Long hours at the legislature

Last night I had my first opportunity to testify before a committee at the state legislature. I arrived when the committee started, at 1:30 p.m., knowing full well that they had 12 bills to consider.

The committee was focused on credits and exemptions that the state is eliminating or capping. My Chamber public affairs team warned me that it could be a while before it was my turn to testify.

The hearing room was standing room only, and another hundred people were in the lobby waiting their turn to testify on one bill or another.

I testified at 1:30 a.m. this morning – twelve hours after the committee started.

Here’s my question. I have been to, and frankly run, meetings where the topics were critical. Is there ever any reason for a committee hearing to last twelve hours? What kind of critical thinking is happening by legislators and testifiers when they have been sitting in a hearing room for twelve hours? We were all emotionally and physically exhausted, hungry and dehydrated. Who really functions well under those conditions? Next time, I am bringing snacks.


Great things are cooking at Excelsior

Yesterday, I had the chance to attend a tea party at Excelsior Youth Center. Excelsior is a place where young women from across the country go, or are sent, when they have made a series of poor choices. Many of these girls come from deeply troubled backgrounds or broken families and are on a path that may end up in prison. At Excelsior, these girls have the opportunity to reclaim their dreams, or create new ones, and divert their current road to one of achievement.

I worked at Excelsior more than 20 years ago and, today, as then, I was tremendously moved by the strength and courage of these girls and impressed by their willingness to start over. The Culinary Arts program hosted our group, and the treats they provided were wonderful. Girls in this program are learning how to run a commercial kitchen, how to prepare all kinds of meals and how to work collaboratively in a sometimes stressful environment. Testimonials were given by two participants in the program and, in spite of their evident nervousness and embarrassment, their commitment to themselves and their future was truly inspiring and beautifully delivered.

This tea was a good reminder that we can choose whether to allow obstacles in our path hinder our progress—or strengthen our resolve.


And they’re off!

I admit it, I love the political dances going on in Colorado right now.

The Denver Metro Chamber doesn’t take positions on candidate campaigns so I have the luxury of watching the expert political maneuverings in the senate and governor races and enjoying the exchange of political and policy views from both sides of the aisle.

I am also enjoying that I personally have made the decision to not get involved in the campaigns, as the Chamber works closely with elected officials regardless of their political leanings…so no checks from me this year!

When Governor Ritter announced he would not be running for office, I received a flurry of phone calls about whether the mayor would enter the race. It was great to be able to say “I don’t know” and “that’s not my job anymore”.

I wish all the candidates well and hope that the races are about good public policy.

Let the games begin!

- Kelly Brough


Let us work together during the 2010 legislative session

The General Assembly of Colorado opened today and the positioning is already beginning. A quote from Senate president Brandon Shaffer ‘s opening day speech” For their sake, we must put aside partisanship and embrace cooperation.

This is not a time to enlarge the divide between Republican and Democrat. It is a time to provide for the prosperity of our people.

From Senate minority leader Josh Penry’s opening day speech “…let’s not allow legitimate policy differences on the budget and other critical issues to undermine our willingness to work together…”

Those are positions I can live with and celebrate. I am looking forward to all of us working together to move Colorado forward.

-Kelly Brough


A Western state of mind

I am thinking about the new year and all the fun and adventures that come with the start of 2010.

On January 8, we have Boots n’ Business, and it will be my first time attending as CEO. Looks like I will be riding into the stadium on the stagecoach instead of on a horse and, in spite of my Montana roots, that suits me just fine. It’s such a terrific event, and I am looking forward to it for a number of reasons, especially because it is the signal for the National Western Stock Show to begin.

The Stock Show is a significant part of the Denver Metro Chamber’s history. We were part of the committee that brought it here more than 100 years ago and, over time, our partnership has truly highlighted the important role agriculture plays in the businesses community of the western United States.

Anyway, the Stock Show got me thinking about how important our western heritage is to our methods of doing business in Denver. It’s remarkable to me that, if you show up, work hard and listen closely, you can be a success in Denver. You don’t have to have a pedigree or a lot of college degrees—you just have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and dive in.

Even though we aren’t raising barns or herding our neighbor’s cattle, we still value working together and succeeding together.

It’s good to be a westerner.

-Kelly Brough