Meet Two Inspiring Colorado Sheroes
WFCO Honors Sheroes Yoli Casas and Shanna Farmer at Our Annual Luncheon
The challenges of the last few months brought out the best in the women of Colorado. In our 2020 Annual Luncheon program, “Love of Philanthropy,” The Women’s Foundation recognized two “sheroes.” A shero is a woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities; a heroine.
A few months ago, The Women’s Foundation requested statewide nominations for Sheros. Dozens were submitted. Two finalists were selected and honored during our program: Yoli Casas of Denver and Shanna Farmer of Denver.
Shero Yoli Casas: Nominated by Jody Hansen
Yoli is a Shero for so many. In 2015, Yoli founded ViVe Wellness, a nonprofit that addresses the health equity and wellness needs of Latino youth, who often face significant health disparities and lack access to engaging physical activity.
ViVe works tirelessly to help bridge the gap between under-served Latino communities and access to the outdoors and all the activities here in Colorado. Yoli has a gift of giving these children and families the confidence, access, and ability to experience engaging physical activity and learning about health and wellness. Many have earned jobs by receiving their lifeguard and/or swimming instructor certification.
All of ViVe’s programs had been in-person until COVID-19. Yoli’s noble qualities really came through at this trying and uncharted time, she jumped into action as children and families found themselves scared, isolated, confused, and unsure of what was to come. Immediately Yoli moved to help by creating new online counseling classes, offered in both English and Spanish, free to all adults/parents, serving 290 participants. Yoli also provided outreach, basic needs assistance, and most importantly, she provided Youth After School Physical Activity and Mindfulness classes and Adult Community Physical Activity classes on an online platform.
Yoli works tirelessly so that more under-served, low socio-economic communities have access to quality and free or low cost physical activities. She has combined years of education and experience, both life and athletic, to provide opportunities and instill confidence for children and families. There is a huge health disparity between Latinos and Caucasian populations and Yoli Casas is working to level the playing field.
Shero Shanna Farmer: Nominated by her mom, Cathy Ames Farmer
Shanna is the president and CEO of United Way of Pueblo County. Born and raised in Pueblo, Shanna has dedicated her career to creating opportunity for her community through higher education, government, and the nonprofit sector.
Shanna experienced a life-changing year in 2019. Within five months, she lost three of the most important people in her life – both grandmothers, and very unexpectedly, her father. In September, she was named President and CEO of United Way of Pueblo County. The very next month, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. But none of it stopped Shanna.
Since COVID-19, Shanna has been hard at work leading her team and supporting Pueblo through this plight. She immediately established an Emergency Response and Recovery Fund. With her exceptional leadership abilities, UWPC raised $240,000 for the COVID Crisis within two months. The fund has already supported 29 local nonprofits during this pandemic. While her first year on the job did not go as planned, Shanna rose to the challenge and strives to continue strengthening her agency and community throughout these unprecedented times.
And still she hasn’t stopped. Shanna serves as a board member for Pueblo Triple Aim Corporation, an organization dedicated to making Pueblo the healthiest county in Colorado, and also for St. John Neumann Catholic School, where she advocates for all children to have a chance to access a quality education.