CO Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees Named
An astronaut, four nonprofit leaders and activists, a university chancellor, a former Colorado Lt. Governor, a journalist and suffragette, an educator of the deaf, and a community builder and cattle owner comprise the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Class of 2018. In honor of March being Women’s History Month, Leadville Today brings you the ten inductees who are the next group of extraordinary contemporary and historical women with significant ties to Colorado. These women will be inducted on March 28 in Denver; any guesses as to how many have some Leadville ties, or at least spent a bit of time making history in America’s highest city? Regardless, they are all people who have made enduring and exemplary contributions to their fields, inspired and elevated the status of women and helped open new frontiers for women and society.
“Extraordinary is the operative word,” says Beth Barela, Chair of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF). “These women are unsung heroes who have endured with superlative strength, beauty and love. They deserve to have their stories told and to be honored as shining examples of the potential of all women.”
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame was founded in 1985. Every two years, the organization inducts contemporary and historical women with significant ties to Colorado; who have made enduring and exemplary contributions to their fields, elevated the status of women, helped open new frontiers for women and society, and have been sources of inspiration for others by their example.
Since its founding, the CWHF has inducted 152 women from many races, backgrounds, economic levels, career choices, political philosophies, and religious beliefs for their outstanding contributions to society.
The lives of these extraordinary women are proof of what can be achieved with passion, commitment, spirit, grit and the grace to stand tall in the face of obstacles. They are trailblazers, visionaries, and women of courage, glass-ceiling breakers, innovators, and rule changers in all walks of life. Their contributions span Colorado’s colorful and storied history, reaching all four corners of our state, and have spread to touch our nation and our world.
THE COLORADO WOMEN’S HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE CLASS OF 2018 ARE:
Leslie Foster – Non Profit Leader and Activist, President of The Gathering Place.
For nearly 30 years, Leslie has devoted her career and her outside activities to transforming the lives of women, children, and people who are transgender by providing positive relationships, resources and a community of support through her work as President of The Gathering Place, a Denver nonprofit organization. Additionally, Leslie has supported and mentored countless women volunteers, service recipients and professionals who share her desire to improve the world, who value their own strengths, and then who use their strengths to make contributions to improve their own lives and the lives of others.
Gerie Grimes – Early Childhood Education activist/Non Profit leader The Hope Center.
Gerie Grimes has dedicated and committed her life to the needs of others (especially women and women of color of all ages), building community and using her voice to be a strong advocate for the voiceless. She has dedicated 36 years of her life to Hope Center, originally called Hope Center for the Retarded. Gerie has dedicated her life to creating the opportunity for all children to have a better early childhood education experience. She has led Hope Center for the last 12 years. Her leadership, intelligence and expertise has made Denver’s Hope Center a model for how all children deserve the best education – no matter race or level of capability that society has labeled them. As Marie Montessori said, “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six.” International research supports this belief.
In addition, Her leadership roles include being active in the Denver community serving presently and in the past on many boards and committees, such as the Center for African American Health, Denver Early Childhood Council, Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, National Black Child Development Institute Denver Affiliate, Equity in Early Childhood Coalition, Transforming the Early Childhood Education Workforce (National efforts), Denver Preschool Program Advisory Board, Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), East5ide Unified Leadership Team, Mayor’s Head Start Policy Council, Mayor’s Early Childhood Education Commission, Metro State University Board of Trustees, Metro State University Alumni Board, Colorado Black Women for Political Action, Falcons Youth Organization and the Police Activities League. She presently serves as Board Treasurer for Colorado’s Association for the Education of Young Children.
Susan Helms – Military, Astronaut. The first U. S. military woman in space, Susan Helms is a retired Air Force lieutenant general (LTG) and astronaut who was a crewmember on four space shuttle missions, holds the world record for the longest space walk (8 hours and 56 minutes), and was the first woman to serve on the International Space Station (ISS).
She was a member of the first class at the Air Force Academy to include women, flew on over 30 American and Canadian aircraft as a flight engineer and weapons separation engineer (planes including the F-15 and F-16 fighters), and retired in 2014 as a three-star general after serving as the first female commander of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
LTG Helms is a resident of Colorado Springs, where she lives in the home she purchased in 2002, intending to retire there. She is a 1980 graduate of the Air Force Academy. She returned to the academy from 1985 to 1987 to teach aeronautical engineering and was assigned to the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base from 2002 to 2004.
Dorothy Horrell – Educator and Community Builder, Chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver. As a community college president, leader of the state system of community colleges, foundation executive, chair of a higher education governing board, and now university chancellor, Dorothy Horrell has a proven record of transformative leadership.
Throughout her illustrious career, she has been a trailblazer, often serving as the first or only female in her position, and along the way has inspired countless others to realize that their full potential.
Raised on a farm and ranch homesteaded by her grandfather in Northeastern Colorado, Dr. Horrell’s roots run deep in the “Centennial State.” She earned her first paycheck by working summers at the Cherub Home, a residential facility for developmentally disabled children in Holyoke. Her professional career began as an Adams County high school teacher, moving from there into state administration at the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education. From there she rose through the ranks to become the first female Director of the Division of Occupational Education, President of Red Rocks Community College for 10 years. After almost 30 years as an educator, she entered the non-profit sector as President for the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. In 2016, Dr. Horrell became Chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver, where she remains today.
Fay Matsukage – Law/Asian Activist. Fay Matsukage is an accomplished attorney with a reputation for professionalism and integrity who has dedicated her life and career to furthering the interests of women and those of Asian Pacific descent.
Her civic engagement, humility, courage under adversity, work ethic, and her contributions to the Colorado community exemplify the values of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.
