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As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Denise Padin Collazo.

Denise Padin Collazo is a social justice leader, a mentor to fellow women of color, and a family work integration innovator. She is squarely focused on encouraging women of color to lead into their vision, live into their fullest selves, and love past negatives that hold them back. She is a gifted speaker who leaves listeners compelled to take action on how they can act on their purpose. Denise mentors, coaches, and raises funds in collaboration with other women to find the just solutions we so desperately need. By doing this, she models what a woman working with and for women really looks like.

She’s as comfortable speaking with people in their living room or front porch as she is meeting with national political and corporate leaders to advance social change for families. This is a gift she was given by her ancestors.

Denise is the senior advisor for external affairs and director of institutional advancement at Faith in Action (formerly PICO National Network), the nation’s largest faith-based, progressive organizing network, where she has advanced the cause of social justice over the past twenty-five years. As senior advisor she represents Faith in Action with foundation and corporate executives, builds strategic partnerships with organizational executives across the movement for change, and is crafting a national individual membership program to expand Faith in Action to all fifty states.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

When I was a kid, I lived in a trailer park in the rural farming town of Castroville, California — the artichoke capital of the world. During the summer mornings, I’d grab a few quarters from my Dad’s stash. My abuela Lela would watch me while my parents worked. I’d say bye to Lela, slip on some flip flops and ride my bike to the teen center. Once there, I dropped a quarter into the vending machine and out popped a Payday bar. Breakfast was served!

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