Tamra Ward

Tamra Ward is the new board chair for History Colorado, the state museum.

Tamra Ward was elected chair of History Colorado Board of Directors Wednesday, the state museum said.

Ward is a well-regarded politico, advocacy expert and prolific fundraiser. She has served on the governor-appointed museum board since 2012.

She succeeds Cathey McClain Finlon, who remains on the board after a two-year term as chair.

“Tamra Ward’s wide range of experience and expertise, vital relationships and peerless tenacity are exactly what History Colorado needs to navigate today’s proliferating challenges, and all of us are eager to work together under her inspiring leadership,” Steve Turner, History Colorado's executive director and the state historic preservation officer, said in a statement. “History Colorado is becoming a more agile and resilient organization than ever before.”

The museum faces challenges. COVID-19 has slashed its main source of funding by more than half. History Colorado normally serves more than 75,000 students and 500,000 visitors a year.

“The opportunity to serve Coloradans in the face of adversity has galvanized our organization into action,” Ward said in a statement. “Now, perhaps more than ever in our 141-year history, History Colorado has a critical role to play in collecting, interpreting and sharing the stories of our state. As we learn from the past, and plan for the future, I am truly honored to play a role to support this important organization and all it represents.”

Ward is a partner in the Denver-based public affairs firm Taloma Partners.

She is the former president and CEO of the business advocacy group Colorado Concern, and for more than a decade was the public face of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and a similar role for the Denver Zoo.

Gov. Jared Polis appointed three board members who were seated on July 1: Luis Benitez, Mary Sullivan, and Penfield W. Tate III. Marco Abarca was reappointed by the governor.

The museum on Wednesday also introduced a chief philanthropy officer, Shannon Joern, to lead the charge in finding public and private financial support.

She succeeds Kathi Grummel, who stepped down last month after donations to History Colorado doubled in one year under her watch, according to a press release.

The museum named other personnel moves Wednesday:

  • Chris Bowles was named director of preservation incentives programs.
  • Eric Carpio, the deputy state historic preservation officer. was promoted to chief community museum officer.
  • Al Melton is the new director of the Trinidad History Museum.
  • Dr. Marissa Volpe was named chief of equity and engagement.

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