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Raised in New York City by a single mother, Joan attended Marymount Manhattan College on scholarships. She graduated with a dual degree in political science and history. She moved to Colorado with her family in 1977 and is the former President of the Colorado State Senate. To date, Joan is the only woman ever to hold that title.
In 1990, Joan won the office of county Clerk and Recorder in Jefferson County, a county of approximately 500,000. In the county's 150 year history, Joan was the first woman and the first Democrat to hold the office. In 1993, she ran the largest most complicated mail ballot election in the country and received an award from the national Association of Counties for its success. As Clerk and Recorder, Joan managed 105 people which included 5 different locations in Motor Vehicle, a Recording office, Clerk to the Board of County Commissioners, and an elections office.
After serving two terms as Clerk, Joan ran for and won a State Senate seat and changed the balance of power in the Colorado Senate for the first time in 50 years. She was named Chair of the Business, Labor and Finance Committee overseeing health insurance, workers' rights, and financial issues.
Joan was elected by her peers in 2002 to become the first democratic woman to be Minority Leader of the Senate. At the end of the first year she led the fight against an unconstitutional redistricting plan that was part of a national strategy. Although the issue prevailed on the floor of the Senate and was signed by the Governor, it was found unconstitutional based on the record created by the Democratic minority.
In 2004, Joan assumed responsibility for raising money, recruiting candidates and developing election strategy, and worked tirelessly to once again elect a Democratic majority. She was elected as its first woman President in January of 2005. In 2006, she brought in a majority of 20 Democrats and was once again elected by the Senate as its President. In 2007, she carried three of the critical bills that were passed under her leadership and transformed Colorado into a renewable energy center for the country. Joan is credited with working with Republican Governor Owens in helping to solve a budget crisis that required a constitutional fix voted on by the electorate.
Joan was chosen as Chair of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in December of 2004. Under her leadership, the DLCC was able to bring 10 new chambers under Democratic control in the 2006 election, and gained 350 legislative seats nationally. Howard Dean specifically named Joan as one of three people largely responsible for the Democratic state legislative success.
In 2007, Joan resigned the Senate Presidency and her senate seat to concentrate on a run for the U.S. House. Joan raised $1.8 million and garnered 38% of the vote in a hard-fought Democratic primary where now-Representative Jared Polis pulled close to 48% of the vote and a third candidate, Will Shafroth received nearly 16% of the vote.
Greg Speed has a broad range of experience advancing progressive causes by leading grassroots advocacy programs, strategic communications efforts and political campaigns, and by working as a senior staffer to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. Most recently, Greg helped launch Envision Communications, a new Democratic media and communications firm where he provided consulting services for a variety of progressive organizations, labor unions, political candidates and committees.
Prior to forming his consulting practice, Greg served as the National Communications Director for Communities for Quality Education (CQE), an education advocacy organization working with parents, teachers, and communities across the country to advance a quality public school agenda. He developed innovative programs in numerous states including Colorado, Ohio and Virginia combining grassroots community involvement, issue advocacy, and voter education to move education to the center of public debate.
In the 2004 election cycle, Greg served as Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Prior to that position, he worked as Press Secretary and Regional Political Director for the DCCC.
Greg served as Press Secretary and Legislative Assistant for Congressman Martin Frost (TX) throughout his four-year tenure as Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He also worked as Communications Director for IMPAC 2000, the national Democratic redistricting project chaired by Rep. Frost following the 2000 Census.
In the 1998 election cycle, Greg worked as Deputy Political Director for the DCCC's Harriman Communications Center and served as Communications Director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. He has also held senior positions on congressional and legislative campaigns in numerous states, including Florida, Kentucky, Texas and Wisconsin. He was also elected President of the College Democrats at the University of Wisconsin-Madison following the 1992 election.
Greg was raised in "Chicagoland" and received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and his wife, Lona Valmoro, reside on Capitol Hill with their son Andrew.