Women of Distinction - Part II

Recognizing top leaders in the community

Girl Scouts of Colorado logo by Girl Scouts of ColoradoColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Girl Scouts – Mile Hi Council (today, Girl Scouts of Colorado) initiated the Women of Distinction Program in 1997 recognizing top leaders in the community who have reached remarkable levels of achievement as business, community and civic leaders. The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inductees profiled in Part II were named Women of Distinction in 1998 and subsequent years.

Linda AlvaradoColorado Women's Hall of Fame

In 1976 when Linda Alvarado* wanted to start her own construction company, she couldn’t get a loan because she was a woman – her parents mortgaged their home. Yet, by the time she was 27, she was asked to sit on a corporate board. In 1992, she became the first Latino (male or female) to bid for the ownership of a Major League Baseball franchise. Today, she is a co-owner of the Colorado Rockies. Linda has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Katherine ArchuletaColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Katherine Archuleta was the first Latina to head the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. An exceptional role model who has changed the landscape for what is possible for Latinas, Katherine served as Chief of Staff for two Cabinet Secretaries – Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena. She later served as senior advisor for Pena when he became Secretary of Energy.

Lena ArchuletaColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Lena Archuleta was the first Hispanic female principal in DPS. Over more than 30 years, she advocated for the Hispanic community in educational institutions and was the first woman to serve as president of the Latin American Education Foundation. Lena was the first Hispanic president of the Denver Classroom Teachers’ Association and the Colorado Library Association. She helped found the Circle of Latina Leadership.

Marilyn Van Derbur AtlerColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The 1958 Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur Atler stunned the world when, as an adult, she revealed that she was an incest survivor. A nationally known and loved motivational speaker for years, Atler used the skills honed in that speaking to travel the U.S. and internationally advocating for survivors of sexual assault and incest. Her book, Miss America by Day, provides hope for survivors and those who help survivors.

Polly BacaColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The first Latina elected to the Colorado Senate, Polly Baca has a very long list of firsts for women and Latinas. Fueled by her determination from age three to prove herself “as good as” others, she has served as a very strong advocate for Latinx and gender equity. Baca was the first Latina to chair the Democratic National Convention and the first to receive a major party nomination for the U.S. Congress.

Joan BirklandColorado Women's Hall of Fame

A superb athlete herself who had excelled in tennis, gold and basketball, Joan Birkland became a local and national leader in promoting women and girls as athletes and in sporting events. She served as Executive Director for Sportswomen of Colorado for almost two decades and was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Juana BordasColorado Women's Hall of Fame

After emigrating from Nicaragua to the U.S. on a banana boat, Juana Bordas became the first in her family to graduate from college. A lifelong advocate for advancing communities of color, Juana founded the Mi Casa Resource Center. She is the founding president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute and the first Latina faculty for the Center for Creative Leadership. Juana is a founder of the Circle of Latina Leadership.

Marion DownsColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The “Mother of Pediatric Audiology” Marion Downs fought tirelessly for newborn infant hearing screening and early intervention for those with hearing issues. Going against the wisdom of the day, she fitted infants as young as six months old with hearing aids. After four decades of her advocacy, hearing screening for newborns was adopted universally.

Dr. Patricia GabowColorado Women's Hall of Fame

As CEO and Medical Director of Denver Health and Hospital Authority, Patty Gabow was nationally recognized for increasing healthcare access for all citizens of Colorado, especially women and children. As CEO, Patty led the effort to convert the former Denver General Hospital to a community-owned authority, not a unit of the City of Denver. An expert in kidney disease, she is also an author and speaker.

Rosalind "Bee" HarrisColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Bee Harris is dedicated to providing a voice and telling the stories of communities of color. Bee founded the Denver Urban Spectrum newspaper in 1987 which delivers information and showcases voices not heard in the mainstream media. Bee established the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation to provide mentoring and training programs for youth in the field of journalism.

Josie HeathColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Josie Heath directed the Women’s Center at Red Rocks Community College before receiving presidential appointments. She was the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in 1990 and 1992. Josie helped establish the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, served as a Boulder County Commissioner and for many years, was president of the Community Foundation serving Boulder County.

