Former state rep Gil Romero to address ASC graduates


"I used to think I was the big deal in my family, because I went to Harvard, became a lawyer ... but I think my parents were always a little disappointed that I didn't become a teacher like my three brothers," said Gilbert E. Romero, who will address the 2010 Adams State graduating class at commencement, Saturday, May 15.

Romero served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1984-1998. In 1999, he started the government affairs and lobbying firm Capitol Success Group, of which he is a principal/attorney.


Commencement speaker Gil Romero.

Commencement speaker Gil Romero.

Two-hundred-fifty-one undergraduate degrees will be awarded at the ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in Adams State's Plachy Hall. For the first time, master's degree recipients will honored at a separate ceremony at 1:30 p.m., also in Plachy Hall. The college will award 160 master's degrees.

Borrowing his speech title from a song by Kenny Chesney, Don't blink, a hundred years goes faster than you think, Romero said he will focus on the value of education and community service.

"I want to give students a sense of urgency. Sometimes at their age, they think their whole life is ahead - and it is - but they should set goals for themselves and decide what they want to accomplish. At some point, it's really just about giving back to your community. And that can take a lot of forms. I chose public service, elected politics."

His talk will pay homage to his parents, natives of Trinidad, Colo. "They gave me everything I had, a strong foundation, with very little means. They thought the most powerful weapon is education."

His mother, now age 95, has a seventh-grade education, while his father only completed second grade and began working in the Colorado coal mines at age 14.

"My dad taught himself to read and write, and never missed an election or an opportunity to vote. He loved politics," Romero said. "The day before he died in 1984, I asked him what he would do if he could be anything. I thought he would have said President of the United States. But he told me: 'If I had it to do all over again, I'd be a teacher.'"

One of Romero's clients is Adams State College. "Adams State represents so much of what I believe in - educational access, opportunity for first-generation students," he said. "I've had opportunities to work for other higher education entities and chose not to. It's a passion for us to represent ASC.

"When I hear people like Arnold Salazar and Steve Valdez talk about why they're serving in non-paid positions as ASC trustees, why they so value the gift of education, it inspires me and gets me ready to fight at the capitol for ASC again," he added.

For eight of Romero's twelve years in the Colorado House of Representatives, he served on the powerful Joint Budget Committee. While in the House, he served on the Capital Development, Local Government, and Judiciary Committees. He was appointed to serve on the Space Advisory Council and the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee to the National Council of State Legislators. He was a Gates Fellow attending the Senior Executive in State and Local Government, Harvard University-John F. Kennedy School of Government. The pinnacle of his public sector career came in 1998, when he ran for the Unites States Senate, receiving top-line designation at the Democratic State Assembly.

Capitol Success also represents such clients as Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), The Colorado Food Service Association, The Alliance, the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, Ameristar Casinos, and Sportique Scooter.

Romero formerly worked as a Chief Deputy District Attorney as well as a State Public Defender. He was a Major in the JAG Corps. of the Colorado Army National Guard. He has been licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado, in Federal Court, Court of Military Appeals, and the United States Army Court of Military Review. While serving in the legislature, Gil worked as Director of External Affairs for Pueblo Community College, as well as an adjunct faculty member at CSU-Pueblo (then University of Southern Colorado).

Romero holds a Master's in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He earned his Juris Doctorate degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Colorado. And finally, he is a graduate of the Judge Advocate General School of the Army National Guard.

By Julie Waechter