Senior systems manager Brenda Lavely ends her long and accomplished tenure at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office at the end of the year when she retires after serving under eight secretaries over a span of nearly 32 years.
At her retirement ceremony today, Lavely was feted with two huge cakes, greeting cards and heartfelt well wishes.
“It’s not all been fun,” she said to laughter, “but there are so many of you who are really close to my heart. It’s bittersweet for me but it’s time. I want to thank you all for being my friend.”
Among those who attended the retirement ceremony was former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Hobbs, who retired in 2011 after serving five secretaries of state over 12 years.
Lavely has participated in the transformation of the office from paper forms and lines out the door to automation. She has impacted the lives of hundreds by making sure the data center operations run smoothly, managing the help desk to provide internal customer support, and being involved in the design and construction of the existing agency data center.
“Brenda is one of those people who will do whatever is needed to get the job done well,” said Chief Information Officer Trevor Timmons. “She has a long track record of helping people who don’t even know what they need get what they need.”
During the most recent midterm election, Lavely and her team set up the network operation center to monitor the election and host the Colorado National Guard, Department of Homeland Security, staff of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (The Colorado Sun has an outstanding article on the operation center.)
Because of her efforts, there were no major cyber-attacks and the election went extraordinarily well.
Beyond her professional achievements though, Lavely says working with her team has been the best part of her job.
“We are all kind of on the same page, doing the same things. Everyone works hard for the same goal,” Lavely said. “I would consider most of them friends.”
Lavely’s team has fluctuated over the years, being as big as 17 people at one point, and now after a reorganization a year and a half ago, is down to four. She said she has enjoyed working under the most recent secretary of state, Wayne Williams, who sent her a card after her mother died.
“Wayne’s been a real person, a call-me-by-my-first-name kind of person,” Lavely said. “He’s another friend and seems to really care about his employees.”
Once Lavely retires, she plans to help a friend run a medical spa and spend time with her husband, Matt, and two dogs. Matt was at the party, but the two dogs stayed home.