Lydia M. Peña, SL, PhD, is an educator, author, artist, art historian, community leader, and fundraiser. Peña was born in San Mateo, New Mexico to a ranching family. After she graduated from Loretto Heights College and entered the Sisters of Loretto in Kentucky, she made her vows and began her life of service that has focused on education.
Peña taught Art Appreciation, Biology, and Religion to young women at St. Mary’s Academy; and taught Art History and directed the Beaumont Gallery at Loretto Heights College. Peña completed her PhD in Art History through Union Institute and University, after completing her doctoral dissertation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her love of and expertise in art resulted in authoring dozens of art articles and presentations, as well as writing The Life and Times of Agnes Tait, 1894-1981. In 1988 she taught at University Without Walls at Regis University and later joined University Relations at Regis, focusing on fundraising and scholarships.
She traveled in Europe, Japan, Mexico, Africa, and Central America to educate students and adults about many of the great art museums of the world. Her travels have also provided opportunities to stay current on issues that affect all of us as human beings, and affect the poor in ways that call for peace and justice from us all. Peña is passionate about raising funds for the oppressed and underserved. Beyond her work at Regis endowing need-based scholarships that changed individuals‘ lives in Colorado, she raised funds for establishing Blessed Trinity Leadership Academy changing girls’ lives in Ghana, and she is endowing a fund for the Sisters of Loretto in Pakistan.
Peña served on the founding Board of Rose Community Foundation, Rocky Mountain PBS, the Women’s Forum, and on the Blue Ribbon Committee for the Design of DIA. She chaired the Commission on Cultural Affairs for the City and County of Denver, and served on the board of the Women’s Foundation. For thirty years she has made her home at the Bridge Community, contributing to the Loretto home for developmentally disabled women.