Joyce Salazar has lived in Harrison School District 2 for 40 years, attending Stratmoor Hills Elementary, then Gorman Jr. High, and graduating from Harrison High with the class of ’82. Her children enrolled, and now her grandchildren are being educated in D2.
Salazar has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing planning and procedures. Surprisingly, her supervisor at LSI Corp was the one who encouraged her to go back to school — he saw potential in Salazar for something beyond work in electronic fabrication. So, at 48 years old, Salazar went to college. She now holds an associate degree from Pikes Peak Community College, a bachelor’s from Colorado State University, and a master’s from Newman University — all in social work, with her master’s specializing in trauma-informed care.
Salazar also has more than a decade of experience supporting nonprofits as a volunteer, focused on child advocacy and youth enrichment programs — including devoting time as a court-appointed special advocate for children with CASA of the Pikes Peak Region. CASA volunteers are trained to work within the court system as a voice for children who have been subjected to severe abuse or neglect. “When I started volunteering as a court appointed special advocate, I found my confidence — I gained confidence — because I was now advocating like a lawyer in the courtroom on behalf of someone else,” said Salazar. “That really gave me a boost. I thought, ‘I can do this. I can be a voice for those who haven’t found theirs yet.’”
Now Salazar works as a community outreach coordinator for El Paso County Public Health’s RISE coalition. “I believe in people over politics, and RISE is people over politics,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of bureaucracy; there’s a lot of red tape, but I’m just putting myself in somebody else’s shoes — and not making judgments about others based on what they look like, their education level, or their job. I look for people’s potential.”
Nominator Emily Patterson, managing director of Parks for People, said Salazar is “a listener, bridge builder and a skilled communicator whose integrity and honesty build trust and support across a diverse and complex stakeholder group. She continuously looks for ways she can serve others — and centers the community, not herself, in the work.”
In addition to her groundbreaking work with RISE, Salazar is running for election to the board of Harrison School District 2. “I think I stand a pretty good — I don’t want to say ‘chance’ because that’s like it will be by accident,” said Salazar. “No, I worked really hard, and I believe that I have a lot of information and experience that will help form decisions.”
“The work I do is not for recognition,” Salazar said of her Women of Influence recognition. “Initially I really didn’t know how to take [the honor], but over the past couple weeks I’ve really started to think about people who care about the things of value, and how they move — and I have similar characteristics. The other Women of Influence who will be awarded, I aspire to be like them.”
Her advice for others: “I know it sounds clichéd, but if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” she said. “I love my job. I love helping people and releasing their potential.”