FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Hickenlooper Names Key Education & Economic Appointees
(DENVER) Mayor John Hickenlooper held a news conference in his office Thursday to officially name his directors to the Offices for Education and Children, Economic Development, and Workforce Development.
“Today is about opportunity,” Hickenlooper said. “And these three talented and experienced individuals will help create new opportunities for Denver residents of all ages. Educational opportunity is directly linked to economic opportunity, and my Administration is committed to both.”
Office for Education and Children: Dr. Maria Guajardo Lucero
Maria Guajardo Lucero has worked with education and children from almost every angle: in Denver Public Schools, Denver universities, Colorado state government, and the non-profit community. She will bring her experience and expertise as an educator, a licensed clinical psychologist, a manager and advocate to bear as the new Director of Denver’s Office for Education and Children.
Since 1997, Dr. Guajardo Lucero has served as the founding executive director of Assets for Colorado Youth, a $10 million positive youth development initiative funded by The Colorado Trust. Currently, in partnership with schools throughout the Denver metro area, her work in the area of parent engagement in schools is serving as a foundational piece for improving school climate and strengthening relationships between parents, teacher and students. Her commitment to positive youth development supported the launching of the Million Voices for Youth Campaign, where youth strengths are being collected statewide.
Her educational experiences range from preschool to higher education. Dr. Guajardo Lucero has served as a therapist for Denver Head Start, a bilingual school psychologist for Denver Public Schools, an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State College and UCD and now a trustee for the University of Denver. Her research in dropout prevention guided her work at the Colorado Department of Education as the Dropout Prevention Coordinator and as co-director of the Colorado Preschool Project. In the mid-1990s she served as the executive director of the Latin American Research and Service Agency.
Serving as a mentor to nine West High School Latina students for three years, she began her commitment to moving theory into practice, earning the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Colorado Alliance for Business. She is now a national spokesperson on topics of educational attainment, positive youth development and the strength of diversity. Her publications include The Power of Parents: Parent Engagement in Schools and the Developmental Assets. Dr. Guajardo Lucero serves on the board of Family Star, The Veterans of Hope Project and the Institute for Educational Equity. She was also selected as a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow from 1990-1993.
Dr. Guajardo Lucero graduated with honors in psychology from Harvard University and earned her Masters and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Denver. She is also a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. A daughter of migrant parents, she currently has a son enrolled in Denver Public Schools.
Director of Economic Development: John Huggins
A fourth generation Coloradan, John Huggins has built an impressive career in both the public and private sector.
He worked for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city’s planning and development agency; served as a planning and economic development consultant for the City of St. Louis; and was the director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development for the first two years of Mayor Wellington Webb’s Administration.
Huggins was also a cofounder and the chief financial officer of the Johnson-Grace Company, a software company that invented the first commercial streaming media product and was eventually sold to America Online.
As a volunteer for the Hickenlooper for Mayor campaign, Huggins spearheaded the creation of Hickenlooper’s economic development plan and later served as the director of the Hickenlooper transition.
Huggins has served as a volunteer for various local civic projects, including the Inner-City Community Development Corporation project at 38th & York and co-chairing the Citizens Advisory Committee for the “Game Plan,” the new master plan for Denver Parks & Recreation Department.
He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and a master’s in public policy in from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Director of Workforce Development: Cecilia K. Sanchez de Ortiz (Cec Ortiz)
Cec Ortiz brings over 20 years experience working with workforce training, human resources management, and community/economic development issues for both the public, private and non-profit sector to her new role as Denver’s Director of Workforce Development.
For the past few years Ortiz has been a partner at Catalyst Resources, Inc., a consulting firm that helps corporations, government agencies, and foundations reach out to diverse populations, providing expertise in designing and managing community and economic development programs. In this capacity, she served as a consultant on a wide range of policy issues affecting small, minority and women-owned businesses, including procurement, workforce development, technology access and utilization, and business training opportunities.
Ortiz served under Governor Roy Romer as the State Director of the Colorado Small Business Development Lead Center (1996-1998) and as the State Director of both the Governor’s Minority Business Office and Women’s Business Office (1994-1996). She spent five years as the Executive Director of Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, a nationally recognized, community-based employment and training center for minority women and girls.
Ortiz is very active in the community, serving as a board member for the Denver Welfare Reform Board, Project PAVE (Promoting Alternatives to Violence through Education), and the P.S.1 Charter School. She is a member of the Women’s Forum of Colorado and a past member of the National Council of La Raza. She has been recognized in the Denver Business Journal's 1995, l996 and l997 “Who's Who in Business.”
Ortiz received her baccalaureate degree in business with an international focus from Regis University.
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