History Colorado is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and an agency of the State of Colorado under the Department of Higher Education governed by a board of directors.
Below are brief biographies of the members appointed by the Governor to the Board of Directors of History Colorado following the passage of SB 15-225
Board of Directors
Tamra J. Ward (Chair)
Ms. Ward is one of three principals of Taloma Partners, a full-service public affairs firm in Denver, and holds nearly 30 years of experience in communications, operational leadership, and local, state, and federal government affairs. She has served as the Chief External Relations Officer at the Denver Zoo. Ward was previously President & CEO of Colorado Concern, a statewide business advocacy organization. Her other past and present board service includes Mile High United Way, Komen Foundation of Colorado, ARC Thrift Stores, the State Board for Community Colleges & Occupational Education, and the Porter Adventist Hospital Foundation. Ms. Ward is a graduate of Baylor University.
Penfield W. Tate III (Vice Chair)
Penfield W. Tate III is experienced in public finance and municipal law, as someone who has worked in government and as an advisor to government. He has wide-ranging experience representing public entities, lenders and underwriters engaged in the process of financing essential public improvements and advising local and state governments in the exercise of their administrative responsibilities. In government, Penfield has served in both the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives. He has served as executive director of the Department of Administration for former Governor Roy Romer, as well as on both the State of Colorado Banking Board and the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority board. As an aide to former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, Pen represented the mayor's office on issues involving airport finance, business and economic development, and housing development. Penfield is the recipient of multiple honors and awards including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s 2005 Outstanding Leadership Award, Colorado State University Outstanding Alumnus, and award from the Colorado Social Legislation Committee, Anti-Defamation League of Denver, Colorado Education Association, Denver Women’s Commission, and the Colorado Federation of Public Employees. He was one of the American Diabetes Association’s 2004 Fathers of the Year.
Donna Lynne Ph. D. (Chair, Finance Committee)
Donna Lynne, DrPH, was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority effective September 2022. Denver Health has been part of the Colorado community for over 160 years and provides a multitude of ambulatory, emergency and acute services, including school based health care in Denver schools. Prior to September 2022, she was the Chief Operating Officer of Columbia University Medical Center and the CEO of Columbia Doctors, a 2600 faculty practice organization. Until 2019, she was Colorado’s 49th Lieutenant Governor and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to assuming her roles in Colorado state government, Dr. Lynne served as the executive vice president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and as group president responsible for its Colorado, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii regions - overseeing an $8 billion budget, 14 million members and 16,000 employees. She participated in numerous boards and commissions during her time at Kaiser Permanente, including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Public Schools Foundation Board and many others.
Marco Antonio Abarca
Mr. Abarca is the President & Owner of Ready Foods, Inc., a family-owned Denver custom food processor and purveyor of food products to restaurants nationwide. Marco grew up in North Denver and is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Latino Leadership Institute. He previously served as a member of the board of Latinos for Education Reform, KIPP Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Enterprise Fund, and Historic Denver, Inc.
Aaron A. Abeyta is a lifelong resident of Colorado and the author of five collections of poetry and one novel. For his book, colcha, Abeyta received an American Book Award and the Colorado Book Award. In addition, his novel, Rise, Do Not be Afraid, was a finalist for the 2007 Colorado Book Award and El Premio Aztlan. Abeyta was awarded a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship for poetry, and he is the former Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope and was a finalist for the 2019 Colorado Poet Laureate. Abeyta is also a recipient of a Governor’s Creative Leadership Award for 2017. Aaron has over 100 publications including ‘Wildness, Relations of People and Place ‘An Introduction to Poetry, 10th ed.,' Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, & Drama, 8th ed.' ‘Conversations in American Literature: Language, Rhetoric, & Culture’ ‘The Leopold Outlook’ ‘Colorado Central Magazine’ ‘The High Country News’ and numerous other anthologies and journals.
