The Colorado Rockies Hispanic Adult Leadership Award was developed to recognize individuals who demonstrate a commitment to the Hispanic community through community involvement, the promotion of family values, and personal achievements. Eligible applicants are Colorado Residents who are actively involved in the Hispanic community outside of their work place, though they need not be Hispanic themselves. The overall award winner receives Rockies Season Tickets and their name on a plaque displayed inside the Coors Field home plate entrance.
2012 Ernesto Marquez accepts his award.
In a pregame ceremony at Coors Field on Saturday, September 22, 2012, the Colorado Rockies named Ernesto Marquez as the Tenth Annual Hispanic Adult Leadership Award winner. Outside of his full-time job as a field auditor at Pinnacol Assurance, Ernesto has been the head baseball coach at Denver North High School for the past six years. His philosophy is that sports are an everyday, lifelong commitment, and he has gone above and beyond, viewing his role as a mentor to at-risk kids most important. Ernesto himself is an alum of North High School, and he strives to instill the importance of a college education, even meeting with families, accompanying them on college visits, and helping prepare them with sports eligibility processes and prep courses. In 2010, he was voted Coach of the Year by his peers. He is married with two children, and leads by example, proud of his college education and teaching his athletes that they can accomplish anything.
At the ceremony, all five finalists for the honor were introduced. Along with Ernesto were finalists Maria Castillo, Estevan Flores, Virginia Longoria and Romaine Pacheco. The other four award finalists and their contributions to the community are below.
Maria Castillo - Maria is Co-Founder of El Grupo Vida, a non-profit organization that serves Spanishspeaking families who have children with disabilities or special needs. El Grupo Vida provides information and training that enables and empowers the families to be their own best advocate when it comes to helping their special needs children. Maria's regular job is a Denver Health Medical Center bilingual family coordinator, specifically with the HCP-Health Care program for children with special needs, where she came to understand the need for support in the area of special needs for the Hispanic community, in addition to having a special needs son herself. Maria has been married to her husband, Ramon, for over 30 years and has two children, Olivia and Jesus.
Estevan Flores - Born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado, Estevan has a lifelong history of serving his community through his abilities as a team builder, public debater and writer, with a deep passion for helping the underserved and disenfranchised, and always outside of his studies or regular work responsibilities. As a graduate student at University of Texas-Austin, he volunteered for the United Farm Workers and Texas Farm Workers, which led to him giving expert testimony on their behalf toward state and U.S. Supreme Court legislation regarding public education for undocumented children. While teaching at CU Boulder, Estevan helped organize Colorado's Hispanic League and Hispanic Health Coalition, as well as the Hispanic Education Committee of Denver, all of which provide critical areas of support to underserved Hispanics in the state. He is currently the Director of Faculty and Curriculum at Regis University's new Dual Language Campus.
Virginia Longoria - A Denver native, Virginia has always had a passion for social and economic justice and helping people achieve a quality education. Virginia led the Denver Community Investment Alliance in the 1980s, which changed the lending practices of banks to people of color and people with disabilities. Leading other neighborhood and metro area causes got her appointed to community and public service positions under Mayors Webb and Pena, and Governor Romer. Virginia also serves (or has served) on education-focused boards, such as the Ricardo Flores Magon Academy and KIPP Sunshine Peek Academy, both of which have the mission of preparing young children from diverse backgrounds for success in high school and college. Since 2008, Virginia has held the position of Executive Director of ACCESS Housing, an agency that serves homeless families and those challenged with tremendous financial difficulty.
Romaine Pacheco - Born in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and relocating to Denver in 1968, Romaine is a first generation American who has spent her life building bridges for multicultural communities, especially on behalf of families faced with language or economic obstacles, always finding time around her regular job and instilling the same passion in her family. Romaine is a long-time volunteer at Centro San Juan Diego, where she has vastly increased their event fund raising for the Bienestar Family Services program, the Archbishop Gomez Gala, as well as for various toy drives and holiday baskets for migrant families. Romaine was a founding member and executive committee member of the Latina Women's Leadership Conference, Adelante Mujer, from 1980 to 2009, and she has been honored by Colorado State University for her enhancement of diversity there. After holding day jobs in congressional offices and major telecommunications companies over the course of her career, Romaine is currently the Director of the Governor's Office of Boards and Commissions.