DU Alumni

University College alumna honored as ‘unsung heroine’ of Denver Latino community

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“It was about getting to the root of, ‘How do you make a positive impact? What are the issues in the community?’ It’s a work in progress, because communities are always changing,” Olga Garcia says of her work at Coors Brewing Co. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Olga Garcia has found a second home at Museo de las Americas, the Denver-based museum and community center dedicated to Latino art and culture. Sitting in the museum’s gallery, surrounded by the colorful, geometrically precise paintings of Mexican artist Gunther Gerzso, she talks about the importance of the museum to her personally — she is a longtime board member who met her husband at the Museo — and to Denver’s young Latino community.

“It’s much more than a museum; the backbone of this organization really is education,” says Garcia, who was involved in the institution’s founding in 1991. “[The staff creates] curriculum and works with Denver Public Schools, they have a team of teachers who go out to communities in our six-county area, and there are school tours that come in. We have a three-week summer camp program, and it’s more than just learning about art. It’s more about career aspirations — what does it take to run a business like this? There’s a business behind everything. We need accountants, we need lawyers; we need everybody to come together and do what they love.”

Connecting with diverse communities is nothing new to Garcia — she has made a career out of it. She worked for 25 years at Coors Brewing Co. in Golden, Colo., serving from 2006–10 as manager of diversity and inclusion in the company’s human resources department. A master’s degree in applied communications from DU’s University College helped her hone her skills.

“We worked with the Latino, African-American and LGBT communities, women’s organizations — we had specific programming that resonated with those communities, and I think that helped us build a strong foundation to go forward with,” says Garcia, pointing to the National Hispana Leadership Institute and other organizations for which Coors was a founding corporate sponsor. “It was about getting to the root of, ‘How do you make a positive impact? What are the issues in the community?’ It’s a work in progress, because communities are always changing.”

For her work at Museo, Denver Health and elsewhere, Garcia was honored in May by Denver’s Latina First Foundation, which named her one of four “Unsung Heroines” in the local Latino community.

“I was very honored to be in the company of such great leaders,” she says. “I think it’s an opportunity for the foundation to highlight what Latina leaders are doing in our community, and that no matter the area, we’re contributing and making a difference in a way that can be appreciated. It’s good to spotlight what has been done and what still needs to be done.”

 

4 Comments

  1. Priscilla Vitello says:

    Congratulations Olga and thank you DU for featuring such a great leader and champion for the Latino community.

  2. María Corral says:

    Great story! Thank you for all you’ve done to contribute to the community Olga. I hope to meet you at a DU Latino Alumni event.

  3. Felicitaciones, Olga. Thank you for your work and I also look forward to meeting you in person some day soon!

  4. Johanna Leyba says:

    Olga was one of my early mentors while I was a participant of the Coors Minority Intern and Scholarship Program. She has always been one of my role models in terms of giving back and being involved in our community! So glad that DU has shared a bit of her story! We are lucky to have her as a DU Alumnae!

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