Richard B. Benenson
Rich Benenson is a managing partner of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, one of the nation’s top law and policy firms. He works closely with clients, attorneys, policy advisors, staff and industry and community leaders to drive the firm’s strategic growth and development. Before transitioning to full-time executive leadership, Benenson was a senior litigator and former Litigation Department chair where he played a leading role in headline and groundbreaking cases defending companies in complex litigation, antitrust, consumer protection, class actions and regulatory matters. He embodies Brownstein’s giving back value by serving on the board of directors for a number of organizations shaping Denver’s future. Benenson is a history buff, and since moving to Denver with his wife in 2000, he has been passionate about learning and sharing Colorado’s history.
Luis Benitez is the Vice President for government affairs and global impact at the VF Corporation, a $23 billion holding company that includes some of the outdoor industry’s most iconic brands. Prior to joining the VF Corporation, Mr. Benitez was appointed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to lead the newly established Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in 2015. In that role, he transformed the outdoor industry into a powerful force for economic development, conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, and public health and wellness. Under his watch, the state’s outdoor economy ballooned from $28 billion to $65 billion. Mr. Benitez spent a decade managing the well-established leadership development school, Outward Bound Professional in Colorado at the start of his career. Mr. Benitez holds a professional guide accreditation from ASEGUIM in Ecuador and an Executive MBA from the University of Denver with an emphasis certification on behavioral sciences and public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Nancy Chisholm is a senior global business leader with over 25 years of experience as an executive with Fortune 500 companies. Her broad leadership background includes General Management, as well as senior functional and operational leadership roles both domestically and internationally. Most recently, Nancy served as Interim President for her alma mater, Western Colorado University (Western). Prior to this, Nancy spent over 20 years with Tyco International, now part of Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE: JCI). She served as President of Tyco Retail Solutions, a $1.3 billion global business unit, based in Zurich, Switzerland. Prior to this Nancy served as Vice President, Human Resources for Tyco’s $9 billion ADT Security Solutions global business unit. Previously she was Vice President & General Manager of ADT’s Western Region in North America with full P&L responsibility for $1.5 billion in revenue spanning 20 states. She was appointed to and served for two terms on the Board of Trustees for Western. She is currently Chair of their Elevate Western Campaign, a comprehensive fundraising campaign which is well on its way to its $80 million goal. Nancy graduated from Western with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, and from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Management’s Executive Leadership Program.
Cathey McClain Finlon (Chair Emeritus)
Ms. Finlon is the retired owner and Chief Executive Officer of McClain Finlon, a Denver advertising agency, as well as past President of the Denver Art Museum. Cathey has served as chair of the boards of Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement, and the Denver Advertising Federation. She currently chairs Denver Scholarship Foundation. Her other board service includes the Denver Art Museum, Denver Public Schools Foundation, Colorado Outward Bound, National Repertory Orchestra, Alliance for Contemporary Art, World Trade Center, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies. She has also served on the advisory boards of the University of Denver Daniels College of Business and the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future at the University of Denver. She was named to the prestigious Colorado Business Hall of Fame and has received the Del Hock Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Finlon is a graduate of the College of Wooster (Ohio) and Penn State University.
Kim MacDonnell is a Bent County Commissioner, serving in her second term. Both in her current role and in her previous experience as Executive Director of Bent County Economic Development, Kim has strongly supported of the work of preserving and interpreting Southeast Colorado’s rich history. This work includes some of Bent County’s most important sites, including the Fort Lyon campus and Boggsville Historic Site. Kim is a fifth generation Bent County resident and is dedicated to serving Bent County, the Southeast Region and the great State of Colorado. Her experiences have equipped her to be attuned to needs and to identify resources to help meet them.
Kim is active in the community, having served in leadership positions including the State Board of Human Services, El Pomar Southeast Regional Council and The Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium. Kim is the County’s representative to the Colorado Opioid Settlement Response Board for Region 19. She is the immediate past president of Las Animas Lions Club, and a founding board member of Las Animas Helping Hands, focusing on emergency needs of local families. She majored in Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Kim and her husband, Mark, have three children and four grandchildren—with number five arriving in August 2022. They live on 73 remote acres on a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River with their dogs, Hazel and South.
