Press Release

History Colorado Welcomes New Governor-Appointed Members to Board of Directors

Governor Polis brings new strengths to the board of the state historical society to bolster rising levels of community service and participation throughout Colorado.

EN ESPAÑOL | DENVER — Jan. 20, 2022 — History Colorado welcomes two new members to its 13-seat Board of Directors as it begins a promising new year.

John Eding, Communications & PR Manager
303-866-3670 |

Richard Benenson and Carlos Martinez were appointed by Governor Jared Polis on December 20, 2021. Cathey McClain Finlon, Donna Lynne, and Board Chair Tamra Ward were also reappointed. Their terms expire July 1, 2024. As it prepares for its first meeting of 2022, History Colorado’s board bids fond farewell to departing members Cathy Carpenter Dea, Stephen F. Sturm, and Ann Alexander Walker.

The previous year was important for History Colorado’s expanding role as a resource for constructive civic dialogue. After becoming the nation’s first state history museum to display a monument toppled during 2020’s civil unrest with new and inclusive interpretation, it digitized and shared 1920s-era KKK ledgers from Denver with comprehensive context that prompted numerous conversations about the legacy of racism in Colorado. It also created and hosted more than 25 new exhibitions and installations statewide—including the New York Timeslauded Unsilenced: Indigenous Enslavement in Southern Colorado—and in 2022 plans to open the only museum exhibition in the U.S. to share the Sand Creek Massacre’s history from the viewpoint of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal members.

“We are always grateful for our Board's wisdom and expertise which enhance our 142-year-old organization,” said Dawn DiPrince, History Colorado’s Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer. “We are eager to welcome our new  dynamic Board members to this esteemed team.”

About the New Members

Richard 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.

Carlos Martinez is 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.

Benenson and Martinez join fellow members Marco Antonio Abarca, Luis Benitez, Cathey McClain Finlon (Chair Emeritus), Donna Lynne, Robert E. Musgraves (Past Chair), Ellen S. Roberts (Vice Chair), Alan Bruce Salazar, Mary Sullivan, Penfield W. Tate III, and Tamra Ward (Chair). Bios for all board members are available at

Departing Members

Ann Walker served more than 15 years on History Colorado’s board, including two years as chair from 2015 to 2017. Her legacy in the realm of historic preservation, where she was crucial in building the History Colorado State Historical Fund into the nation’s largest statewide preservation grants program, will continue to fortify and shape History Colorado for decades to come. Walker worked to ensure preservation has made an economic impact in all 64 Colorado counties and that rural Colorado is always included in the economic and social benefits of preservation. She continues to build pathways for young people to carry on the preservation of our Colorado communities, heritage sites, and landscapes.

Cathy Carpenter Dea leaves the board after five years of service representing the state’s Western Slope. She departs on a high note, having supported The Power of Horses—currently on view at the History Colorado Center through May 9—which is made possible in part by Dea Family Foundation. Her service to History Colorado was shaped by her passion for rural Colorado, horses and agriculture, and the beauty of Colorado's western heritage. Carpenter Dea also led crucial fiscal endeavors with her extensive expertise on finance and bonds. The seat she held will be filled by an appointee to be selected by Governor Polis later this year.

Stephen F. Sturm contributed to a number of important History Colorado initiatives since joining the board in 2018. He was the lead visionary behind History Colorado’s podcast, “Lost Highways: Dispatches from the Shadows of the Rocky Mountains”, which is now in its third season and enjoys a loyal following. He also served as the Vice Chair of the board’s Finance Committee.

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 eleven 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. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state.

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 ten 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.