Women in Government

Emily Wattman-Turner 2015 HONOREE

Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Office of Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado

When Emily Wattman-Turner graduated from Colorado College three years ago, she set two goals: work in the governor’s office and tackle the biggest policy issues in the state. “I set my expectations really high,” she says, “and then I try to do everything possible to achieve that.” Her success so far has been remarkable. Wattman-Turner’s career in public service began with an internship for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. Then she wrote white papers on cost-containment strategies under federal and state health reform at a Colorado think tank. Later, she became the deputy finance director for a proposed 2013 budget referendum that would have raised $950 million for education funding by raising taxes. It became the most expensive and highest-profile referendum in the state that year; voters ultimately rejected it, but the campaign gave her valuable experience that she parlayed into a post as a fundraiser for Gov. John Hickenlooper in his re-election bid last year. Today Wattman-Turner is the executive assistant to his chief of staff. Before entering public service, Wattman-Turner played four years as a guard for her college basketball team, which sometimes comes through in the way she explains her professional progress to date. “I love team environments,” she says, “and I’ve always been ready for anything.”

MORE: Read about the Women in Government Leadership Program and the rest of the 2015 honorees.