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Fifty-one years of Colorado’s Latino history were celebrated at the 23rd Annual Bernie Valdez Awards (BVA) Dinner sponsored by the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy, and Research Organization (CLLARO), September 19th at the Grand Hyatt Denver.The theme for this year’s Awards Dinner was “Celebrando Tiempo y Cultura.” Approximately 300 individuals from small businesses, government agencies, civic and community organizations, and sister non-profits and many other well wishers attended the ceremonies.
Former Mayor Fredrico Pena asked at the close of the Dinner to have all Colorado Latinos march on the Republican Debate in Boulder the 28th of October to let the Republican candidates know that we Latino’s and our issues matter! Si Se Puede!
Ms. Katherine Archuleta, the first Latina Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, who received the Federico Pena Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the former Denver Mayor and Cabinet Secretary.
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and the Colorado Department of Higher Education received the Lena Archuleta Education Award, named after the first Hispanic woman principal in the Denver Public Schools and a founder of LARASA.
State Rep. Joe Salazar received the Roger Cisneros Public Policy Award, named after the former State Senator, Denver municipal judge and founder of LARASA.
Mr. Solomon Joe Juarez, President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, received the Sheldon Steinhauser Community Service Award, named after the long-time human rights advocate known as the “Gentle Lion” and a founder of LARASA; and Western Union will receive the Alianza Award.
A new award that will be launched this year is the Polly Baca Social Justice Award, named after the first Hispanic woman and minority woman to be elected to the Colorado State Senate. Sen. Polly Baca will be the first recipient.
“All proceeds from the dinner benefit CLLARO’s collaborative efforts to promote the leadership, advocacy, and research of Latinos statewide, thereby encouraging and increasing Latino awareness and activity, helping to create a stronger and more richly diverse Colorado,” said Christine Alonzo, Executive Director of CLLARO. “Together, with our Board, sponsors and community, we look forward to a successful Awards Dinner that will ultimately benefit not just the Latino community but all of Colorado.”
CLLARO, formerly the Latin American Research and Service Agency (LARASA), was organized in 1964 to address the needs of Latinos in education, youth motivation, job development, training and employment, health and welfare, housing, and community resources.
Prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964, a handful of Colorado visionaries incorporated the first 501(c) 3 non-profit agency in the nation to address the specific needs of Latinos. It was the Latin American Research and Service Agency (LARASA), now called CLLARO, which was incorporated on March 13, 1964. Working with these visionaries was an enlightened philanthropic organization that was the first in the nation to take the risk of giving a significant grant to a Latino community-based agency: Mile High United Way (at that time known as the United Fund). With this the Civil Rights movement was launched for the Latino community in Colorado and the western portion of the United States.
Photos by Teddy Gomeez, Xposer Photography for Latin Life Denver
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver