Contemporary women:  Anna Jo Haynes, Arlene Vigil Kramer, Lydia Pena SL, Judge Sandra I. Rothenberg, Shari Shink and Judith B. Wagner. 

Historic Women: Anne Evans, Minnie Harding, Laura Ann Hershey, and Elizabeth Pellet.

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame is pleased to introduce the 10 women who will be inducted into the Hall at a Gala dinner March 16, 2016.  Be sure to mark your calendars.


Anna Jo Haynes – Civil rights, child and family advocate – Denver, CO.  Colorado native devoted to changing lives of vulnerable populations. Trusted adviser to every Colorado governor and mayor since the 1980s; founded and served as president Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers; President Women’s Foundation–nationally recognized expert on early education for children. Mile High United Way created the Anna Jo Haynes “Caring About Kids Award” honoring community leaders making significant contributions on behalf of children.

Arlene Vigil Kramer – Educational leader and Latina trailblazer – Monument, CO.
First Latina to earn Doctorate of Education degree, University of Colorado Boulder; designed first bilingual instruction curriculum for public and private schools; founding member Colorado Association for Bilingual and Bicultural Education. Her work resulted in Colorado House Bill 1295 which mandated bilingual education in Colorado for Hispanic ESL; served on Board of Directors of Child Welfare League Inc. (NewYork), the only privately supported standards setting agency in the U.S. 1976-1978. Founded Adelante Mujer Hispana to recognize educational achievements of Latinas 1976.

Lydia Peña SL – Educator, author, art historian, and community leader  – Denver, CO.  She taught for nearly 50 years first at St. Mary’s Academy, then Loretto Heights College, and Regis University; pursued her own education completing a PH.D. in Art History from Union University; and raised funds for many important purposes that served the oppressed.  She has authored dozens of art periodicals and presentations, as well as writing “The Life and Times of Agnes Tait, 1894-1981.”  She helped establish schools in Ghana, West Africa and Faisalabad, Pakistan. Past chair of the Commission on Cultural Affairs for the City and County of Denver and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, a founding member of the Rose Community Foundation, board member on Rocky Mountain PBS, and a Blue Ribbon committee member for the Design of Denver International Airport.

Sandra I. Rothenberg – One of the first female appellate court judges, authored 600 published and 2,000 unpublished appellate decisions – Denver, CO.  Appointed to Denver District Court 1979, opening doors for women in the legal profession. Filed successful sex discrimination class action suit representing Janet Bonnema (2012) against a company barring women from working underground on the Eisenhower Tunnel 1972, convinced Department of Transportation to open male-dominated fields to women. In private practice, opened store front office serving low-income clients using creative tactics to represent cases of discrimination. Named plaintiff in sex discrimination action case against FBI, resulting in the hiring of women agents; co-taught First Women and Law Class at University of Colorado Law School and University of Denver Law School.

Shari Shink – Founded Rocky Mountain Law Center, directed first non-profit law firm for abused and neglected children, transformed lives of 15,000 children – Denver, CO.
Her “Children’s Rights” movement became Children’s Legal Commission 1985; started first Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Denver. Awarded Esquire Magazine’s “Best of the New Generation Men and Women Under 40 Who are Changing America;” Child Advocate of the Year–Young Lawyers Division, American Bar Association 2001.

Judith B. Wagner – Nationally recognized woman pioneer in finance and philanthropy – Cherry Hills, CO.  Opened the first woman-owned money management firm in Colorado and secured the first national women’s bank charter in the United States, which has been a case study for Harvard Business School. Hired the first woman bank president in Colorado and provided the means for women to establish credit and open businesses. Co-founded the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, the Colorado Women’s Forum, the International Women’s Forum and the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Colorado, which has raised over $35 million to conduct women’s health research.


Anne Evans – Cultural and arts leader – Denver, CO.  Influenced creation of many of the state’s artistic and cultural institutions. First woman president of Denver Public Library Commission; founding member Central City Opera House, established Central City’s world-renowned opera festival; founding member Denver Artists Guild; member Denver University’s Civic Theater Board of Directors; member Governor Speer’s Civic Center Project development team. Started movement for appreciation of American Indian art, donating santos collection to DAM; raised funds to establish Commission for Preservation of New Mexico Mission Churches. Named “Woman of the Year” by Denver Professional and Business Women’s Club; bronze bust of Evans commissioned for Denver Art Museum; “Leading Citizen” award in fine arts category, Civic Princeps; “Anne Evans Observation Point” designated in Central City.

Minnie Harding –   Women’s advocate who established a loan fund in 1902 as a program of the Colorado Federation of Women’s Clubs which to this day has helped thousands of women attend college, Canon City, CO.  President and board member of the Canon City Library Committee that collected books and funds to establish the Canon City Public Library. First appointed and then elected to the Colorado University Board of Regents. Honored by two US presidents for her support of bond drives during World War I and food conservation during the Depression.

Laura Ann Hershey – Internationally recognized writer, activist and advocate for the disabled community who challenged and changed the public’s perception of disability – Littleton, CO.  Consultant to Denver metro cities and entities assisting with ADA implementation. President’s Award recipient in 1998 for her efforts nationally, including pressuring the Social Security Administration to allow disabled people to work, and lobbying to increase visibility of LGBT people with disabilities, to improve Medicaid services and to promote the rights of home care workers.

Elizabeth Pellet – First woman to serve as minority leader in the Colorado State Legislature – Rico, CO.  First Colorado woman to run for congress. Created a water commission for southwest Colorado and increased funding for rural roads, the disabled and children’s programs. Pellet led a successful effort to save the Rio Grande Southern Railroad and the Galloping Goose truck/locomotive which became critical to the region’s shipment of uranium ores and contributed to the Allied victory in World War II. Named Colorado Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Denver.



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