I can remember clearly the first time I met Leslie Herod. We were both appointees for the newly elected Governor Bill Ritter. The week following his Inauguration, I was standing in the south atrium area just outside the Governor’s Office when she “sashayed” up to me with that big smile and said, “I know who you are; I’m Leslie Herod. Can we grab coffee and chat?” How in the world do you say no to that? Well, I have called her my little sister ever since. Today, that same confidence and eagerness to serve is why I think she makes perfect sense for today’s State Legislature.

Leslie has an inspiring personal story

When you first meet Leslie, you immediately get the impression she knows who she is and where she is going. She gets that from her Momma! It’s clear to me that her upbringing has informed who she is. Her mother, an OB/GYN for the U.S. Army, was often one of the highest-ranking African-American females on base, so you know she knows a little something about knocking down barriers and achieving in the face of adversity. Leslie certainly inherited that from her.

Leslie has the experience

Leslie has a rich public policy resume that includes working with some of the state’s most dedicated and thoughtful leaders, including former Speaker Andrew Romanoff, former Majority Leader Alice Madden, former House District 8 Representative Rosemary Marshall and former State Treasurer and Current Denver Deputy Mayor/CFO Cary Kennedy. In addition, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Bill Ritter, specializing in social services, criminal justice, mental health, specific issues related to senior citizens, and anti-poverty issues.

I’ve watched her glean from these strong leaders the necessary skills for bringing diverse groups and individuals together, which she will use to solve problems in the legislature.

Leslie is a doer

After leaving government service, Leslie worked with the Gill Foundation where she led philanthropic initiatives focusing on LGBT equality and alliance-building in communities of color. She’s a co-founder of New Era Colorado – the state’s leading organization focused on the engagement of young people in our community, and she served as president of Colorado Black Women for Political Action. 

More recently; however, she decided to form her own small business as a way to continue to serve the community through strategic planning and community partnership consulting. Leslie serves on multiple community boards and commissions, including serving as a gubernatorial appointee to the state’s Judicial Performance Commission and as a mayoral appointee to Denver’s Cultural Affairs Commission. 

I’ve discovered that she has that burning “thing” that so many entrepreneurs have and I’m very excited to watch her apply it in the State Legislature.

We are living in an amazing time nationally and right here in Denver. A time where we’ve seen an African American occupy the highest office in the land, a time where breakthroughs in technology can be likened to something out of a futuristic Sci-Fi movie, and a time where we are seeing unimaginable wealth. But unfortunately, we are also living in a time where race is still shaping too many conversations and is still too divisive, poor education and homelessness continues to persist, and the line between law enforcement and those they are sworn to protect is becoming wider and wider.

I believe Leslie Herod is the right leader to help solve these challenges. She is proven, she’s committed, she cares, and she’s not afraid to raise her hand and say, “send me!”

There is an old story about a brave little mouse that reminds me of Leslie. The story goes…There was a very old cat that lived in a barn. His job in the barn was to catch all of the mice, and he was very good at it. As you can imagine the mice didn’t really like this; so one day they gathered to talk about what the old cat was doing to them. Each one shared their plan by which to keep out of his way. But then an old wise gray mouse spoke up and said, “Do as I say; hang a bell around the cat’s neck. When we hear it ring, we’ll know he is coming and can scamper out of his way.”  “Good,” said all of the other mice, and one ran and got a bell.

“Now,” said the old gray mouse, “which of YOU will hang this bell around the cat’s neck?” It got very quiet in that meeting, then came, “Not me; Nooooooo…Not me!” came the shouts all-together and the mice scampered away to their holes.  And things continued as they always had…

The moral of that story is that saying you’ll do something and actually DOING something is two very different things. Real leadership lies in deeds – not words. 

As you can imagine, Leslie Herod is that little mouse with the matching pumps and purse that says, “Give me the bell!”

Leslie is an amazing young community leader that I am proud to call friend. She is the right leader for the needs of today’s society. I wish there was a whole army of those just like her. I would be honored to have her represent me in the State Legislature!