Sandra Ruiz-Parrilla

EGS & Partners RNO

Sandra Ruiz-Parrilla is an environmental justice activist in the highly polluted Globeville-Elyria Swansea neighborhood of Denver. She was born in Cuernavaca Morelos, México and moved to Denver CO in 1987, and lived there ever since. Gentrification affected part of her life. Being a single mom of three, struggling to have a home, she had to move three years ago to Elyria in zip code 80216 -- one of the most polluted zip codes in the US. Since she moved to Elyria, she saw all the needs and issues of the neighborhood, and not only Elyria, but Swansea and Globeville as well. That's when her interest for doing something to help these neighborhoods started. From a very young age, she suffered abuse and injustice, something that made her grow up thirsting for justice. In this way, she has begun to seek justice and fight for her rights and those of others. She was always a little rebellious but in a diplomatic way. In the schools she defended some classmates from the bullies, since in her native country she suffered from bullying from five of her classmates when she was only seven years old. As a mother, she is always involved in her children's schools as part of her leadership. Now in Elyria Globeville and Swansea, Sandra Ruiz-Parrilla has been fighting for three years to have better communities, as there are so many shortages. Apart from the fact that many neighbors suffer from health problems, they have been displaced from their homes, they are not safe with the crime that exists and the three neighborhoods have been very abandoned until now. Therefore, she created a partnership between the registered Neighborhood organization, the city, Denver Police department, CDOT and other organizations. Now there has been some changes and willingness from the city to work with the neighbors in Elyria Globeville and Swansea.

Sandra is speaking at

October 10, 2019
8:45 am - 5:00 pm


  • Tony Barboza (Tour Leader) Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times
  • Rachel Cernansky (Tour Leader) Freelance, WaPo, NYT, Nature, EHP, Ensia, others.
  • Kati Weis Barraza (Tour Leader) CBS Denver
  • Sunni Benoit (Speaker) President, 350 Colorado
  • Candi CdeBaca (Speaker) City Councilwoman, Denver City Councilwoman, District 9
  • Lisa Cicutto (Speaker) Director, Community Outreach and Research; Professor, Director, Clinical Science Graduate Program, National Jewish Health and University of Colorado | Anschutz Medical Center
  • Marta Darby (Speaker) Associate Attorney, Earthjustice
  • Jim Garcia (Speaker) Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Clinica Tepeyac
  • Charles Norris (Speaker) Professional Geologist, retired
  • Michael Ogletree (Speaker) Air Quality Program Manager, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment
  • Nina Roumell (Speaker) Development and Communications Officer, The GrowHaus
  • Sandra Ruiz-Parrilla (Speaker) EGS & Partners RNO
  • Stacia Sellers (Speaker) Central 70 Communications Manager, Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Michael Wenstrom (Speaker) Region 8 USEPA


(8:45 a.m. departure, $45 fee, lunch included)

The communities of Globeville and Elyria-Swansea (GES) in northern Denver are located in the most polluted zip code in Colorado. Decades of environmental injustices in these communities have brought them to this unfortunate title. With several nearby industrial factories emitting toxic chemicals into the air, a busy interstate highway running directly through the neighborhoods — also the site of an ongoing and extremely controversial expansion, diesel trains traveling through the communities regularly and soil contamination from historical metal smelting, the GES is home to a confluence of pollution sources that have had untold health, economic and social impacts on its residents. This tour will provide an insight into the major challenges facing residents, as well as air quality and health studies underway designed to offset some of the impacts from these historic and ongoing environmental hazards. This will be a unique opportunity to learn about perhaps the most impacted and underserved community in Denver — during a time when the city as a whole is undergoing rapid growth and transformation. You’ll come away with new ideas, concepts and understandings of reporting on environmental justice issues, as well as learn how these concerns relate through communities across the country. Total drive time: 3 hours. A good option for those with limited mobility. 

Advance registration is required for all Thursday tours. Attendance on each tour is strictly limited, so registering early is important. All Thursday tours will return to the Lory Student Center at about 5:00 p.m.

IMPORTANT DEPARTURE INFORMATION: Please meet your tour leaders near the SEJ registration desk on the third floor of the Lory Student Center at the listed departure time to check-in for your tour. Eat breakfast at your hotel before arrival or plan to purchase breakfast at the Lory Student Center food court, which opens at 7:00 a.m.; coffee and snacks will be provided for tours that depart before the food court opens. Each tour will leave the ballroom as a group to board buses at a nearby location. Do not be late.

October 11, 2019
2:15 pm - 3:30 pm
Room 322, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center



Despite decades of improvement, air pollution still cuts short more than 100,000 American lives every year — more than guns, more than car accidents, more than the flu. We’ll look at the impact and causes of this often under-covered menace, talking science, health and policy. Panelists will explore how dirty air intersects with racial disparities, economic inequality and climate change. You'll hear how residents of Colorado's most polluted neighborhood experience the effects of their dirty air, what's really in the wildfire smoke that regularly engulfs western cities and how regulatory rollbacks may further affect air quality and public health.

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