be as successful without the community that has 100% ridden behind it. While I may have taken a risk in starting it, the Fort Collins community has taken risks by standing up for the social changes they want to see and by supporting those who may not even share their same experiences. It takes a lot of courage especially when many people you are educating are family and friends. Every single rider, comment, social media post, donation, shared story, etc. are all amazing ways this community has come together. I am forever grateful for every single person I have met on this journey and I am excited to see what they accomplish for years to come.
Instagram: @Epic_Strong and @BikeRideForBlackLives
The photo with me riding in the city, on my Trek, with my fist up. (Chiara Garland)