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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Secretary Williams mingles with lawmakers on opening day

Secretary of State Williams, who lives in Colorado Springs, posed with ROTC students from Mitchell High School in the Springs. The students presented the colors in the House on the opening day of the 2018 legislature. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams greeted lawmakers and other dignitaries today as the 2018 legislative session got underway.

“Opening day is a great Colorado tradition, and I enjoy talking to the lawmakers,” Williams said. “It’s always good to discuss how we can work together for Colorado and its citizens.”

Colorado Secretary of State and three House Democrats, Pete Lee of Colorado Springs, newly selected Dylan Roberts of Vail and Mike Weissmann of Aurora before the start of the session today. (SOS photo)

Williams made stops in the legislative leaders’ offices before heading to the House floor to mingle with Republicans and Democrats, meet new friends and greet old ones, including Tom Kennedy, the father of Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. Tom Kennedy and Williams practiced law at the same time in Colorado Springs.

Speaking of lawyering, at one point Williams and Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, were engaged in a lengthy conversation on the House floor.

“I never knew before, but Wayne used to practice at the law firm where I practice now,” Gray said. “We talked about how he used to practice with some of the people I still work with today.

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Secretary Wayne Williams: making inroads on transportation

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, at Gov. John Hickenlooper's State of the State address on the House floor Thursday. To Williams' left is Robin Pringle, the governor's fiancé and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. On his right is state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Williams stood and applauded when the governor said the state needs new money for transportation. (Photo by Evan Semón/Special to Secretary of State)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, at Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State address on the House floor Thursday. To Williams’ left is Robin Pringle, the governor’s fiancé and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. On his right is state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Williams stood and applauded when the governor said the state needs new money for transportation. (Photo by Evan Semón/Special to Secretary of State)

By Lynn Bartels and Keara Brosnan

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ name is linked with elections but the Colorado Springs Republican’s expertise also includes transportation, which is obvious when he’s out and about.

At the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night, Williams reminisced with Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat. They were county commissioners when they served together on the Colorado State Transportation Advisory Committee. The same happened at a recent breakfast meeting with county clerks when Williams ran into  Tim Harris, the former chief engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“A fun thing about being SOS,” Williams said, “is I get to drive on a lot of the roads that I helped to get funding for.”

His knowledge on transportation came in handy Thursday when Gov. John Hickenlooper addressed the issue during his State of the State speech.

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