DiPrince will assume the role on Sept. 1, 2021, as current Executive Director Steve Turner is retiring after 13 years at History Colorado. The choice to select DiPrince resulted from a unanimous board decision after reviewing the qualifications of more than 100 applicants. She currently serves as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer.
“Both Dawn’s heart and her head are firmly rooted in exploring and fully telling the stories of Colorado history, making her an outstanding choice to lead this valued organization into the future,” said Tamra Ward, Chair of the Search Committee and Board of Directors. “At a time when history has never felt more relevant, her dynamism, passion, demonstrated skill in community collaboration, and business acumen made her the clear choice.”
DiPrince is the first person from Southern Colorado to take on the role, and the third woman to hold the director’s position at History Colorado, following Barbara Sudler (1979–1989) and Georgianna Contiguglia (1997–2007). She now joins a list of 13 directors that date back to 1896, when William C. Ferrill, a retired lawyer, first took on the leadership role.
“Dawn brings continuity, creativity, and a purpose-driven leadership style to the Executive Director position at History Colorado,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. “We are delighted to continue the partnership with DiPrince in her new role.”
DiPrince started working for History Colorado in 2012 and has held various positions throughout her tenure, beginning her career with the organization as the assistant director at El Pueblo History Museum and then director at the Pueblo museum. She later took on a senior management role for all of History Colorado’s community museums, which have locations throughout the state of Colorado. DiPrince moved to Denver in 2019 to become the organization’s Chief Operating Officer.
“I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to lead History Colorado into the future, serving both an organization and a state that I love so much,” said DiPrince. “We will continue to grow History Colorado's service to communities across the state and expand how we think about the role of history in our lives and who it includes. Every Coloradan should see themselves in our collections and stories.”
During DiPrince’s almost decade-long career with History Colorado, she revolutionized the educational program by creating a Hands-On History K–8 program that provides fifth-day interactive history education to students with four-day school weeks. She also designed the organization’s Museum of Memory program that provides pathways for community members to reclaim their collective history. One such installment of this program that just opened at the History Colorado Center is Five Points Plus: Neighborhood Memory Project. In 2017, DiPrince started the Borderlands of Southern Colorado statewide initiative that brings together powerful experiences, exhibitions, and programs by reconnecting Colorado residents to their roots.
Additionally, she was instrumental in transforming one of History Colorado’s historic house museums into the Center for Colorado Women’s History, establishing a hub for new knowledge and understanding of hidden and untold history. DiPrince’s community-serving and inclusive-history focus has resulted in big payoffs, nearly doubling revenue and visitation for the organization’s community museums within a single year. She also led the organization’s effort to secure $1.4 million in annual General Fund support for History Colorado’s community museums, and raised more than $3 million to implement educational and exhibition programs statewide.
About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 142-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 History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. The SHF currently administers more than 250 grants across Colorado, of which more than 70 percent are allocated to rural areas.
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 HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.