Mary Ontiveros (left) and Johanna Ulloa Girón
Story by Brit Heiring and Tricia Howley
Two members of the Colorado State University community have received the 2019 Human Relations Award from the City of Fort Collins.
The recipients, who were recognized during a Dec. 3 ceremony at City Hall, were Vice President for Diversity Mary Ontiveros and Johanna Ulloa Girón (MSW, ’11), an adjunct instructor in the School of Social Work specializing in culturally competent clinical practice, diversity and equity.
Passion for community engagement
When Ulloa Girón is not teaching SOWK 400, “Generalist Practice in Communities in the School of Social Work,” she is transforming the local community into a better place to live through her knowledge of social and racial justice.
Working with local grassroots and nonprofit organizations to advance issues of equity and diversity, Ulloa Girón is the chair of the board of directors for La Familia, a nonprofit organization providing childcare and supportive services in Larimer County, with an emphasis on cultural attunement with the Latinx community.
She is also a member of the Community Equity Consortium and a past member of the Human Relations Commission. In addition, Ulloa Girón serves as the outreach services manager for the Poudre River Public Library District.
“I am very proud of this award,” said Ulloa Girón. “It’s a recognition of my work in the community toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Considered an expert in the areas of participatory community approach, Latinx psychology and decolonization of clinical practice, Ulloa Girón has supervised community-based clinical programs with an emphasis on community engagement both in the U.S. and Latin America for more than 25 years.
She is a psychologist and social worker from Bogotá, Colombia, and has worked with families as a clinical psychotherapist.
In her former position as director of community initiatives at the Tennyson Center for Children in Denver, Ulloa Girón managed prevention-based programs for families, and developed a crisis response program to preserve family units. Ulloa Girón also served in child protection with the Larimer County Department of Human Services for four years, where she received two annual awards for excellence.
Ontiveros holds both CSU and the city of Fort Collins close to her heart. A CSU employee for nearly 50 years, she has been instrumental in developing the university’s inclusion efforts, including the creation of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity in 2010, and contributing those efforts to the greater community outside of campus.
As a citizen of Fort Collins, Ontiveros collaborates with community organizations and schools on diversity work and has actively contributed to the City of Fort Collins’ equity and inclusion strategic planning. She also represents the university on the Community Equity Consortium, a collaborative group of business owners, city leaders and private citizens working to promote and maintain a welcoming community for all Fort Collins residents.
Kim Kita, director of CSU Todos Santos, nominated Ontiveros for the award, stating, “Equal to her love of CSU is her love of Fort Collins. As a former member of the Human Relations Commission and an engaged citizen in many city initiatives, Mary’s commitment to positive change has been consistent over the decades.”
She added, “It is impossible to quantify the number of people Mary has inspired to learn, the attitudes that have shifted, or the personal and institutional growth that has resulted.”
About the award
The Human Relations Award, which has existed for over three decades, recognizes the contributions of Fort Collins residents in the realm of diversity and inclusion. The award description states that “award recipients have embodied the spirit of inclusiveness, giving and altruism that has made Fort Collins into a better place for all people to live.” Five awards are given annually spanning three age groups as well as organization and emergency services categories.
Awards are presented by the Fort Collins mayor and the City Council liaison to the Human Relations Commission, Emily Gorgol. In addition to sponsoring these awards, the Human Relations Commission conducts educational outreach and advises Fort Collins leadership on matters related to equity, diversity and social justice.
“I am feeling humbled and cognizant that community work around equity, diversity and inclusion in Fort Collins is ongoing,” Ulloa Girón said. “It is an honor to work in the community alongside an incredible woman like Mary Ontiveros.”
The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.