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From left: Kara Veitch has been tapped by Gov. Jared Polis to lead the Department of Personnel and Administration and Michelle Barnes was chosen to be the head of the Colorado Department of Human Services. (Handouts)

Gov. Jared Polis’ office announced two new executive directors for state government Friday, leaving one cabinet position open a month after taking office.

Food Bank of the Rockies interim president Michelle Barnes will become executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services, which oversees the state’s child welfare division, youth corrections and mental hospitals.

Michelle Barnes (Handout)

Barnes, who has worked in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, spent two decades in the tech industry and a dozen years in nonprofit leadership, according to her Food Bank of the Rockies biography. The temporary job at the food bank was the latest of several interim chief executive positions Barnes held.

She founded an organization called Interim Leadership Solutions, which helped various organizations through transition as Barnes stepped in to lead them. In 2014, she wrote an essay for The Washington Post about carrying an Ebola-like disease into the United States after a trip to Uganda.

Kara Veitch

At the Department of Personnel and Administration, deputy director Kara Veitch is stepping into the top job. Veitch became deputy director of the agency in 2013 and previously was an attorney for Children’s Voices and an associate director of Colorado Forum.

Polis has yet to announce an executive director of the state Department of Revenue.

The cabinet positions announced Friday were among three Gov. Jared Polis had yet to fill a month after taking office. Workers at the departments knew of the hirings but were not allowed to confirm them and referred questions to the governor’s office, which emailed a press release.


Jen is a co-founder and reporter at The Sun, where she writes about mental health, child welfare and social justice issues.

Her first journalism job was at The Hungry Horse News in her home state of Montana, before moving on to reporting jobs in Texas and Oklahoma. She worked for 13 years at The Denver Post, including several years on the investigative projects team, before helping create The Sun in 2018.

Jen is a graduate of the University of Montana and loves hiking, skiing and watching her kids' sports.

Email: Twitter: @jenbrowncolo