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Patricia Barela-Rivera is a woman who honors her parents everyday by keeping a combination of both her parents’ names, Barela is her father’s last name and Rivera is her mother’s maiden name. “In my culture a mother’s name is always on the end.” Patricia is a self-made woman who loves life, shows her passion in everything she does and believes in caring… a lot.

Patricia has this to say about her childhood. “It was wonderful. I was an only child and we lived on a ranch with my grandfather. It was very nurturing. My grandpa would read Spanish poetry almost every night before I would go to sleep and he would play the mandolin, guitar and the piano for me. Most nights we’d play cards in the kitchen. My mother treated me like a doll. She made all of my clothes and kept changing me five or six times a day, just like a baby doll. My mother was my heart. My dad was very involved in the community and would take me with him to various meetings.” Patricia says she had the best of both worlds, living on a ranch with cattle and horses, driving tractors and bailing hay, but also having the opportunity to take dance and piano lessons and being taught to be a lady. “My mom and dad wanted me to do well. We were a middle-class American family. I didn’t know I was different. I only knew we spoke another language and ate ethnic and American food. I didn’t learn about ‘being Hispanic’ until years later.”

She remembers this life lesson from her childhood: “I had a pair of roller skates and my mother had put the key on a silver ribbon, which I wore around my neck. A neighbor girl, Dora, came over one day and yanked the key from around my neck and threw it into a big deep ground cover. I went into the house crying to tell my mom about the key. She was angry with me for allowing Dora to take my key. Our next-door neighbor, Mrs. Arendale, came over and said, ‘ If you ever let anyone do that to you again, I’m going to spank you.’ The next day Dora came over with rollers in her hair. I kicked her, knocked her down and pulled all of the rollers out. My mother never taught me to fight, and I never did fight; that was the only time I ever hit anyone. I told her to give back my roller skate key. That was the time I learned to defend myself. It was a life lesson…don’t become a victim.”

Patricia has had a very diverse and interesting career. She started as a secretary, moved up to University Admissions Counselor, then did college recruitment. After that came a stint as a federal employee for the forest service and later she worked as a management trainer for the government. “ It was a great job. I was doing national leadership seminars all over the country.” Patricia ran her own training business for six years, presenting 28 different seminars on minorities, diversity and leadership training. Governor Romer selected Patricia for a position within his administration. She worked that job for six years. “ It was the best job I had in my life, very empowering, very positive.” When she applied for the position of District Director SBA, there were 300 applicants. “ I had six interviews and it came down to myself and two men. I got the job! It’s a great position, I’m helping people and I love it.”

What’s important in your life ? As I get older, I guess being able to get up every morning! Really, it’s what I can give everyday. I need to know that when I lay my head on my pillow that I can say, ‘Today was another successful day. I gave to someone. I did something that was good for someone.’ That’s what fulfills my life.

What’s in your future? I don’t know, but I know it’s going to be great. The next part of my life is going to be phenomenal. It’s going to work; it’s going to be great. I’m open to whatever’s going to come my way. I’ll go with it and just ‘ Rock & Roll.’

What are your volunteer activities? I do a lot of volunteering. In Mexico they say, “One had washes the other.” I will do a thousand percent for this community. I’ll do anything that’s needed. That’s what it’s about…that’s what’s important.

Favorite restaurant? Sullivan’s. There’s nothing better than” the wedge” and a martini on a Friday after work with fun friends.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? I’ve met many interesting celebrities and it’s hard to pick one, but I’d have to say, Mohammed Ali. He told so many wonderful stories and was a very fascinating and interesting person to talk to.

If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? Paloma Picasso. People say I look like her when my hair is pulled back. I love her perfume, her jewelry and her designs.

Do you have any pets? No, but I wish I did. I love dogs, but because my schedule is so hectic it wouldn’t be fair to the animals.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? That I filled my house with love and passion. It’s got a wonderful ambiance.

What word describes you best? Passionate and energetic

How would you like others to describe you? Someone who’s loving and caring

What was your first job? I did product demonstrations in supermarkets. My dad was the store manager and I was able to do all the demonstrating.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I don’t know how to say no!

What trait do you most deplore in others? Liars

What is your greatest indulgence? Clothes and jewelry

What type of clothes do you like? Comfortable, kind of ethnic. I like clothes that have color and look different. I love Chico’s for unique clothing.

What is the best gift you have ever given? True friendship

What is the best gift you’ve received? Hugs and kisses from caring, loving friends

What or who is the greatest love in your life? That’s a tough one. It’s a two part answer; first, my family; mom, dad and son. Secondly, a great love for this wonderful man, Emilio, from Rome.

What is your current state of mind? Cruising…taking one day at a time

What do you consider your greatest achievement? That I’m still alive and kicking and still enjoying life. I’m very blessed to be where I’m at in my life and my career.

What is your most treasured possession? It’s really odd, but I think it’s who I am, my spirit and my heart

What is the quality you most like in a man? A man who knows the true essence of who he is. One that has integrity, honesty and a positive attitude.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? To be giving and sharing

Favorite books/writers? Sonoya Roman’s Personal Power and Spanish poetry.

What is the best advice you have ever received? Not to take myself so seriously

Do you have a motto? They are two Mexican mottos. Translated in English they say, “Every monkey to their own swing” and “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you? I walked into the wrong rest room; it was a “men’s room” with about ten men using the urinal. I didn’t leave though. I picked a stall, did my business, and walked out. The men couldn’t believe it! One man said, “ Madam, do you know that you’re in the wrong bathroom.” My response, “ yeah, and so what…I have to go and we are all doing the same thing.

If you could come back in another lifetime, what/who would you like to be? And why? I’d like to come back as a passionate, sensual flamenco dancer so I could dance every day. I just want to dance through life. Or I’d come back as a hippie, live in Taos and throw pots.

What are your hobbies? Other interests? I don’t know what hobbies are with my time schedule. I love the theatre, art galleries and music. My favorite activity…just being with friends, having wonderful meals, great conversations and great laughter and being with the people I really enjoy.

Who is your mentor? My mother and my grandmother. I’ve also had a variety of men and women who were important and guided me through different changes in my life.

What would you most like to be remembered for? That I left a wonderful legacy for the community I lived in, a positive lasting legacy; and that I made a difference.

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be? I’d go to the places I love the most, some small town in New Mexico. I’d design and build a wonderful small adobe home, spend time cooking, throw pots, garden, have two or three dogs and invite my friends over every other weekend to laugh and dance, sing, eat and celebrate life. And last but not least…have a wonderful lover.

What do you like about the town you live in? Love, love, love Denver. It’s the best city to live in. People are great and the weather is great. It’s a vibrant city and there is lots of opportunity.

Patricia has always been a positive leader in our community. I met Patricia 14 years ago. With her mentor-ability, I became a graduate of the conexion latina-to this day I stay involved on a volunteer basis to Circle of Latina Leadership, LARASA and the American Diabetes Association. Patricia never fails to remember her comadres. She always stays in my heart and prayers - Gracias Patricia - Marilee
Marilee Roybal Verdun
14-Jun-05


Patricia has always been a positive leader in our community. I met Patricia 14 years ago. With her mentor-ability, I became a graduate of the conexion latina-to this day I stay involved on a volunteer basis to Circle of Latina Leadership, LARASA and the American Diabetes Association. Patricia never fails to remember her comadres. She always stays in my heart and prayers - Gracias Patricia - Marilee
Marilee Roybal Verdun
14-Jun-05