The Colorado Center on Law and Policy is proud to bestow this year’s Champions for Economic Justice Awards on two individuals who’ve devoted their lives to helping low-income families: Maureen Farrell-Stevenson, Esq. and Sen. Irene Aguilar, MD. Both women will be honored at CCLP’s Pathways from Poverty Breakfast, Oct. 9 from 7:30-10 a.m. at the History Colorado Center in Denver.
About Maureen Farrell-Stevenson
Maureen Farrell-Stevenson’s award honors the exemplary body of work she has dedicated to low-income Coloradans through CCLP and other organizations. As one of CCLP’s co-founders, Farrell-Stevenson served as the nonprofit’s Executive Director from 1998 to 2009. Farrell-Stevenson saw the need for an organization that could be a legal and policy advocate for Coloradans living in poverty, and helped found CCLP to serve that role. She was instrumental in growing CCLP from 1.5 employees to 12. Under her guidance, CCLP became a leader in the advocacy community through its policy work in economic security, health care, fiscal policy and other critical issues. She also helped create the Colorado Fiscal Project, which morphed into a CCLP project known as the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute and is now an independent organization.
Highlights during her tenure included delaying implementation of a law that would have terminated Medicaid eligibility for lawfully present individuals; successfully challenging the failed implementation of the Colorado Benefits Management System and ensuring the timely processing of applications for public benefits. She also oversaw efforts to pass a law which increased the Basic Cash Assistance grant for Colorado Works recipients by 20 percent. Early in its formation, CCLP was part of a coalition of stakeholders who reviewed the conversion of the Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance group from a not-for-profit to a for-profit corporation. As a result of the coalition’s work, the Caring for Colorado Foundation was established in 1999 to keep nonprofit assets in the community and to reinvest them back into healthcare.
In addition to her work with CCLP, she litigated public benefits and welfare reform issues for the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver (aka, Colorado Legal Services). She also worked as public policy advocate for Catholic Charities from 1996 to 1998. Her areas of practice included representing children and families in domestic-relations proceedings involving domestic violence, child sexual abuse, public benefits and child-support enforcement. From 2009 to 2012, she served as the Executive Director of the National Association of Council for Children.
She continues her service to Coloradans as the Managing Attorney of the Coordinated Statewide Intake System for Colorado Legal Services, which provides assistance for low-income Coloradans in civil legal matters.
About Sen. Irene Aguilar
Like Maureen Farrell-Stevenson, Sen. Irene Aguilar has made a significant difference to low-income Coloradans – both through her legislative achievements and her continuing service in the field of healthcare.
A Chicago native, Aguilar moved to Denver in 1985 for her residency training at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, where she began her affiliation with Denver Health. A mother of three children (one of whom has developmental disabilities), she began her participation in public service after being appointed to the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council. She learned about health insurance and its effect on vulnerable populations while serving on Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform.
Taking her public role to the next level, Aguilar decided to run for Denver’s Senate District 32 in the Colorado General Assembly in 2010. As a senator, she has distinguished herself as an advocate for quality, affordable health care and reinforcing the healthcare safety net for those with disabilities.
While in the Senate, Aguilar has sponsored important legislation to expand Medicaid in Colorado and to align the state’s health laws with the Affordable Care Act. She passed laws to improve the lives of people with disabilities by providing funding for respite and greater support for applying for Social Security Disability Income. She serves on the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Committee and the Business, Labor and Technology Committee.
During the interim between legislative sessions, Dr. Aguilar practices medicine at Clinica Tepeyac, a nonprofit health clinic which serves uninsured patients. She also serves as a member of Denver Health’s Board of Directors.
Colorado is fortunate to have such strong advocates of economic security and healthcare working on behalf of low-income families.
It’s truly our honor to honor both Maureen Farrell-Stevenson and Sen. Irene Aguilar and to lead the thunderous applause that will reverberate through the halls of the History Colorado Center as they accept their well-deserved awards on Oct. 9. Registration for the Pathways from Poverty Breakfast, which also features a keynote speech from Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute, is available online.
– Bob Mook