We had the good fortune of connecting with Verónica Figoli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Verónica, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born and raised in Venezuela and moved to the United States after completing college. Although my plan was to learn English and study, get a job and go back to Venezuela, I found love in the United States. When my husband and I moved to Denver, I knew I wanted to set roots and become part of making Denver mi casa. My dad would always say that being an immigrant means you are gifted with the chance to make a new place your home and give back to it. For nearly two decades Venezuela has experienced political and civil unrest and yet the people there are resilient and show grace and a love for life. It reminds me that we can do much more with a smile and a laugh than with anger. Venezuelans have the ability to look at the bright or funny side of things. So, I always remember to carry a smile for others for whom smiling might be hard. Now, as a Venezuelan-American, I try to bring what is best of our two cultures together. Having experienced a divided country like I did in Venezuela, it has taught me how to find common ground. I have seen how division can bring us apart. Actually trying to listen to each other and understand one another’s journey that has shaped who they are is so important. Empathy is important. Together, we can always try to think about how we can find more points of commonality. It’s time to turn to each other rather than against each other.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I started my professional career, I was a fellow for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Venezuela. Today in my role as President & CEO at Denver Public Schools Foundation, I have been driven by one guiding principle, to give the best of myself and work to enable others to realize their fullest potential, especially those who have been historically marginalized. I have done this with passion but you will also hear me say that passion without execution is drama! Supporting the community in which I live is important and should also be intentional. When I reflect on my career, I am most excited about my role as a connector—a connector of opportunities, a connector of people and careers. As I will always look back at my career, there have been times of success, positive outcomes and many great learnings. What is constant in my career and what I am so grateful for is the many relationships I have gained along the way. Staying in touch with old colleagues, supervisors, mentors and mentees is honestly what brings me the most joy. To me, it’s all about people. I am humbled when others call me asking for advice, whether it’s personal or professional. These conversations also in turn do so much for me. I learn from other people’s experiences and struggles. In these many relationships, we are all constantly learning. Staying connected nurtures me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When my friends come into town to visit, there are many places I enjoy bringing loved ones. A great day to me would look something like this: We start the day by exercising at Bodies By Perseverance in the Welton Corridor, and then refuel our bodies with some brunch calories at Mimosas, which is down the street. After that we’d make our way from the Capitol to Union Station by using the free shuttle on 16th Street. At this point, we’d likely be ready for a snack so we’d head over to get some delicious Venezuelan pastries at Reunion Bakery. Then, we’d hop in the car and head to Boulder because I love the outdoors and sharing the beautiful view of the flat irons. I feel very fortunate to call this beautiful state home.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people to thank and so many that I have learned from along the way, starting with my family. Maybe I don’t give enough credit to my mother, but as I grow old, I have found myself more drawn to her. I have found that many of my traits come from her and I’m very proud of that. I am grateful to be surrounded by many inspiring people. There is a group in Denver that really defines who I am and where I am today and that is the Cafecito group. Cafecito was founded by a group of women led by Rosemary Rodriguez. This is a group of sisterhood, hermandad, and really the true definition of a network that lifts each other up. I think every woman should have a Cafecito group in her life. I am fortunate to have Cafecito, Fly Ladies and Niñitas Champagnat–all different in their own way and powerfully driven by amazing women.