The community gives back to Cindy Peña
Cindy Peña has always put her community first.
“I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised,” said the former Vice President and General Manager of KMGH-TV Channel 7. “My parents and grandparents always helped people in the community on a one-on-one basis and I think they instilled that in all of us.”
It’s that same community-based focus that led the Latin American Educational Foundation to select Peña as the recipient of the Sol Trujillo National Lifetime Leadership Award to be presented Saturday at the 2013 LAEF Gala entitled “Changing Lives.”
After a 20-year career on the business side of KUSA Channel 9, Peña became Vice President and General Manager at KMGH-TV Channel 7. As the station was going through leadership changes at the time, Peña said the opportunity to focus on the community became available. That change of focus, anchored by Peña, allowed the station to garner recognition from the National Association of Broadcasters as the Outstanding Television Station for Community Service, a first for Denver television.
“It’s our most prestigious award,” said LAEF Executive Director Jim Chavez of the Sol Trujillo National Lifetime Leadership Award. “It’s presented to an individual in recognition of their lifetime contributions to Latinos and, in particular, their efforts to promote Latino youth.”
Peña has done just that in her career, making the path to media both in the areas of journalism and business, more accessible for Latinos, Chavez added.
“I think at its core, our gala committee wanted to honor Cindy for her lifelong community service efforts in education, healthcare and the arts,” Chavez said. “In her successful career she has been a leader in broadcasting and business. Her role really opened up the doors for many Latinos and Latinas who desired to get into (the) broadcasting industry.”
Her efforts, however, have not been limited to media. Peña currently serves on the board of Escuela Tlatelolco and is one of seven founding members of the American Dream Political Action Committee (PAC). She also serves as a Board Member of PODER, which is a national PAC focused on Latinas who seek public office.
To her prestigious career, Peña can now add the Sol Trujillo award, which includes among past recipients prominent local figures like former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, education pioneer Lena Archuleta and the Honorable Roger Cisneros; as well as national figures like Sarah Martinez-Tucker and Edward James Olmos.
“It has amazing significance by virtue of who the award is named for,” Peña said. “Sol Trujillo and his wife Corine have done amazing work for the community, they’ve left a standard for what we do for one another.”
Peña added that though she was selected, the award represents all community figures locally and nationwide who make an effort to help those in need.
“There are scores of people who have been activists, who’ve been spokespersons, who’ve been working for varying issues in our community for years,” she said. “They do it every year and they do it ongoing.”
Also featured at the gala are the students who received LAEF scholarships to help fund their education.
“It allows the scholarship recipients the opportunity to thank, in person, the LAEF contributors who are helping further their education,” said Xochitl Garcia, LAEF Program and Development Associate. “And for the contributors to meet the future leaders whose education they are contributing to.”
According to Chavez, LAEF has become a leader in meeting the higher education needs of Hispanic students in Colorado. Having served Colorado’s Latino community since 1949, the foundation has awarded over 6,000 scholarships totaling over $6,000,000 to Hispanic students seeking the opportunity to further their education.