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March 07, 2008 - Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Takes the Lead in Denver

What: Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards Luncheon

Where: Marriott City Center

When: Friday, March 7, 2008

Time: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $125 - $1000

Host(s): American Family Insurance

EMCEE: Michelle Griego, Channel 4News

Invocation: Rev. Father Jorge De los Santos, CRS

Welcome: Ranger Duran, Regional VP American Family Insurance

Sponsors: USBank; BW&E; Macy's; CISCO; SourceOne; VCG Holding Corp.; Solera; Delphic; Junior Achievement; Petra Roofing Co.

Menu: Celebration salad, Porcini crusted chicken, wild mushroom barley risotto, chocolate/vanilla mousse

Attendance: 1,000

Attire: Business

Event Coordinator: Estella Juarez, Marketing Mgr., DHCC

Board of Directors: Denise Maes, Chair; Tim Padilla, Chair-Elect; Jeffrey Campos, Pres/CEO; Debbie Trujillo; Luis Colon; Ismael Guerrero; Maria Arias; Eduardo Arnal; Martha Awad; Patricia Barela Rivera; Chris Bray; Maruicio Cardenas; Mario Carrera; John Chavarria; Nolbert Chavez; Steve Delcastillo; Laura English; Greg Feasel; Michael Ferrufino; Mario Hernandez; Monique Lovato; Artiesha Maes; Larry Martinez; Keith Montoya; Daniel Ortiz; Ric Padilla; Carlos Rocabado; Gary Schraufnagel; John Soto; Elizabeth Suarez; Douglas Van Der Zwaag; Stephanie Villafuerte; Ginny Williams

Blacktie Photos by: M. Darcy

 Jeff Campos, left, Perla Gheiler, Ranger Duran and Sen. Abel Tapia
Jeff Campos, left, Perla Gheiler, Ranger Duran and Sen. Abel Tapia

Denver’s Hispanic citizens have been taking the lead on the business floor for the last 30 years, lifting up their community and that of the entire city. Thanks to teamwork and collaboration through partnerships developed by the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (DHCC), there are now over 25,000 Spanish businesses that generated $5 million in receipts last year alone. In fact, the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been a role model for other chambers, winning seven Region 2 awards as Large Hispanic Chamber of the Year.

With over 1,800 members, and 32 board members, the DHCC is the state's largest minority chamber, and one of the top four chambers in metro Denver. And Denver is paying attention. On Friday, March 7 a who’s-who list of civic and business leaders came together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the DHCC at their Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon, and to recognize those who have taken the lead to make Denver a stronger and more prosperous community for all.

Governor Bill Ritter spoke passionately on the importance of educating our youth and reducing the drop-out rate so that they can share in opportunities. To that end, the Chamber’s Education Foundation provides scholarships, a unique Spanish language G.E.D. program and civic leadership programs, which are aimed at increasing Hispanic representation in the government.

Looking towards the future, the DHCC is pushing key initiatives on healthcare and civic engagement. Ranger Duran from the presenting sponsor, American Family Insurance, spoke for many businesses there, recognizing that “our customers are our community.” A healthy community (on many levels) equals healthy businesses. Jeff Campos, President and CEO of the DHCC, was particularly proud of the Chamber’s Hispanic Opportunities in the Workforce program, which has increased its business alliances by 30%, placing more qualified job seekers and developing leaders through its services. “Leadership is only as successful as the people you inspire,” he quoted.

Women have always been a critical part of a community’s development. Under the Chamber’s Education Foundation newly directed by Erika Reyes, the Circle of Latina Leadership graduated its first class last year.

At the Luncheon’s awards ceremony the following individuals were recognized for their outstanding leadership:

  • Business Woman of the Year - Olga Garcia, Dir. of Diversity Recruitment for Coors Brewing Company
  • Business Man of the Year – James Perez Foster, founder of Solera National Bank
  • Public Official of the Year – Colorado Sen. Abel Tapia (D-Pueblo)
  • Corporate Advocate of the Year Award – Western Union President’s Award - the Colorado Rockies
  • Chamber Advocate of the Year Award – Mimi Bell, agent with Allstate Insurance
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Patricia Barela Rivera

If the smooth organization of the 1,000-guest-list luncheon is any indication at all, the Hispanic community in Denver is making great strides to come together as one force and one voice. Latino culture has a history of solidarity; when one is raised up, all are raised up with them. It’s a model that is clearly working, and working hard for the many. 

For more information on the DHCC, check out their website at

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