As an accomplished and honored member of Colorado’s legal community, Lucia Padilla J.D., has recently joined Colorado Mountain College (CMC) as general counsel, taking over from Richard Gonzales, who retired in January 2023 after eight years in the role.
“I was impressed by CMC’s mission and dedication to provide higher education to all individuals and especially those who reside in our rural mountain communities,” said Padilla of her decision. “That really spoke to me, especially as a Colorado native who spends a lot of time recreating in the mountains and whose grandparents were from rural, southern Colorado.”
Padilla comes to CMC after seven years serving as a senior assistant attorney general within the State Attorney General’s Office, where she handled employment and civil rights matters and represented Colorado in both state and federal cases.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said Padilla is a committed public servant who will be missed in his office. “She brings a sharp intellect and a cool head to analyze matters thoroughly, always providing thoughtful counsel on complex litigation and client advice matters,” said Weiser. “Colorado Mountain College will greatly benefit from her wise counsel and leadership.”
Padilla’s background also includes in-house counsel roles with Denver Health and Hospital Authority and telecommunications company CenturyLink, as well as a wide range of board memberships and public service for the Colorado legal community.
A fourth-generation Coloradoan and graduate of the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, Padilla says she looks forward to the diverse range of responsibilities facing her at Colorado Mountain College.
“Lucia stood out as someone who was passionate about our students and our mission, and we knew right away that she would hit the ground running,” said CMC president and CEO Carrie Besnette Hauser, who reiterated that Padilla is a great fit for CMC’s busy leadership team.
“So far, it’s been an exciting and challenging transition, and I’ve been pleasantly overwhelmed with the warmth and support of the CMC community,” Padilla says. “I’m excited to keep moving forward and learning as I settle into my new role at CMC. I’m also pleased to return to an in-house position, as I feel that I’m most effective as an attorney in this type of role.”
Padilla grew up in the Denver area, attending high school in Lakewood and later receiving a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell University. Since completing law school, Padilla has earned honors including the Denver Bar Association’s Young Lawyer of the Year in 2011 and the DU College of Law’s Outstanding Young Alumni in 2013.
A longtime member of organizations such as the Colorado Bar Association, Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, Padilla has been active in efforts to mentor young attorneys. She says she is also proud of her previous work with Bayaud Enterprises, a Denver-area nonprofit which provides training and job opportunities to individuals with disabilities and other hurdles to employment.
Padilla and her husband, Chris, an attorney in the aviation industry, and their family of three sons are excited to join the CMC community. Active in trail running, skiing, and mountain biking – her oldest son is a competitive skier and her husband competes in downhill bike racing – Padilla says they are all looking forward to the outdoor lifestyle on the Western Slope.