Executive Board DirectorMike Cortés joined the CLLARO Board of Directors in March 2014. He also was a member of the Board of Directors of CLLARO’s predecessor, the Latin American Research and Service Agency (LARASA) from 1996-1998. Prior to his retirement, Mike was Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Denver, where he conducted policy research on aging in Latino populations in the U.S., while teaching graduate courses in public policy analysis and development, and social policy advocacy. He has held faculty and administrative positions at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of San Francisco, the University of Colorado Denver, the University of Denver, and Colorado State University. Earlier in his career, he was the founding Vice-President for Research, Advocacy, and Legislation for the National Council of La Raza (now known as UnidosUS) in Washington, D.C. He holds M.P.P. and Ph.D. degrees in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.S.W. degree with a specialty in community practice and social action from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Mike is grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at CLLARO, to help Colorado Latino minorities achieve equal economic and educational opportunity, political empowerment, and social justice for all.
Leadership Program ManagerAlejandra Colmenero is founder of the UNICEF Denver Congressional Action Team (Denver CAT), a UNICEF USA initiative. Since its inception in 2016, The UNICEF Denver CAT has been driven by the purpose of building relationships with Members of Congress and showing constituent support for UNICEF’s work around the world in order to advance relevant policy issues affecting children. As founder and leader, Alejandra has worked on building the base of local UNICEF advocates, coordinating outreach and engagement plants, developing and executing team meetings, as well as Congressional Meetings with CAT members and Elected Officials and their staff –– both in district and in Washington D.C.
As a leader, Alejandra trains members on how to be effective advocates by studying bipartisan legislation that impacts the most vulnerable newborns, children and mothers around the world, and by training members on the Legislative process on Capitol Hill.
To accomplish objectives in benefit of the world’s children, it is imperative for Alejandra to ensure all members are willing to work with bipartisan legislation, to work with people from all walks of life, and to respect everyone’s personal view and opinions –– all while maintaining the team’s purpose in mind, and striving to reach organizational goals.
Alejandra has worked with teams ranging from 5 – 20. This has allowed her to gain experience and skills in hosting and moderating in-person and virtual trainings, relationship and team building, organizing and managing volunteers, as well as effectively planning and coordinating meetings and events, all while positively reflecting the UNICEF USA brand and reaching objectives.
Gladys J Soto
Education Program Manager/ Volunteer CoordinatorMi nombre es Gladys J. Soto and I am the new American reality. I am bilingual, I speak Spanish and English y aveces, I speak both.” Gladys is a mother and wife and has worked with bilingual students for many years. She has been a teacher for 8 years in Denver Schools and has been a CABE- (Colorado Association for Bilingual Education) board member for the past 3 years. Gladys received her Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) along with her teaching degree and also has a Masters in Linguistically Diverse Education from the BUENO Center at CU-Boulder. Her dedication to bilingual advocacy has become her priority as well as making sure that people don’t stay stuck with a single story of culturally and linguistically diverse students and families. Gladys believes that, “We are families with rich cultures, passions, and traditions. We are families of hard work, dedication, success and education.”
Intern University of Denver – Graduate School of Social WorkI am a graduate student of social work at the University of Denver. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and have over 10 years of experience working in the field of health care. I am passionate about working with underserved populations, specifically in the Latino community. I am on a journey to find ways to advance the Latino population by providing sustainable solutions that eliminate poverty and the cycles it creates. Part of this is tackling the disparities in the education system and improving peoples’ overall quality of life through health and wellness. Recently, I have come to understand that a big part of the equation to solving these problems is policy. I understand that policy advocacy can only be successful when it is informed by research and this is how, and why, I chose to work with CLLARO. I am excited to be a part of this organization because I truly believe that the experience I gain will be the missing puzzle piece that will get me closer to my destination. In my free time I love to spend time with my daughter, husband, mom, and brothers. I also enjoy trying out recipes and feeding my family! I love to laugh and I love to eat too…and if I have time, I enjoy working out (outdoors, gym, at home, it’s all fun for me!).
Intern University of Denver – Graduate School of Social WorkI am a graduate student of social work at the University of Denver. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Denver as well as a Certificate in Translation/Interpretation from the Community College of Aurora. I am bilingual in English and Spanish and am passionate about advocating for social justice for all, particularly for our communities of color and low-income communities. My interest in my community expanded when I began volunteering and became a member of Colorado People’s Alliance. Since then, I’ve become increasingly aware that the root cause of our issues lies within existing policies that have created systemic issues leading to our current state. I’ve also worked for Aurora Public Schools (APS) and am still an interpreter for the district. My experiences at APS have given way to my passion for education and my desire to help empower both parents and students to create a generational change where education is at the forefront and is equitable for every child, regardless of socio-economic status and race. During my free time, I love going to the movies and spending time with my family.
University of Denver – Graduate School of Social Work