Alicia Valladolid-Cuarón was raised in El Paso, Texas, by immigrant parents who instilled in her a love of education. She was one of the first Latinas in Colorado and her family to earn a doctorate. She moved to Denver in 1972 and was a coordinator of Denver Head Start, where she developed and implemented the first bilingual Head Start program in Colorado. She went on to hold leadership positions in both the public and private sectors. She was the first Latina Executive Director for the Colorado Economic Development Agency; the first Latina Colorado State Fair Commissioner; and the first Latina Administrator of National Hispanic Association of Construction Enterprises. She gained national recognition as a businesswoman, professional speaker, and as a faculty member at colleges and universities.
As a motivational speaker, Cuarón has focused on empowerment, particularly of Latinas, through leadership development and education. She is a founder of Adelante Mujer, which promotes the education and training of multigenerational Latinas. She chaired the Colorado Council on Working Women and designed a leadership program, EXITO, to provide assistance for women in professional and personal development. She is also one of the founders of the Circle of Latina Leadership, created to develop the women leaders of the future.
In her fifties, already a successful entrepreneur and prominent Latina leader, Alicia Cuarón entered the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity. This gave her the opportunity to concentrate fully on her spiritual and personal mission to help those who were most in need. Sister Alicia founded and was the first director of Familia Franciscan AIDS Ministry. She established Centro Bienestar, which became a ministry of Centro San Juan Diego of the Archdiocese of Denver. Today the Center serves more than 10,000 families per year, offering citizenship, GED, computer and English classes, leadership programs, and supportive social services. Sister Alicia is a pioneer in visualizing, implementing, developing, and institutionalizing efforts to help immigrants transition into mainstream society. She started Faith Action, now a program of Historic Denver, to preserve sacred landmarks in Denver. Her service extends to many other community organizations, including the American Red Cross, Woman’s Forum of Colorado, and Mile High United Way, and her activities continue to minister to people across Colorado.