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Three local leaders share their experiences at Colorado Latino Advocacy Day

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Héctor Salas
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Local leaders Beatriz Soto, Jasmin Ramirez and Elizabeth Velasco are surrounded by a group of Roaring Fork Valley participants at Latino Advocacy Day in Denver on March 13 and 14. More than 300 people attended the event, including 70 leaders from the Western Slope.

A group of Roaring Fork Valley residents joined more than 300 people in Denver recently for Colorado’s 16th Latino Advocacy Day.

The annual gathering was started in 2006 by a group of advocates, including Alex Sánchez, founder of the local nonprofit Voces Unidas de Las Montañas.

The event brings politicians and lawmakers together with community members to influence legislation on important issues such as environmental justice, immigration and reproductive rights.

Several local leaders took part in this year’s event, including Beatriz Soto, Jasmin Ramirez and Elizabeth Velasco.

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Courtesy of Elizabeth Velasco
City of Glenwood Springs community engagement coordinator Gladys Marcon, House District 57 candidate Elizabeth Velasco and Roaring Fork School District board member Jasmin Ramirez attend Protégete director Beatriz Soto’s talk at Latino Advocacy Day. This year’s event was organized by Protégete, Voces Unidas de las Montañas, and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights.

Beatriz Soto is director of Conservation Colorado’s program Protégete, which advocates for equitable access to a healthy environment.

Protégete joined Voces Unidas and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) as one of the organizers for this year’s LAD.

“It’s imperative that we start to see leaders that look like us, that speak like us,” Soto said. “That’s really where the change can start to happen.”

For Roaring Fork School District board member and Voces Unidas program consultant Jasmin Ramirez, Latino Advocacy Day represents a unique opportunity to introduce students to their state legislators.

“Being able to see them as they shook their representatives' hands and shared what their concerns are as students in our district really reminded me of why this is such a powerful event,” Ramirez said.

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Courtesy of Elizabeth Velasco
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Roaring Fork Valley resident and House District 57 candidate Elizabeth Velasco stands with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Weiser joined Gov. Jared Polis to address participants at Colorado's 16th annual Latino Advocacy Day.

Elizabeth Velasco, CEO of locally based translation company Global Language Services, also attended the event. (Her company has provided translation services to Aspen Public Radio.)

Velasco is also a Democratic candidate running for House District 57, which now includes the Roaring Fork Valley. Velasco said the event was a great way for her to connect with the communities she hopes to represent.

“It was great to see that we can speak for ourselves and we can advocate for ourselves,” she said.

Aspen Public Radio talked with Velasco, Ramirez and Soto about their experiences at this year’s Latino Advocacy Day in Colorado.

Listen to the conversation above.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and Morning Edition anchor. Eleanor has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, the Valley’s COVID-19 eviction and housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.