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New Fiscal Year Brings New CJI Board Members

By Joshua Anderson, CJI Executive Director

The CJI board and staff closed the books on fiscal year 2021 and welcomed our largest incoming class of Board Members at our annual meeting.

  • Kristen Blessman, Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, CEO and President since 2017. 
  • Celia Dietrich, CEO and founder of Deitrich Partners, a business management and advisory firm. 
  • Bob Manzi,  CFO of Clarity Media Group, Inc. including both the Colorado Springs and Denver Gazettes among other publications. 
  • Chris Oltyan, CEO of Compliable for the past five years, Chris is an entrepreneur/business professional who has started several firms.
  • Chris Reeves, Waltz & Reeves Law Firm partner since 2012, and he’s practiced law in Denver since 2008.
  • Bill Scarpato, Assistant US Attorney for the Civil Division, Bill has been the chair of the Young Professionals Committee for the past year and involved with CJI for over three years.
  • Deb Suniga, Deputy Equity COVID Task Force Director in Greeley for the State of Colorado.
  • Judge Elizabeth Weishaupl, A member of CJI since 2008, she is a District Judge in the 18th Judicial District.
  • Heidi Williams, Director of Opioid Response in the Colorado Attorney General’s office.  

The staff honored Ellie Greenberg and Andrew Laing as this year’s Larry DeMuth Volunteer of the Year Awardees.

Additionally, outgoing Board Chair Peter Koclanes shared with everyone some of the accomplishments achieved in FY20-21 as the Colorado Judicial Institute navigated the narrows of COVID-19.

Judicial Excellence Awards, October 7, 2020 (virtual success) – raised $90K as we honored three Colorado Jurists – District Judge Larry Schwartz (10th), Denver County Judge Theresa Spahn (2nd), and Magistrate Jami Vigil from El Paso County (4th).

Endowment for the Enrichment of the Colorado Judicial System – Relaunched, developed guidelines for maintaining/growing annually and raised over $12K with the support of the Larry DeMuth Endowment.

Growth of Young Professionals Committee/New Leadership – Bill Scarpato assumed the role of chairing this committee and they added two attorneys and three other young professionals (a doctor, professor and finance professional).

Our Courts Activities – surrounding the election of 2020, the Our Courts program conducted numerous trainings in the legal and business community plus at schools throughout the state. They also produced several varying length PSAs which were run prior to the election to inform voters about the judicial retention elections and our process in Colorado.

Major Donor Reception – we held our first virtual wine tasting in February and over 30 people attended and learned more from local sommeliers.

Growth of CJI Board of Directors – Thanks to our tenacious Nominating Committee, CJI is pleased to announce the addition of nine new board members (more than half are non-attorneys which will help us to branch out to a wide array of communities and bring new perspectives to the board of directors).

Two Successful CLEs Conducted – CJI was fortunate enough to host two virtual CLEs with both Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Harris and her career coaching team in February, plus the entire group of our esteemed Colorado Supreme Court Justices, in September, 2020.

Implementation of New Membership and Breakfast – This year marks the time when CJI has returned to our CJI New Member Breakfast. Not since 2013 have we held a breakfast event to engage potential new members and expound on the benefits that CJI offers the larger community. We will be hosting this event, thanks to the efforts of our committee led by Don Samuels, in-person at Cheesman Park on June 8th with remarks by both Chief Justice Brian Boatright and Attorney General Phil Weiser. The focus of this event is to educate and recruit members of the business and non-legal community on the importance of our judiciary.

Diversity on the Bench Initiative and building collaborations across the state – Key members of CJI have been involved in this critically important initiative, thanks to the visionary efforts of CJI board member and retired Denver County Court Judge Gary Jackson. Already into this initiative for the past two years, we have already seen a marked change in the makeup of our courts’ diversity. Some figures that represent this change include (note: this doesn’t include Denver County Court, magistrates or water court):

  • The growth of overall African American Judges in Colorado from 4 to 9 since 2019
  • The growth of overall Latinx Judges in Colorado from 27 to 32 since 2019

