Article & Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media (see photo gallery below)
“A legacy is a gift, a bequest handed down from one generation to another. A legacy inspires hope and opens the doors for others to follow. A legacy represents our past, the roots that give us identity, our culture and our contribution,” said Juana Bordas at this year’s Latina Legacy Circle Inductee Celebration held August 22nd at the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales branch library August 22nd. (see video)
Nothing can be more true for the numerous Latina women who are part of the Latina Legacy Circle Inductees. They have all made a significant impact on the lives of numerous individuals and organizations they have helped, developed and supported. Their dedication to the betterment of community and humanity have earned them the special recognition that has been bestowed upon them through this unique organization.
The Latin Legacy Circle honors the spirit of Lena L. Archuleta who is considered a pioneer of community development and advancement. Lena Archuleta was an educator, community activist, librarian and founder of many early Latino organizations in Denver. For more than 60 years Archuleta served Colorado leaving a legacy of service and civic contribution.
Juana Bordas, One of the founders of the Latina Legacy Circle told the overflow crowd about the impact Lena Archuleta has had on Latino communities and organization, “She showed us how we must work together, (juntos) to lift up our people,” she said. (see video)
The 2019 inductees include Frances “Fran” Natividad Coleman, Lucia Guzmán, Flor Lovato, Esther Luben and Ellen Alires-Trujillo. (see below)
They join an incredible group of women that include:
2018 Inductees: Anna Jo Garcia Haynes, Irene Griego, Cedilia Mascarenas, Judy Miranda, Anna Orozco Flores, Rosemary Rodriquez.
2017 Inductees: Juanita Chacon, Irene Ibarra, Yolanda Ortega, Mary Ann Padilla, Marguerite Lara-Salazar, Marta Urioste.
2016 Inductees: Dr. Patricia Baca, Patricia Barela Rivera, Florence “Flo” Hernandez-Ramos, Honorable Deborah Ortega, Dr. Arlene Vigil-Kramer
Other founding members include, the Honorable Polly Baca, Veronica Barela, Honorable Ramona Martinez and Sister Alicia Valladolid-Cuaron, OSF.
About This Year’s Inductees: (text from inductee program)
Esther Luben has always followed her mantra, I can’t save the world but I can a difference in my corner of the world. “She leads by example encouraging Latinas to be the best versions of themselves by excelling in their education, personal skills, talents and work ethic. Esther’s first teaching assignment was at the Zuni Indian Reservations in New Mexico where she help launch Head Start and received a prestigious National Education Award. She has always been a dedicated community volunteer working in Chic Chicana and Unsung Heroes, Tesoro Cultural Center and co-founding Las Madrinas at Centro Juan Diego.
Ellen Alires-Trujillo is one of the first Latina attorneys at Colorado Legal Services. For more than 20 years, Ellen has sought justice for the most vulnerable of society-low income older adults, single mothers, veterans and immigrants. She has worked in housing, family health and elder law. She is a founding force of Hilos Culturales promoting Indio-Hispano cultural traditions of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
Flor Lovato was a high school dropout who earned a master’s degree in Counseling. She worked in higher education for 37 years, even though she didn’t start college until she was 27 years old and the mother of four children. Flor was active in the Chicano Movement in Denver and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Collaborating with Chicano leaders she helped develop the first Chicano Studies classes in Colorado in 1973. She has taught in the Chicano Studies Department at Metropolitan State University and was Director of the Educational Opportunity Program at Community College of Denver.
Lucia Guzmán has worked for justice and equality in political, religious, educational, sexual identity and gender rights issues. As a Colorado State Senator and the first Minority Leader of the Colorado State Senate, Lucia helped pass the Asset Bill giving undocumented students the right to pay in-state tuition to attend college. Lucia served on the Denver School Board and worked in a multicultural coalition of parents to establish Ana Marie Sandoval School, the first DPS Dual Language Montessori Elementary.
Frances “Fran” Natividad Coleman strongly believes that education is the key because knowledge can never be taken away. She has earned a bachelor’s and masters degree. Fran served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1999 to 2006 and advocated for the blind, mentally ill and disabled. As a state Legislator, she collaborated with First Lady Barbara Bush to eradicate adult illiteracy. Fran also helped pass Concurrent Classes Legislation allowing high school student to attend college classes and graduate with a two-year college equivalency.
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media