If there’s a group she believes in, Rose Pugliese is either in it or running it
The list of groups Rose Pugliese is involved in is so long it’s the length of some people’s grocery lists.
The attorney is the president of the 6-month-old Mesa County Young Republicans group, third vice president of the Mesa County Republican Women, secretary and spokesperson for the Western Slope Conservative Alliance, and a member of Rotaract. She continues work with the sorority she was president of at Villanova University in Pennsylvania by serving as a district director for Alpha Delta Pi and is a member of the Western Colorado Alumnae Panhellenic Association.
On top of that, she ran for a spot on Mesa County Valley School District 51’s school board in November, but lost to Greg Mikolai.
After moving to Colorado from Miami nearly three years ago, Pugliese found herself with more time on her hands than she had while working 16-hour days as a commercial real estate attorney. When she noticed her husband, John, yelling at politicians and commentators on Fox News, she encouraged him to take action. As the introvert in the relationship, he wasn’t interested. So she decided she was.
Her involvement in the local Republican Party began with a trip to the Republican Headquarters to grab some yard signs for the 2008 election. While there, she chatted with Mesa County Republican Women President Ruth Ehlers, who convinced Pugliese to join the club.
It wasn’t long before Pugliese encouraged club members to have quarterly nonpartisan meetings that addressed women’s issues.
Pugliese said the impetus for the meetings was watching female candidates like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin receive what she saw as unfair treatment in news coverage. By 2009 she was elected third vice president of the Republican Women club.
In September, Pugliese helped form the Mesa County Young Republicans club for people ages 18 to 45. She’s also worked with Palisade High School students to create a Young Republicans program at the school. She wants to get Young Republicans clubs into all of the local high schools before the end of this year.
After she lost the school board election in November, the Western Slope Conservative Alliance asked her to be their spokeswoman. Pugliese was a little nervous about the position at first, but decided she wanted to show people a different face in the Republican Party.
“I like people to see Republicans aren’t all old men,” she said.
Pugliese developed her passion for the Republican Party while growing up in a traditional Italian family on Long Island, N.Y. Although “New York Republican” may seem like an oxymoron to some outside the East Coast, Pugliese said it was the norm on Long Island to vote conservative.
“You couldn’t get a job if you weren’t a Republican where I grew up,” she said.
Finding career-minded women was not as easy as finding a conservative in her neighborhood, but Pugliese knew at a young age she wanted to be a leader. As president of Villanova’s Alpha Delta Pi chapter, she had to agree to be legally responsible for 125 of her sorority sisters for a year. She also attended women in leadership trainings through the sorority and wrote reports that could reach up to 40 pages in length.
Pugliese continues to pass on leadership skills to the next generation as director of an Alpha Delta Pi district that encompasses chapters from Colorado to Louisiana. She organizes leadership trainings, often via the Web, for the women and attends yearly district and national conferences with the group. She also works on philanthropic projects with the Panhellic organization, which groups together women from different sororities living in one region.
“There’s so much more to sororities than keys and fraternity boys. There’s also leadership and philanthropy,” Pugliese said.
Her goal is to foster a lifelong desire for sorority members to continue in leadership and philanthropy roles.
“I like working with the students because they’re like little sponges,” she said.
After graduating from Villanova, Pugliese attended law school at St. John’s University in Manhattan, worked for a year in New Jersey and lived on South Beach in Florida before coming to Grand Junction. Pugliese said she plans to settle in western Colorado, but she’s not sure she’ll always be doing the same job.
“I will run for office again,” she said. She just hasn’t decided what spot she’ll run for.
She also wants to add more activities to her list some day.
“I would like to have some sort of organization that would help women re-entering the job force with résumés, interview skills, how to dress at interviews,” she said.
As much as she gives back, Pugliese said she gets something out of each group she’s involved in.
“I just feel like I can make a difference. All of my groups fulfill that need for me to feel like I can make a difference,” she said.