Today, she practices law at the Doida Law Group, LLC, Ms. Matsukage is one of the few female subject matter experts in securities law with her level of seniority and experienced. She also has made considerable, long‐term contributions to the legal field and to the Asian Pacific Community. From the beginning of her career, Ms. Matsukage worked in a male‐dominated field as a woman of Asian descent and faced the daily challenge of proving herself as a professional and as an equal. She was inspired by these challenges to start charitable foundations that are so well funded to this day they provide annual scholarships and other charitable contributions to women and individuals of Asian descent.
Gail Schoettler – Banking, Government and Women’s Activist. Gail Schoettler was the first woman to be both Colorado’s Lt. Governor (elected in 1994) and State Treasurer (from 1987 to 1994).
She narrowly lost the election to be Colorado’s governor in 1998. Prior to working for the State, she had been involved in founding the Children’s Museum of Colorado, based in Denver. In 1976 she joined the organizational group to file for a National Bank to be located in downtown Denver to serve the needs of small businesses. The preliminary approval was awarded by the comptroller of the U. S. Currency on 7/7/77. After raising the $2 million capitalization required, in 1978, she helped found the Women’s Bank N. A. in Denver. In 1984, Equitable Bankshares of Colorado was formed to own the Women’s Bank and Equitable Bank of Littleton, which Gail chaired.
In 1979, she was elected to the Douglas County Board of Education and served for eight years; she became president beginning in 1983. That same year, she was named Executive Director of the state’s Department of Personnel under Governor Dick Lamm. In 1986, Schoettler was elected State Treasurer, where she served two terms managing the state’s assets. In 1994, she was elected Lieutenant Governor with 55% of the vote on a ticket with then-incumbent Governor Roy Romer.
She founded a group called Women Electing Women supporting candidates running for Governor and U.S. Senators roles. Her latest venture eGlobal Education promotes travel to business people and corporations to develop international business, experience, knowledge, and contacts.
Mae Boettcher – Community Activist, Philanthropist. Long-standing Colorado resident, Mae Boettcher influenced our state and its citizens as a culture-altering pioneer – a figure who led Colorado in its transition from cow-town days into an era of sophistication through her dedication to higher education, championing children’s and women’s healthcare, and her selfless philanthropy. Well-respected for decades of tenured leadership with The Children’s Hospital and the Boettcher Foundation, her legacy of devotion continues to touch and alter the lives of countless Colorado residents. She is also celebrated as one of Colorado’s first female pilots and a member of the historic Amelia Earhart’s 99s, founded in 1929 by Amelia Earhart.
Ellis Meredith – Journalist/Women’s Suffrage. Ellis Meredith is often called the “Susan B Anthony of Colorado” as she was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Colorado who also worked nationally for the women’s vote after Colorado gained suffrage in 1893. She continued to work for American women’s right to vote until the 19th Amendment was finally ratified on August 18, 1920, 27 years after Colorado passed our bill. Meredith was a journalist who wrote for many Colorado newspapers as well as several national magazines.
Although born in Montana in 1865, Meredith’s family moved to Colorado not long after when her father began working as an editor for the Rocky Mountain News. She was a Denver resident until 1917 when she moved to Washington D.C. As a journalist she worked for the Rocky Mountain News for many years and also published articles on women’s suffrage for several other Colorado newspapers.
Doreen Pollack – Speech pathologist/Audiologist/Educator of the Deaf – The Listen Foundation. The impact of Doreen Pollack’s method for teaching children who are deaf to listen and talk has literally been “heard” around the world. She was a true pioneer in the field of speech pathology and audiology at a time when the medical community did not believe anything could be done for the profoundly deaf child. Her intellect, dedication and tenacity changed the way we look at, address and treat children with hearing loss both in Colorado and internationally. She immigrated to the United States in 1948 after graduating from London University, moved to Denver in 1951, and lived in Colorado for the remainder of her life.
In 1969, a group of parents of children that benefitted by Doreen’s method formed the non-profit The Listen Foundation in Denver, which continues to support families, and children who use her methods today. Listen Foundation was the first organization in the world to advocate Listening and Spoken Language therapy (LSL), and remains Colorado’s only parent-centered, auditory-based communication approach for teaching children who are deaf and hard of hearing spoken language through listening.
Amache Prowers – Community Builder, Land, and Cattle Owner. Amache (Walking Woman) “Amy” Ochinee Prowers was a full-blooded member of the Southern Cheyenne tribe, born in 1846 in the eastern Plains of what is now Colorado. She and her husband John Wesley Prowers operated a successful cattle-ranching and mercantile business at Boggsville, one of the region’s earliest American settlements, to which Amache contributed her own land, labor, and skills. At a time when Cheyenne society was under severe attack by Anglo incursions and undergoing dramatic changes, Amache chose the path of an innovator and mediator – successfully negotiating the boundaries between her own Cheyenne culture and language and that of the Euro-Americans (Mexicans and Americans alike) who had intruded into her tribal lands.
About the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame:
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame was created to recognize, honor and preserve the contributions of trailblazing Colorado women. Both historical and contemporary women have shared foresight, vision and accomplishment, but lacked a forum for recognition. Since 1985, the Hall has inducted 152 extraordinary women who have been outstanding in their field, elevated the status of women, helped open new frontiers for women or inspired others by their example. Inductees include scientists, teachers, social activists, philanthropists, authors, business leaders, elected officials and more.
To learn more about inductees, stay in touch via CO Great Women Facebook Page, their LinkedIn group: Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, follow CWHF on Twitter @ColoradoWHF, by phone at 303.271.3599 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Women’s History Month!