Sumiko HennessyColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Sumiko Hennessy, Ph.D., was a founding board member and later executive director of the Asian Pacific Development Center. The Center provides mental health services, counseling, education and activities for Asian-American youth. Sumiko helped establish the Tokyo University of Social Welfare. She and her husband founded Crossroads for Social Work, LLC which provides training for mental health professionals in Japan and the U.S.

Ding Wen HsuColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Businesswoman Ding-Wen Hsu founded the Dragon Boat Festival in Colorado, the largest Asian festival in the Rocky Mountain region, which now attracts 100,000 participants. An advocate in many ways for the invisible Asian communities in the state, Ding-Wen recognized the lack of leadership opportunities for Asian youth. She helped establish the Asian and Pacific Islander Emerging Leaders Program to identify and develop the next generation of Asian leaders.

Jean JonesColorado Women's Hall of Fame

As President and CEO of Girl Scouts – Mile Hi Council for 25 years, Jean Jones developed an inclusive environment in which girls from all communities could learn the skills necessary to become tomorrow’s leaders. The first woman president of the Rotary Club in Denver, Jean served on many non-profit boards, often as chair, for organizations as diverse as the Colorado Trust, the Women’s Forum of Colorado, Historic Denver and the Samaritan Institute.

Carlotta LaNierColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The youngest of the Little Rock Nine – the nine African-American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 – Carlotta Walls LaNier* wanted the best education possible as she knew that education was the key to opportunity. A lifelong advocate of equal education for all, she received the Congressional Gold Medal and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Mary Lou MakepeaceColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The first woman to serve as Mayor of Colorado Springs, Mary Lou Makepeace advocated for equal treatment for all. After her terms which saw the first female municipal judges appointed, she worked at The Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado furthering her objectives of equality, diversity, and inclusivity. Mary Lou continues her efforts to build economically self-sufficient and strong women who pursue an education and participate in the electoral process.

Ramona MartinezColorado Women's Hall of Fame

The first Latina to be elected president of the Denver City Council, Ramona Martinez has been a tireless advocate for women, minorities and small businesses. That advocacy opened opportunities for many previously shut out during the construction of the Denver International Airport. As a member of the Democratic National Committee, Ramona has worked in many ways for more representation for women and minorities.

Lydia PenaColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Sister Lydia Peña, Ph.D., a Sister of Loretto, uses her fundraising skills to provide educational opportunities for the oppressed and underserved around the world, including building the Blessed Trinity Leadership Academy for girls in Ghana. She taught at St. Mary’s Academy, Loretto Heights and University without Walls. Her extensive community participation includes serving on the boards of organizations as varied as the Rose Community Foundation, Rocky Mountain PBS, the Women’s Forum of Colorado and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

Cleo Parker RobinsonColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Cleo Parker Robinson uses the power of dance to unite communities across cultures and language barriers. Her philosophy of “One Spirit, Many Voices” is evidenced in all of her activities around the world to bring joy and understanding through dance. Her Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, founded in 1970, uses dance to champion social justice and unite people across all backgrounds and ages.

Shari ShinkColorado Women's Hall of Fame

An advocate for neglected and abused children, attorney Shari Shink established what became the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, the first non-profit law firm for neglected/abused children. The legislative reforms which she has championed and the programs she has established help every child fulfill their potential including those in foster care and under the supervision of juvenile court. She is most inspired by children whose lives she has been able to positively impact.

Dr. Martha UriosteColorado Women's Hall of Fame

Martha M. Urioste, Ph.D., was the first and only principal to pioneer a Montessori elementary school. The founder and former president of Family Star, Martha was a pioneering Hispanic-American counselor in the Denver Public Schools and the first secondary bilingual counselor. Her exploration of the reason for students dropping out of high school led to her deep commitment to Montessori as an education delivery mechanism that enables students from all backgrounds to thrive and succeed.

Credits: Story

*An inductee into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.

In collaboration with Girl Scouts of Colorado.

Curator: Jill S. Tietjen, P.E. co-author of Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America and Hollywood: Her Story, An Illustrated History of Women and the Movies. An inductee into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and the Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps