Day at the Capitol Speakers

Federal Health Insurance Legislation and Priorities
Marcy M. Buckner, J.D., Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU)

Marcy M. Buckner, J.D., is the senior vice president of government affairs with the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU). In this role, Marcy manages the association’s government affairs team, including the monitoring of activities of all state legislatures, insurance departments, and intergovernmental organizations to coordinate efforts to advance the interests of professional health insurance producers. In addition, she serves as the association’s liaison to federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Treasury. Marcy is also the staff liaison to NAHU’s legislative management team, Legislative Council, and Legislative Council working groups. Marcy received her Juris Doctor from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

 2021 View from the Division of Insurance
Michael Conway, Commissioner of Insurance, Department of Regulatory Agencies

In this position Conway serves as the chief executive of the Division of Insurance and oversees the regulation of the insurance industry in Colorado. His role brings together consumers, the insurance industry and other stakeholders to create an inclusive, firm and fair regulatory approach to all lines of insurance such as auto, health, homeowner, life, property and casualty, title and workers’ compensation. Before joining the Division, Conway was an assistant Attorney General for the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office from 2010 to 2016, where he represented the Division of Insurance in all facets of the regulation of the insurance industry including mergers and acquisitions of insurance companies, insurer rehabilitation/liquidation, and producer and company licensure litigation. He served three Commissioners of Insurance during that time. While in the Attorney General’s Office, he worked with the Colorado Attorney General Pro Bono Family Law Clinic, advising clients on matters of divorce and child custody. Conway has also worked as an attorney for Colorado Legal Services, advocating for indigent clients regarding housing rights, homelessness prevention, evictions and subsidized housing.         

The View from On Top of The Dome, Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters Legislative Priorities
Jenn Penn, Principal Owner of Dome Strategies, LLC, a Colorado Independent public and government affairs consultant.

Jenn Penn has more than 18 years of experience working in Colorado politics. Jenn launched her public affairs career after completing the CSU legislative internship program and receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Colorado State University. Jenn began her political career working as a legislative aide to key legislators in the late 1990’s including. Jenn directed the advocacy efforts for a non-profit organization, for over four years. Jenn then held the position of Colorado Senior Lobbyist for Coors Brewing Company from late 2004 – 2008. MillerCoors remains a client of Jenn’s, along with other business interests.

Jenn is a respected member of the lobby, known for her ability to form coalitions to successfully pass, defeat or amend legislation impacting her clients. Jenn has relationships with both Democrat and Republican members of the Colorado Legislature and the Governor’s office. Jenn has demonstrated success working in all areas of the lobbying profession from identifying and securing legislative sponsors, bill drafting, coordinating testimony, building coalitions, developing positions papers, minimizing opposition and successfully passing, defeating or amending legislation based on client specifications. Jenn has strong oral and written communications skills and is able to communicate in a clear and concise manner. Jenn is able to comprehend complex subjects and present the issue in an understandable form.

Chamber of Commerce Panel
Rachel Beck, Vice President of Government Affairs, Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation

Rachel Beck has 18 years’ experience in municipal and state government policy, research, and strategic communication. She is currently vice president of government affairs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation. She directs local, state, and federal policy advocacy efforts for the Chamber and EDC, which includes setting and implementing the organization’s legislative agenda, researching and analyzing policy options, communicating business needs to lawmakers, serving as liaison to elected officials and their staffs, and overseeing the Government Affairs Council.

As a former public information officer for the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities, and as a consultant, Rachel has helped citizens access their municipal government, understand community issues, and has helped craft initiatives to improve the Pikes Peak region’s infrastructure and land use. Her accomplishments include serving as communication director for the Mayor Project and PPRTA extension campaigns, and campaign manager for the 2017 stormwater initiative. Prior to that, she served as policy and communication manager for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, where she analyzed state legislation for the council’s 16 local governments, administered its citizen oversight committee, and solicited public input for regional transportation, aging, and air and water quality plans.

Rachel has served on the Board of Directors for the Council of Neighbors and Organizations, the Palmer Land Trust, the Colorado Springs Press Association, and the UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art. She holds a master’s degree in political management from the George Washington University.

