Note: The Citizens Project staff and board celebrated Kristy Milligan’s tenure at a celebration at the end of November, 2014. She is the longest serving staff member that Citizens Project has had and we are grateful for the legacy that she leaves.
I started volunteering with Citizens Project in 2003, quite by accident, after returning “home” from the east coast.
Almost immediately, my involvement with Citizens Project transformed the way I saw the Pikes Peak region. It changed my narrative and my perspective from one of scarcity and threat to one of abundance and possibility. In all honestly, Citizens Project made it desirable for me to live here because it gave me hope.
Over the years, the community that Citizens Project created became my extended family. I developed connections with people who inspired me, who challenged me to think better of my hometown, and who catalyzed important life-enhancing programs and initiatives.
But just as Citizens Project engendered MY transformation, the organization itself transformed over the years. It gave voice to important issues facing our community and it galvanized people to make a difference. It stood in support of Colorado SB 200, HB 1254, HB 1303. It opposed Amendments 43, 46 and 67. It worked to improve municipal and elections through public process, watchdog activity, and ordinance. It saw to the re-implementation of a Human Relations Commission. It created the space for other organizations to thrive, like PPEC, the Diversity Forum, a local chapter of Americans United, and the local operations of One Colorado.
Where Citizens Project was once alone in our righteous reclaiming of our community as a loving, generous one in which people have the right to be exactly who they are, we now share the stage with so many partners, all of whom are working together to advance our shared goals.
Citizens Project has adapted to the changing, improving environment and capitalized on collective vision, resources, and energy to maximize our community’s ability to self-actualize as a place where every human being belongs.
Last week, I worked my final day and left my office and mail keys on the desk of our acting director, Deb Walker. As I closed that door for the final time, I didn’t cry.
At first, I didn’t understand why. I’m a crier. It’s what I do at the end of chapters.
Then I realized something. With you, and through you, Citizens Project has become what it is today; a vibrant clearinghouse of equality, religious freedom, diversity, and civic engagement. I have done what I could and I hope I have played a small role in this community’s successes. But it’s only been a small part: I have been surrounded by the most incredible, tenacious, brilliant people, including you, and it’s been a privilege to serve alongside you.
My confidence in the current and future leadership of the organization, and in all of you, make me infinitely more excited about the NEXT chapter than I am sad about the end of this one. As an aside, shifting my professional focus from the lifeblood of democracy to the foundation of it won’t be so much of a stretch at all – and I get to stay right here in town!
And so, my life is transformed again… and even though we’re on a new chapter together, Citizens Project is a book I will never put down.
In addition to my existing monthly stretch gift to Citizens Project, I have recently made a “leadership” gift to the organization. I want to continue to be a financial leader for CP, and I want to invite you to join me as well – you’ll be a part of the unfolding of the next chapter, which I can almost promise will be the best chapter yet.
We touch lives. That’s what we do. I have no doubt that every one in this room has been touched by a board member or a director. I know you’ve been encouraged to make a gift in my honor. But today, I want to invite you to be bolder and more visionary, because you already are. If you’re inclined to make a gift, please make a gift in honor of the future that – together – we all make possible.