Release: Emerge Colorado Names Lisa Calderón New Executive Director 

  • Jul 1, 2021
  • Emerge Colorado

Nellie Moran, Emerge Colorado Board Chair,

Emerge Colorado Names Lisa Calderón New Executive Director 

Lisa Calderón begins as Emerge Colorado’s new Executive Director on July 12th.

Denver, CO (June 30, 2021) – On Wednesday, Emerge Colorado, the state’s premier training program for Democratic women seeking public office, announced that Lisa Calderón will be the organization’s new Executive Director. Calderón will begin in her new role on Monday, July 12th and will be available for press and media as requested.

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome Lisa Calderón as our next executive director and leader of Emerge Colorado,” said Nellie Moran, Emerge Colorado’s Board Chair. “For the last decade, Emerge Colorado has empowered a generation of Democratic women who are changing the face of politics – and we aren’t slowing down. Lisa Calderón is a visionary leader with the organizing experience we need to expand our work across the state and lift more women as we climb the ladder of power.”

Calderón has spent nearly three decades working to advance immigrant and women’s rights, racial and economic justice, and government accountability. As a criminal justice, sociology, and women and ethnic studies professor of 15 years, Calderón used her experience to build coalitions to organize legislative action to advance progressive policies. In 2019, she was the first woman of color to get on the ballot for mayor of Denver on a platform rooted in justice. Through her historic grassroots campaign, Calderón became a competitive candidate and garnered a significant voter base. Through her most recent work serving as the Chief of Staff for Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, Lisa Calderón shaped the most impactful justice reform initiatives, including divesting from Denver’s private prison contracts. Without a doubt, Calderón has the organizing skills to harness community power, and the vision and management skills to move the top-tier political organization forward.

“I am honored for the opportunity to lead Emerge Colorado,” said Lisa Calderón, the incoming Executive Director of Emerge Colorado. “Over the past decade, we’ve seen the power of this organization and the alum network grow. At the legislature, we’re witnessing leaders like Rep. Leslie Herod revolutionize Colorado politics. At the ballot box, Secretary of State Jena Griswold is fighting to protect our democracy every day. At the city-level, alums like Candi CdeBaca are demonstrating why women matter at every level of elected office. The power of Emerge cannot be understated and the results speak for themselves. I look forward to the impact Emerge Colorado will have and I will ensure that our state is getting the leadership we deserve – Emerge leadership!”

“I am thrilled that Lisa will be at the helm of Emerge Colorado and will continue the organization’s stellar track record of recruiting and training the next generation of powerful Democratic women leaders,” said A’shanti Gholar, President of Emerge. “Emerge women in Colorado are changing policymaking at every level by giving voice to the most vulnerable in their communities, and they helped to usher in one of our nation’s few majority-women state legislative chambers. This is the type of leadership our democracy needs and I know that Lisa will leverage her experience to empower even more women who will transform politics in the Centennial State.”

Emerge Colorado is a state affiliate of Emerge, which was founded in 2005, and has 27 affiliates across the country, all working to change the face of politics in our nation by recruiting and training Democratic women to run for elected office. In June, Emerge Colorado graduated its ninth class of women from the organization’s intensive training program. Over 10 alumnae are running for local office in 2021 after 25 Emerge Colorado alums won their elections in 2020. 

About Emerge Colorado:

  • Our Mission: To increase the number of Democratic women leaders from diverse backgrounds in public office through recruitment, training, and providing a powerful network.

  • Our Vision: To change the face of power, politics, and leadership in our country to create policies responsive to all Coloradans.

  • To truly change politics, we need a deep bench of women candidates at all levels of government, all across the state. That’s what Emerge is doing.

  • Since 2013 Emerge has trained over 450 women across the state and maintained a 90% win rate.

  • Colorado is one of only six states in the nation with a majority-women state legislative chamber.

  • In 2020, Colorado elected the most women to the state legislature in history, expanding the number of women to 34 serving in both chambers. Of those women, 18 are Emerge graduates and 10 of those alums hold key leadership positions.


Photo: Lisa Calderón, Executive Director, Emerge Colorado
Photo credit: Megan Reul

Prior to coming on as the Executive Director of Emerge Colorado, Dr. Lisa Calderón was the Chief of Staff for Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, the youngest and first LQBTQ woman of color elected to council. As a former university professor she has taught in academia for over 15 years in the areas of Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, Sociology, and Criminal Justice. Her 30-years of public service also includes being a justice reform advocate, nonprofit executive, and social justice organizer.
In 2019, she was the first woman of color to make the ballot for mayor of Denver on the principles of equity, fairness, and justice. Although she was outspent 20:1 by the incumbent, she made an impressive showing for a first-time grassroots candidate garnering 33,000 votes. Her historic race was chronicled in the soon-to-be-released documentary “Running with My Girls.”
As Chief of Staff serving Council District 9 which has the highest concentration of both wealth and poverty in the city, Dr. Calderón works to advance policy priorities for resolving the affordable housing crisis, stemming the tide of gentrification and displacement through a civil rights framework, reducing mass incarceration and increasing gender equity.
Born and raised in Denver, Dr. Calderón holds a bachelors degree, master’s degree, law degree, and a doctorate in education. She has obtained several awards for inspirational leadership for her work serving the community.