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April 2024 - Lacey Nelson

Colorado Association of Latino/a Administrators and Superintendents LA LUZ DE LIDERAZGO - A MEMBERSHIP SPOTLIGHT April 2024

Nathan Cabrera

Welcome to the CO ALAS Membership Spotlight. Each month we introduce you to one of our many CO-ALAS members. Let’s see what they are doing and what’s on their mind!

This month we are featuring Lacey Nelson, Director of Talent Acquisition, Denver Public Schools. Nathan shares his professional career and current bio below. You can read the diverse experiences that have led to his various leadership roles. One of our shining stars!

Career Highlights & Education

Lacey's journey within DPS commenced nearly 15 years ago as a Human Resources Recruiting Coordinator, a role that marked the initial steps of her DPS career. She is truly a product of the district’s commitment to recruit, retain and advance its people, as she has spent all her time in DPS on the Talent Acquisition team, holding a variety of positions and working her way up, now serving as the Director of the team. She has consistently been a vital contributor to the Talent Acquisition team, spearheading pivotal responsibilities in recruitment and onboarding across a diverse spectrum of roles throughout the district. During her time on the team, she has been fortunate to have garnered the support and mentorship of visionary leaders who have propelled her to pursue higher education, culminating in attaining her Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources. 

She is currently part of Cohort 4 of the 4 Corners Latinx Leadership Academy where she is growing her leadership skills and capacity through an equity lens alongside leaders from Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. As a leader in Talent Acquisition, she understands the importance of recruitment and retention, as well as the growth and development of people. She takes pride in her ability to build relationships and create strategies, systems, and processes that create equitable opportunities for people to pursue their career paths. 

Her commitment to breaking down barriers has not only marked her trajectory but is also indicative of her resolute dedication to cultivating a workforce that mirrors the rich diversity of DPS's students and families.

What is exciting about my job? There is no greater feeling than hearing a school leader say they are “fully staffed” and knowing you helped make that happen. In my role, I also find it exciting that I have the opportunity to work with both students and adults. I’m able to create systems and structures that support both in pursuing their educational and career goals. Whether it is through our Career Pathways Programs, direct hire or promotional opportunities; supporting others as I have been supported is what truly excites and motivates me everyday. The people are what makes DPS special and we have a lot of amazing people that I get to work with everyday. The work of Talent Acquisition is directly tied to our district's Strategic Roadmap and I have an amazing team who care deeply about what we do for our schools and departments. The DPS team brings me joy everyday, knowing that what we do makes a difference and has a direct impact on the lives of students and adults, is why I do what I do. Words from a consejero/a: Don’t Let the Hard Days Win - in the work we do, there will be good days and bad days, some work is easier than others, but there will always be barriers and challenges we face, you will be pushed to your limits and it will feel easier to quit. Don’t let those hard moments or days win, find your strength and push through it. You are not alone, having a network and circle of support you can count on is essential for getting through some of the toughest times. Don’t try to do it on your own and don’t let the hard days win because we need you in education. Advice you would give a new superintendent or school leader: I often say being a School Leader and Superintendent has to be one of the hardest jobs there is. I have so much respect for those roles and I’m honored to be in a role that is critical for their success. My advice is based on what I have seen and learned from leaders that I look up to for advice. Stay true to who you are and what you stand for, and build a team around you who you can trust and will do whatever it takes to see you succeed. Surrounding yourself with the right people and being clear on your vision is critical for your success. Nobody can do this work on their own, it takes a team that has the same beliefs and vision to make things happen.

If you catch me outside the office, you’ll find . . . You’ll find me taking every opportunity to be out in the sun and away from snow. I love camping with my friends and family. We pull our camper to campgrounds throughout Colorado and spend a couple weeks in North Dakota every summer; camping, boating and spending time with friends and family. My husband and I love to travel to Mexico and take in country music concerts whenever we get the chance.   How does CO-ALAS add value? Some of the best advice I have been given was to get involved and network whenever you have the opportunity. Networking with groups like CO-ALAS  was out of my comfort zone mainly due to the imposter syndrome I battle and insecurities I have for not speaking Spanish when I look like I should, having a certain degree or prestigious college name behind me, or not aspiring to be a School Leader or Superintendent. I didn’t think ALAS was for people like me, even though I have worked in education for nearly 15 years, and I didn’t feel I belonged in that space. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A couple years ago, I started getting more involved with ALAS and it has been an absolute blessing to me and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Years of thinking I wasn’t Latina enough, Brown enough or Educated enough were washed away by surrounding myself with people in ALAS who pushed me to see me and the value that I bring that is uniquely me.

The CO-ALAS and extended ALAS familia has taught me that all of us are critical in this work and that I do bring a special value to education. I am one of our students. Our paths all look different and it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, we don’t want it to be the same and we want our students to see that there is more than one way to do things. Through the amazing ALAS familia, I have learned that I do belong and I’m forever grateful to have them by my side. 


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