Aug 30, 2019
From a segregated farm town to the Colorado statehouse and onto the national political stage, Polly Baca has been crashing through glass ceilings for decades. She was first elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1974 and to the Colorado Senate in 1978, serving in the State Legislature for 12 years. And that was only the beginning. Watch and listen to all of Polly’s stories below to learn more about this fascinating Denver resident and Colorado leader.
Polly Baca was born on a small farm in Weld County and grew up in Greeley, CO. She overcame local bigotry and segregation in the 1940s and ’50s to graduate from College High School with a joint honor scholarship. At Colorado State University in Fort Collins, she found her calling for community leadership and politics.
Polly worked for President Lyndon Johnson as a public information officer for the White House InterAgency Committee on Mexican Americans. She was the National Deputy Director of the 1968 “Viva Kennedy” Presidential Campaign. Working alongside Latino American civil rights activists Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Bert Corona, she helped win California for then President-elect John F. Kennedy.
Polly joined with other Latino leaders to found the National Council of La Raza, which became the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
Polly continues to stand with and be a strong voice for underserved communities in Denver and Colorado.
Photos courtesy of The Denver Post
First woman elected to chair the Democratic Caucus of the Colorado House of Representatives (1977)
First minority woman and first Hispanic woman elected to the Colorado State Senate (1978-1986)
First Hispanic woman in the nation to serve in both the House and Senate of her state legislature (1975-86)
First Hispanic woman to be nominated by a major political party for the United States Congress (Democratic Party Congressional nominee, 1980)
First Hispanic woman to co-chair a National Democratic Convention (1980 and 1984)
First Hispanic woman to serve in leadership in a State House and in a State Senate in the U.S. (Chair, Colorado House Democratic Caucus, 1977-78, and Chair, Senate Democratic Caucus, 1985-1986)
First woman and the first minority to serve as Rocky Mountain Region VIII Regional Administrator of the General Services Administration (1994-1999)
First Hispanic woman to head a six-state federal agency in the Rocky Mountain Region VIII (GSA 1994-1999)
First Latina to serve as an election night analyst for an English-language commercial TV station (Parity Project partner KCNC-TV CBS4, 2006)
First Latina in Colorado to be elected to the Electoral College three times: 2008, 2012 and 2016