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Nicole Melaku Named First Recipient of Sheila Bugdanowitz Leadership Development Award

Award commemorates Rose Community Foundation’s long-time leader with stipend for professional development activities

Denver, CO – Rose Community Foundation presented its first-annual Sheila Bugdanowitz Leadership Development Award to Nicole Melaku, executive director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), at the Foundation’s Annual Breakfast on April 12, 2018. The award is named for Sheila Bugdanowitz, who led Rose Community Foundation for 18 years before her unexpected passing in December 2016.

“Nicole Melaku is an inspiring and passionate leader, working to make our community more inclusive and welcoming,” said Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, Rose Community Foundation’s president and CEO. “Nicole is rapidly becoming a leading voice on issues that were so important to Sheila Bugdanowitz during her life and career and important to the Foundation’s efforts around community action today, making her the ideal inaugural recipient of this award.”

Melaku has served as CIRC’s executive director for the past year, previously leading the Immigrant Funders Collaborative for the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, an initiative of Rose Community Foundation, and serving as CIRC’s director of programs and administration. She began her career in the telecommunications industry and was introduced to community organizing as a volunteer in Aurora Public Schools. A first-generation American, Melaku is an alumna of the University of Colorado at Boulder and currently serves on the executive committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and the National Partnership for New Americans.

“I am so honored to accept the first Sheila Bugdanowitz Leadership Development Award; Sheila was a dynamic and committed leader who lived her values in all she did, including her work of building bridges among diverse communities,” said Melaku. “The energy and diligence I have committed to in my work leading the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is possible because I remain grounded in my values of dignity and justice for all. Because of this award, I will be able to continue developing my leadership skills to honor the legacy of a true visionary and ally for justice in Colorado.”

The award – funded by the more than $183,000 in donations made to Rose Community Foundation in Bugdanowitz’s memory – aims to recognize, empower and support emerging leaders in the Greater Denver nonprofit community doing work that aligns with the Foundation’s mission and priorities. Each year, the Foundation will present the Sheila Bugdanowitz Leadership Development Award to an emerging nonprofit leader working in one of the Foundation’s focus areas, who demonstrates talent and potential for growth and reflects the values of Rose Community Foundation. The award will fund professional development opportunities for the honorees through local or national programs, coaching and/or mentoring.

“Sheila was known as a champion and mentor of many up-and-coming leaders over the years,” said Katherine Gold, Rose Community Foundation board chair. “One of the best ways we can honor her memory is to actively support the next generation of leaders working to make our community a better place for everyone.”