STAFF: Child Protection Ombudsman of Colorado
Child Protection Ombudsman
Stephanie Villafuerte has served as Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman since 2015. For the past 25 years, Ms. Villafuerte has dedicated her legal and public policy career to improving the plight of abused and neglected children.
Prior to being appointed as the Ombudsman, Ms. Villafuerte served for five years as the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, a 30-year-old non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality legal services and public policy advocacy for abused and neglected children. In this capacity Ms. Villafuerte worked extensively with the state’s juvenile courts, human service providers and other non-profit agencies to address the myriad of needs of this vulnerable population.
Ms. Villafuerte also has an extensive public policy and legislative background on children’s issues. For four years, she worked in the Colorado Governor’s Office as a senior advisor on juvenile justice and child welfare issues working closely with numerous state departments, key constituency groups and members of the Colorado state legislature. She also oversaw a number of special projects including the Colorado Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission, the DNA Task Force and the Governor’s Child Welfare Action Committee.
She has also had a distinguished legal career. For fourteen years, she served as a chief criminal prosecutor handling felony level child abuse, internet pornography and child trafficking cases at the Denver District Attorney’s Office and the Colorado United States Attorney’s Office. During her tenure, Ms. Villafuerte spearheaded a multi-disciplinary approach towards handling child abuse cases. She also led legislative reforms on behalf of child victims including expansion of the use of “closed circuit television” and “videotaped depositions” for child victims who are required to appear in court.
Ms. Villafuerte has received numerous awards for her contributions to the field including: the Aspen Institute Children and Families Health and Human Services Fellowship 2017, the Denver Business Journal Outstanding Women in Business Lifetime Achievement Award 2015, the Latina’s First Foundation Trailblazer Award 2015, the Bonfils-Stanton Livingston Fellow Award 2015, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association Raising the Bar for Children Award 2013, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association Outstanding Lawyer of the Year Award 2011, and the Colorado District Attorney’s Council Robert R. Gallagher Award for Prosecution Excellence 2005.
Ms. Villafuerte received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Denver in 1987 and her Juris Doctorate degree from UCLA in 1991.