Meet CJI Board Member Colin Purdy

By Joshua Anderson, CJI Executive Director

Colin Purdy joined the CJI board in the spring of 2019. Originally from Michigan, he went to undergrad at Michigan State University. After meeting his wife during their service with the Peace Corps in Ukraine, they moved to Colorado to start their family. While working on his Master's degree at DU, Colin began his career at the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He has worked there since 2007 and manages the court's Criminal Justice Act program. This program that he administers enables Colin to provide attorney support/representation to criminal defendants (similar to our public defenders in county/district courts in Colorado) when the Federal Public Defender is unable (or has a conflict of interest in a case). He currently works with over 30 local attorneys in this effort. CJI's mission is important to Colin because, having worked at the federal judiciary since 2007, he has seen firsthand the benefits of a judiciary that doesn't require voters to elect their judges (as it does in other states around our country). Much like the federal bench where he works, our Colorado Judicial System appoints our judges outside of the re-election process. This maintains the distinct advantage of keeping partisan politics out of our third branch of government. In addition to CJI, Colin also has volunteer experience working on the Adams 12 Five Star Schools' District Accountability Committee. He is a former court-appointed special advocate for CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties. Colin indicated his strong desire for CJI to further develop the Diversity on the Bench Initiative as our work diversifying the bench in Colorado is very important to him. In his spare time, Colin enjoys trail running, playing guitar, bagging Colorado's 14ers, and spending time with his children, Amelia (13) and Ethan (8). Finally, this June, he just finished a personal achievement, completing the Happy Camper, Ultra Marathon 50 miler at Standley Lake.

CJI welcomes the submission of guest articles directly related to our mission and activities.  Upon careful review by CJI officers and staff, submissions may be published in the newsletter.  Questions about submitting articles for the CJI newsletter should be directed to the CJI office via email or phone at 303-766-7501.

CJI Newsletters

New at CJI: The Judicial Excellence for Colorado Dinner/Welcome CJI's New Board Members
New at CJI: Nominate an Outstanding Judicial Officer/Save the Date: CJI's Justice for All Membership Breakfast
New at CJI: Straight Talk with a Judge CLE Next Week/Meet New CJI Board Member Jane Jackson
New at CJI: Don't Forget CJI on Colorado Gives Day/CJI's Diversity on the Bench Initiative
New at CJI: CJI Launches Judicial Education Endowment/Join the CJI Board
New at CJI: CJI's Judicial Excellence Awards/Don't Forget to Vote your Judges
New at CJI: 2020 Straight Talk with Justices Rescheduled/Join CJI in Honoring Colorado's Judges Oct. 7th
New at CJI: Looking at Judicial Diversity/ 2020 Annual Meeting
New at CJI: Register for the 2020 Straight Talk with Justices/Nominate an Outstanding Judge
New at CJI: Extended Deadline on Judicial Excellence Awards/Giving Tuesday Now
New at CJI: CO Court of Appeals Judge on Judicial Performance Evaluations/Welcome CJI's New Treasurer/Denver's 2020 Straight Talk with Judges
New At CJI: Co Gives Day/Straight Talk with Judge Boulder/Co Judicial Merit Selection System
New at CJI: Straight Talk with Judges Debuts in Boulder; CJI Celebrates an Outstanding Judiciary
New at CJI: Judicial Excellence for Colorado Dinner
New at CJI: 2018 Judicial Excellence for Colorado Nominees Announced
New at CJI: CJI Funds Legal Resource Day
New at CJI: 2017 Judicial Excellence for Colorado Keynote Speaker Lauds Colorado Courts
New at CJI: CJI Supports CCE Conference/Judicial Excellence Dinner Honors Four Colorado Judges for 2017
New at CJI: CJI Announces 2017 Judicial Excellence Awards Honorees and New JPE Legislation
New at CJI: Judge Miller Honored with Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award/Judicial Excellence Dinner Announces Key Note Speaker
New at CJI: Judicial Excellence Nominees Announced and CJI Welcomes New Board Members
New at CJI: Education Grants for Pro Se Litigant Training/Nominations Open for Judicial Excellence Awards
Colorado Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Judicial Merit Selection
Support CJI on Colorado Give Day, December 6
CJI Supports Amendment 71
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