IRENE VILAR is an award-winning author and Guggenheim fellow, publisher, environmental activist, and founder and executive director of Colorado and Puerto Rico based nonprofit Americas for Conservation + the Arts 501(c)(3). Vilar serves on the advisory council of the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry and the Green Leadership Trust. Vilar has been an active public speaker for multicultural literacy, reproductive and mental health, environmental justice, and access/equity issues in connecting communities to the outdoors. Since the publishing of Vilar’s first book in 1996, she has given numerous academic lectures and workshops on writing, reproductive health, and environmental justice. Vilar gave the keynote at the 2010 National Convention of State Senators and Legislators Hispanic Caucus on Latino Mental Health, “Severe Depressive Disorder: Overcoming Adversity and Stigma”. Vilar is also a member of the Oxford Union Debate Society and a recipient of the City of Denver Office of Sustainability Community Builder 2016 Love This Place Award as well as the 2017 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture Imagine 2020
Irene Vilar also founded The Americas book series published by the University of Wisconsin Press and now at Texas Tech University Press. The series has published over fifty books in translation in the last ten years and is considered among the most important initiatives of this kind in the US advancing democracy through publishing across cultures. See here for a statement on this crossroads.
Vilar was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Her memoir The Ladies’ Gallery (Other Press, 2009, originally published in 1996) was a Philadelphia Inquirer and Detroit Free Press Notable Book of the Year and was a finalist for the 1999 Mind Book of the Year Award. Her latest memoir, Impossible Motherhood (Other Press, 2009), has been published in Italy, France, and Germany, and won the 2010 IPPY Gold Medal for Best Memoir/Autobiography and the 12th Latino Book 2nd Place Award for Best Women’s Issues. Both memoirs explore generational and national trauma.
Irene and the festival have been featured in multiple videos and media articles (see below).