Stephanie Villafuerte, Child Protection Ombudsman
Stephanie Villafuerte was appointed to serve as the Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman in December 2015. For the past 25 years, Ms. Villafuerte has dedicated her legal and public policy career to the area of child maltreatment. 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 juvenile court system, human service providers and the other nonprofit 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 served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. In that role, she acted 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.
Prior to her work in the state capitol, Ms. Villafuerte worked as a criminal prosecutor for fifteen years with child abuse and domestic violence victims. She worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Colorado and as a Chief Deputy District Attorney in the Denver District Attorney’s office. As a Chief Deputy District Attorney, she managed the Family Violence Unit –the unit dedicated to the protection of child abuse victims. While in this role, Ms. Villafuerte spearheaded a multi-disciplinary approach towards handling child abuse cases. She also led a number of legislative reforms on behalf of child victims including expansion of the use of “closed circuit television” and “videotaped depositions” for child victims in court.
Ms. Villafuerte has received numerous awards for her contributions to the field including: 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.