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.
Ellen S. Roberts (Vice Chair)
Ellen S. Roberts is an attorney in Durango, Colorado specializing in water law and an independent project consultant working on forest health and watershed protection issues in Southwest Colorado. Roberts served 10 years in the Colorado General Assembly, including two years as Senate President Pro Tempore. In addition to her strong interest in Colorado history, Roberts is passionate about Colorado’s forestry, land and water as past chairwoman of the Wildfire Matters Review Committee and Water Resources Review Committee and a former seasonal park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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.
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.
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.
Cathy Carpenter Dea
Ms. Carpenter Dea is a General Partner of Five Star Energy, LLC. She is a Trustee for the Western Stock Show Association and is Past Chair and current Senior Advisory Member for the Coors Western Art Show Exhibit and Sale. She served on the 30-person Business Plan Committee for Denver’s new National Western Center. She worked in the securities industry for over 20 years specializing in public finance, institutional bond sales, and branch management with positions at Boettcher & Company, George K. Baum, and Smith Barney. Ms. Carpenter Dea is a CSU alumnae and lifetime horse lover. As an ambassador to CSU’s equine programs, she envisioned and executive produced the documentary Horse Sense, showcasing CSU’s world-renowned equine programs and their efforts to advance equine and human health while celebrating the ancient connection between humans and horses. Carpenter Dea also worked closely with Rocky Mountain PBS on the production of the 2016 Emmy-nominated film History of the National Western Stock Show.
Donna Lynne Ph. D.
Donna Lynne, Ph. D., is the Chief Operating Officer of Columbia University Medical Center and the CEO of Columbia Doctors, an 1800 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.
Robert E. Musgraves (Past Chair)
Mr. Musgraves is the past President & Chief Operating Officer (North America) for Titanium Metals Corporation, one of the world’s largest suppliers of titanium and titanium metal parts. He was previously a partner in the Denver office of Kirkland & Ellis, an international law firm. His other board service includes Historic Denver, Inc., Colorado Preservation, Inc., and HistoriCorps, along with the boards of several small, privately held companies. Mr. Musgraves is a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law.
Mr. Salazar is Chief of Staff for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and was Chief Strategy Officer/Director of Policy, Research and Legislative Affairs for Governor Hickenlooper. For the governor he oversaw overall strategic planning and direction; managed policy and legislative staff; established a policy agenda and negotiated legislative compromises with Republican and Democratic legislators; and served as a senior advisor on matters of policy, politics, and communications. A fifth-generation Coloradan, Salazar has 30+ years of experience on the staffs of former U.S. Sens. Gary Hart, Tim Wirth, and Mark Udall and former Gov. Roy Romer, and senior roles in the campaigns of President Bill Clinton and candidate Hillary Clinton. Salazar graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law, Boulder.
Stephen F. Sturm
Stephen F. Sturm is managing director of Sturm Group, Inc. and co-managing director of the Sturm Family Foundation. In addition to his work in real estate and investment management, Sturm has significant nonprofit, fundraising and grant management experience through his work with the Sturm Family Foundation and various board and committee positions at the University of Denver and other local nonprofits. A lifelong history lover, Sturm is also a founding member of the advisory committee for History Colorado’s upcoming podcast series.
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.
Penfield W. Tate III
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.
Ann Alexander Walker (Past Chair)
Mrs. Walker is a consultant working in the areas of historic preservation, public lands, heritage education and tourism outreach and policy. Ann previously served as the State Historic Preservation Officer for the State of Arizona. She is an appointee to the State Historic Preservation Review Board for Colorado and was previously a Presidential appointee to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. She has been honored by numerous organizations for her work in the field of historic preservation. Her other board service includes the University of Colorado’s Center for the American West and the National Western Stock Show Association, as well as serving on the advisory board for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mrs.Walker is a graduate of Scripps College and the University of Vermont.
Steve Turner, AIA
Executive Director Email or 303-866-2776
Steve is History Colorado’s executive director and the State Historic Preservation Officer. He’s been a part of the organization since 2008 and has been a steadfast leader throughout his career at History Colorado, during which he has led the State Historical Fund and the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation before being named executive director. Believing that historic preservation is one of the strongest ways to honor Colorado’s diverse past, he helped administer more than $91 million in preservation grants over his tenure. He also helped lead the effort to expand the state’s preservation tax credit, which is instrumental in preserving historic assets across the state.
Steve’s passion for historic preservation and professional experience spans several decades and his work includes local, national, and international projects. He has worked as a preservation planner for both the U.S. International Council on Monuments and Sites and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. He has worked for the National Park Service, Historic Denver Inc., and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in the Georgia Main Street Program. Steve earned dual master’s degrees in urban and regional planning and architecture from the University of Illinois.