Jared Polis is an entrepreneur, education leader, public servant, and Colorado native. He started his first business, American Information Systems, while in college out of his dorm room. By the time he was 30, he launched three successful companies, including ProFlowers, one of the world’s leading online flower retailers. Jared’s pioneering role in the internet economy earned him an “Entrepreneur of the Year” distinction from Ernst and Young.
Following these business successes, Jared committed himself to making sure other Coloradans had the opportunity to pursue their dreams. He co-founded Techstars, a startup accelerator that mentors entrepreneurs from all walks of life, and Patriot Boot Camp, which helps veterans start their own small businesses after coming home from their service.
In addition to his career as an entrepreneur, much of Jared’s adult life has been focused on improving public education. He served six years on the State Board of Education, where he worked to raise pay for teachers and reduce class size for students. He also founded several public charter schools for at-risk youth, and served as superintendent of one of them, the New America School, which helps immigrants earn their high school diploma.
Most recently, Jared served as the U.S. Representative for Colorado’s Second Congressional District, which stretches from Larimer County and the Wyoming border, to the Central Mountains at the heart of Colorado’s tourism economy, to Boulder and the U.S. 36 high-tech corridor. During his time in Congress, the Center for Effective Lawmaking ranked Jared the most effective member of Colorado’s House delegation due to his success working across the aisle to improve Colorado’s schools, protect public lands, and support startups and small businesses.
Jared and his partner Marlon, and their two children are all avid Rockies fans.
Office of Economic Development and International Trade
Betsy Markey was appointed by Governor Jared Polis to his cabinet as Executive Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade in January 2019. She has over 30 years of leadership experience in government and the private sector. She has served as a Member of Congress, a senior federal executive, and the co-founder and CFO of a high tech company.
Betsy was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) based in Denver in 2016. In this capacity she oversaw the delivery of the agency’s small business programs and services in Colorado, Montana, North and South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
In 2011, she was appointed by the President to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington DC. She facilitated the direct line of communication between the department and governors and mayors across the country on all DHS mission areas, including cyber security, terrorism prevention, transportation security, immigration enforcement, border security and disaster assistance.
Betsy was elected to serve as a Member of Congress in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in 2008, and represented over 700,000 constituents in one of the country’s largest congressional districts in the 111th Congress. She served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Agriculture.
In the late-1980’s, Betsy and her husband launched a successful technology company, Syscom Services, which was one of the first companies to market email, and subsequently expanded into the area of web design and web-based information management systems. The firm has been ranked in the Inc. 500 listing of America’s fastest-growing private companies. She participated in the sale of the company to a group of investors. During that time she also purchased a coffee/ice cream shop in Fort Collins called Huckleberry’s. She sold the store five years later to another local business.
She holds a Bachelor degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Public Administration from American University.