Mike Kopp, President and CEO, Colorado Concern

Mike Kopp is the President and CEO of Colorado Concern, an alliance of top business executives with a mission of enhancing the Centennial State’s business climate.

Mike’s career began as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. In Ranger School he seized upon and never let go of the Ranger Creed’s line, “Surrender is not a Ranger word.” He often notes that that phrase has shaped him like none other. Mike also served as a hot shot firefighter.

After his undergraduate work he spent several years in executive leadership positions in ministry and nonprofit work. Mike put his experiences to work as a businessman and for nearly a decade he provided organizational development consulting services around the US.

Mike served on the senior management team of Colorado’s largest electric cooperative where he oversaw the Corporate Affairs Division which provided leadership for its professional development, legislative and regulatory affairs, corporate communications, public affairs and member relations functions.

He won a highly competitive race for a Colorado state senate seat and was re-elected to a second term. During his tenure he was chosen by his peers to serve as Caucus Chairman and Senate Minority Leader. He later won his party’s state convention in a bid to become Governor in 2014.

Mike thrives on cycling, running, hunting, reading and fishing.  He loves endurance sports having recently become an Ironman 70.3 racer.  Mike and his wife Shannon live in Golden with two of their five children whom they are crazy about. Mike and his family enjoy spending time on their small ranch near the Black Hills where their focus is on conservation.

Mike earned a Masters of Public Administration at CU-Denver and serves on several nonprofit boards including the Griffith Centers for Children, EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children), Rose Community Foundation Healthcare Committee and the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at The University of Denver.


Diane Schwenke, President, the Grand Junction, Area Chamber of Commerce

Diane Schwenke has served as president of the Grand Junction, Area Chamber of Commerce an organization of close to 900 small business members for over 30 years.  She served on staff at the Greeley, CO Chamber of Commerce and as CEO of the Beatrice NE Chamber before coming to Grand Junction. She is a Certified Economic Developer and Certified Chamber Executive who regularly teaches a variety of management classes to chamber professionals.

Update from the States Demographer's Office
Elizabeth Garner, State Demographer, Colorado Department of Local Affairs

Elizabeth is the State Demographer with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, an agency focused on strengthening the capacity of Colorado’s communities. She leads the State Demography Office, which produces population and economic estimates and forecasts for the state’s program planning.  Elizabeth has over 25 years of experience researching and discussing Colorado’s population trends and their impacts. Her current areas of research include aging in Colorado, characteristics of migration, and everything Census 2020. Elizabeth is an economist and received her B.A. in Business at the University of San Diego and her masters in Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University.  Elizabeth was born and raised in Colorado, something only 43% of the state’s population can claim.

Paid Family Leave
Daris Freeman, AVP, Legal Counsel

Ms. Freeman has been with Unum Group since 2000 when they started the Leave Management Service. After more than 10 years developing the service from the operational side, she moved to compliance and is currently Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel.  Ms. Freeman’s primary responsibility is to support Unum’s Absence Management Center which administers FMLA, paid leave, ADA and over 200 complementary state laws. In addition, she provides general employment law support for Unum. Ms. Freeman partners with the operation and their employer customers to ensure an absence management program compliant with federal and state leave laws. This includes researching state leave and disability laws; staying current on ADA and FMLA case law; analyzing complex leave scenarios; reviewing policies, procedures, and communications; and working with employers to develop solutions for their unique absence management challenges. Most recently, Ms. Freeman has dedicated much of her time to the paid leave landscape, implementing solutions for customers and working with state agencies on development of their programs.

State Senator Jim Smallwood

Jim Smallwood is a business consultant and Colorado State Senator, elected in 2016. He represents State Senate District 4 in Douglas County which encompasses the communities of Castle Rock, Larkspur, Parker, Franktown, and Castle Pines. Senator Smallwood is the current ranking member and former chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the former vice-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and a current or former member of the Business Labor and Technology, Legislative Audit and Appropriations Committees. Prior to being elected, Jim owned and managed several businesses related to employee benefits including an insurance brokerage firm, a third-party benefits administration firm, a COBRA administration firm and an HR consulting firm. He formerly serviced on the Colorado Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities, along with several councils and advisory panels assembled by state and national insurance companies. Jim and his wife have lived in Douglas County since 1996 and have raised their three sons in Parker.