Born and raised in inner city Chicago, Irene Aguilar was the first in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree. She attended Washington University in St. Louis on a scholarship and received her medical degree from the University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine. In 1985, she moved to Denver for her residency training in internal medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. For 23 years, she worked as a primary care physician for Denver Health and Hospitals and now serves on its board of directors. During legislative breaks, she volunteers at Clinica Tepeyac, caring for the uninsured.
In November 2010, Aguilar decided to seek public office to advance the cause of universal health care and in 2011 was elected to the Colorado General Assembly representing Senate District 32 (Denver). She is the primary author of Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, which will be on the November 2016 ballot, and, if successful, will allow Colorado to create a state-based universal health care system.
In 2015, Aguilar was awarded the American Medical Association’s Nathan Davis Award for Government Services and in 2016 was named one of the 25 most powerful women in Colorado by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.