Lt. Governor and Chief Operating Officer Donna Lynne was born on October, 27, 1953 on a Navy base in Jacksonville, Florida, where her father was in the midst of a 20-year military career. Her mother had also served in the Navy, and they were both World War II veterans.
After a 29-year career working in the public sector and for a nonprofit health care company in New York, she found her true ‘home’ when she moved to the Centennial State in 2005.
Colorado turned out to be an ideal match for Donna’s love of the outdoors, as she’s climbed all 58 of the 14’ers, skied at 29 ski areas in the state, and cycled in Ride the Rockies and Pedal the Plains. It’s also where she met and married her second husband, Jim Brown.
She lives in Denver and has three children and two stepchildren – one of whom graduated from the University of Colorado.
Donna has always been athletic and has never steered clear of challenges. She was good enough to play field hockey at the University of New Hampshire, but because her parents were not able to provide the financial support, she had to quit playing sports and work her way through college as a waitress. In fact, she missed her graduation ceremony because she was waiting tables.
After her first marriage ended in divorce, Donna raised her three children on her own. As a single mother, she was their sole provider and knows firsthand the challenges of trying to make ends meet. One of her proudest accomplishments is the fact that each of her children graduated from college and has been successful in life.
After receiving a Masters of Public Administration from George Washington University in 1976, Donna went to work for the City of New York. The City was on the verge of bankruptcy, and she was part of the team that had to restore fiscal stability while maintaining a strong committed workforce of more than 300,000 employees.
Health care costs were a big part of those negotiations, and Donna was part of the team that found creative ways to help the City save money and keep quality benefits for its employees. She learned that you get more when you tackle the tough problems head on and focus on solutions that can work for everyone.
She’s been working on healthcare and tackling other tough problems ever since.
While working full-time and raising her family, Donna also earned a doctorate in Public Health from Columbia University. Just like in college, she filled her days, nights and weekends with work and school, but it was worth it to follow her passion.
It was health care that brought Donna to Colorado. Kaiser Permanente hired her as president of Colorado, and later promoted her to run more states. In addition to being one of Colorado’s biggest employers, Kaiser is also a non-profit health care provider.
While Donna was with Kaiser, she grew the number of insured from 400,000 to 600,000, expanded their service areas to a larger footprint in the state, and added thousands of jobs in Colorado. They moved a call center and data center from California to Colorado which helped strengthen our economy.
During her time in the private sector, Donna served on more than 20 nonprofit boards and commissions including: Colorado Education Initiative, Colorado Mountain Club, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Public Schools Foundation, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the University of Denver. She is a member of the Colorado Women’s Forum.
Numerous community organizations have recognized Donna as a civic leader including Girl Scouts of America – Mile High Chapter, the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Denver Business Journal. In 2015, she was recognized as one of the top 25 most powerful women in health care in the country.
When Governor Hickenlooper asked Donna to become Colorado’s first combined Lt. Governor and Chief Operating Officer, she was managing a $9 billion budget and 16,000 employees. Now, she oversees the operations for Colorado’s state government, which has a $28 billion budget and 30,000 employees.
Since joining the Hickenlooper Administration, Donna has led efforts to address the issues of health care affordability, accessibility, and quality. She launched key initiatives to increase accountability and transparency in government and to make government services more efficient and effective. And she brought renewed attention to education for all Coloradans.
Donna is running for Governor because Colorado has made a lot of progress under John Hickenlooper, but there’s a lot more to be done to stay on the right track. And many of the challenges we must face are tough and complicated. But, that doesn’t scare her, because she’s been doing tough and complicated her whole life.