Meet Linda Alvardo

- the inspiration for the character "Lucinda Catalina Alvarez"

I use my full name, not just my
initials, on the plaques that are
placed on the buildings I construct,
because I want people to know it
was a woman who built them.

When Linda Alvarado was a little girl, she dreamed of building high-rises. Today, as President and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc., Linda lives her dream.

Her company is a Construction Management, Commercial General Contractor, Development and Design/Build firm based in Denver, Colorado, with offices in Arizona, New Mexico, California and several other states. The company specializes in commercial, retail, industrial, government, environmental and transportation contracts and has successfully constructed multi-million dollar projects throughout the United States and Latin America including high-rise office buildings, convention centers, aquariums, airports, schools, healthcare facilities, stadiums, prisons, restaurants and technology centers.

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Linda grew up with five brothers. As the second youngest, she says, "It was a lot of fun and very competitive. Athletics were important, and we played many different sports. When there are six kids in a family, you have a team! Playing sports with my brothers enabled me as a young girl to feel comfortable in non-traditional environments. I learned to not immediately give up when I struck out, knowing that I would get another turn at bat. I was able to develop a level of comfort to take some risks and began to try new things that girls had not done before. My parents always encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams. I am grateful that their expectations for me were the same as for my brothers."

Linda’s mother, Lily Sandoval Martinez, is a Hispanic woman born in New Mexico. When Linda was born, she managed the household without having running water, took in ironing to earn money, and hauled water from the drainage ditch to wash the family’s clothes. She had a very positive attitude and wanted to make sure that her daughter was not discouraged from accomplishing things simply because she was female.

Luther Martinez, Linda’s father, was born in California. He hauled firewood to sell, worked as a delivery driver for a music company, and later was an equipment inspector for the Department of Energy. Both of Linda’s parents grew up speaking Spanish. They believed that a strong focus on educational achievement and learning English were important to the success of their children.

In the early 1960’s, when she was in fifth grade, her school had a Sports Day competition, and Linda wanted to participate in the high jump. She had been high jumping for a long time in her backyard, and her older brothers had all competed, but the school would not allow a girl to compete.

Her mother took Linda to visit the principal and find out why they would not allow her to participate. The principal explained that it would be inappropriate for a girl to compete because "girls wore dresses and the rules said, ‘no girls.’"

"I was proud my mother and father showed me that it was okay to challenge rules in a respectful way, and to believe that even though a rule or tradition exists today, it doesn’t have to be that way forever," says Linda.

Linda did get to compete in the high jump that year. A thin little girl, she was the shortest in the field of 30 boys. Much to the surprise of everyone, she won the event! To her it was wonderful. Others reacted with mixed attitudes. Some were very excited. Others thought a girl shouldn’t be doing that and were shocked. But it enabled Linda to be more competitive in athletics and eventually better in business. "From participating in sports, I learned about developing winning strategies, focusing on acquiring new skills, team-building and risk-taking - all of which are important in managing a business." She still has the ribbon from the high jump competition.

Through Linda’s perseverance and her parents’ encouragement, girls divisions in high jumping and hurdles were opened at her school, and soon after, in many schools.

In keeping with breaking non-traditional roles, Linda also made history as the first Hispanic owner (male or female) of a major league baseball franchise. As a partner of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club, her role is also significant as it marked the first time that any woman entrepreneur was involved in a bid for ownership of a major league team.

Linda has been the focus of many articles in the media, books, business publications and educational texts, and has been featured on the cover of several national magazines. She has set high standards as a business owner, and her accomplishments have opened doors for others to pursue new career possibilities.

In addition to managing her business, she is a leader in civic and business organizations and is the recipient of numerous awards. She is a corporate director of 3M, QWEST Communications, Lennox International, Pepsi Bottling Group and Pitney Bowes. She was a founding member and the first woman elected as Chairman of the Board of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and served as Commissioner of the White House Initiative for Hispanic Excellence in Education.

A recipient of the Horatio Alger Award in 2001, Linda also was named one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics in America" by Hispanic Business Magazine in 1998. She was honored in New York, along with U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and poet laureate Maya Angelou, as a recipient of the prestigious Sara Lee Corporation Frontrunner Award for exemplary achievement and leadership. Her success in business and active community involvement have led to her recognition as a trailblazer in her field.

In 2003, Linda was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. She was twice selected as the United States Hispanic Chambers of Commerce Business Woman of the Year and was named the SIFE Revlon Business Woman of the Year. In addition, she has received the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award, and the National Association of Construction Enterprise Hardhat Award for Outstanding Woman in Construction.

A nationally recognized speaker, she has given keynote presentations for corporations, institutions of higher education, national conferences, and in public schools, motivating young people to excel and achieve their dreams.