January’s are good to Christine Marquez-Hudson. In January of 2013 she was named “Leader of the Year” by 9NEWS and the Denver Chamber Leadership Foundation. In January of 2015, the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce feted her as one of Colorado’s most powerful women and next month, in January 2016, she will take over the Denver Foundation as its new CEO.
Those that know Marquez-Hudson best are not surprised by her meteoric rise; her pioneering success runs in the family. Sister, Monica Marquez, was appointed by Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, to the Colorado Supreme Court in 2010 as the body’s first Latina and first openly gay member. Amongst numerous honors, Monica was awarded the 2014 Latinas First Foundation’s Trailblazer Award. A Stanford undergrad and Yale law school grad, the Colorado Supreme Court justice follows in her father’s legal footsteps.
Father, Jose was the first Latino appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals in 1988, where he served until his retirement in 2008. In 2004 the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Mother, Cherry, taught first grade in the family’s hometown of Grand Junction and was an award-winning teacher in the Cherry Creek School District.
Christine seems a perfect blend of family traits, the empathy and bent toward teaching of her mother and the strategic, analytical thinking of her father. The combination of characteristics served her well at Mi Casa Resource Center where empowering Latino families was the main charge but the position also called for management of numerous employees and new strategic direction for the organization.
Marquez-Hudson’s departure from Mi Casa is bittersweet. She began her nonprofit career there in 1997 as a manager for three years “on the front lines” for the El Camino project serving teen moms with GED training. By 2008 she returned, this time as CEO and charged with creating a new direction for the organization which had served as a cornerstone on the west side for Latinas.
Her start as CEO was daunting; faced with a period of declining resources, she gathered stakeholders for a strategic planning process and emerged with a new vision. “We asked the question of who we should be to serve the community and were open to a complete change in our mission,” said Marquez-Hudson. “The collection of stewards decided to stay rooted in the Latino community and open up doors to the whole family.” Besides a new direction, Marquez-Hudson ushered in a fount of new funding and new clients – the number of individuals served tripled in her time at Mi Casa.
The same blend of knowledge, empathy and strategic thinking will come in handy as Marquez-Hudson takes the reins at the Denver Foundation next month. Confronted with a changing Denver, Marquez-Hudson reflects a growing Latino population and the collection of women running Denver’s most important institutions – Christine Benero at Mile High United Way, Kelly Brough at the Denver Chamber of Commerce, Tammi Door at the Downtown Denver Partnership, Linda Childears at the Daniels Fund, and Susana Cordova at Denver Public Schools.
“The reason I was interested in the Denver Foundation is because they work on the same issues as Mi Casa: poverty, economic opportunity, P-12 education, and leadership,” said Marquez-Hudson. “At the same time I look forward to engaging more Denver residents in important conversations around racial equity and inclusiveness. I look forward to bringing partners together to bring that vision to fruition. When we work strategically together under a compelling vision, we can move mountains. The Denver Foundation is already doing that in many ways and I’m excited to take it to the next level.”
Christine’s biggest cheerleader? Husband, Andrew Hudson. A scroll of his Facebook posts shows family joy with kids, Nick, Julia and Mateo, and overwhelming pride with his wife’s continuing success. “I’ve never seen somebody who has as much compassion for a community as she does. At the same time, she operates on a high management level, the calm in the storm of moving her organization forward,” remarked Hudson. “I remember her coming home frustrated to tears one day and two days later she had a solution to her problem and a new way of approaching it. She approaches strategy and problems in a smart way.”
Her entire family beamed with pride at a surprise dinner Andrew held for Christine’s announcement that she had landed the post at the Denver Foundation. It would appear that the friendly familial competition with sister, Monica paid off.