Interview with History Colorado CEO, Dawn DiPrince

Currently as chief operating officer, I have worked for History Colorado since 2012, formerly as the chief community museum officer as well as the director of nationally recognized El Pueblo History Museum. I truly believe in the transformative power that comes from understanding our shared, familial and collective history. My work revolves around expanding the ways we think about history. In additional to scholarship and documented history, our communities offer important layers of history that include memory sharing, community tradition, and ancestral knowledge. All of these expand what history is and who it includes. At History Colorado, it is our mission to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado. We have many tools to do this work: educational programs, historic preservation, curating and making accessible our state’s collections, engagement with Colorado communities, and our incredible museums and historic sites across Colorado’s broad landscape.

At History Colorado, we strive to be a place of belonging for all Coloradans and to serve as a platform for community connection. I have personally led a number of History Colorado programs across the state and I know first-hand how our work positively impacts people’s lives when they have the opportunity to connect their lives to our shared Colorado story. 

What can you tell us about your organization that we might not necessarily know?

Inclusive, values-driven, and intentional, History Colorado is a force for finding new ways to serve people in Colorado. We provide programs that meet the needs of people at each stage in their lives, including innovative programs such as our Bridging Borders for Young Men of Color at South Middle School in Aurora and our memory trunk program in Pueblo designed by and for people with memory loss. We serve more than 85,000 students annually with our popular Hands-On History and beloved field trips across the state. We invest directly in communities through our Museum of Memory programs and State Historic Fund grants, which overwhelmingly support rural Colorado. 

What interests you about being engaged with the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame?  Why is that important?

At our recently created Center for Colorado Women’s History at the Byers-Evans House. We love to say: “Women’s history is everyone’s history!” I appreciate that the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame works to amplify the historic and epic contributions of women to our state and beyond. Many women’s stories – both individually and collectively – have been misremembered or erased from the greater historic record. The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame makes great strides in correcting these omissions. I am personally fortified by the women who are recognized through the Hall of Fame. One of my favorites is Amache Ochinee Prowers. She was a powerful and multi-lingual Cheyenne woman who owned land and operated a business and cattle ranch with her family along the Santa Fe Trail at Boggsville, in southeastern Colorado not far from my hometown of La Junta.

Talk about how your organization supports women in your business?

We know that how we do our work internally is as important as how serve our external audiences. We are committed to a workplace that is completely inclusive and acknowledges the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, religion, geography, and (dis)ability. As an educational organization, we strive to be lifelong learners and always seek opportunities to hear additional perspectives and form new understandings. You can see this reflected in our work. A few examples include the creation of the Center for Colorado Women’s History, our Bold Women Change History lecture series, and the establishment of curatorial positions dedicated to LGBTQ history and Chicano/Latino/Hispano history.  

Who is your hero; greatest role model?  And, why?

Bettina Trapaglia, my great grandmother. She was an immigrant who raised five daughters on her own. She worked in a lime quarry that was part of Rockefeller’s Colorado Fuel & Iron, just south of Pueblo. She never became a citizen because she could not read and write English, but she believed in the power of education. She lived with my Dad when he was growing up and she would do his chores so he could finish his schoolwork. Her legacy lives on today as many of her descendants – like my Dad – became teachers in southern Colorado and have educated and continue to educate generations of kids. I am inspired by her strength and resilience every day.  

Words of inspiration for younger women and men about achieving their goals, dreams?

I lean on the wisdom of women very regularly and have a collection of quotations stored in my phone. Here is one of my favorites from Ursula LeGuin:

“We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experiences as truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want – to hear you erupting.” 

Watch for CWHF Annual Events in 2020

Inspiration is the ‘calling card’ of CWHF

Two years ago, during the CWHF annual strategic planning offsite, it was evident that in order to fully realize our mission, the organization needed to increase awareness throughout Colorado, tell the stories of our amazing inductees, and increase annual donations. As a Volunteer Board, we determined the best way to accomplish this would be through specific targeted events that allow us to celebrate and honor the wonderful women of the Hall in ways that inspire audiences to Aspire Higher to realize their dreams.

