Mar 25, 2024 - News

Spotlight: Meet Denver's new immigrant director, Sarah Plastino

Photo illustration of Sarah Plastino in the center of a Polaroid photo under a blue spotlight.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: City of Denver

Sarah Plastino, Denver's first-ever immigrant response chief, is navigating one of the city's toughest roles while forging her own path in uncharted territory.

What she's saying: "My philosophy coming into this job is compassion and [fiscal] sustainability β€”Β and making sure we balance those," the Philadelphia native and human rights attorney told us, highlighting the current and forthcoming city budget cuts needed to support people arriving from the southern U.S. border.

Zoom in: We recently caught up with Plastino, who was appointed in February, to learn more about who she is and what makes her tick:

πŸŒ… Morning routine: First comes a wakeup call from one of her two boys β€” a 6 month old and a 4 year old. "Maybe there's a blowout … maybe they both need baths."

  • Then it's time to feed the dog, get ready to head to the mayor's office and drop the kids off at school.

πŸ‘† First tap of the day: The New York Times' "The Daily" podcast.

πŸ“– Reading list: "Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age" by Katherine May.

🎡 On repeat: "Bloody Mary" by Lady Gaga and "Top Gun Anthem" by Harold Faltermeyer. "My 4 year old is obsessed" with both, she says with a laugh.

πŸ§˜β€β™€ Hobbies: As a certified yoga teacher, she enjoys practicing at The River in Sunnyside.

  • She also loves scuba diving and plans vacations around diving opportunities, her most recent of which was in Cozumel, Mexico.

🌳 Favorite Denver places: Sloan's Lake Park, Hops & Pie and Call Your Mother.

πŸ“Ž One thing on her desk: A paper clip holder from the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project in Arizona, her first job out of college in 2008 and the "most formative" experience of her career, which inspired her to become a lawyer.

⭐ Role model: Serena Williams. "When I'm in a moment where I feel like I need strength and backup, I envision [her] in my corner," Plastino says. She symbolizes "feminine strength, getting the job done and standing up for herself."

✍️ Words to live by: "Give grace" to others and to yourself.


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