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Giovanna Carriero-Contreras

The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program (DFEI) at the University of Colorado Denver Business School announces Giovanna Carriero-Contreras, CEO and Founder of Cesco Linguistic Services, as the 2020 Bill Daniels Ethical Leader of the Year.

Now in its sixth year, the award recognizes local leaders that demonstrate remarkable integrity and ethics in business. The award will be presented at the State of Small Business event on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., hosted virtually by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the CU Denver Business School.

The event will also feature keynote speaker David Castro, Co-founder, President and CEO of I-LEAD and an economic forecast presentation from Patty Silverstein, Consulting Chief Economist for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and President and Chief Economist for Development Research Partners. The event is open to the public and registration is open here.

“Giovanna Carriero-Contreras’ ethical principles clearly guide her leadership style and Cesco Linguistic Services’ business,” said Ira Selkowitz, DFEI Director at the CU Denver Business School. “Her personal and professional accomplishments exemplify ethics in business as practiced by the Ethical Leader of the Year’s namesake, cable television pioneer Bill Daniels.”

As the CEO and Founder of Cesco Linguistic Services (pronounced “Chesco”), Carriero-Contreras delivers high-quality interpreting and translations services in more than 120 languages, working in health care, education, social services, nonprofit, legal, workers’ compensation and international development sectors.

Carriero-Contreras has built Cesco Linguistic Services on a foundation of open and honest communication, integrity, trust, accountability, and empowerment throughout the organization, resulting in high employee morale and wide respect from the Colorado business community for the past 16 years. 

Giovanna Carriero-Contreras

“The core principles that form Giovanna’s personal values also serve as the foundation for her professional and business life,” said Stephen Lank, Vice President, at Cesco. “When it comes to ethics and integrity, there is never a gray area in Giovanna’s decision-making process. You can count on the fact that she will make the most honest and ethical decision, no matter how difficult or unpopular the decision may seem to others. Her decision-making is always guided by her ethics.”

Carriero-Contreras is driven to serve those marginalized by language barriers and prioritizes her clients’ best interests. This mindset opens the door for equitable and fair relationships with other language services companies, even partnering with competing organizations to best serve the needs of her community.

In addition, Carriero-Contreras serves on several language standards and advocacy committees to help shape the direction of the language services industry at the state, national, and international levels. She also holds Cesco interpreters to a higher standard of training and experience than even the state of Colorado, where currently no specific training or certification is required. This, in addition to her volunteer work to develop national and international quality standards for interpreting and translation, are further indications of Carriero-Contreras’ commitment to building a level playing field in her industry.

Giovanna Carriero-Contreras

“The culture that Giovanna has built for Cesco is at the center of the company’s viability,” said Lank. “It begins with Giovanna’s ‘lead by example’ approach, the high standards she holds for herself and all Cesco employees and partners, and the company’s ability to embrace feedback from all stakeholders and use it to become better, more relevant and more effective.”

“I feel truly blessed and humbled by this award,” said Carriero-Contreras. “Words aren’t enough to express how deeply it touches my heart and soul. Doing the right thing is the right thing to do, but sometimes, living with the consequences can be difficult. I always look UP for guidance and strength. This is a reminder that prayers are always answered in due time.”

A Business School student selection committee considered a large pool of nominations and evaluated each nominee based on the eight DFEI Principles:

Integrity – Act with honesty in all situations.
Trust – Build trust in all stakeholder relationships.
Accountability – Accept responsibility for all decisions.
Transparency – Maintain open and truthful communications.
Fairness – Engage in fair competition and create equitable and just relationships.
Respect – Honor the rights, freedoms, views and property of others.
Rule of Law – Comply with the spirit and intent of laws and regulations.
Viability – Create long-term value for all relevant stakeholders.

Bill Daniels, believed deeply in ethics and integrity and his charitable foundation, the Daniels Fund, honors his legacy through grants and scholarships in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The award program is presented each year at the State of Small Business event by the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at CU Denver Business School, created with a grant from the Daniels Fund aimed at teaching students business ethics, emphasizing real-world application of ethical principles, and extending ethical behavior beyond campus and into the community.

Past Ethical Leader of the Year award recipients include Bob Hottman, Partner at Plante Moran (2019), Gregory Anton, Chairman and CEO of Anton Collins Mitchell (2018), Patrick Hamill, CEO of Oakwood Homes (2017), Kate Paul, President and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado (2016), and Evan Makovsky, Managing Partner at NAI Shames Makovsky (2015).

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