NEWSED 2015 Civil Rights Awards Celebrates Humanity

Photos by Teddy Gomez & Joe Contreras…See Two Photo Galleries Below

It was a great evening full of fun and pride. Despite forecasts of a major blizzard that was supposed to hit Denver, hundreds turned out for the 24th Annual Civil Rights Awards. The Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts was packed Tuesday night to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of this year’s honorees. The evening was MCd by husband and wife Federico and Cindy Pena who had fun stepping on each others lines and  correcting one another on the the facts of the event.

Each of the honorees gave impassioned speeches of appreciation for the award but moreover of their commitment to the betterment of society for not just Latinos but for all people. The Civil Rights Awards  recipients each work for the Advocacy for Civil Rights, Human Rights, Equal Rights, Disability Rights, Education, Healthcare, Culture, and Public Policy. They strive to be a voice for the voiceless in society and work together to help pass laws to change systems that make life a little easier for all people in our communities. Together they believe in, stand for, and work to establish the dignity of every living human being. The marque outside the venue read “The 24th Annual Civil Rights Awards Celebrating Marriage Equality and the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The evening ended with everyone crossing and holding arms singing “We Shall Overcome”.

Latin Life Denver is proud to serve as a media sponsor for this very important cause.

The 2015 Honorees are: 

Linda Alvarado, President/CEO Alvarado Construction Inc. and Co-Owner Colorado Rockies


Linda Alvarado was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and was the only girl of six children.  Her parents had high expectations for her and she did not disappoint.  Linda is one of the most successful Business Women in the Country. She is the President and CEO of Alvarado Construction, a commercial general contractor that builds projects across the U.S.  In 1991, Linda made history as the first Hispanic (female or male) owner of a Major League Baseball Franchise, The Colorado Rockies.  She is a director of 3M, Pitney Bowes and previously served on the boards of Pepsi Bottling Group, Lennox International, Quest Communications, Cyprus Amex Minerals and the United Banks of Colorado.  Linda is a Hall of Fame inductee to the National Minority Business Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise, the Latin American International Sports, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  The title, “100 Most Influential Hispanics in America” has been given to her by the Hispanic Business, PODER and Latino Leaders Magazine. She was voted the “Most Inspiring Latino in America” by the American Latino Television Awards.  Linda is a nationally recognized speaker and advocate for business and equal opportunity and was the first woman invited to present at the Major League Baseball’s Civil Rights Awards Game. She has given numerous keynote presentations for corporations, national conferences, public schools and universities motivating young people to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed. Linda’s list of achievements is amazingly long. She is truly Denver’s treasure.  Linda is married to Robert Alvarado, they have two daughters, Heather and Jennifer, a son, Rob and three granddaughters.

Denise Edwards, Lobbyist and Community Activist


Denice Edwards is the Principal of KanDo and Associates, a government affairs consulting company that provides local, regional and national expertise in political strategies, community impact,  strategic planning, fundraising, non- profit development & political campaigns.  Denice has been the Director of Governmental Relations & Marketing for the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce.  As a Special Assistant and Lobbyist for Mayor Wellington Webb and Deputy Lobbyist for the City and County of Denver she has worked on key issues to promote and protect the interest of the Denver International Airport.  She was a founder of the Colorado Business League, Northeast Denver Housing Center and the Old San Rafael Neighborhood Association. Denice is an avid Civil Rights Leader and is an outstanding trailblazer that challenges social and economic injustice on a daily basis. Denice is a fierce protector of her family and loves taking care of them.


Patricia Barela Rivera, President/CEO PBR Solutions


Patricia was born in Corrales, New Mexico.  She lived with her parents and Grandfather until the age of 8.  The family moved to a ranch in Alameda, New Mexico where she learned her love of animals.  As a young adult she moved to Denver.  Patricia is the Owner of PBR Solutions a consulting firm specializing in small business, strategic planning, governmental and public policy consulting, creative marketing and leadership development.  Patricia is a Civil Rights champion empowering La Raza and Latina women.  Her professional life is beyond impressive, she was the Colorado District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, Director for the Governor’s Citizens Advocacy and Outreach, Deputy Director for the State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Regional Civil Rights and EEO Specialist for the U.S. Forest Service.  She has received 62 prestigious awards including Businesswoman of the Year from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Pioneer Award from the Denver Metro Hispanic Chamber for being the 1st Hispanic woman SBA District Director in the U.S.  Patricia is a great leader and with a passion for social justice.


Joseph Salazar, State Representative and Civil Rights Attorney

Joseph is a Colorado Native.  His family’s roots date back hundreds of years in Colorado and New Mexico. Joseph’s ungraduat degree is from CU-Boulder where he was one of the foundering fathers of CU’s first Latino fraternity Sigma Lambda Beta.  In 2003 he received his law degree from the University of Denver where he was awarded the coveted John Phillip Linn Employment Law Award.  He is a partner in the law firm of Smith Shellenberger & Salazar and was elected to the Colorado State House of Representatives in 2012.  Focused on civil rights, he has introduced legislation that impacts a multitude of issues including; women’s reproductive freedoms, environmental issues, greater voting access, the repealing Colorado’s version of “Show Me Your Papers” law, furthering governmental transparency through the Colorado Open Records Act, in-state tuition for tribally enrolled American Indian students, prohibiting the use of American Indian mascots, the Homeless Right to Rest bill and the Citizens Right to Record bill.  Joseph is committed to creating economic and social justice in communities of poverty, color and oppression.  He’s a dedicated family man and a trailblazer in the Civil Rights Movement.

Julia Reiskin, LCSW and Executive Director Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition


Julie Reiskin is the Executive Director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.  She is a Civil Rights advocate and icon in the Disability Community. Julie moved to Colorado from Connecticut in 1994 where she was a partner in a consulting firm specializing in diversity issues throughout Southern New England.  Julie has taught extensively in the areas of disability rights, culture policy and diversity in human services.  Through the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Julie has achieved results for thousands of Coloradoans with disabilities and has led the way in client engagement. The Coalition’s trained advocates are experts in advancing public policy.  Through the Coalition Julie has gained expertise on nonprofit accountability, best practices and the intersecting of systemic and individual advocacy.  She has implemented solutions to make Medicaid a more sustainable and client friendly program.  Julie lives with her partner of more than 20 years and has two adult stepsons who make her very proud.


Congress of Hispanic Educators (CHE)
Colo Organization for Latina Opportunities and Reproductive Rights / Christina Aguilar


Cristina Aguilar is the Executive Director of COLOR.  Cristina was born in El Paso, Texas. She worked in early childhood education at the Community Development Institute directing the National Head Start Pilot Innovation Project.  She co-authored the book, “Non-profit’s Guide to the Power of Appreciative Inquiry”.  Cristina was a writer and editor for several magazines and The El Paso Times.  She co-founded the People of Color Caucus for One Colorado, the State’s premier LGBT advocacy organization and sits on their Political Action Committee.  In 2014 she led COLOR in running the “No on Personhood” campaign.  Cristina has been featured in Feministing and Latinas Represent for her activism in the Latino and LGBT community.  She was selected to be a Livingston Fellow in 2015 and has received many awards for her activism. Cristina has a history of Civil Rights work, empowering women and establishing equal rights for the LGBT community.




Photos by Teddy Gomez, Xposer Photography for Latin Life Denver Media

Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media