Bighorn Leadership Program Moves to Colorado State as Part of the Colorado Institute for Public Policy

The Bighorn Leadership Development Program, part of the former Bighorn Center for Public Policy, is joining Colorado State University’s Colorado Institute of Public Policy.

The centrist think tank, founded in 1999 by Rutt Bridges and a bipartisan group of statewide leaders, was known for advocating a wide range of legislation including fiscal reform, health care, and consumer issues like the Colorado Telemarketing No-Call List.  Bighorn also served as one of the key organizers for the statewide Colorado 100 meetings that helped local leaders better understand Colorado’s fiscal challenges.

The goal of Bighorn’s Leadership Development Program is to identify potential leaders – Republican, Democrat and Independent – and provide them with the necessary training and tools to govern effectively and pragmatically. Through this hands-on experience, Bighorn Fellows have the chance to hone their leadership skills, learn about policy processes, politics, and government, and consider how they can make a difference in their community.

Bighorn Leadership Programs have taken place all around the state and have delved into such issues as health care, economic development, and resource sustainability. Many of the participants have gone on to play active roles on local school boards, city councils and county commissions. Graduates Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, serve as Colorado State Representatives.  In total, more than 200 Bighorn Fellows continue to shape Colorado’s future.

"Under the umbrella of the Colorado Institute of Public Policy, the Bighorn Leadership Development Program will continue to offer programs for those wishing to explore public service and support the ongoing efforts of the center’s alumni in the public policy arena," said Larry Edward Penley, president of Colorado State University. "This fits our mission of providing valuable services to improve the quality of life for Colorado residents, which includes providing training for those in governance and leadership positions."

"Our Fellows span a broad spectrum," Bridges said. "This important connection with Colorado State will bring new ideas while continuing to ensure a strong connective base for our current Bighorn Fellows. New participants will continue to learn to work together to overcome partisan differences and solve problems that really matter to many Coloradans."

Under the Colorado State banner, the program will continue to be known as the Bighorn Leadership Development Program. The center will be based at the Colorado State University System offices in Denver at 410 17th St., 14th floor. Brenda Morrison, former associate director of the Bighorn Center, will continue to guide the Bighorn Leadership Program during its transition to Colorado State.

The Colorado Institute of Public Policy at Colorado State is dedicated to addressing pressing policy issues in the Rocky Mountain West and supporting effective policymaking through processes that promote leadership development, stakeholder engagement and applied research. The Institute brings together basic and applied research on issues particularly related to the connections among environment, agriculture and people. Lyn Kathlene serves as director of the Institute, which is part of the Office of the Vice Provost for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships.

For more information about the Bighorn Leadership Development Program, go to