Polly Baca

Former state senator and co-founder of the National Chicano Media Association

Sen. Baca worked for three presidents and was the first woman of color elected to the Colorado State Senate, where she served from 1978-1986. She started her career in media. After graduating from Colorado State University, she sought a job with the Denver Public School system, but was told it had already reached its quota for Mexican workers. She moved to Washington D.C. and became the first woman editor of a labor union newspaper, The Pulp & Paper Worker, and helped found the National Chicano Media Association. She later was Director of the Colorado Committee on Mass Media and the Spanish-Surnamed, which challenged the Federal Communications Commission’s renewals of TV and radio station licenses, resulting in Colorado media hiring and devoting more programming to people of color. She was inducted into the Colorado Latino Hall of Fame in 2018, the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000 and was one of the original 14 members to be inducted into the National Hispanic Hall of Fame in 1988. This year, she received the Vanguard Legacy Medal from Gov. Jared Polis for her lifetime of philanthropic and community leadership.