Carlos Martinez is a social entrepreneur and the President/CEO of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado (LCFC), a position he has held since January of 2014. He directs the LCFC’s efforts to expand philanthropy by Latinos and advance the foundation’s vision of building the civic power of Latinos in Colorado. Martinez has held numerous executive non-profit positions and led the transformation of several organizations in Colorado, California, and Massachusetts. He is on the board of the Colorado Health Foundation and was past president/board member of the Denver Public Library Commission, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, and Grant Makers Concerned for Immigrants and Refugees.
Martinez earned his BA in Business Administration and did master level studies in Behavioral Science/Gerontology, both from California State University Dominguez Hills. He lives in Denver with his husband Phil and enjoys cooking, the arts, and learning about cultures and people both past and present.
Zebulon Miracle is the Executive Director of United Way of Mesa County. Prior, he served in various curatorial positions for the Museums of Western Colorado and was the Director of the Gateway Auto Museum. Miracle currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Grand Junction-based music and leadership nonprofit MusicSpark. He's previously served on the Visit Grand Junction Advisory Board, Colorado Canyons Association, City of Grand Junction Historic Preservation Board, and Grand Junction Community Food Bank Boards of Directors. A lifelong resident of Colorado, Miracle's interest in history led him to earn undergraduate degrees at the University of Colorado at Boulder in history and anthropology and a Masters of Arts Leadership and Administration from Colorado State University. He is passionate about connecting people to the lands, stories, traditions, and cultures that surround them, frequently presenting for local organizations and local and national media.
Mary retired senior managing director in the Denver office of HFF with more than 30 years of experience in the commercial real estate and finance industry. During the course of her career, she has completed more than 50 million square feet of investment sales transactions, valued at more than $10 billion. The Denver Chapter of NAIOP awarded Mary its Outstanding Broker Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. She has received the Investment Broker of the Year award from Denver's NAIOP chapter six times—three times individually (1994, 1998 and 2002) and three times as part of a team (2003, 2007 and 2009). CREW awarded her its Woman of lnfluence Award for 2006, and she has also been recognized as a member of the Colbert Coldwell Circle, a ranking of a major brokerage firm's top 100 brokers globally. Mary is on the advisory board of Bow River Capital, a private equity firm, and serves on the board of US Bank. She has also served as a former vice president and director of the University of Colorado Real Estate Foundation. She earned a B.S. in accounting and finance from the University of Colorado.
State Historic Preservation Officer Email or 303-866-2776
Dawn DiPrince became History Colorado’s Executive Director on September 1, 2021, and was named Colorado’s State Historic Preservation Officer by Governor Jared Polis the following month. DiPrince has served in several leadership roles since joining History Colorado in 2012. She is a fourth-generation Coloradan and a champion for work that helps share the history of all communities and people in our state. Some of the largest initiatives she has led at History Colorado include Borderlands of Southern Colorado, which is a series of programs, experiences, and exhibits that center Chicano, Indigenous, and Mestizo perspectives; Bridging Borders, a teen program that empowers participants to reconnect to the stories, knowledge, and practices of their collective ancestry to form a strong sense of self and confidence; and Museum of Memory, a public history initiative that works together with Colorado residents to reanimate, center, and amplify histories that have long existed only in the margins. DiPrince served as co-chair of the Governor’s Ludlow Centennial Commemoration Commission and lead developer of the award-winning Children of Ludlow exhibit at El Pueblo History Museum.
A published author of several books on writing, DiPrince was a teaching fellow at Colorado State University-Pueblo prior to joining History Colorado and worked 15 years for an educational publishing company, where she wrote and edited supplementary books for classroom teachers. She has been recognized as the Pride of Pueblo for her political and policy work for LGBTQ rights, and received the Southern Colorado Ally award by ONE Colorado in 2019.