Alexandria's Most Inspiring Women of 2022: Lillian Chao-Quinlan

Alexandria's Most Inspiring Women of 2022: Lillian Chao-Quinlan

Story by Liesel Schmidt

Lillian Chao-Quinlan
Photography by Jonathan Thorpe

Falling in love with climbing was only the start of the journey to the top for Lillian Chao-Quinlan. After a running injury sidelined her and forced her to try something new, she went rock climbing for the first time at Sportrock Climbing Centers, where she later became an instructor. Shortly afterwards, she and her husband became investors before Chao-Quinlan went on to become President/CEO for Sportrock Climbing Centers in 2005.

“I have the privilege of operating and owning a company that uses rock climbing as a platform to inspire and support people of all ages, all abilities and all colors to explore their potential,” she says. In her work, Chao-Quinlan sees the empowerment that comes through climbing—and that is a difference that she is making in the community.

“At Sportrock Climbing Centers, 50% of our members are women,” she says. “I believe that being a great climber requires a multitude of skills: physical strength, flexibility, mental fortitude, problem solving and communication. Time and again, I have witnessed women doing things on the wall that, at first, seemed impossible. But when they have reached the top and there is a shout of victory, it is just an outcome of all of these skills being realized.”

“I am surrounded by people from all walks of life, all colors and all abilities. I get to work with a committed leadership team to create a space where everyone is celebrated for their differences while, at the same time, we all share the common thread of rock climbing. I am constantly inspired by the commitment, creativity and hard work my leadership team puts forth every day.”

Empowering women to advocate for their heart health is also important to Chao-Quinlan. “Being healthy is a cornerstone to living a happy and fulfilling life,” she says. “My father had triple by-pass surgery, and I witnessed the impact it had on his quality of life. Fortunately, my father is healthy and back to playing tennis daily. GO RED is important to me because heart disease remains the leading killer for women. Supporting the GO RED movement is a way to join the fight and help to educate all people.”


Join Join Lillian Chao-Quinlan in her mission to Go Red for Women by donating to the Go Red for Women campaign.

Join the movement. Raise Awareness. Go red.

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