Ritter Announces Two More Cabinet Picks

Gov.-elect Bill Ritter named two more people to cabinet posts today. Pending Senate confirmation, Karen Legault Beye will head the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services, and current 1st Judicial District Judge Peter Weir will head the Department of Health and Human Safety.

Beye has spent the past five years as the director of Broomfield County’s Department of Health and Human Services. Before that, she had a long career in social services, including a stint as the director of the Department of Social Services.

Weir, a Bill Owens appointee to the bench, has had a long career in Colorado as a deputy district attorney. He also served as the executive director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council. The full press release:

Gov.-elect Bill Ritter today named Broomfield Health and Human Services Director Karen Legault Beye and 1st Judicial District Judge Peter Weir to Cabinet posts.

Beye will serve as executive director of the Department of Human Services and Weir as executive director of the Department of Public Safety. Both nominations require Senate confirmation.

Ritter said Beye will bring strong ties with county officials across the state into the new administration. “Karen has dedicated her entire professional career to serving Colorado’s families and children,” Ritter said. “I can think of no one better than Karen Beye to lead the Department of Human Services and help fulfill the Colorado Promise for those who need it most.”

With a budget of $1.8 billion and 5,000 employees, DHS oversees all county departments of social/human services, the state’s public mental health system, services for people with developmental disabilities, the juvenile corrections system and all state and veterans’ nursing homes.

“As someone who is committed to innovation and integration, I’m eager to bring a new level of cooperation and partnerships to the delivery of human services in Colorado,” Beye said. “Working with the many talented people in the department and in every county in Colorado, we can craft a shared vision and make Colorado a national leader in how we care for our residents.”

Ritter praised Weir and his keen understanding of Colorado’s criminal-justice and public-safety needs. “As a former executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council and a sitting member of the bench, Judge Weir has had a front-row seat to the state’s public-safety network,” Ritter said. “His 21st century views about how we can better protect Coloradans, reduce juvenile crime and address criminal recidivism will help us fulfill the Colorado Promise.”

The department oversees the Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Division of Criminal Justice, Division of Fire Safety and Office of Preparedness and Security. It also maintains Colorado’s sex-offender registry and the safe schools hotline.

“Protecting the public is perhaps government’s paramount responsibility,” Weir said. “Our emergency crews, rescue workers and first responders put their lives on the line every day. I’m excited about giving them the respect and gratitude they deserve by leading this department into the future.”

Additional biographical information about Beye and Weir:

Beye has served as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services for Broomfield since 2001, when Broomfield became Colorado’s newest county.

In the 1990s, Beye served as executive director of the former Department of Social Services, having been appointed by then-Gov. Roy Romer in 1993. She led several welfare reform initiatives, including changes that ultimately resulted in the creation of Colorado Works. She has provided oversight for the construction of new veterans’ nursing homes and pushed for specialty programs for patients with Alzheimer’s disease in four state veterans’ facilities.

Prior to serving in the Romer administration, Beye worked for the Jefferson County Department of Social Services as a social worker, supervisor and deputy director. She is currently vice president of the Colorado County Directors of Social Services Association and an appointee of Gov. Bill Owens to the Colorado Commission on School Readiness and Early Childhood Development.

Weir was appointed to the district court bench in Jefferson County by Gov. Bill Owens in November 2004. He hears felony criminal matters, civil cases and domestic-relations cases, and is the presiding judge for the Jefferson County Grand Jury.

Judge Weir received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1975 and his law degree from the University of Denver in 1979.  He began his professional career as a deputy district attorney in the 4th Judicial District (Colorado Springs) in 1979. In 1982, he entered private practice specializing in litigation and federal criminal defense.  In 1986, he returned to prosecution as a deputy district attorney in the 1st Judicial District and served as a chief deputy district attorney for more than 10 years.

During his career as a deputy D.A., he took more than 100 felony cases to trial and prosecuted more than 20 murder cases. In August, 1999, he was selected to lead the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council as executive director. He represented all 22 elected district attorneys in Colorado before the legislature and acted as a liaison with the Office of the Attorney General and the Governor’s Office.