Fairview High School — a voter registration feat

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, with Fairview High School students and teachers. (Boulder Valley School District photo)

Secretary Wayne Williams visited Fairview High School in Boulder on Friday to recognize  the efforts in getting their peers registered to vote by presenting students with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award.

Thanks to the work of more than two dozen students and one dedicated social studies teacher, a whopping 90 percent of eligible seniors are registered to vote at Fairview. Seniors Henry Magowan, Ayesha Rawal and Edden Rosenberg and two freshmen, Sophia Murray and Elyana Steinberg, along with 25 freshman volunteers, visited classrooms, entered data and carried out the logistics of the project.

Aaron Hendrikson, a social studies teacher, was approached by the Fairview Young Democrats club with the belief that “we need to do a better job engaging young citizens in our democracy,” the students told him. “For a variety of reasons, we currently have a politics that is dominated by older voters and their priorities and as a consequence, younger Americans often don’t see themselves represented in government.”

Secretary Wayne Williams congratulates students at the Fairview High School library. (Boulder Valley School District photo)

Their motto throughout this project was a quote from Margaret Mead, a prominent American anthropologist, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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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.

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Elections staff brings joy to Judi’s House

SOS elections staff serving dinner to Judi’s House children and their families. From left to right, Melissa Polk, legal manager for the elections division, Kris Reynolds, campaign finance trainer, Hilary Rudy, deputy elections director, Annie LeFleur, elections legal fellow, and Minerva Padron, voter registration coordinator/Judi’s House grief counselor. (SOS photo)

Big hearts and some chicken goes a long way, as a group of election staffers with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office found out when they volunteered at Judi’s House.

Minerva Padron, a voter registration coordinator, is also a bilingual grief counselor at Judi’s House, a nonprofit devoted to providing care for grieving children and their families. It was founded by former Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Greise and his wife. Padron visits middle schools in the Denver metro area and holds “grief groups,” group counseling sessions for students who have lost someone close to them.

Judi’s House, in the City Park West neighborhood of Denver. (Judi’s House photo)

Two years ago, SOS staffers served dinner at Ronald McDonald house in Denver so Padron suggested a similar volunteer opportunity at Judi’s House.

Deputy elections director Hilary Rudy jumped at the idea and sent an email to elections staffers asking if they could donate time or money to the cause. She said it wasn’t hard to find volunteers or donations because a lot of people were interested.

“I tried to make it clear I wasn’t pressuring them given my position,” she joked.

Once they had a group together and donations, the group bought deli chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit salad and rolls and served it to the 60 or so children and families at Judi’s House last Thursday.

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Colorado praised for election security

From left to right, Eric Rosenbach, co-head of the Belfer Center at Harvard, Lisa Monaco, former Homeland Security adviser to President Obama, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, discuss election security at an event earlier this month. (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his operation were praised during a recent cybersecurity initiative in Northern California, one of a series of cybersecurity events the Colorado SOS has been invited to participate in.

Eric Rosenbach, co-head of the Belfer Center at Harvard, moderated a discussion on election security between Secretary Williams and Lisa Monaco, who served as the Homeland Security adviser to President Obama.

“Your team in Colorado is very good, essentially recognized as one of the best in the nation,” Rosenbach told Williams.

Monaco agreed.

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Emotional secretary of state knows nonprofits make a difference

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, with Michelle Majeune, who works with people with developmental disabilities, and Linda Childears, the Daniels Fund president and CEO, at the Colorado Nonprofit Association lunch today. (SOS photo)

The Colorado Nonprofit Association’s annual award lunch has produced its fair share of tears over the years as the community thanks those who make a difference in so many ways, and this year’s catalyst for catharsis was Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Usually, it’s the award recipient who is weepy.

In this case it was Williams, set to hand out an award to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who became so emotional when  praising nonprofit groups that he had to pause for several seconds before he could continue.

“For those who don’t know my two daughters, we learned as they grew that they had significant speech deficiencies,” Williams told a ballroom full of people at the Hilton Denver City Center. “So we worked with The Resource Exchange, one of our great nonprofits in the Colorado Springs area, to provide services for them.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams became emotional today when talking about the impact of a nonprofit on his family. (SOS photo)

Williams paused, and when he could resume speaking, his voice was thick with emotion.

“In 2013 I had the opportunity to hear the youngest of those daughters give the salutorian address at Rampart High School,” he said, to applause.

“Folks,” Williams said, struggling to continue, “the work that you do makes a real difference in the lives of everyone.”

After the lunch, Williams talked with the Gerry Rasel, director of membership services for the Colorado Nonprofit Association, who told him she cried during his speech.

The Colorado Nonprofit Association exists to strengthen nonprofits. Today was its 23rd annual awards lunch, capping a week of highlighting nonprofit agencies.

Renny Fagan, president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, talks at a reception before today’s awards lunch. (SOS photo)

“Colorado Nonprofit Week is one of our favorite times of the year because it brings all of us together and truly shines a light on the important contributions that happen everyday in communities,” said Renny Fagan, president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association.

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