The evolution of Maria Elena Ramirez

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with staffer Maria Ramirez, who is retiring effective Oct. 31. (SOS photo)
Secretary of State Wayne Williams with staffer Maria Elena Ramirez, who is retiring effective Oct. 31. (SOS photo)

Maria Elena Ramirez was, in her own words, “a welfare mom” who lived in public housing and received food stamps and a variety of other government benefits.

Until one day when she decided it was time to go in a different direction. She applied for a job with the state of Colorado, and interviewed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on July 14, 1999.

That was the same day Secretary of State Vikki Buckley, another welfare mom who worked herself out of poverty, died of a heart attack.

Ramirez began working for the Secretary of State on  Aug. 2, 1999.

“I learned I could support me and my kids,” Ramirez said. “I became independent.”

Countless calls — and six secretaries of state later — she is calling it quits. Today is her last day. Ramirez has four children, ages 31 to 24, and five grandchildren, but she’s not stepping down to spend more time with them, at least not right away.

“I turned 50 last year,” she said. “It’s time to do something for me. So I’m heading to the East Coast.”

Read moreThe evolution of Maria Elena Ramirez

Kathy Packer packs it up after spending 31 years at Colorado Secretary of State

Colorado Secretary of State employee Kathy Packer retired today after more than 30 years working for the office. From left to right, Deputy IT director Jeff Oliver, IT director Trevor Timmons, Packer and Secretary Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State employee Kathy Packer retired today after more than 30 years working for the office. From left to right, Deputy IT director Jeff Oliver, IT director Trevor Timmons, Packer and Secretary Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

By Julia Sunny and Lynn Bartels

When Kathy Packer started working at the age of 18, Dick Lamm was governor of Colorado, Federico Peña was mayor of Denver and Secretary of State Natalie Meyer was her boss.

Kathy Packer, who turns 50 next month, has worked for the Colorado Secretary of State's office since she was 18. She is retiring effective today. (SOS picture)
Kathy Packer, who turns 50 next month, has worked for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office since she was 18.

“Natalie was a very classy, professional lady, always very poised and put together,” Packer recalled.

Packer would go on to work for seven more secretaries of state, including the current officeholder, Wayne Williams, before deciding to call it quits.

Her last day was today, June 30. Her co-workers held a party to celebrate her 31½-year-career in state government, all at the Secretary of State’s office.

“She’s a people person, which means she has a customer-centric approach,” said Trevor Timmons, the director of information technology, where Packer has worked in recent years. “She is awesome.”

Read moreKathy Packer packs it up after spending 31 years at Colorado Secretary of State