From the Secretary of State’s office to South Africa

Lizzie Stephani, an intern with the Colorado Secretary of State, and Robert Miller, a former U.S. attorney, at the investiture for Jason Dunn on Dec. 7. (SOS photo)

One of the many joys of my soon-to-be-over job as communications director for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is working with interns, including Lizzie Stephani, who ended her internship in December and then departed for South Africa.

I’ve known very few people who have her curiosity and sense of adventure.

Want to go to Colorado Common Cause’s banquet? The swearing-in for Colorado’s new U.S. attorney Jason Dunn? Will you blog about Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ visit with Baca County Clerk Sharon Dubois and Dolores County Clerk LaRita Randolph? Can you attend the Sabor Latino event with Secretary Wayne Williams? Sure. Yes. I would love to. That will be really interesting, thanks for inviting me.

“Sabor attendee: Secretary Williams cares about our community,” the headline on Stephani’s blog read.

Now Stephani is writing her own blog about her adventures in South Africa.

Julia Sunny and Lizzie Stephani Julia at the Young Catholic Professionals Christmas party in RiNo. (SOS photo)

“I made it to South Africa! After 3 layovers, passing through 3 continents, and a few new friendships along the way, I have arrived. Isn’t it funny how, when you get a new place, you start really thinking about the last one?” she wrote.

“I am so full of gratitude for the people God placed into my life during the past five months I spent in Denver. Thank you to every person who was excited for this trip and offered an encouraging word.”

Stephani also gave a shout out to her immediate supervisor, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, my assistant, Julia Sunny, and to me!

“Lynn always gave me interesting work to do and key blogging experience to support my new blog venture! ” she wrote.

Wednesday is Colorado Day

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during his trip to visit the county clerk and recorders this summer in Jackson and Grand counties. (SOS photo)

On Aug 1, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation of statehood for Colorado, making our colorful state the 38th member of the Union. Now, 142 years later, many across Colorado are celebrating with free admissions to parks on Aug 6, cooking up a classic Colorado meal or by attending any number of the cultural events in Denver this week.

Chris Cash, the charities program manager for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne will celebrate Colorado Day at the History Colorado Center at 10 a.m. Wednesday. (Here’s a list of events at History Colorado for the day.)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has lived in Colorado for 26 years and enjoys life with his wife Holly and family in Colorado Springs. He said the beautiful weather, friendly people, and “can-do” attitude drew him to Colorado as a recent University of Virginia law school graduate.

Colorado native Chris Cash, the charities program manager for the SOS, grew up in Boulder and enjoys spending time in the great outdoors.

“Like everybody else, I love the mountains,” Cash said. “As a youngster, I especially valued skiing. Now that I have no knees and I-70 is impassable it’s practically irrelevant, so I find other ways to enjoy the outdoors.”

Among other Secretary of State staffers, enthusiasm also runs high for the Centennial State.  Just last month, Tim Griesmer and Ben Schler hiked to the summit of San Luis Peak as part of the #UChooseCO campaign.

Read moreWednesday is Colorado Day

All about U — Thanks, firefighters

The La Plata County clerk and recorder’s wooden U is a reflection of the county’s trying times.

La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker and her elections director Erin Hutchins were stumped on how to decorate their wooden U but, sadly, Mother Nature inspired them.

The 416 Fire has ravaged the Durango area and other parts of southwestern Colorado, burning more than 34,000 acres. Displaced La Plata County voters were told they could pick up their ballots at the post office. Rain helped slow the fire’s spread but now voters impacted by flooding also are being sent to the post office.

Hutchins’ husband, Denver Hutchins, handled the wood burning, including the official firefighters logo, the burn marks between the U legs, the name of the blaze, the  “416 fire” and the date it started, June 1.

“When the fire is out, Denver will inscribe that date on it, too,” Parker said.

Secretary Wayne Williams is handing out the U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign to educate unaffiliated voters that they can participate in the June 26 primary election, but they can only vote one ballot. The campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.

At least every week day between now and the June 26 primary the Secretary of State’s office will highlight a wooden U or two. Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter.

Another banner year for the Secretary of State’s “Go Code Colorado”

Guests, contestants and Colorado Secretary of State staff mingled before the start of this year’s Go Code Colorado competition. Left to right, Sean Williams, son of Secretary of State Wayne Williams; Tim Griesmer, legislative director for the SOS; Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert; Secretary Williams; and Jack Arrowsmith, director of the Statewide Internet Portal Authority. (SOS photo)

This year’s winners of the state’s ultimate techie competition, Go Code Colorado, walked away with $15,000 per team after creating tools that turned government data into useful information on three different fronts, including the tiny house movement.

The final competition was held Thursday at the Seawell Ballroom in Denver. Judges selected three winning teams from nine, which had been whittled down from a competitive field of participants that started with nearly 40 teams made up of more than 260 participants after the kick off in February.

“This year’s finalist teams showed an incredible breadth of ideas for how public data can help business decision makers,” said Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The three winning teams were Carbos from Fort Collins, Adobio from Colorado Springs and Business Incentives from Grand Junction.

When I heard there was a team named Carbos, I initially thought that was the entry about food trucks. Instead Carbos leverages public data and blockchain technology to remove barriers to entry into the carbon offset marketplace.

Read moreAnother banner year for the Secretary of State’s “Go Code Colorado”

Go Code mentor weekend kicks off at Google

The Google Boulder campus, the host of Go Code Colorado’s 2018 mentor weekend. (Go Code photo)

Go Code Colorado‘s fifth annual mentor weekend kicked off last Friday at the new Google campus in Boulder.

Go Code is a statewide business app challenge housed in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The award-winning challenge is the first and only statewide effort of its kind that uses public data to solve business problems. It is overseen by staffer Andrew Cole.

This year’s finalist apps focus on housing development, food trucks, childcare and transportation.

Andrew Cole explaining the 2018 “Go Code challenge coin” to the crowd on Friday. (Go Code photo)

Cole thanked the teams for helping to make public data in Colorado more accessible. He then handed out a “2018 Go Code challenge coin,” similar to challenge coins that military members receive upon finishing boot camp. He explained that the story goes if a military member is caught without his coin, drinks are on that person.

Mentor weekend provides an opportunity for all 10 teams to receive mentorship by leaders from Boom Town AcceleratorCA TechnologiesGoogleHouse of GeniusTwitter and other minds from Colorado’s tech and entrepreneurial community.

This years competition kicked off Feb. 7 in Denver. In attendance were Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his predecessor, Scott Gessler, who was in office when the Go Code Colorado challenge began, as well as various SOS staffers and Colorado lawmakers.

The challenge weekend began April 13 in five cities statewide: Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Grand Junction and Fort Collins. Two teams from each location were named finalists, awarded $2,500 each and headed to Boulder for mentor weekend April 27-29.

Read moreGo Code mentor weekend kicks off at Google