Guillermo Vidal is a native of Camagüey, Cuba. In late 1961, his parents sent him with his brothers to the U.S.A. via “Operation Peter Pan,” a program that placed over 14,000 children in foster homes and orphanages throughout the fifty states. The three Vidal boys were assigned to an orphanage in Pueblo, Colorado. They reunited with their parents almost four years later.
Guillermo learned about resilience and perseverance as he and his family struggled to overcome many difficult life challenges. Life took a better turn when he graduated as a Civil Engineer from the University of Colorado, Denver in 1973.
In 1976, Guillermo began working for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)—the last five years serving as executive director and a member of Colorado Governor Roy Romer’s cabinet—where he learned two very important skills. During the earliest part of his career, he learned how to work with others to build bridges, roads and systems that would give people freedom of movement and communities a better chance to grow. The second part of his career with CDOT saw him climb steadily up to the top of the organization’s management structure. This was the time he learned how to inspire and motivate people to come together on a common mission of transportation to help create a greater Colorado.
After his tenure with CDOT, he headed the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG)—the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization for the Denver region—as its executive director for five years. Once again, Guillermo used his leadership position to help bring communities together on a common vison of regional transportation.
In 2004, Guillermo joined Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to become Deputy Mayor and Manager of Public Works. In 2011, he was sworn in as Denver’s 44th and first foreign-born mayor. He used his skills to bring citizens, local officials and employees together to create a greater Denver.
Guillermo became President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver in 2012. Although, no longer in the government sector, he brought together the Hispanic businesses in the Denver Metro Area to use their influence to help the community at large.
Following the death of his father in 1998, Guillermo returned to Cuba to trace his remaining family and bring closure to a forty-year absence from his homeland. This trip motivated Guillermo to write his memoirs, titled, Boxing for Cuba. It was published in 2007. He published a sequel in 2018, titled Catch and Release in which he chronicles the challenges of starting life over in your sixties after three unexpected challenges changed the trajectory of his life.
Today, Guillermo continues his writing and public speaking. He uses his skills to shed a light on the life mysteries and lessons he has deciphered to inspire others to seek their own self-fulfillment and feel empowered to make the world a better place.