Last year, we held our inaugural “Great Colorado Women Stories” event before a capacity crowd, leaving our guests wanting to learn more about our Inductees. This event also produced much-needed donations and “planted the seed” for future events. Our fall “Women in STEM” event sold out weeks in advance and ignited a fire in Denver women/men to learn more about us.

Inspiration is the ‘calling card’ of CWHF. Each time, when our inductees tell their stories, inspiration is the takeaway that lasts long after our events are over. To continue to inspire all our audiences, we will repeat these two events in Denver and continue to fuel the energy catalyzed through our stories of grit & grace, challenges and accomplishments.

This year, as part of the Hall’s 35th anniversary celebration, the “Great Colorado Women Stories” event will expand across Colorado featuring our founder, M.L. Hanson who will share her vision and her “why” for creating CWHF” along with Inductees sharing their stories and engaging our audiences.

Four Locations in 2020/2021

· Denver June 2020

· Northern CO/Boulder August 2020

· CO Springs October 2020

· Western Slope Spring 2021

Our annual fall event will again focus around “Women in STEM” and will take place in the Denver Metro area; we are planning to expand to Northern CO/Boulder and CO Springs in 2021.

We are in the planning stages is underway and we welcome input from this Elevate audience. If you are interested in supporting these events or know of a venue that would provide space as an “in-kind sponsor,” contact Inductee Relations Director Alexis Anderten or Vice Chair, Barb Beckner at

We Say Thanks

Like every nonprofit organization, funding is our life blood. While CWHF hasn’t been consistent about its end of year fundraising campaign, we are getting better and advance planning and articulating a compelling case to give.  
In 2019, so many of you were very generous and participated in our campaign. We are grateful! Our theme continues to be Inspiring the Next Generation. To that end, CWHF has launched new educational programs to inform and inspire girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 18 with the stories of the contributions and accomplishments of women in Colorado.
Thank you for your Generosity!
These programs will build upon the incredible stories of our CWHF Inductees and put into context the historical significance of their impact. The great Colorado women in the Hall are role models for students of all ages to tap into their potential for paving new trails, shaping history and transforming lives.
Thanks to you, we raised over $7,000, far more than any year in the past. We hope you will continue to connect with our message about the inspiration and importance of amazing female role models in the lives of girls and boys.  

Women’s Right to Vote

The year 2020 may be the Centennial of the 19th Amendment granting U.S. women the right to vote, but Colorado women actually blazed the trail and started voting 27 years earlier in 1893. Colorado was the first state to grant women the right to vote. Priscilla Walker, Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) Western Slope board member, is making several presentations on the other side of the divide. 

The presentation highlights CWHF the Inductees in the Hall who fought for the vote and their roles in women’s suffrage nationally. More information about those women is available on Google Arts & Culture in a CWHF virtual exhibit, Saluting 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage. You can see the exhibit at

Women’s History Month – March 2020

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” 

You can celebrate…join us at or get your tickets at

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.

We are in great company. Organizations across the state of Colorado celebrate this month. During these 30 days we work to elevate awareness of the women who made our state what it is and have impacted many of our lives.
Be part of our March 18th Induction Celebration We hope to see you there!

CWHF Featured at National History Day in Colorado

Reprinted from the National History Day in Colorado February Newsletter 

Rhiannon Szobody is an eighth grader at Broomfield Heights Middle School. When she began looking for topic ideas for this year’s theme Breaking Barriers in History, she was searching for a topic with two things: 1) Szobody wanted to research a local, Colorado History topic, and 2) she wanted to explore a project on women and gender barriers.  

Szobody decided on the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, and in her quest for primary sources, reached to to the founder of the Hall of Fame, M.L. Hanson, for an interview. Hanson was not just willing, but excited to be interviewed, and Szobody cited Hanson and the experience as incredible.  

