Kathy Nesbitt

Director of Personnel for the State of Colorado and Executive Director of the Department of Personnel & Administration


Kathy Nesbitt was appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper in January 2011 as the Director of Personnel for the State of Colorado and Executive Director of the Department of Personnel & Administration. In this dual role, Kathy is responsible for the efficient and effective management of five divisions: Human Resources; Central Services, including the fleet, printing operations, mail delivery and document scanning; Finance and Procurement; the State Controller’s Office; and Administrative Courts. She also oversees statewide programs, including the State Architect’s Office, State Archives and the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program.

Kathy creates and administers the rules that govern the State’s 33,000+ classified employees, as well as their compensation and benefits. Kathy drafted significant personnel legislation and worked with the State Legislature to introduce a statewide ballot initiative that had employee union support and passed with 56% of the vote. This is the first significant change to the State’s personnel system in 92 years, and previous attempts to pass similar legislation had failed.

Under Kathy’s management of the State’s $8 billion in annual procurement spend, she created a model for strategic sourcing and stood up the State’s e-procurement system for technology assets, including electronic workflow approvals. She led the migration of the State’s solicitation and vendor bidding system to a hosted online environment. Changes she has made in the State’s purchasing agreements are saving taxpayers roughly $7 million a year, and an innovative tax offset program has increased the State's collection of overdue accounts by 32%. She also established an innovative outreach program called ACCESSColorado to ensure broader diversity of businesses working with the state.

Kathy identified and secured funding for the complete replacement of the State’s 20-year-old financial reporting system, which processes $28.8 billion in expenditure transactions annually. She oversees planning and implementation of the new, state-of-the-art Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system – called CORE (Colorado Operations Resource Engine) – that will integrate the State’s many previously disparate systems when it launches in July 2014.

Kathy implemented process improvements identified through a LEAN project for the State’s tax document processing systems, resulting in $2.1 million in annual savings. She envisioned and is establishing a statewide master plan for facilities, and secured $500,000 for grounds improvements in the Capitol complex. Kathy oversees the Capitol dome restoration project, its LEED certification and conversion to geothermal energy use. Under her leadership, 23.9% of the State’s fleet now uses alternative fuel.

The State conducted its first employee engagement survey under Kathy’s guidance. She created a statewide new employee orientation program, instituted major enhancements in the state training and development center, and launched a wellness program for the State’s 33,000+ employees.

Kathy has spent the majority of her career as a labor and employment attorney, and possesses her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Kathy previously served as Human Resources Director and Interim Vice President of Human Resources for Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado Region, and as Staff Attorney at Mountain States Employers Council and at Qwest Communications. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Kathy serves as one of three members of the State of Colorado’s Claims Board. She also serves on the Colorado Correctional Industries’ Advisory Board and previously served as a board member for the Children’s Museum of Colorado.

Kathy was honored as Governing Magazine’s 2013 Public Official of the Year. She was also selected in 2013 by the National Association of State Personnel Directors as the recipient of the prestigious Eugene H. Rooney, Jr., Award for leadership in state human resource management.  Kathy was a 2010 winner of Denver Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” award.

She is happily married and the mother of two young boys.