There aren’t too many people left in Colorado who can claim four generations of relatives who have lived here, but Adam Eichberg’s family has had Colorado’s soil running through its veins since the 1880s. That’s when his great-great grandfather, a physician, moved to Denver to treat patients suffering from tuberculosis.
So, by the time Adam came along, his connection to the state was very deep. As a kid, Adam spent his summers at a camp at the base of Mount Evans. During the winters, he skied the moguls at Winter Park as a not so competitive racer, and when it came time for college, he stayed put, enrolling at the University of Colorado, where he studied environmental conservation.
Realizing that the natural environment where he’d grown up could be threatened, Adam got involved with political campaigns after graduation, and then took a job as a strategic consultant for one of the nation’s largest conservation groups. There he helped pass legislation and ballot measures providing more than $14 billion in capital funding for parks and open space. After that, Adam created and ran a multi-million dollar foundation dedicated to funding innovative approaches to aid state and federal policy campaigns.
With that experience, Adam took on the role of Director of Policy, External Affairs and Planning at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, where he managed the strategic communication, legislative lobbying, planning and outreach. But Adam wasn’t done there. He simultaneously was appointed the Deputy Legislative Director for Governor Bill Ritter where he focused on the wider issues facing Colorado. In this role, Adam advised Ritter on legislative strategy, supervised the office’s interactions with the General Assembly, and served as one of the Governor’s two principal lobbyists.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to work on issues I care deeply about, issues that impact the state I love and make it the kind of place I want to raise my family,” he says.
Today, Adam’s kids, who are 12 and 15, enjoy some of the same things Adam did when he was younger, including the skiing program at Winter Park. Beyond skiing with his wife and kids, Adam loves to ride anything with two wheels on the road, in the dirt or on the cyclocross course.
When the Washington Post is your hometown newspaper, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in politics, and that’s exactly what happened to Will Coyne. The son of a U.S. Department of Labor employee and an elementary school guidance counselor, Will grew up in Washington, D.C., where just about everyone takes an interest in national affairs, either directly or via osmosis.
Will left D.C. for Dartmouth College, where he earned a liberal arts degree before heading to Santa Barbara, California, to take a job as a policy analyst for a think tank. But since Will’s wife is from Denver — and because he loves skiing — moving to Colorado was an easy sell. Here, in 2003, Will took a position as the legislative director for a Colorado conservation organization, becoming a leading advocate for conservation issues in the state capitol. He won multiple legislative victories on a variety of policy matters including leading Governor Bill Ritter’s first major policy initiative, a requirement that 20% of Colorado’s electricity come from renewable energy sources.
From there, Will broadened his perspective from environmental issues to Colorado policy matters as a whole, becoming chief of staff for two different Speakers of the House, managing the development and implementation of their policy agendas and overseeing public communications strategies. He also acted as the primary caucus liaison with the Senate leadership, the Governor’s office, the minority caucus, state departments and advocacy groups. As chief of staff, Will deepened his policy expertise and played a key role in passing dozens of significant bills related to health care, transportation, energy and fiscal policy.
In 2009, Will teamed up with colleague Adam Eichberg to form Headwaters Strategies, where he continued to win major legislative battles on behalf of his clients. These include the creation of new tax incentives for clean-tech startups, a crackdown on predatory lenders, and the expansion of the mission of Colorado’s premier online university.
Will believes that Colorado is an interesting metaphor for the whole country. “We have a pretty big urban and rural divide, but our legislature and state government tend to see more bipartisan action than in Washington,” he points out. “Colorado’s success going forward is going to be about how we manage growth, how we welcome new people and new business, while at the same time keeping the things we all love.”
An avid skier, gardener, tennis player and mountain biker, Will appreciates everything Colorado offers. With two small children — up-and-coming skiers themselves — he understands how important it is to protect Colorado for everyone.
Aly Schmidt’s tiny hometown isn’t famous. Located in rural northern Colorado, it has a 124-year-old post office, about 4.275 residents, and Bruce’s Bar, which dishes out Rocky Mountain Oysters — a Colorado specialty. But growing up on a bucolic, two-acre property in Severance, surrounded by farms and oil wells, gave Aly a different perspective on Colorado. It’s a lifestyle that gets a lot less attention than the ski slopes, craft breweries and art museums that fill state tourism brochures, but it’s certainly no less important to the Colorado experience.
A political science major at Colorado State University, Aly interned with a Republican state house representative while she was still in college and got a job shortly thereafter as the in-house legislative lobbyist for the Colorado Hospital Association, advocating on behalf of Colorado’s more than 100 hospitals and health systems. In that role, she played a key part in passing the Hospital Provider Fee Enterprise as well as health care bills that addressed emergency mental health holds, workforce and price transparency.
She also managed day-to-day operations for the Colorado Hospital Association’s political action committee, Friends of Colorado Hospitals. There she led fundraising efforts and made strategic decisions about who and how to donate money to Colorado General Assembly candidates. Healthcare was a fascinating business to Aly because although people don’t think about it that often, it can really affect their lives, she says, and everyone has to deal with it at some point.
In her role with CHA, Aly occasionally battled Adam Eichberg and Will Coyne, who represented other interests. But over time, the three were able to craft solutions together in a way that impressed Eichberg and Coyne. So when it came time for Headwaters Strategies to hire a third member for their firm, they offered Aly the job. With her legislative strategy experience, Aly has brought a sophisticated approach to a wide variety of policy issues.
“We really work hard to find solutions that are bi-partisan,” Aly says. “In general, the people of Colorado share many of the same values regardless of their political affiliation, and I love being a part of that. We agree on many more issues than we disagree.”
When she’s not working long hours, Aly enjoys playing team sports in parks, running, hanging out on patios with her friends, and joking with her fellow lobbyists.