Awe Inspiring, Latina Legacy Circle Celebration 2017

Article & Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media, Bio profiles taken from event program (see two photo galleries below)

This so, so inspiring! That was the general sentiment at this years anniversary of the Latina Legacy Circle Celebration as the astounding accomplishments of this year’s inductees were recognized and honored .


Lena Lovato Archuleta

More than a hundred supporters came out August 24th to the Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales Library in Denver celebrate this year’s amazing recipients. The Latina Legacy Circle honors the spirit of Lena Archuleta and recognizes outstanding Latina leaders.

Latina Circle of Leadership Awards August 24, 2017 Joe Contreras Photographer (14)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock & Romaine Pacheco, Director Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions

The audience was a who’s who of community leaders and activists. Even Denver Mayor Michael Hancock dropped by to offer his congratulations.  Most everyone in attendance was in awe as the bios of each of this year’s inductees was read.

Latina Circle of Leadership Awards August 24, 2017 Joe Contreras Photographer (52)

Juana Bordas President, Mestiza Leadership International

Speaking on the legacy of Lena Archuleta, Juana Bordas said, ” Lena was an educator, community activist, librarian, and a founder of many early Latino organizations in Denver. She was the first Latina principal in the Denver Public Schools (DPS) and has an elementary school named after her in Montbello. For over 70 years, she served our community leaving a legacy of service and leadership.  Bordas, herself an accomplished leader, author and activist for Latina leadership added, “The Latina Legacy Circle will continue recognizing Latinas who are in their sixties for their life-long contributions. A legacy is a gift – a bequest handed down from the past for future generations.

Latina Circle of Leadership Awards August 24, 2017 Joe Contreras Photographer (61)

A legacy inspires hope and opens doors for others to follow – and a legacy represents our past, the roots that give us identity, culture and purpose. It is our vision that many, many years from now young Latinas will walk in this room and see pictures, read stories, and yes even watch videos of the community of Latinas that worked together to build a better and more inclusive future for them. Latinas who exemplified that leadership in our community is something we do together. JUNTOS!

Latina Circle of Leadership Awards August 24, 2017 Joe Contreras Photographer (38)

More than that we want them to look at these pictures, identify with us and believe they can accomplish great things as well. Like Juanita Chacon a young Latina at North high student a can say I too can become a successful business woman and start a foundation Or I can become president of one of the largest Colorado Foundations and head up state agencies like Irene Ibarra. Maybe I can follow in the footsteps of Yolanda Ortega and be on stage as an award winning actress and be an educator and activist as well. Or be on corporate boards and build a successful business Like Anne Padilla while giving back to our community.

Latina Circle of Leadership Awards August 24, 2017 Joe Contreras Photographer (28)

Sister Alica Cauron, (standing) Flo Hernandez, (left) & Veronica Barela (right)

A young Latina from rural Colorado can aspire to be like Margarite Salazar who built the largest rural health system in the country right here in Colorado. Some young Latinas will be inspired to become educational reformers like Dr. Martha Urioste and make sure young people have access to a great education Young Latinas are going to look at these pictures and hear these stories and say Yo tambien – Me too! Yo puedo – I can do it!”

Bordas finished sayiing “Si ellos haceron este – nosotros puedemos hacer mas. If they could do what they did when our community was just beginning to advance – when Latinos weren’t even a recognized ethnic group; when few Latinos went to college or were in leadership roles –then we can do this and even more.

Asi progressaramos – Juntos – al future – leaving a legacy and paving the way for those who come after us that is the kind of leadership bequeathed by Lena Archuleta and carried forward by the women in the Latina Legacy Circle.


This year’s inductees are: