Colorado Senate President Peter Groff is the Obama administration’s choice to be the director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Friday afternoon.
Groff, 45, made history when he was elected the first African American to lead the Colorado Senate in 2007. First elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2000, Groff won re-election and eventually was appointed to his northeast Denver Senate District 33 seat in 2003.
Democrats will have the opportunity to fill two vacancies after Groff takes the federal position. A vacancy committee made up of local party activists will convene to name a replacement to fill out Groff’s state Senate term, which expires next year, and state Senate Democrats will caucus to chose a new Senate president.
Here’s what the Faith-Based Center does, according to the Department of Education Web site:
The goal of the Center is to break down existing barriers and empower faith-based and community groups, enlisting them in support of the Department’s mission to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence for all Americans.
And here’s the Department of Education announcement, including a lengthy bio of the man some call “the Conscience of the Senate”:
Secretary Duncan Announces Appointment of Peter Groff as Director for
the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center in the Office of the Secretary
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the appointment of Peter Groff as the Director for the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center in the Office of the Secretary where he will help empower faith-based and community groups, enlisting them in support of the Department’s mission to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence for all Americans.
Peter Groff is currently the Colorado Senate President in the Colorado State Legislature, where he has been since 2003 and served as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, Vice Chairman of the Local Government Committee and as a member of the Appropriations, Legislative Council, Legal Services and Judiciary Committees. Groff also co-hosts and produces a weekly political and policy talk show on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio entitled “The New School” and works at the University of Denver where he holds the positions of senior lecturer at the Institute for Public Policy and executive director for the Center for African American Policy and Center for New Policy and Politics. Prior to his time in the legislature, Groff served as senior advisor to Denver Mayor Webb on policy, representing the Mayor at various events, special interest group and neighborhood meetings and handling constituent relations. Groff received an Honorary Ph.D from the University of Denver’s School of Public Service, earned his JD from the University of Denver, College of Law and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Redlands.
Colorado House Speaker Terrance Carroll made history alongside Groff in December when the two were elected to lead their respective legislative bodies — making Colorado the first state in the nation where both chambers of the legislature were headed by African Americans. Friday afternoon, Carroll issued a statement praising Groff:
“Peter is more than a leader, more than a barrier-breaker, more than a role-model: Peter’s been a friend and a mentor to me and to so many African-Americans, so many Coloradans.
It has been a true privilege and honor to serve with my partner in history, my dear friend and colleague. I will truly miss having his presence in the Capitol and in Colorado.”