Nearly six months after Wil Alston stepped down from the job, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has brought in a new communications director: Rowena Alegría, former Denver Post scribe and, until April, editor of the bilingual Viva Colorado.
From Hancock’s office:
Mayor Hancock Appoints Rowena Alegría as Communications Director
DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today appointed Rowena Alegría as Director of Communications. Alegría recently served as Editor and Publisher of The Denver Post’s Viva Colorado and has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of journalism and communications.
“Ro is an ideal addition to our team, bringing an invaluable blend of communications experience, knowledge of our City and civic wherewithal,” Mayor Hancock said. “A daughter of Denver, Ro is a well-respected community leader and journalist. She shares this administration’s values of collaboration and compassion, and will help build on our work to create a more open and inclusive City of Denver.”
Since 2006, Alegría has been leading efforts to make Viva Colorado the most influential multimedia news outlet for local Latinos. Through her leadership and management, she transformed the publication into an award-winning and respected news outlet within the City of Denver and the Latino community.
As Director of Communications, Alegría will oversee all media relations and craft and execute the administration’s internal and external communications. She will begin on Monday, June 18.
“Mayor Hancock and I are cut from similar cloth. I, too, come from humble beginnings, and yet my family has accomplished great things through hard work and determination,” Alegría said. “I am honored to join the Hancock Administration and work side-by-side with him and his dedicated and talented team. As a Denver native, I could not be more proud to serve a mayor who sees my hometown as a world-class city where everyone – everyone – matters.”
Alegría served in several capacities over her initial 12-year career with the Denver Post, including copy editor, assistant copy desk chief and assistant business editor. She managed the Post’s award-winning Tech Team during the boom and bust of the Internet and supervised coverage of the Qwest takeover of U.S. West, as well as directed business news coverage in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Following her time at the Post, Alegría started her own communications consulting group where she developed and implemented communications strategies for a variety of organizations, including the National Endowment for Financial Education and Denver Public Schools.
As Editor and Publisher of Viva Colorado, Alegría re-launched the paper in a bilingual and digital format. The Viva team won numerous awards, including being named the Best Spanish-language newspaper website in the nation by Editor & Publisher magazine.
Alegría is active in the Denver community, serving as president of the board of Servicios de la Raza, as a member of the Hispanic Advisory Council at Florence Crittenton High School and on planning committees for various community events. She graduated from Lincoln High School and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Metropolitan State College of Denver, Magna Cum Laude.
Alegría is an incredible addition to Hancock’s team. While running the communications shop for one of Colorado’s highest-profile elected officials might have been too much for Wil Alston, there’s no question that Alegría’s skill set as a former newspaper editor will translate nicely to her role in the mayor’s office. Neither Alston nor Alegría, however, have the national media connections which Hancock craves, but the new communications director likely won’t have to jump over — and certainly won’t create — the same stumbling blocks as her predecessor. She’ll have a much friendlier relationship with the Denver press corps, at the very least.
Still, the timing of Alegría’s appointment should raise some eyebrows. Alston, after all, stepped down from his role in January of this year. Ostensibly, then, Hancock’s been shopping for a replacement for a whopping six months — an extraordinarily long search considering the importance of the press shop in shaping his administration.
Alegría left Viva Colorado in early April, a full two months after Hancock’s office commenced its search for a new communications director. It’s unlikely that she was a candidate for the job immediately following Alston’s departure. Alegría left Viva two months ago, after all. If she had a job lined up in the Hancock administration in April, she would’ve pivoted straight from the newspaper to the press shop.
Far more likely is that Alegría’s “departure” from Viva Colorado was part of the Denver Post’s — Viva’s parent company — pervasive cost-cutting measures.
Laid off in April, then, Alegría was the perfect candidate to take on a new job in the mayor’s office.
Still, just why did this search drag on for so long? Was Hancock ready to announce a replacement, only to hold off once Alegría — an incredible fit for the job — became available? Or was the Viva Colorado editor the top choice from the start, and simply had to wait until the Post’s inevitable budget cuts forced her out of the newspaper business?
These questions won’t keep Alegría from hitting the ground running, but it’s certainly ironic that a former reporter is taking on a new, public-facing job with some unanswered questions lurking in the background.