Irene Marie Ibarra passed away peacefully on Oct. 13, 2019, at her home in Denver, Colorado. She was surrounded by family members. She fought a valiant 12-year battle against Parkinson’s disease, which interrupted a brilliant career in August 2010, when she resigned as CEO of the Colorado Trust due to the progression of her illness.
She was born on Sept. 3, 1952, to Hector Manuel Ibarra and Phyllis Ibarra in Powell. Irene’s education began locally, where she graduated from Powell High School as a member of the National Honor Society. Her education in Powell continued at Northwest Community College from which she received an associate of arts degree with honors. In 1972, she began her educational path at the University of Denver. She received her bachelor of arts degree at DU and embarked on a career path of public service. She studied at the DU Graduate School of Social Work, receiving a master of social work degree in community service and social planning. Years later she was honored as Alumni of the Year.
She met her husband, Armando Quiroz, and they began a lifelong romance and adventure. They lived in Dallas, Texas, for 3 1/2 years. Upon their return to Denver in 1983, Irene was appointed by Mayor Federico Pena and served as deputy manager of the Denver Department of Social Services. In 1987, she joined Gov. Roy Romer’s cabinet as executive director of the Colorado Department of Social Services.
In 1991, she made the difficult decision to resign from her position in order to join her husband in Seattle upon his promotion. Irene entered the University Of Washington School Of Law and received her juris doctor degree. She practiced law for a brief period, having been admitted to the Washington State Bar.
In 1994, Irene and her husband moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was appointed CEO of the Alameda Alliance for Health, a non-profit health plan in the Bay Area that provided health coverage for uninsured low-income children and their parents. In 2003, she was appointed executive vice president of the California Endowment, a prestigious statewide health foundation. She coordinated a broad-based coalition of agencies to develop an initiative to provide health coverage for all children in Los Angeles County, as well as providing leadership of other programs.
In late winter of 2006. Irene was named president and CEO of the Colorado Trust. She began her tenure there on Jan. 2, 2007. At the Colorado Trust, Irene led efforts dedicated to achieving access to health care for all Coloradans. She dedicated herself to expanding health coverage and improving health care, particularly for low-income children and their families.
She served on numerous boards, both local and national ones. She received many awards and honors throughout her career and afterwards.
Irene loved to go jogging and take long walks prior to the onset of more serious stages of Parkinson’s disease. She so enjoyed traveling and also entertaining family and friends. Her flair for gourmet cooking was formidable, as were her skills at decorating and furnishing her home. Irene loved to attend the theatre and concerts. She enjoyed fine dining. A constant doer, to say she was an active person is an understatement.
An example to all of us of grace, effort and achievement, Irene is survived by her husband, Armando. She is also survived by her mother, Phyllis, of Powell; loving siblings Mary Ellen (Earl) of Powell; Blanche (Steve) of Ft. Lupton, Colorado; Mario (Troy) of Green Valley, Arizona; Susan of Laramie; Dian (Chad) of Billings, Montana; Hector Manuel (Sonja) of Mesa, Arizona; and David (Tracy) of Fort Collins, Colorado. She is also survived by her loving stepchildren, Mark (Vicki) of Morrison, Colorado; Noreen (Jim) of Lake Forest, California; and Armando III (Sonia) of Barnegat, New Jersey. Her devoted stepgrandchildren also survive her, as well as all her nieces and nephews.
Mass will be held on Nov. 14, 2019, at St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church, at 2309 Gaylord St., in Denver.