The Colorado Women's Bar Association Foundation held its 15th annual “Raising the Bar” dinner at the Denver Athletic Club on September 23, 2021. Each year, the Foundation honors women lawyers who have made a difference in our communities and have "raised the bar" for all of us. In keeping with this year’s theme, “Women Who Lead: Lawyers Who Raised the Bar Leading Through Crisis,” we recognized women attorneys whose work focused on the interests of women and girls across the legal, political, and social spectrum. The 2021 Honorees all work with organizations that faced the ongoing health and social issues we have faced in the last year head on, including the pandemic and the black lives matter movement. If you missed the event, please join us in celebrating the honorees.
Kristin M. Bronson, City Attorney for the City and County of Denver. As Denver’s chief legal officer, Kristin provides policy and legal advice to the Mayor, City Council, the City Auditor and the Clerk and Recorder, all City agencies, departments, boards and commissions. Under Kristin’s leadership, the Denver City Attorney’s Office has led the region in addressing the opioid crisis, providing legal services to the immigrant community, and making the workplace more equitable and inclusive. She led a citywide stakeholder effort to develop a public health approach to youth violence. Kristin also advocates for survivors of domestic violence, promotes day care options, and provides pro bono work to a breast cancer foundation.
Natalie Hanlon Leh, Chief Deputy Attorney General, State of Colorado. Natalie oversees litigation
for the State and the legal counsel to all state executive and judicial agencies. She coordinates legal policy and acts as the intergovernmental liaison on behalf of Attorney General Phil Weiser and the Colorado Department of Law. In 2021, Natalie received the Nelson Kempsky Award for management and leadership. A past president of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, Natalie helped start the District of Colorado’s Civil Pro Bono Panel and served as Chair of the District of Colorado’s Standing Committee for Pro Se Litigation. Natalie also served as Chair of the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado.
Michelle Lucero, Chief Administrative Officer & General Counsel, Children’s Hospital Colorado. Michelle leads the legal affairs, corporate compliance, information security, and risk management teams at Children’s Hospital. She is an accomplished speaker on leadership, mentorship, and women’s empowerment. Michelle serves on the Boettcher Foundation Board of Trustees, the Vectra Bank Advisory Board, the Supervisory Committee for the Denver Community Credit Union, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s President’s Leadership Council. She co-chairs the Bennet-Hickenlooper Judicial Advisory Selection Committee and is chief legal officer for the Papua New Guinea Tribal Foundation. As a trustee and past chair of Metropolitan State University, Michelle was proud to support a separate tuition class for undocumented students.
Megan Ring, State Public Defender, Colorado State Public Defender. Megan became the first woman to hold the position of Colorado Public Defender in 2018. In this role, she has implemented improvements to ensure equal staffing and resources for rural offices and to help practitioners feel more supported in the emotionally difficult work of public defense. Megan also served the Boulder County Public Defender’s Office for twenty-two years, including six years as its Office Head. Her leadership on work-life balance and attorney wellness created a workplace in which a robust practice did not have to come at the expense of one’s personal life.
Jessica E. Yates, Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court. Jessica has led the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel through a series of challenges since her appointment in 2018, including the adoption of Colo. RPC 8.4(i) addressing sexual harassment in the practice of law and —due to the pandemic — the office’s transition to remote work, the first ever multiple-site and remote administrations of the bar exam, and submission of an emergency rule to allow certification for limited practice by law graduates before admission by examination. Through empathetic, progressive, and energetic leadership, Jessica has engendered a values-driven environment and thoughtfully implemented changes to promote diversity and better serve the community.
Attendees were able to gather either in person or remotely to celebrate the accomplishments of the Foundation's honorees and thank them for paving the way for other women in Colorado and around the nation. The 1891 joins the Foundation is celebrating these BOLD voices. The CWBA Board of Directors joined in honoring and "raising" a toast to these magnificent leaders that are paving the way and "raising the bar" for us all! Congratulations to the Honorees and the The CWBA Foundation for a great event!
Jenny Carman is a Staff Attorney at the Colorado Court of Appeals, where she has practiced across the spectrum of criminal, civil, and juvenile law since 2009. Any views or opinions expressed in this publication do not reflect the position of the Colorado Court of Appeals or the Colorado Judicial Department.