20 Under 40: Nelly Navarro
Nelly Navarro, a native of Peru, spent most of her youth in the capital city of Lima. She went to high school and university there, earning a degree in translation and interpretation with a minor in education.
Two years before she would graduate, Navarro had the opportunity to participate in a work and travel program that placed her in Steamboat Springs. She worked for three and a half months at the front desk of the Bunk House Lodge, and the next winter, she returned to Steamboat and worked at the Village Inn restaurant.
“My intention when I applied for the program was to be more independent and be away from my family on my own and exploring,” Navarro said. “I met a lot of cool people here, and I felt so welcome.”
The owners of Village Inn eventually reached back out to Navarro and offered her full-time, year-round employment.
See all of the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s 2021 20 Under 40 winners here.
“At first my intention was to stay for a year, but then they offered me a management position, so I stayed,” Navarro said.
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After working in the restaurant business for a few years, Navarro decided it was time to use her degree so she accepted a job as an interpreter and translator at Northwest Colorado Health and then went to work in the same role for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.
“I wanted to start doing what I’d always been taught, which is to help others,” she said.
In 2019, the position of executive director at Integrated Community came open, and Navarro applied and got the job. In accepting that role, she became the first Latinx person to lead a local nonprofit.
Because she is an immigrant, Navarro said she at first doubted she could do the job.
“It was such a big job, and I would be the only one that has an accent coming from a different culture,” Navarro said. “But I have learned through the years in this role that that’s what really makes me special and this is what our community needs — somebody that is not the same and sees things differently.”
B Torres, who nominated Navarro for 20 Under 40 recognition, said her friend and colleague has taken Integrated Community to new heights.
“Nelly is an excellent leader and example for Integrated Community,” Torres wrote. “She leads with an open heart and a genuine love for the immigrants in our community. She has the ability to listen actively, making her an effective communicator and very diplomatic. She takes initiative and doesn’t sit back when issues need to be addressed.”
It is now Navarro’s mission to change the community narrative surrounding immigrants.
“I want to show what immigrants offer,” Navarro said. “Instead of seeing the negatives and our weaknesses, the community needs to see how much of an asset we are. And I think that’s what makes Steamboat so unique — everybody comes from different places and different perspectives, and together, it’s what makes the community awesome.”
Navarro, who turned 40 after the 20 Under 40 honorees were selected, is also active in many different community organizations, including the Steamboat hospital board, the Latinx Alliance and the Human Resources Coalition.
She also tries to make plenty of time in her busy schedule to spend time with her daughter, Kiara Fulquet, 6, and her husband, Estanislao Fulquet, who is from Argentina. She says they are the most important part of her life.
When asked about her “why,” Navarro said she believes she moved to Steamboat almost 20 years ago because she was meant to make a difference.
“I am here to do good, to do what’s right,” Navarro said. “When you see an injustice happening, and you know in your heart it’s not right, you have to stand up and say that it’s not right and that’s what I’m teaching myself and my team and my community.”
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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