Capitol Hill Press Conference

Capitol Hill began in 1982, a collaboration between Governor Richard Lamm’s press secretary (Sue O’Brien) and Fran Henry, from CHSPA. It takes place in the Old Supreme Court Chambers in the State Capitol, normally in the month of February.

The event was originally called “Governor’s Day Press Conference,” but no governor actually attended for over 10 years.

This unique program began in 1982 as a result of a conversation between Sue O’Brien, who was Gov. Richard Lamm’s press secretary, and CHSPA’s Fran Henry at the Colorado Press Association convention. Henry directed the program until 1991, when Karen Risch and then Darryl Stafford took on those duties. Jack Kennedy took on the coordinator duties in 2010-11. As current executive director, Elise Carlson is the new coordinator.

The purpose of the event is to expose students to a “real” press conference with a prominent government official, to educate them about state issues and the working of the state government, and to give them a taste of “real journalism.”

Originally, CHSPA invited 30 schools, each with two students and one adviser. Students would sit in the center section of the Old Supreme Court Chambers in the State Capitol Building, and only students could ask questions. CSMA still maintains a limit of two students per member medium, plus the advisers, and there is no cost to participate.

A writing contest is held onsite following the press conference and the governor originally would present $25 checks to winners at the first Proclamation Day in March at the State Capitol. At some point, the cash awards were stopped, but award certificates are mailed to winners.

Following some tough questioning by students in the early 1990s, the governor stopped attending and other state officials often served as the officials being questioned. Gov. John Hickenlooper did appear for 25 minutes in 2016.

The 2019 CHPC was cancelled due to renovation work on the Old Supreme Court Chambers. We hope to bring back the CHPC for the 2023-24 school year.

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Capitol Hill Press Conference