Governor Polis Announces Chief of Staff Transition

DENVER – Governor Jared Polis announced updates to his senior staff. 

Governor Polis announced that after serving for over fifteen years alongside Governor Polis as his top staffer, his long-time Chief of Staff Lisa Kaufmann will be scaling back her role and stepping down as Chief of Staff effective January 1, 2023. Kaufmann was one of his first hires in 2007 for his first bid for Congress, served as Chief of Staff in his Congressional office, was the Chair of the Governor’s successful 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Chaired his Gubernatorial transition committee in 2018, and has served as the Governor’s Chief of Staff for the entirety of his first term in office. Kaufmann has been instrumental in shaping the Governor’s political career and his Governorship. As Polis’s gubernatorial Chief of Staff, she led the state through many emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, tragic shootings, and wildfires.  Kaufmann is credited for being the architect and chief strategist for the Governor’s ambitious first-term successful agenda of enacting his bold four initiatives of free kindergarten and universal preschool, saving people money on healthcare, 100% renewable energy, and tax reform. In addition, she championed the expansion of new state parks and ongoing revenue for public lands, oil and gas reform, infrastructure funding, and climate preparedness. Coloradans last Tuesday delivered Gov. Polis another term by a historic margin.

As Chief, Kaufmann helped Gov. Polis and his team safely and effectively lead Colorado through the unique challenges created by the pandemic and help keep the state on a path toward continued economic prosperity and a job recovery rate that continues to substantially outpace the national average. Early in the first quarter of next year, Lisa is expected to transition into her new role in the Polis-Primavera administration as a strategic advisor for public-private partnerships in the Department of Personnel and Administration. 

“I couldn’t be more grateful to Lisa for her leadership over the past four years. She has been an excellent Chief of Staff and trusted advisor during an unprecedented time for our state. Together, we delivered real results for Coloradans, and I am honored to have worked shoulder to shoulder with her on behalf of our beloved state,” said Governor Polis. “Lisa’s strategic thinking has been essential to helping guide my administration, and I am excited that she has agreed to continue with the administration focused on showcasing my second-term priority of expanding transit and more transit-oriented housing.”

“Filling her shoes will not be easy. Lisa Kaufmann is a uniquely skilled, strategic, and effective leader. But I am confident that Alec Garnett is the best choice and will do an outstanding job,” said Governor Polis. 

Kaufmann is the longest-serving member of Gov. Polis’ staff, Kaufmann is only the third woman to serve as a Colorado governor’s chief of staff, co-founded New Era Colorado, and is Denver Business Journal 40 under 40 winner.

“Serving alongside Governor Polis who is as optimistic as he is brilliant will forever be my greatest honor and privilege. We have been through many highs and lows over the last 15 years, but the thing that always remains constant is Jared’s even-keeled, clear-eyed approach to getting results for the people of Colorado and his sense of humor – that’s what kept me doing this tough job for so long,” said Lisa Kaufmann. “As we close the chapter on the first term, I am proud of what we have accomplished for my children and all people of Colorado and I am excited to pass the torch to my very capable friend Alec Garnett who is going to do an excellent job leading the second term.”

“Lisa is fearless and I want to deeply thank her for her leadership, vision, and commitment to delivering transformational change for our communities. Lisa has been a driving force behind much of the work we’ve accomplished for Coloradans these last four years and beyond – from innovative ways to save people money on health care, to protecting the freedoms of Coloradans to ensuring we have an administration that serves all of Colorado, not special interests,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. “Lisa’s strategic and responsible leadership is unmatched and while Alec has big shoes to fill, I am confident that he will continue to help deliver real results for hardworking people and families.”

Kaufmann will remain as Chief until January 1st when Alec Garnett will step into the role.

“No one can replace Lisa Kaufmann, who has been one of Colorado’s most successful Chiefs of Staff. Her strategic vision and pivotal role serving alongside Governor Polis over the last 15 years led to the passage of landmark legislation that is right now helping Coloradans in every corner of our state. Her leadership and steady hand guided Colorado through a global pandemic and devastating wildfires, and I’m honored to follow in her footsteps. I’m excited to advance Governor Polis’ bold vision for Colorado, implement recent legislative achievements, and continue serving the state I love,” said Alec Garnett

“Lisa has been an incredible public servant, and her problem-solving skills and ability to develop strategic solutions to our state’s most pressing challenges is simply unmatched. The Governor, myself and our congressional delegation in Washington, and our state have all greatly benefited from her wise counsel. And while I’m happy she and her family will have the opportunity for some much-deserved time away, I’m confident she’ll continue to serve our state for years to come,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. 

“There is no better strategic mind or team leader than Lisa – she faces challenges head-on and puts people in the best possible positions to not only succeed but grow and thrive,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg. “And she manages to do it all with an amazing amount of heart and compassion.”

“Lisa has been the force behind making Governor Polis’ policies a reality. From universal preschool to an ambitious renewable energy economy, Colorado is where it is thanks to her. I can’t wait to see what Lisa does next,” said U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper.

Alec Garnett is the outgoing Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives representing House District 2, central Denver. Speaker Garnett just finished his eighth and final session as a state representative. During his time serving in the legislature, he championed solutions centered on affordable housing, investments in public education, gun violence prevention, and economic opportunity for all. He has passed bills to provide universal pre-K to all Coloradans and created a commonsense red flag law in Colorado to prevent gun violence.


Garnett is a fourth-generation Coloradan who grew up in Boulder. Garnett and his wife, Emily, live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood with their young children. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster and completed a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Colorado, Denver. 

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