Press Release

History Colorado Welcomes New Members to Board of Directors

Denver, Colo. (July 27, 2020) — History Colorado welcomes three new members to its Board of Directors this month.

Press Contact:
John Eding, Manager of Communications and PR
303-866-3670 |

Luis Benitez, Mary Sullivan, and Penfield W. Tate III were appointed by Governor Jared Polis on July 1. Marco Abarca was also reappointed. Their terms expire July 1, 2023. The new members join Abarca and fellow members Cathey McClain Finlon (chair), Tamra J. Ward (vice chair), Robert E. Musgraves (Immediate Past Chair), Cathy Carpenter Dea, Donna Lynne, Ph.D., Ellen S. Roberts, Alan Bruce Salazar, Stephen F. Sturm, and Ann Alexander Walker. Bios for all board members are available at

History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that serves more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 141-year-old institution that operates Colorado’s oldest museum, nine additional museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. The SHF currently administers more than 280 grants worth approximately $24 million in active distributions across the state. More than 70% of its grants are currently allocated in rural areas of Colorado.

“We are grateful to Governor Polis for appointing these outstanding members,” said Steve Turner, AIA, executive director and State Historic Preservation Officer. “With their new strengths added to our board’s thriving leadership, History Colorado is poised to withstand the current crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge as a stronger, more agile organization than ever, in powerful service to all Coloradans.”

About the New Members

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.

Mary Sullivan 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 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 awards 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.

About History Colorado
History Colorado’s eight museums around the state were among the first cultural institutions in Colorado to reopen to visitors under new safety protocols. The swift return to in-person service in June followed an agile reorganization in response to COVID-19 that catalyzed new avenues for youth education, full-length episodes of its podcasts, a weekly digest with over 28,000 subscribers, and one of the nation’s most comprehensive collecting initiatives: a partnership with dozens of schools, communities, and more than 40 newsrooms called History in the Making. The State Historical Fund successfully distributed more than $1 million in grant dollars to community projects across the state this spring and continues its grant funding on schedule.

History Colorado’s outlets are publishing Black voices and confronting entrenched racism in historic preservation. It has employed artists of color to create new works that will be added to Colorado’s collection, and opened Women Behaving Badly by Black artist Adri Norris on July 23. Within the last year History Colorado has added curators of Latino Heritage and LGBTQ+ History to its staff, and added a full-time position to its Museum of Memory team, which works proactively to incorporate underserved communities and voices into its contemporary collecting initiative and other efforts. Its statement and historical essay on civil unrest have been widely shared by major news outlets.

History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and nine other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.