“Be bold. Be smart. Be prepared.”
Barb Brohl, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, shared that advice with 17 members of the Horizon Community Middle School Latina Leadership Group during the group’s meeting on Jan. 11.
The students in the group are recommended by teachers and administrators because of their leadership ability and potential. They meet twice a month during their lunch period to build skills that will help them be successful in school, in college and in the workplace. They are also exploring different career paths by meeting with successful Hispanic women from different fields.
Brohl, who is a member of the Governor’s cabinet, oversees the Department of Revenue. It’s a large operation that handles the state’s tax revenues and regulates several industries including motor vehicles and gaming. Brohl shared stories of the obstacles she’s faced, how she overcame them and what helped her along the way.
The students listened attentively as Brohl told them about growing up in a poor family in Adams County, about working in the fields with her family, picking beans. Brohl recalled that her mother, who had only an eighth-grade education, was one of her heroes because she taught Brohl and her siblings about the value of hard work.
That strong work ethic served Brohl well. After having her first child at a very young age, Brohl had no choice but to get to work to provide for her family. She spent 15 years in Information Technology, learning everything she could in every position she held. That thirst for knowledge continued when Brohl moved into the telecommunications industry, where she also took advantage of her company’s tuition assistance program and earned a law degree.
Over the years, Brohl sometimes faced adversity because she is a woman, a Latina and even because she’s petite. But she said being bold, being smart and being prepared helped her succeed. She encouraged the students to “fill their toolboxes” with valuable skills and qualities, including leadership, persistence and the ability to solve problems and think outside the box. She urged them to "dream big." Her words resonated with her young audience.
“I think it was amazing,” said eighth-grader Trinity Zamora. “I like how she spoke about how she overcame things. It teaches me that I may be Latina, but I can succeed for who I am.”
“She gave us a lot of tools we can use,” added Andrea Ramirez, also an eighth-grader. “I love inspiration and the encouragement to strive for big dreams.”