By Brenda Erickson
Theresa Holst was trained in photography at the Art Institute of Colorado. She has the intensity and empathy of an artist, yet unlike many artists, she possesses the strong customer service skills required of her current position that is manager of visitor services at the Colorado State Capitol.
She leads a fascinating and diverse staff of 35, ranging from college students to volunteer retirees, who serve the nearly 300,000 visitors to the Capitol every year. Theresa’s background in art also serves her well when it comes to advising the Capitol Building Advisory Committee on topics related to the statehouse and its art collection.
Theresa has worked for the Colorado Legislature for more than 12 years, and her early experience with the House of Representatives and current service with the Legislative Council have served her well.
Throughout her career, a common thread has been her ability to motivate others and leave them feeling they have been treated with respect and concern. Theresa manages the daily operation of the Visitor Services Section, which includes an information and tour desk, reservation center, a museum and interactive learning space called Mr. Brown’s attic and the observation area of the Capitol dome. She also coordinates historical and legislative orientations with Senate and House staff during the legislative session.
Theresa has been a principal planner of numerous special events, including the ceremonial reopening of the Capitol dome and the official observance of Colorado Day, the annual state holiday.
She is a graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, an executive management program presented by NCSL, the University of Southern California and California State University Sacramento. She has been a presenter at the annual meeting of the National Legislative Service and Security Association (NLSSA).
What gives you a great sense of achievement?
I have a passion for teaching people about the legislative process. Replacing some of the misconceptions about state government with facts is important to me. It is gratifying to be able to have a conversation with a group that arrived at the Capitol with very little knowledge of how state government works but leaves with a better understanding and appreciation of the people who and the work that happens here. I am grateful to work with a diverse and fascinating staff who share a love for this building, its history, and all that it represents.
What do you want people to know about your job?
An engaged and informed constituent translates into an involved citizen. The civic education received by visitors, including the thousands of fourth-graders who come to the Capitol on class field trips, promotes lifelong engagement.
What quality do you most admire in others?
Brenda Erickson is a policy principal in NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program and serves as a co-liaison to the National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA). NLSSA is one of nine professional staff associations at NCSL.