The National History Day in Colorado program showcases students’ incredible work.  “I was so excited to see Rhiannon’s work,” said Deb  Radman.  “She did a great job telling our story and I am delighted to be hosting her at our March 18th Induction Gala and ceremony.” 

M. L. Hanson shown right in photo.

The story does not stop there, however. Szobody is to be hosted at the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Gala in March, and she will be donating her project to the Hall of Fame. Szobody also invited Hanson to the Broomfield Heights NHD Open House on January 28. Hanson invited the entire Board of Directors, many of whom, including the Deb Radman, Chair of the Board, 2020 Inductee Velveta Howell and a supporter who lives in Broomfield, did come to see Szobody’s project, as well as projects by other BHMS students.  

Reflecting on the entire experience, Szobody says that History Day allowed her to “learn so much about things in history that are not taught in class. I really got to know so much about the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, and all the wonderful things women in our state have fought for.” She also said that her favorite part of the process was interviewing Hanson. 

As for Hanson, she says, “Rhiannon’s project on the Hall was a dream come true when I reflect on our original vision 35 years ago. Having students realize the amazing contributions women have made to Colorado and beyond can provide real inspiration, motivation, and encouragement.” She adds, “writing women into history is more than completing our state’s past, but also hope for the future.” 

2020 Inductees Announced

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Names Inductee Class of 2020

Ten Extraordinary Women to be Inducted in March

A Secretary of the Interior and Colorado State Attorney General, a journalist and publisher, a frontier physician, suffragists, journalists, educators, head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, lawyers/civil rights activists, a community builder and restaurant owner comprise the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) Inductee Class of 2020.

In March, these ten inductees become the next group of extraordinary Colorado women, who have made enduring and exemplary contributions to their fields, inspired and elevated the status of women and helped open new frontiers for women and society.

The 2020 Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inductees include six contemporary women and four historical.

Katherine Archuleta

Katherine Archuleta
Growing up in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, Katherine Archuleta has had an extraordinary and influential career, including a position in the Obama administration as head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that has changed the landscape for what is possible for women and, specifically, Latina women.

Lupe Brisenño

Lupe Briseño
As the organizer of the Kitayama Carnation Strike, Lupe Briseño demonstrated the strength and power of Latina leadership in Colorado’s Labor Movement and helped set the stage for the Colorado Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Rosalind “Bee” Harris

Rosalind “Bee” Harris
Rosalind “Bee” Harris has dedicated her career to elevating communities of color by providing a platform for their voices and their stories with the founding of the Denver Urban Spectrum newspaper in 1987 and the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation in 2000.

Velveta Howell

Velveta Howell
Velveta Howell has made many contributions as a life-long champion for social justice and advocacy. She was the eighth African American female graduate of the University of Colorado Law School and the first woman of color appointed as Colorado’s Deputy District Attorney.

Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS

Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS
Colorado’s earliest physician breastfeeding champion, Marianne Egeland Neifert, MD, MTS, has devoted more than 40 years to improving maternal-child health.  She helped re-establish breastfeeding as a community norm and advanced the nascent discipline of breastfeeding medicine.

Gale Norton

Gale Norton
Gale Norton was the first woman Colorado Attorney General (1991-99) and the first woman to be appointed as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (2001-06) under President George W. Bush. On behalf of Colorado and 45 other states as Colorado Attorney General, Norton helped negotiate the most extensive legal settlement in history: a $206 billion national tobacco settlement.

Mary Lou Anderson

Mary Lou Anderson
A passionate advocate for cultural arts and arts education, Mary Lou Anderson was an influential leader across Colorado and the nation through her development of programs that engage millions of students, educators, and business leaders in the cultural arts. Anderson founded the National Parent Teacher Association Reflections Program and the Arts Business Education Consortium.

Alida Cornelia Avery

Dr. Alida Cornelia Avery
A graduate of the New England Female Medical College of Boston in 1862, Dr. Alida Cornelia Avery was a professor of Human Physiology and Hygiene, and a Resident Physician at Vassar College from 1866-1874. In 1874 she moved to Denver, Colorado, and is credited as Colorado’s first woman to practice medicine while also serving as the Superintendent of Hygiene.

