Magazine Feature / People

DU educator becomes Colorado Senate president

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Peter Groff is the new president of the Colorado Senate.

Peter Groff, Colorado state senator and executive director of DU’s Center for African American Policy (CAAP), was elected president of the Colorado Senate by Senate Democrats on Nov. 15.

When the Democrat-dominated senate votes in January, Groff will become the first black state senate president in Colorado history and only the third in U.S. history.

“I understand the historic significance of this election, but also the mountainous challenges facing our state,” Groff says. “It’s time to move the mountains of challenges that face us and move Colorado forward.”

Groff, the highest ranking black official in Colorado, replaces state Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Jefferson County, who resigned Nov. 14 to focus on her campaign for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. Fitz-Gerald was the first woman to serve in the position.

Groff founded CAAP at DU to work for positive change in the lives of blacks through public policy research and scholarship, community involvement and public service. In addition, Groff is a senior lecturer in DU’s public policy program and editor of, a Web site devoted to monitoring and analyzing black policy and politics.

“Peter is much more than a politician or legislator,” says Charles Ellison, a senior fellow at CAAP and senior producer of “He’s a great thinker and scholar.”

In the legislature, where Groff is called the “Conscience of the Senate,” he has pushed through landmark legislation prohibiting racial profiling, requiring booster seats for young children, creating the Office of Health Disparities, securing tens of millions of dollars for health care and leading education reform.

As Senate president, Groff says he will work with the Democratic governor and house of representatives to further legislation to create a 21st century school system, establish Colorado as a leader in renewable energy and expand health care access to all state citizens.

Groff was born in Chicago and raised in Denver. He has a BA in communications from the University of Redlands in California and a JD from DU’s Sturm College of Law. He is married to Rev. Regina Groff of Campbell Chapel AME Church and has two young children, Malachi and Moriah. His father, Regis Groff, was also a Colorado state senator.

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