First Person of Color Elected as Chair of History Colorado’s Board of Directors
DENVER — October 6, 2023 — History Colorado is breaking new ground with the recent election of Penfield Tate III as the Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors. Tate, who has served on History Colorado’s Board of Directors since 2020, is the first person of color to serve as Chair of the Board in the 144 year history of the organization and will be joined by a trio of new members who have been appointed by Governor Jared Polis.
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Tate brings experience in public finance and municipal law from his time working in government, and as an advisor to government, to the Chair position. Additionally, Tate’s professional career has fostered wide-ranging expertise in 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.
As a government official, Tate was elected to both the Colorado Senate (2000-2003) and House of Representatives (1996-2000) and 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.
Tate also worked as an aide to former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, where he represented the mayor's office on issues involving airport finance, business and economic development, and housing development and has received multiple honors and awards including:
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s 2005 Outstanding Leadership Award
Colorado State University Outstanding Alumnus
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.
“Penfield’s range of experiences and his dedication to public service are exactly what History Colorado needs as we move forward in telling a more complete history of the Centennial State,” said Dawn DiPrince, President/CEO & State Historic Preservation Officer of History Colorado. “He is an incredible leader who has already distinguished himself in both the professional and political sectors and will push History Colorado to break new ground in what museums can be in the modern world. His unique perspective will further our dedication to engaging with, and telling the histories of, the diverse communities we serve.”
Promoting efforts to tell a more complete history of the Centennial State is vital to Tate, who hopes to not only increase representation in History Colorado exhibitions and collection but also through the diversity of the institution’s staff.
“All Coloradans should be able to not only see their stories explored in the halls of History Colorado’s museums and programs but also see themselves represented in the staff that is doing this vital work,” Tate said. “Recent board chairs, particularly former chairwomen Tamra Ward, have worked hard to move the organization forward. She opened the door for me as the first person of color to hold this position and I intend to continue to push the organization forward and show that while progress might be slow coming, it cannot be stopped.”
In addition to the reappointment of Tate, Brad Clark, Kayla Garcia, and Kate Siegel Shimko have all been appointed to History Colorado’s Board of Directors. These new and returning board members will join Nancy Chisholm (vice chair), Tamra J. Ward (immediate past chair), Cathey McClain Finlon (chair emeritus), Donna Lynne, Ph.D, Aaron Abeyta, Richard Benenson, Carlos Martinez, Zebulon Miracle, and Jennifer “Kim” MacDonnell.
This distinguished group will work in collaboration with Tate and History Colorado to ensure the institution is meeting the needs of an evolving world.
“The work of History Colorado is vital in this day and age where parts of our country have decided that truth and facts are relative,” Tate said. “They say that history is written by the winners and those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. Statements like these highlight how vital it is for History Colorado to help Coloradans understand where we came from, including exploring difficult chapters of our past, so we can decide where we want to go as a state.”
About the New Members Brad Clark is the president & CEO at the Gill Foundation, who leads the foundation in executing the vision of Tim Gill and the board by prioritizing, implementing, and measuring its work and grant-making. Clark joined the foundation in 2015 as the vice president of partnerships and moved into his current role in January 2018. Clark also serves on the board of directors at Project Angel Heart. Clark began his career in Iowa, where he served as campaign director of One Iowa and executive director of Iowa Safe Schools. At One Iowa, he led the state’s successful marriage equality campaign. At Iowa Safe Schools, he led a coalition to help pass a comprehensive safe schools law and civil rights law to protect LGBTQ Iowans from discrimination. In addition, Clark developed One Colorado as its first executive director. Under his leadership, One Colorado built a coalition of more than one million Coloradans to pass a civil unions law, passed a comprehensive anti-bullying law to help ensure more than 150,000 students can access a gay-straight alliance, and added protections for transgender Coloradans to access health insurance.
Kayla Garcia is the President and CEO of Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, a $3.2 million dollar organization that serves nearly 2,000 girls annually with a mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Garcia brings more than ten years of experience in the nonprofit, business and philanthropic community to History Colorado’s Board of Directors. Prior to joining Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, Garcia served as the director of community affairs at Molson Coors Beverage Company where she led community partnership and investment strategy for Colorado and social impact programs for North America. Prior to this, Garcia served in leadership roles at Mile High United Way and Denver Inner City Parish. Committed to serving the Denver Metro community and ensuring all Coloradans have the opportunity to thrive, Garcia has served on various boards in the community and currently serves on the board of directors for Denver Leadership Foundation, Downtown Denver Partnership and sits on the President’s Community Cabinet for Metro State University. In 2023, Garcia was named an “Outstanding Woman in Business” by the Denver Business Journal. She has been recognized by Denver Business Journal as one of its “40 Under 40” and by Colorado Business Magazine as one of “Colorado’s Top 25 Influential Young Professionals.” She is a graduate of Colorado State University and has a certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business. Kayla is from Colorado and resides in Denver with her husband, Joseph and two year old son, Teddy.
Kate Siegel Shimko has spent her career working in politics and government. Shimko began her career working for now Senator John Hickenlooper doing fundraising and helping plan his first Inauguration as Governor. She went on to have a successful career in fundraising as Governor Jared Polis' National Finance Director and ultimately operated her own political consulting firm. During her political fundraising career, Shimko consulted on and raised for federal, state and local races nationwide. When Governor Polis became the Governor, he asked Shimko to join his senior leadership team as the Director of Boards and Commissions. In that role she increased racial, age, and geographic diversity on the more than 320 Governor-appointed Boards and Commissions in the state. In November 2022, Shimko began her current role as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Community Engagement at Colorado State University System (CSUS). At CSUS, she works on Government and community engagement for CSU Pueblo, CSU Global, SPUR and CSU Fort Collins. Shimko is a second-generation Coloradan, and lives in Lafayette with her husband, two young kids and their dog Mikey.
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 144-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and other access to archaeology and historic preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is one of the nation’s largest state funded preservation programs of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. Additionally, the offices of the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Officer are part of History Colorado.
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 10 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. #HistoryColorado