Women making history inspire the next generation

A Colorado lawmaker reflects on Women’s History Month

The Colorado Capitol dome is pictured on June 11, 2020. (Andy Bosselman for Colorado Newsline)

This Women’s History Month, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the women I’ve known, admired, and aspired to be. I’ve been thinking a lot about the road that was paved for me by generations of women, and what I can do to make that road even smoother for the women who will follow me.

I grew up knowing that I could be anything that I wanted to be because of the women that came before me. I knew that I could start my own law firm, I knew that I could run for office and win, and I knew that I could do all of this while maintaining what’s most important to me — my family.

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Now, little girls like my cousins get to see the first woman vice president of the United States serving her country, and hopefully, soon they’ll see the first woman president of the United States, too.

Here in Colorado, the House Democratic caucus is made up of 68% women, and I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside every one of them. Every day they come to work under the gold dome with the goal of making Colorado a better place for all. Issues like job creation, small business support, education funding and balancing the state budget are just some of the things that these women work on daily.

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a legislator. Growing up, I wanted to be a soccer player. Around fourth grade, I also decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t know what lawyers did, but I remember watching an episode of “Law and Order” and being excited by the prospect that there was a career where you could argue for a living.

My dreams came true. I went to college on a soccer scholarship and because of that scholarship, I was able to get my first job in politics with former Rep. Bruce Braley soon after. That initial experience catapulted me all the way to former Sen. Tom Harkin’s office, and eventually, the White House, where I worked under the Obama administration’s Domestic Policy Council.

As a lawyer who started my own law firm right after law school, I learned quickly that I needed to be “politely persistent” to get ahead. I couldn’t stop people from calling me “honey” or “sweetie.” I couldn’t stop people from not taking me seriously because of my appearance. But what I could do was advocate on behalf of my clients to the best of my ability, and to me that meant never stopping until I got what I needed to represent my clients.

As a lawyer who started my own law firm right after law school, I learned quickly that I needed to be “politely persistent” to get ahead.

Throughout my years of practice, I saw hundreds of families who needed not just the help of a tenacious attorney, but the help of the state. I knew that I could do more for the families who I work with on a daily basis, which is why I decided to run for office.

Thankfully, there was already a strong precedent of women running for office, and winning, in Jefferson County. My own seat was held by former Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp who, in her eight years at the General Assembly, passed bipartisan legislation that helped thousands of Coloradans not just in House District 29 but across the state. When I decided to run for office, I knew that I wanted to carry on my predecessor’s tradition of working across the aisle. I knew that I wanted to be an advocate for my constituents like I am for my clients every day.

I talked to many of my constituents while I was campaigning. I listened to what they had to say, and I can say with certainty that we all want the same things. We want to build back a stronger Colorado. We want a prospering economy, we want well-funded schools, and we want access to affordable health care.

This Women’s History Month I want to recognize the thousands of women who made history before me. I grew up seeing myself in professional soccer players, I grew up seeing myself on TV, I grew up seeing myself on the international, political stage. It’s beyond clear that women can do anything they set their mind to, but the importance of seeing yourself represented cannot be overstated. If we have never seen what is possible, how can we dream it?

Being “politely persistent” has helped me in advance in my career. I hope and believe that the women who follow in my footsteps will be able to drop the “politely” and persist without apology.

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