On Wednesday, September 29, The Council of State Governments West (CSG West), during its 74thannual meeting in Colorado Springs, awarded the Bettye Fahrenkamp Award for Distinguished Legislative Leadership on Behalf of Western States to the Honorable Federico F. Peña.
After graduating from the University of Texas, Austin, with both a bachelor’s and law degree, Peñapracticed law for several years before moving to Denver, Colorado. In Denver, he worked with the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund focusing focused on civil rights and voting issues. In 1979 he won a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives where he quickly ascended to the role of minority leader.
After several years of legislative service, he ran a successful campaign to become the mayor of the city of Denver where he made history as the first Hispanic mayor of the city. During his time as mayor, he worked to advance several significant projects including the development of the Denver International Airport and the acquisition of a Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies.
After his service as mayor, Peña’s call to public service led him to the District of Columbia where he served in two cabinet appointments in the Clinton Administration: Secretary of Transportation and then Secretary of the Department of Energy. In addition to his public service, he has founded an investment advisory firm, served as a Managing Director of a private equity firm, and served on the boards of several public companies and non-profit associations.
The Fahrenkamp Award, which is awarded annually, recognizes leaders whose legislative careers demonstrate the ability to see and work beyond the border of their own states in the interest of the West. The award is named in honor of Bettye Fahrenkamp of Fairbanks, Alaska, who served with distinction in the Alaska State Senate from 1979 until her untimely death in 1991.