On March 13, 1964, Lena Archuleta, Charles Tafoya and Bernie Valdez joined the President and Executive Director of the United Fund to sign the first agreement in the nation between a United Fund (now Mile High United Way) and a Latino 501(c)(3) organization: the Latin American Research and Service Agency (LARASA). LARASA was established to address the needs of Latinos in education, youth motivation, job development, training and employment, health and welfare, housing, and community resources.
LARASA's vision was to create an agency where people from all ethnic and racial groups could work together to improve the conditions under which Latinos lived and worked with the belief that when you improve the lives of Latinos, you improve the lives of all Coloradans. Over the years, the board of directors and staff operated a wide range of programs in response to needs identified by and for Latinos in the Denver Metro areas and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of Colorado.
Toward the end of the 20th century, LARASA became increasingly committed to training new generations of future leaders within the state's racial and ethnic minority communities. In 2007, LARASA changed its name and became the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy, and Research Organization (CLLARO).
CLLARO 2023 Members of the Board of Directors
Board Officers Chair - The Honorable Federico Peña - Senior Advisor, Colorado Impact Fund Denver
Vice-Chair - Mr. Luís Jorge Castañeda - Founder & Owner, Castañeda Law, Denver, CO & Phoenix, AZ
Secretary - Ms. Anne Barkis, J.D., MSW. - Principal; Mendez, Barkis and Associates, Denver
Treasurer - Mr. Evan Smith-Acuña - Assistant Vice President, FirstBank, Aurora
Mr.True Apodaca - Founder and Principal, True Strategies Colorado, Denver
Mr.Lawrence Barcelona García - Senior Manager, Labor & Employee RelationsDenver Public Schools
Mr.Alfred Galves, J.D. - Special Assistant to the President, CSU Pueblo
Ms.Leslie Colwell - Vice-President, K-12 Education Initiatives, ColoradoChildren’s Campaign, Denver
Ms.María González - Founder & CEO, Adelante Community Development CommerceCity
TheHon. Alicia Johnson - Member, City Council, City of Evans, CO
Dr.Celeste Montoya - Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies, University ofColorado Boulder
Ms. Angeles Ortega - CEO, Mi Casa Resource Center,Denver
Ms.Nalleli Ramírez-Salinas - Program Administrator, Dept. of Public Health&Environment, City and County of Denver
Mr.Elvis Rubio - Government & Community Affairs Officer, Dept. of HousingStability, City and County of Denver
Mr.Mike Cortés, MSW, MPP, PhD - Scholar In Residence and Special Community Member,University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work
Ms.Ayah B. Ziyadeh - National Advocacy Director, American Muslims for Palestine,Aurora
Empowering Latinos through many avenues.Our directory
Colorado’s Latino community faces pressing civil and socioeconomic issues: the Latino achievement and wage gap, educational challenges, inadequate political representation, rising inflation and economic challenges, and more.
To me there is no difference between the Latino immigrant of yesterday and the sixth generation Latino of today. We all aspire and should have the same opportunities as the rest of our fellow residents, and the future of CLLARO is promising.
The future of CLLARO is one where we proactively engage in partnerships with our communities and universities to again invest in high-quality research and policies, working alongside elected leaders and institutions to build a new agenda for Latino prosperity.
The future of CLLARO is one where we actively work towards the hiring and election of Latinos in leadership positions, and proactively identify opportunities for our state’s institutions to diversify and embrace fresh perspectives.
The future of CLLARO is bright, and we are looking to our history and our beginnings as LARASA to guide us.
Colorado’s Latino community is viably self-sufficient, yet with increased funding and representation, there are no limits to what we can collectively achieve.
CLLARO is dedicated to tirelessly advocating for our community. Thank you for your support!
Former Denver Mayor Federico Peña and his wife Cindy are longtime outspoken CLLARO supporters. As one of our primary financial backers, Cindy and Federico demonstrate an admirable commitment to future generations of Colorado Latinos.
Sherman & Howard LLC is more than a law firm. They give back to help create stronger communities and as one of CLLARO’s largest donors, Sherman & Howard have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal sector.