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Former Lt. Governor Joe Garcia Nominated as Chair of National Western Center Authority Board

DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today named Joe Garcia as his nominee for Chairman for the National Western Center Authority Board. As Chairman, Garcia will oversee the Authority Board and implementation of the National Western Center Framework Agreement.

“Standing up the work of the Authority Board marks another important milestone in the future of the National Western Center, and Joe Garcia will be a phenomenal leader on the board as the work begins to realize the vision the people of Denver voted for and expect,” Mayor Hancock said. “Joe’s passion, collaborative spirit, experience and expertise will be invaluable assets to the Authority Board, and he is the perfect choice to help guide the build out of this historic community asset.”    

Garcia and the National Western Center Authority Board will provide oversight of the buildout, operations and programming of the year-round campus for agricultural education, innovation and entertainment. Garcia and the Authority Board will also work to partner, collaborate and engage the community to ensure the National Western Center directly benefits the surrounding neighborhoods and residents for the foreseeable future. The Authority will be incorporated by the City and County of Denver as a Colorado nonprofit corporation to program, operate and maintain the campus. Garcia and the Board will work with Gretchen Hollrah, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center as they focus on delivering Phases 1 and 2 of the project.

“It’s an honor to be nominated as the Chair of the National Western Authority Board by Mayor Hancock, and I’m eager to get to work making sure that this campus becomes the asset that Denver residents said yes to two years ago,” Garcia said. “In partnership with the community, we’re going to ensure that the National Western Center will be an opportunity that benefits this community and the whole of Denver for generations to come.”

Garcia currently serves as the President of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, where he works to guide universities in 16 states. Garcia served as Colorado’s Lt. Governor and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2011-2015 During his time as Lt. Governor, Garcia focused on increasing equity in outcomes for all students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and communities of color.

Prior to being elected Lt. Governor, Garcia served as President of Colorado State University-Pueblo, which was named the Outstanding Member Institution by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities during his tenure. He also served as President of Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado’s second largest community college, where he was twice named President of the Year by the State Student Advisory Council. 

Garcia previously served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies in the Cabinet of Colorado Gov. Roy Romer and as Rocky Mountain States Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton. Before entering public service, Garcia worked for 10 years in private practice at the law firm of Holme Roberts & Owen, where he went on to become the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of the firm. Garcia earned his B.S. in Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

“We look forward to working with Joe to create and achieve the full vision of the NWC as authorized by the voters of Denver. A unique place like no other that will achieve international recognition while at the same time honoring the history and tradition of the area as it embraces Globeville, Elyria and Swansea” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show.

“I’m pleased to welcome Joe, as a long-time colleague and higher-education leader, to the National Western Center team. His experience and knowledge of the state will help ignite the vision of the NWC as a global center for learning, research, and solutions that benefit our world.” Dr. Tony Frank, president of Colorado State University and chancellor of the CSU System said.

Garcia’s nomination is subject to confirmation by City Council. Nominations for the remainder of the National Western Authority Board are currently underway.