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Aspen snags Hickenlooper for commencement speaker

May 29, 2015

Governor John Hickenlooper talks with anti-fracking protesters at the Aspen Institute in 2013.
Credit Elise Thatcher

Governor John Hickenlooper will be a part of the Aspen High School commencement ceremonies on Saturday afternoon. The governor, a Democrat, will deliver the keynote address at the Benedict Music tent for the Class of 2015.

Kathy Klug is organizing the event. She says it’s understood that Hickenlooper is fond of the Roaring Fork Valley, and has close ties with a family very involved in the Democratic Party. “And so combined with his great friendship with Blanca O’Leary and her family,” explains Klug, “ and of course all [O’Leary’s] work, I think he was very amenable to coming and speaking.”

O’Leary is former chair of the party’s Pitkin County branch. She and her husband have a son graduating tomorrow. “I had been at a dinner where the governor was present,” says O’Leary, “and just thought that I might just take the opportunity to ask the governor if he would be so kind as to consider being the commencement speaker.”

Eventually Hickenlooper agreed. O’Leary says there are no fundraisers planned for his short trip to the Upper Valley.