Our Team

 
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JAMES J. COLE

partner/owner, lobbyist

Jim is a highly accomplished senior executive, consultant, lobbyist and strategist with over 30 years of success in public policy, politics, government, energy, healthcare, financial services, transportation, state budget, local government, education and the nonprofit sector. Over the course of his career he has spearheaded legislation that has resulted in robust energy development, broader access to public k-12 education, enriched opportunities for higher education, higher air and water quality standards, major investments in transportation, and a healthy balance of power between the state and local governments.

Jim immerses himself in learning about his clients’ needs and can put complex issues into relatable terms. He moves people to understand issues first and then support the policies he is advancing. It is because of this strategy and his leadership on oil and gas issues that he was presented with the Denver Business Journal’s “Who’s Who in Energy” award in 2017.

Some of Jim’s highest accomplishments include creating the Arkansas River State Park, passing the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act and passing the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) Exemplary Institution Act, which enabled CSM to provide one of the highest quality and rigorous research experiences in the nation.

Jim has a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Oregon State University. He has been married 38 years and he and his wife, Mary, have two adult children. Jim is an avid cyclist and has completed nine years of Ride the Rockies and Iowa’s RAGBRAI. He also loves to fly fish and play guitar. His joy is seeing the humor that presents itself in everyday situations and sharing it whenever possible.

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Melanie Layton

partner/owner, lobbyist

Melanie joined CLS in 2000 and has nearly 25 years of expertise in public policy, lobbying, business, banking, bioscience and renewable energy. She enjoys working on complex economic development and tax policy, and has one of highest success rates passing incentives for varied industry sectors. She also has experience effectively lobbying k-12 education, capital development and healthcare. Melanie’s strong network of relationships with legislators, as well as influencers in the government and public policy arena, ensures CLS’ clients have unparalleled access to policy leaders.

Before beginning her lobbying career, Melanie was the Public Relations Director for the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, then moved into lobbying as the Legislative Director at Colorado Farm Bureau, while obtaining a Master’s from University of Colorado Denver’s Graduate School of Public Affairs. Prior to that, she received her Bachelor’s from Colorado Christian University. Melanie is a state board member of Girls on the Run and has served as an assistant instructor at the Colorado Mountain Club’s High Altitude Mountaineering School.

Melanie is a married mother to three children and an extreme athlete. Her noteworthy accomplishments include finishing the Leadville 100 Ultra-Marathon, climbing all 58 of Colorado’s mountains over 14,000’, along with numerous high-altitude mountains around the world. Her current athletic focus is Pack Burro Racing, Colorado’s official heritage sport, with her two rescued burros. Her dedication to these endeavors translates to the vision, planning and execution it takes to succeed in politics and advocacy.

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garin vorthmann

partner, lobbyist

Garin began her political career in Washington D.C. working for Senator Wayne Allard and ran the government affairs department at Colorado Farm Bureau before joining Colorado Legislative Services in 2007. She became partner in 2012 and steadfastly through her career, Garin has honed her policy knowledge on issues related to agriculture, including water and property rights. She also is highly skilled as a strategist for higher education, business, liquor, and state licensure issues.

Growing up on a ranch in southwest Colorado gave Garin a strong work ethic and her dedication to understanding an issue completely shows up when representing CLS clients. Her adeptness in many policy areas and direct manner of speaking means that she is a trusted resource for legislators on both sides of the aisle. She is regarded as a top water policy expert in Colorado and has been recognized for her work bolstering the Colorado business climate by working to align agriculture and energy-- two of the top five drivers of the Colorado economy--on a variety of issues. Garin was recognized as one of Colorado’s “Top Women in Energy” and “Who’s Who in Agriculture” by the Denver Business Journal in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

She is a proud graduate of Colorado State University where she earned an Agricultural Business degree. Garin has completed Colorado Farm Bureau’s Elite Leaders Academy, is a member of the Women’s Energy Network of Colorado and has served on the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Program board and Butterfly Pavilion’s Fund Development Committee.

In her free time, Garin cherishes time with her husband and two daughters, especially during trips to the mountains. She is an avid reader, sous-chef for her husband and wine connoisseur who frequents the Napa Valley.

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connie grider

office manager

Since 1999, Connie has been contributing her extensive organizational talents and keen attention to detail to the CLS lobby team and clients, by handling all business operations including information production, research, legislative tracking, bookkeeping, human resources, vendor management, supply management, client interface and event planning.

Connie expertly handles one of the most important functions of the firm: compliance required by the State of Colorado which includes campaign finance disclosures, lobbyist registration and monthly reporting of all client positions on bills to the Secretary of State’s Office. She also stays current with all the reporting requirements and communicates updates and changes to clients. Connie’s accuracy and precision ensures CLS is 100 percent compliant and meets all deadlines. Her tremendous experience, resourcefulness and organization are an asset to the firm and the clients alike.

Over the course of her years with CLS, Connie has pursued her passion for art and has established herself as a professional, gallery-represented and award winning abstract painter. Her work has been featured in Acrylic Artist Magazine, on the DIY Network show “Bargain Mansions” and is in corporate and private collections throughout the country.