Polly Baca, Rosemary Rodriguez and other Coloradans and organizations are among those who will be honored in a private ceremony by Gov. Jared Polis for the Colorado Governor’s Citizenship Medals.
The award, created in 2015 by executive order, is one of the highest honors a citizen and organization in the state can receive for contributions to Colorado communities. This year’s award winners include Baca, Rodriguez, Ananda Birungi, Kent Thiry, VF Corporation, Denver, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Pat Meyers and the Colorado Health Foundation. The recipients will be honored at a Nov. 12 ceremony that will be streamed online.
“Colorado has a unique opportunity to set the bar for leadership in this country. These eight remarkable leaders have paved the way for community advancement and put Colorado on the map for how individuals and organizations serve their communities and make statewide impact,” Polis said in a statement. “The Governor’s Citizenship Medal is the highest honor of the state and I am honored to select and recognize these outstanding leaders.”
The award recipients are issued by the Colorado governor each year as vetted and selected by CiviCO —an organization that aims to educate, inspire and connect the next generation of community leaders through its cross sector leadership program, enriching experiences, executive coaching and mentorship.
“CiviCO is honored to continue the legacy of this unique exhibit by honoring the great citizens of our state who created opportunity for all of us to flourish in Colorado. These stories and their values need to be told to new generations of leaders who can become better versions of themselves for a better Colorado,” said Ryan Heckman, co-chairman of CiviCO.
Baca, born in Weld County, served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978 and the Colorado State Senate from 1979 to 1986. She was the first woman of color to serve in the Colorado State Senate and the first woman to hold the office of Chair of the Democratic Caucus of the Colorado House of Representatives. She also served as special assistant to former President Bill Clinton for consumer affairs and director of the United States Office of Consumer Affairs. Today, she serves as the president and CEO of Baca Barragan Consultants — a consulting firm that specializes in political campaigns, multicultural leadership development, diversity training, government relations and more. She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Colorado Latino Hall of Fame in 2018.
Rodriguez graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a degree in political science. She served as Denver’s clerk and recorder from 1997 to 2002 where she fought to create more transparency and accessibility for all Denver voters. She also served on Denver City Council from 2003 to 2007 and worked as City Council President from 2005 to 2006. Under Senator Michael Bennet, Rodriguez worked as the State Director and served as Commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and chaired the commission in 2008. Rodriguez founded Together We Count, a nonprofit organization that works to promote fair participation in the 2020 census.
For more information about the other award recipients, visit livecivico.org.
“The 2020 Medal recipients embody what it means to not only be a successful leader but more importantly, a significant leader for our state,” said Jennifer Landers, executive director of CiviCO.