"At the age of 17, I came to Denver and found that the Denver Library not only lent books for FREE, but also had English classes that I could take to prepare me for my senior year at North High School. I did not grow up with a library and, given my love for books, I couldn’t believe all the resources the Library provided to educate and enhance the community. It changed my life!"
Elsa grew up in a small town in Chihuahua, Mexico, moving to the U.S. when she was 17. She learned English by attending a program at the Denver Public Library the summer before repeating her senior year at North High School. Her first job was at Mi Casa Women’s Resource Center which led to other nonprofit roles. For more than 20 years she served as the senior program officer for Child and Family Development at the Rose Community Foundation. For the past two years, Elsa has been the President and CEO of the Denver Preschool Program, working to improve quality preschool and provide tuition assistance.
Elsa has played an instrumental role in creating Early Milestones Colorado, the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado and Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood and currently serves on the Preschool Policy Leadership Committee. She is an outstanding leader in the state’s Hispanic community and a champion for Colorado’s children.
What is the last great book you read, and what impact did it have on you?
The Hummingbird’s Daughter, by Luis Alberto Urrea. Urrea writes about everyday people in Mexico and Latin America through the eyes of a child who is learning to be a healer. By weaving the migratory story of hummingbirds into the tale, Urrea shares the power of community and connection.
What are you currently reading?
How Beautiful We Were, by Imbolo Mbue. This book talks about the commitment of one woman inspiring her African village to organize and tell the story of the destruction an American oil company has done to their village. Through her singular efforts, she becomes a dynamic leader challenging a distant corporation and giving voice to injustice.
What do you think is the most important role public libraries play in our current times?
Libraries are a trusted resource providing programs and materials for Denverites from infants to our senior citizens. The Library has been a great partner and an invaluable resource partner for the Denver Preschool Program during the pandemic providing access to education through their outstanding program for young children, Little University. Our organization has formed a partnership with the Library and supports this valuable work. It is my joy to now help to provide access to families to all the amazing services the Denver Public Library provides throughout the city at no cost - it’s a gift to us all!