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The Colorado Trust Board of Trustees Appoints Don Mares as President & Chief Executive Officer

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The Colorado Trust, a foundation dedicated to creating fair and equal opportunities for Coloradans to lead healthy lives, announced that The Colorado Trust Board of Trustees has appointed Donald J. Mares, Esq. to serve as president & chief executive officer of the foundation. Mares has served as interim president & chief executive officer since December 2021.

“With Don’s demonstrated ability to lead change, his deep commitment to the health and well-being of the people of Colorado, and his experience bringing diverse communities together in support of the common good, my board colleagues and I are confident that he is the right person to lead The Colorado Trust at this pivotal moment,” said the Rev. Louise Westfall, chair of the board of trustees.

“I am honored and flattered to have the faith and support of our trustees in shaping a new, collaborative and constructive path forward for The Colorado Trust,” said Mares. “We have much work to do to achieve our vision of health equity for all Coloradans, and I am incredibly excited to work with our dedicated staff towards this goal.”

Formerly the deputy mayor of the City and County of Denver in 2016 and 2020, Mares previously served as executive director of Denver Human Services, which provides support to one in three Denver residents to help them build and maintain overall well-being. Mares revitalized the vision of Denver Human Services by focusing on supporting a healthy and connected community through the timely delivery of essential services, and partnering to build a network of opportunity that identifies root causes and responds to the needs of the whole person and family.

Before appointing Mares to lead Denver Human Services in 2015, Mayor Michael B. Hancock tapped him to head the Office of Behavioral Health Strategies. Denver was the first metropolitan city in the nation to establish such an office. Previously, Mares served as president and chief executive officer of Mental Health Colorado, the state’s leading behavioral health advocacy and systems-change organization. He also served in Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr.’s cabinet as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. In addition, he was elected to two terms as Denver’s auditor from 1995 to 2003, and served as a Colorado state senator and state representative from 1989 to 1995.

Mares is an alumnus of the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute’s Colorado Children and Families Health and Human Services Fellowship. He is also a founding member of the Caring for Denver Foundation Board of Directors. Mares served on The Colorado Trust Board of Trustees for eight years prior to his interim leadership appointment at the end of 2021.

Mares has received numerous awards for his work as a community leader, including his induction into the Denver Public Library Commission’s César Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame (2015), the Mental Health Corporation of Denver Outstanding Political Figure Award (1995), Labor’s Community Agency’s Community Service Award (1999), the Junior League Legislative Champion for Children Award (1996) and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Government Advocate of the Year Award (2000). Born and raised in Denver, Mares and his wife, Ruth, live in the city and have three children.

About The Colorado Trust The Colorado Trust is a foundation dedicated to ensuring all Coloradans have the opportunity to thrive. We partner with people and organizations working to make positive changes in communities across Colorado. We provide funding and other resources so that all people have the power to make decisions that improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors. The Colorado Trust also believes local and statewide policies should have a positive impact on people’s well-being. We provide grants and support to organizations that advocate for policies that ensure all Coloradans live healthier lives. For more information, visit

Learn about the health equity issues affecting Coloradans at Collective Colorado, a publication of The Colorado Trust.