Colorado’s Latinas recognized for their efforts
Awards season has come and gone and with prominent award ceremony results still fresh in our minds, La Vida Latina has chosen to single out a few of Colorado’s award winners.
Without the hoopla, red carpets and thousand dollar accessories, several inspirational Latinas were honored last month for their contributions to community, their business expertise and their ingenuity.
At the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce Top 25 Gala in January several of Colorado’s most prominent women were recognized as the chamber’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women.
• Veronica Barela, President and CEO of NEWSED Community Development Corporation, was among the recognized.
“I was very humbled and honored to receive The Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce top 25 Most Powerful Women’s Award,” Barela said. “Receiving this honor made me feel powerful.”
It was that power that led Barela into starting at NEWSED. She saw an opportunity to help her community and took it head on.
“When I started with NEWSED I knew I was a good fit for the job because there was a need to make changes in the neighborhood that I was born and raised in and I was up for the challenge,” Barela said. “I worked tirelessly to implement strategies to make life better for neighborhood residents by bringing housing development, community-based economic development, community organizing and arts and culture to the west side La Alma/ Lincoln Park neighborhood.”
Through NEWSED, Barela has aided in orchestrating arts and culture programming that includes the annual Cinco de Mayo in Civic Center Park, the annual Civil Rights Awards and Un Toque de Mexico.
Barela also considers herself a champion of civil rights and equality.
“I have a great admiration for organizations that have shown leadership and have been change agents in the Civil Rights Movement, fair housing, and protecting individual freedoms,” she said.
As is to be expected from on of Colorado’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women, Barela added that she hopes she can influence Colorado’s youth to also pursue greatness.
“I bring a lifetime of excitement and learning experiences that I love to share with the younger generation, my daughters and my grandsons,” she said. “I tell them that around the corner is the next new experience and to enjoy each moment and look forward to the next because it can be full of surprises.”
Aside from powerful, the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce considers its Top 25 Women, “limitless leaders,” who become outstanding community figures.
• One of those community figures recognized was Cindy Peńa who built her career at KUSA Channel 9 from intern to vice president of broadcast before joining KMGH-TV Channel 7 as the network’s vice president and general manager.
Her reputation as an advocate for community service led to her appointment to the National Museum of the American Latino Commission by President Barack Obama and to her current role as the executive director of the Latino Leadership Institute, a program through the University of Denver designed to prepare members of the Latino community in Colorado to realize their leadership potential.
• As CEO and Executive Director of Mi Casa Resource Center, Christine Marquez-Hudson is often in the Colorado spotlight. In 2013 she was nominated for the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s top honor, the ATHENA Award and was named the 9News Leader of the Year.
Since joining Mi Casa in 2008, Marquez-Hudson has led an organization struggling from reduced funding to a prominent organization that continues to assist low-income families while providing educational, professional and entrepreneurial opportunities to Denver’s Latino and working families to advance their economic successes.
• World Wide Money Exchange has also made waves in 2015 with its redesign of three locations at Denver International Airport. The Aurora Chamber of Commerce recognized the company’s CEO Deborah Quintana.
Since the airport opened in 1995, World Wide Money Exchange has operated at DIA and previously helmed operations at Stapleton Airport. The redesigned stores at DIA are located inside the Jeppesen Terminal near international arrivals on level 5 and in the centers of concourses A and B.
According to Neil Maxfield, DIA’s Senior Vice President of concessions, “these updated money exchange services will provide our global travelers with convenient locations to convert currency and acquire financial services before leaving Denver or up arrival to the United States.”
“I am honored to be recognized among such dynamic women. I’ve never placed importance on recognition, but it is important, if nothing else to open doors for our people and those who may need encouragement. Nothing is impossible, and no one can hold us back unless we allow it.
• The CWCC wasn’t the only organization recognizing Colorado’s potential. The Denver Business Journal selected Erika Martinez of the City and County of Denver as one of its 40 under 40 honorees for 2015.
As the director of communications and community outreach for the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, Martinez has become the face of Mayor Michael Hancock’s effort to integrate planning efforts in Globeville, Elyria and Swansea to create a unified city.
• Chy Montoya, Denver City Council aide to Albus Brooks, District 8, was recently chosen by Mayor Michael Hancock to sit on the Latino Commission. Montoya brings knowledge, experience and extensive community involvement to the Commission.