Elizabeth Piper Ensley

Elizabeth Piper Ensley
Elizabeth Piper Ensley was an African American educator, political activist, and suffragist. Her leadership was instrumental in Colorado’s victorious campaign for full voting rights in 1893. Ensley dedicated her career to organizing for women’s rights, especially for African American women.

Carolina Gonzalez

Carolina Gonzalez
Carolina Acuña Díaz González was a Colorado Renaissance Pioneer, renowned for her welcoming home, her active support for the arts and culture, and her uniquely authentic restaurant, Casa Mayan, a “Mutalista” or refuge for 40 years for immigrants in Colorado. González provided accommodations and a safe haven during the Depression for countless youths “riding the rails” to Colorado.

Partnership: Colorado Encyclopedia and CWHF

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame is delighted to announce its partnership with the Colorado Encyclopedia, a digital encyclopedia to serve as a reliable resource for all those interested in the Centennial State.  Visit the Colorado Encyclopedia

Conceived and developed by William Wei, chair of Colorado Humanities’ Board of Directors.  With support of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2013 and 2019) and the State Historical Fund (2014), the Colorado Encyclopedia has become the leading online reference work on the Centennial State, with more than 700 main entries on the state’s history and culture.

According to the competitive Alexa Global and National web traffic ranking analysis, Colorado Encyclopedia already ranks nationally with other long-established, similar-sized encyclopedias of under 1,000 entries; it has also achieved a global rank better than some encyclopedias with many more entries.

The Colorado Encyclopedia’s major focus has been education. A quarter of itsentries have been reconfigured for use by 4-12 grade students, with accompanying teacher resource sets and inquiry cards to encourage research on the state’s past.

Colorado Encyclopedia is currently participating in the Colorado Women’s Vote Centennial, a celebration of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution (1920), which gave all American women the right to vote.

CWHF New Chair, Vice Chair and Board Members

Say Hello to Our new Board Chair, Vice Chair and Newest Board Members

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) has named Deborah Radman Chair of the CWHF board of directors. Barbara Beckner will fill the role of Vice Chair. Deborah Radman is CEO of Radman Communications LLC and serves as an independent, senior public relations counselor affiliated with a number of different public relations firms throughout the country. She has been on the CWHF board for three years as Director of Brand Awareness. Barbara Beckner is an experienced business leader and a top sales, planning, goal-setting, customer satisfaction, and contract manager. She is adept at building teams and long-term relationships, and motivating team members to achieve successful results that promote business growth. Barbara joined the CWHF board in 2018.

Debbrah Courtney as Director of Speaker’s Bureau; Shannon Haltiwanger as Brand Awareness Director. Mandi Ericson (not shown) will become Board Secretary.

Inductees In the News – Summer 2019

Three Hall Inductees being inducted into the Colorado Author’s Hall of Fame
The newly established Colorado Authors Hall of Fame inducted three CWHF inductees into their first class: Madeleine Albright, Jill Tietjen, PE, and Marilyn Van Derbur Atler Congratulations to all on this impressive honor! 

Penny Rafferty Hamilton inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Class of 2014, was selected as Grand County Colorado 2019 Citizen of the Year by the Middle Park Fair & Rodeo Board. A true renaissance woman, Dr. Hamilton not only holds records for aviation speed, she also earned blue ribbons at the fair for her Butterscotch Apple Pie and her S’More cookie bites.

Penny Hamilton

Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum in Grand County nominated as one of the Best Museums in Grand County Hall Inductee Emily Howell Warner was inducted into the Hall in 2002. Warner made aviation history by becoming the first woman hired as a pilot by a major U.S. airline, Frontier. Three years later she earned her captain’s wings, the first woman to do so. Voting open until September 15, 2019
Vote for Best of Grand County

Emily Howell Warner

We are sad to announce that Joan Birkland, inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1996, recently passed away at the age of 90. Joan was a trailblazing athlete and champion of girls in sports. Our thoughts are with her friends and family.