The Night of Light
by Kim Copeland Ambassador and reporter

Boulder, the town known for its well-educated residents capable of innovation and high incomes paused for an evening to celebrate 6 women dedicated to giving back. Boulder Chamber sponsored event, Women Who Light the Community, was held at Boulder JCC with a sold-out crowd. The awards honor women who have contributed to the community (both locally, nationally and internationally) through innovation in a business, non-profit, arts or community need.

The crowd was brought to tears as the first honoree, Naomi Graff, Emerging Youth Leader, and a student at New Vista High School, read a letter to her middle school self. It was an emotional and sometimes humorous prompting for self-acceptance and caring.

Allison Barto, an astrophysicist with Ball Aerospace and the Program Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope, shared how a camp counselor ignited her passion for space. That passion has expanded to a love for STEM education and the belief that “education is the great equalizer.”

Kathy Valentine, Executive Director of Colie’s Closet and volunteer at HOPE Coalition of Boulder County, Parent Engagement Network and the Second Wind Fund shared her passion for helping to prevent suicide. As a retiree, her time has been dedicated to helping others and to making the choice to “dance” through life as opposed to sitting out.

Janet Martin, Chair of the Boulder Community Health Board, has served on the board as a trustee for 10 years and is in her 2nd year at the leadership position. She shared that she became involved with the Board as the result of her experience spending many, many hours in a hospital supporting both her husband and daughter as they went through numerous surgeries.

Pam Malzbender, Co-chair of Zonta EducateZ is dedicated to education for women and girls. “Her goal is to inspire women to hold on to their inner strength and dreams.” It was inspirational to see the numerous women from Zonta in attendance to support Pam as she was honored for her work.

Elvira (Elvita) Ramos, Vice President of Programs and Inclusive Leadership at the Community Foundation of Boulder County, is dedicated to bringing people together. Elvita has been a board member for an impressive number of organizations and is currently involved with the Boulder County Commissioner’s Inclusivity Task Force, the City of Longmont’s Multicultural Action Council, and other groups. She also passionately loves animals.