Article and Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
It was wine, tacos, fedora hats, good live music , lots of dancing and just a fun time as dozens of people came out to Bonaquisti’s Winery to celebrate the life and achievements of Juana Bordas.
At 75 year’s old Juana Bordas is truly one of Denver’s and America’s finest leaders with the passion of developing future Latino leaders for generations to come and if her birthday party last night was a sign of what’s to come the vivacious Nicaraguan shows no signs of slowing down.
Bordas told celebrants that in today’s political climate it is more important than ever for Latinos, whose population and influence grows daily, to become the leaders and shapers of tomorrow. “Viva la Raza” she exclaimed, fist in the air, as everyone honored her with the Mexican birthday song “La Mananitas” and of course birthday cake, more wine, more dancing and as added surprise, a male stripper.
Bordas recently started her latest leadership development venture “Lideramos” with the vision of “Building A Nation of Latino Leaders”. According to it’s website. “As the country’s largest and youngest minority, Latinos have the capacity and potential to take a leadership role in shaping the 21st Century. Latinos come from a hard-working, collaborative, generous, and people-centered culture and have a great contribution to make to America. To actualize this potential, however, they must be prepared for leadership and be able to work together to address the myriad issues in their community.” In place of birthday gifts Bordas asked for donations to this new organization. To donate click HERE
Among her many accomplishments Juana Bordas was a founder of Denver’s Mi Casa Women’s Center and executive director until 1986. She was the Founding President/ CEO of the National Hispana Leadership Institute in 1987, In 2002 she founded the Circle of Latina Leadership whose mission is to prepare the next generation of Colorado Latina Leaders. She was elected by Colorado Business Magazine as one of 100 influentials in the state and received the 2003 Outstanding Women in Business Award.
In 2006 she was awarded the Leadership Legacy award from Spellman College’s Center for Leadership. She received the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award 2008. In 2009 she was recognized as Colorado Unique Woman of the Year by the Denver Post and the Colorado Women’s Foundation. The Colorado Diversity Council honored Juana as one of Colorado’s Most Powerful and Infulential Women in 2015. Juana Bordas is also an inductee to the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.
As an accomplish author the International Latino Book Awards recognized “The Power of Latino Leadership” as the best business/leadership book. The Nautilus Book Awards recognized The Power of Latino Leadership with the prestigious Gold award in the area of Multicultural/Indigenous Literature. One of her other books,won the International Latino Book Award for best leadership book in 2007 “Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age”.
Juana Bordas was the first in her family to go to college and as she describes it, “When I graduated I wanted – to give back – just as my parents had done for me. I joined the Peace Corps and worked in the barrios of Santiago, Chile. Helping low-income women develop work cooperatives so they could feed their families. This early decision set my life on a path of service and reconnected me to my Latina soul”.
Juana asked, “Do you believe in destino or destiny – that every person has a unique life path and contribution to make? I do because my destino has led me to do the work I do today. I know that as an immigrant; a Hispanic girl from a low-income family with 7 brothers and sisters. I learned to be resourceful, scrappy, talented, and street smart. It was the perfect preparation for me to become a leader, writer, and teacher.
Juana is President of Mestiza Leadership International – a company that focuses on leadership, diversity, and organizational change. A former faculty member for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) she taught in the Leadership Development Program – the most highly utilized executive program in the world.
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media