In the summer of 2006, I stepped on stage and took the mic at Club Vinyl. I welcomed a big crowd of people who probably weren’t quite sure why they were spending their afternoon at a Denver nightclub. Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff joined me on stage. At that moment, they were probably having serious doubts about their staff’s judgement in adding this stop to their schedules.
The event was the kickoff party for a newly-minted organization, whose purpose was to “reinvent politics for a new generation.” We called it New Era Colorado.
I don’t remember what I said on stage that day. But I do know that I had no idea what the next ten years of my life were about to look like.
In those early days, we took a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to getting New Era off the ground. Budgeting, fundraising, and management structures were learned via some serious “on the job training.” I was 22 years old. Managed by a board of 22-year-olds. I kept my tie hanging in my closet pre-tied out of fear of not remembering how to do it next time.
Looking back, serving as the Executive Director for New Era has been both the hardest and most meaningful thing I’ve ever done. I feel enormously lucky to have had the opportunity to pour my heart into something like this.
I told myself over the past few years that as soon as I felt like New Era was in a place where it could be handed off, then I would do that so someone else can shepherd the organization into its next ten years. Thanks to the incredibly talented and dedicated staff team, our board of directors, and our generous supporters, I feel that now is that time.
So, here goes nothing: I’m writing to you today to announce that I’ll be transitioning out of my current role at New Era in the spring of next year. This week, the Board of Directors will be kicking off a comprehensive hiring process to find New Era’s next Executive Director.
New Era’s next Executive Director will be inheriting an organization with a track record of always striving to beat its “best”–and a roadmap of how to continue to be one of the most innovative, impactful and fun organizations in the country. Over the past several months, the board and staff have been investing considerable time into creating a strategic plan for New Era’s future. The intention isn’t to write a step-by-step plan, but to articulate a “North Star” for our work–to solidify the values and truths that have been core to our organization’s success–and to provide enough direction for our next generation of leaders to blaze a trail of even more impact.
I don’t know exactly what’s in store for New Era’s next decade, but I do know that it will continue to be an organization that thinks big and takes risks. It will continue to break down the barriers which prevent young people from shaping their own future. It will continue to invite new voices into the political process to be a force for a more fair, just, and sustainable world. And, of course, it will continue mobilizing a generation that will solve the problems nobody else can.
But, I’m not going anywhere just yet. I’ll still be here for several more months and there’s a lot to do to make sure New Era runs the biggest and best statewide young voter engagement program next year. And when I do transition out, I will remain involved in whatever capacity is most helpful.
In the meantime, thank you for helping us “make it.” It’s been an incredible honor. For now, let’s get back to work. There’s more to be done.