Patricia Barela Rivera

Inductee Name

Patricia Barela Rivera

Date of Birth

Born 1947

Year Inducted






Marianne Egeland Neifert, MD, MTS
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Patricia Barela Rivera was often the first trailblazer throughout her career. She has worked to bring equality, unity and diversity wherever she found herself. Patricia was first appointed by Governor Roy Romer as Deputy Director of the Department of Local Affairs, and then was asked to be the Director of Citizen Advocacy and Outreach in the Governor’s Office. In this position, she created and developed the Colorado Diversity Plan for all 27 agencies – the first of its kind nationally. 

While serving as the first Latina District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, she ensured that women and minority businesses got the assistance and attention they merited. Her office became one of the top five offices in the country (out of 70) to assist and recruit the most minority and women’s small businesses – the greatest number in the history of Colorado and the nation for five years. She created the “Wall of Fame” of small businesses for Colorado and inducted two to four small businesses each year for nine years. SBA Headquarters made this a nationwide program for all SBA offices. She instituted a call-in TV program on Channel 9 once a month, answering questions from small business owners and assisting them with needs and concerns. This was the first program of its kind in the country and ran for ten years. She also instituted community outreach to every town in Colorado to let people know what the SBA could do to help their small businesses. Her outreach included many efforts to reach women, minorities, veterans, the disabled and the gay and lesbian communities. During her tenure as an SBA District Director, the office approved 17,500 small business loans worth $2 billion. Her efforts were recognized by Colorado business chambers which indicated that she demonstrated a commitment to providing quality customer-oriented, full-service programs and information to all the Colorado business community. 

Throughout her career as well as through her community and volunteer work, Patricia has recruited women and women of color for internships and non-traditional career positions. Through the 1,000+ workshops, training and keynote presentations that she provided on diversity, leadership skills and self-improvement, she has prepared more than 100,000 women for positions in leadership in their careers, professional and community organizations. 

An advocate and role model, Patricia believes that giving back is very important. She has established training conferences and organizations to empower women in public policy, economic development, and social and economic issues. Organizations she has co-founded include The Progressive Women of Colorado, Colorado Women Circles of Influence, Adelante Mujer Hispana, Les Mujeres of League of United Latin American (LULAC), the Latina Safehouse and Las Mujeres Valientes. In 1980, she was instrumental in organizing the Adelante Mujer Hispana – the first training, education and employment conference for Hispanic women in the country. She raised money, designed workshops, and created and coordinated key events for this conference. In 2017, Patricia created a Colorado-wide program “Las Mujeres Valientes.” Its purpose is to inspire cross-generational dialogue among Latinas so that a new narrative can be developed. The program focuses on education, training and networking systems across the areas of leadership, culture/life, career, education, and family. 

Patricia’s lifelong commitment is to continually improve the lives of all women.  She has impacted on thousands of women in Colorado and in the country.  She has and still advocates for women within the federal, state, local governments, community organizations and small businesses.  Currently Patricia is not only the President / Owner of PBR Solutions, a Denver-based management consulting firm, but is also serving her second term on the University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees and was reappointed by Governor Polis to serve through December 2024.

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