For Immediate Release
Media Contact
Taryn Fort

Statement by Foundation CEO Karen McNeil-Miller on the Passing of Dr. Virgilio Licona

DENVER, CO – On the morning of March 29, a long-time Board Member and dear friend of the Colorado Health Foundation, Dr. Virgilio Licona, passed away. It is with great sadness that we honor and celebrate Dr. Licona’s contributions to the health of Colorado as a physician and expert in rural health delivery and migrant health, and his tireless and passionate efforts for social justice.

Dr. Virgilio Licona speaking at the Foundation’s inaugural Building Better Health conference in October 2014.

As a dedicated physician, Dr. Licona practiced medicine for more than 40 years, spending the last 19 years at Salud Family Health Centers. A nationally recognized advocate for improving the health of underserved populations, Dr. Licona brought a critical voice to some of the most important conversations and decisions about health for many, making an impact for decades from the exam room to the United States capitol. The recipient of innumerable awards, Dr. Licona was most recently honored by Colorado Gov. John W. Hickenlooper, on the day of his death, through a proclamation declaring March 29 as “Virgilio Licona” Day in the State of Colorado.

Being six months into my tenure as President and CEO of the Foundation, I had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Licona more recently. His crusading approach to improving the lives of people had not dimmed a bit, even near the end of his life. His good cheer and passion was infectious. On behalf of everyone at the Foundation, we will miss his voice at our boardroom table, and his spirit and heart as a friend. We offer our condolences to his family and the many people he impacted through his work.

Last August, the Foundation’s Board approved a donation of $100,000 to the University of Colorado Foundation to administer an annual scholarship in the amount of $10,000 over ten years in Dr. Licona’s name. The scholarship is awarded to deserving minority students at the University who are willing to serve the safety net or rural Colorado. On April 12, 2016, the Foundation’s Board unanimously approved a subsequent $100,000 donation to the fund to honor Dr. Licona’s memory and the remaining three years he was to have served on the Board. Donations can be made to the Virgilio Licona Scholarship Fund, University of Colorado, Building 500, Mail Stop A065, 13001 E. 17th Place, Aurora, CO 80045. Donations can also be made online. A celebration of Dr. Licona's life will be held April 23 at 1 p.m. at Prairie View High School, 12909 E. 120th Ave. Henderson, CO 80640.

About the Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation is singularly focused on helping Coloradans live their healthiest lives by advancing opportunities to pursue good health and achieve health equity through grantmaking, policy and advocacy, strategic private investments and convening to drive change. For more information, please visit