RTD Chair wins prestigious COMTO award

RTD Board of Directors Chair Angie Rivera-Malpiede has been using RTD for as long as she can remember, making her a passionate advocate for the system. 

“I grew up in Denver. I grew up on RTD. I came from a really large Latino family – eight kids – and we had one car that my dad used all day long because he worked, and we went everywhere by bus. I’ve been riding RTD for over 50 years,” said Rivera-Malpiede. 

Winning the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO)’s Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Award is an incredible honor for her.  

“For me right now, it really makes me stop and think about my parents, and I want to honor them through this... and my grandbaby,” she said. “I learned everything from my parents. I think the work we do in our lives impacts not just our community but our future.” 

Being recognized by her transportation peers has also been a very deep honor. She received the 2015 César Chávez Latino Leadership Hall of Fame Award and the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado Community Advocate Award, but for Chair Rivera-Malpiede the COMTO award is truly a special tribute.  

The COMTO award recognizes Chair Rivera-Malpiede’s professional achievements and exemplary leadership in the transportation industry. 

Rivera-Malpiede fell into the transportation industry “quite by accident.” Prior to working in transportation, she had worked in non-profit management. Twenty years ago she was tapped to head up Stapleton’s transportation demand management program.  

Five years into her position at Stapleton, then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper asked her to be an RTD Board Director. She’s in her second term on the RTD Board, and she absolutely loves it. 

COMTO is the nation’s multi-modal transportation advocacy organization promoting women, minority professionals, and businesses in transportation. Rivera-Malpiede was set to fly to Washington, D.C. to receive her award at the 9th annual Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Awards Breakfast on Wednesday, March 18, but because of the coronavirus outbreak the awards program has been postponed.  

The Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Award is one of the highest honors COMTO bestows. The award recognizes women executives in transportation from across the U.S. who have provided inspirational leadership by opening career pathways for women. 

“I think the role that women and minorities play in transportation is much greater than people realize,” said Rivera-Malpiede. “If you go back and look at all the data points, you’re going to find that the majority of riders are, in fact, people of color and women. And not only that, we are taking our children on buses and teaching them to utilize these systems for so many different reasons. We are teaching our children about sustainability and that they don’t need a car to navigate the community where they live, work, and play.” 

The RTD Board Chair also acknowledged the agency’s role in winning the award. 

“I would not be receiving this award if RTD was not exemplary in the work they do. RTD does an amazing job of serving the whole community. RTD understands the diversity of the population it serves. The staff is also the community. We ride the system and work on issues together, so this is an honor for RTD, not just me.” 

The community which RTD serves is always top of mind for Rivera-Malpiede. 

“This is my community, and this transit system is an extension of that, because I know I would not be where I am today with all the successes and experiences that I've had if I didn’t have transportation. Transportation is the focal point for me as I move forward. I think RTD needs to stand up and applaud themselves for the work they’ve been doing. 

"This has been an extension of my soul. I love being at the table, and I think about those who don’t have a voice at the table. I love going and hanging out with them so that when I am speaking I know exactly what they want to say and can convey that on their behalf.” 

Rivera-Malpiede rides the G Line once a week with her granddaughter, and her granddaughter enjoys every minute of it. 

“I am just so honored to been nominated and receiving this amazing award. I probably exemplify the dream a lot of young Latinas have, which is Can I make a difference in the work that I do? Will people care? I feel so lucky to have had that chance.”