Rep. Leslie Herod (D-CO)

2021 Honoree - State Legislature Arts Leadership Award

Rep. Herod recieves the 2021 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for her work in Colorado from Jay Dick, Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs, Americans for the Arts. 

“I am humbled and honored to receive this esteemed recognition,” said Rep. Herod. “The arts are the backbone of a vibrant society, resilient and inclusive community and a powerful economic driver. To leave the arts sector out of our recovery planning is to leave millions of people behind. And that is unacceptable.”

—Rep. Leslie Herod (D-CO)


In partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Americans for the Arts was pleased to present Representative Leslie Herod (D-CO) with the 2021 Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership at NCSL's Jobs Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 9, 2021.

Rep. Herod’s district, House District 8 in Denver, encompasses economic and cultural diversity within its neighborhoods, and there are many examples of where her work in the Colorado General Assembly, as well as outside of it, has made the state a richer cultural experience for those living, working, and visiting the state. She has chaired both the Arts Caucus and the Colorado Democratic Black Caucus, and is also a member of the Colorado LGBTQ Caucus. Rep. Herod is the first LGBTQ African-American elected to the Colorado General Assembly, and has focused her legislation on striving for a Colorado that is an equal and just place for all who live there.

Securing funding for individuals, businesses, and organizations working in the creative industries is a priority for Rep. Herod. She was the primary champion of House Bill 20B-001, the General Assembly’s major small business recovery bill passed during a special session that she ensured included much-need financial support for artists, arts businesses, organizations, and venues. One of the four components of the bill provided $7.5 million in relief for arts entities.

Rep. Herod was also the primary champion of House Bill 21-1285, which included a total of $23 million for the creative industries, which were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both before and during the pandemic, Rep. Herod has always vocally supported more funding and fiercely defended existing funding for the arts via her positions on the Joint Budget Committee and Business Committee in particular.

Rep. Herod has partnered with the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) on many legislative efforts. Just in the last year, that includes at least six arts and/or small business-related bills, with a total of $31.5 million going to the arts specifically. She has also helped OEDIT ensure that her office is engaged with diverse communities and reaching BIPOC-owned businesses with resources, including those in the creative industries. As part of this work, she served on OEDIT’s Colorado Tourism Office Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group, which convened to help create a cohesive strategy to increase Colorado’s appeal to diverse travelers and advance a more inclusive culture within Colorado.

Nolen V. Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, commented, “From her unwavering support for the arts in Colorado, to standing up for causes like human rights and economic development, to building bridges between state government and diverse communities, Representative Herod embodies the essence of what this national award stands for. Her impact is truly felt throughout the state. I applaud Representative Herod for her commitment and the results she has achieved. She is a leader very much worthy of this recognition.”

Tim Storey, NCSL Chief Executive Officer, said, “Rep. Herod is an excellent choice for the 2021 Public Leadership in the Arts Award. She has been a faithful advocate for the arts in her legislative role and we congratulate her on this very deserving honor.”

Margaret Hunt, Director of Colorado Creative Industries at OEDIT, commented, “Representative Leslie Herod's leadership among her colleagues at the State Capitol, and in our community, has advanced the importance of the arts and creative industries across our state. Her efforts have inspired others. She is a leader who understands the role the arts play in advancing social justice, and equity and inclusion in our work. Representative Herod deeply understands the economic value of the creative industries and the social value of the arts. The state of Colorado benefits in profound and meaningful ways because of her leadership.”

“Representative Leslie Herod has elevated the importance of arts, culture and creative industries at the Colorado statehouse and beyond. She is a champion for the arts, a leader in civil rights and social justice, and a voice for equity and inclusion at every level. Representative Herod deeply understands the economic and social value of the arts, and CBCA is grateful to have her as a partner in advancing that message,” commented Meredith Badler, Deputy Director of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.