Meet Dan

Meet Dan Pabon

Dan Pabon grew up in the same community he is serving in the Colorado State House.

The son of working class parents, his mom a nurse, his dad a Medicare benefits specialist, Dan attended Holy Family from preschool to high school. As the first in his family to have access to preschool, Dan is living proof that early childhood education is a means to close the educational achievement gap in our Colorado schools. While Dan can’t remember what curriculum was used or what standardized tests were administered, he fondly remembers his teachers and the impact they had on his life. It was his English teacher, Mr. McGovern, who taught Dan that we always shoulder a responsibility to give back and make the path a little easier for those who follow. This lesson has followed Dan throughout his life.

After graduating high school with honors and a one-and-half year old daughter, Dan began studying engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During his first year at CU, Dan struggled to support his young daughter, Maria, balance work and his studies, and contemplated dropping out. In fact, he was put on academic probation after that first semester. A lone engineering counselor saw the promise in Dan. He helped him find a job on campus and tutors to help lift his grades. It was because of this help that Dan managed not only to stay in school, but was eventually elected CU Student Body President his senior year. Dan knew that his struggle with the rigors of work and school was not unique. He wanted to ensure that similar students did not have to hope for a counselor or mentor to intervene on their behalf. Dan saw a problem and worked with others to found a university-wide support resource center for struggling and at-risk students trying to balance work and school. This resource center celebrated its 10th thriving anniversary in 2010. In sum, as soon as Dan had the opportunity, he immediately used his position to give back and make the path a little easier for those who followed. He has done the same in the State House.

Both McGovern, Dan’s English teacher, and the father of his college mentor, were among the 154 people who attended Dan’s backyard campaign kickoff. Both expressed how proud they were of him to overcome so many obstacles. They beamed with pride. Dan felt extremely humbled and honored to have them at his side, as they reflected the strength and vitality of the Northwest Denver community.

Engineering was more than just a degree for Dan; it was a profession that had metrics to measure progress—success and failure. Dan put his skills to the test in his first job out of CU as an engineer for a Denver-based bio-imaging company. There, he aided world-renowned scientists, doctors and researchers at the National Institutes of Health, Sloan Kettering, and CU Health Science in their search for cures to diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and diabetes. Despite professional success, he realized that his true passion lied in helping people more than studying them.

In 2002, Dan was accepted and enrolled in the University of Colorado School of Law on a half scholarship. As a law student, he worked for the Legal Aid and Defenders Program, where he helped the poor and disabled obtain Social Security benefits, navigated family law, and acted as general counselor and advocate for those most vulnerable. Again, as soon as Dan had the opportunity, he immediately used his knowledge to give back and make the path a little easier for others. Dan also served as Class President. He helped CU administration officials and students draft innovative legislation that provided the needed capital to build new academic buildings and retain accreditation, all despite drastic cuts in the state higher education budget. He’s seen first hand how state funding affects our educational institutions.

An attorney for five years at a prestigious Denver-based law firm, Dan built a practice that focused on real estate and green building development. He became a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and a strong advocate for green technologies and investing in Colorado’s new energy economy. As Dan’s practice grew, his clients became his friends, and his friends and neighbors became his clients.

To better serve those friends and neighbors, Dan gave up the life of a large law-firm lawyer to become Northwest Denver’s neighborhood attorney. His clients included neighborhood small business owners, residents and non-profits.

Dan applied many of the lessons he learned from working on the merry-go-round at the old Elitch’s to his law practice: always be kind and courteous, take special care with those most in need, and provide everyone an opportunity to reach their goals, whether it be riding the prize horse, accessing justice, or getting a good education. Dan continues to apply these lessons at the State House.

Dan still works on higher education issues as the vice-chair of the Auraria Higher Education Center Board. He has also been a voice for senior citizens as a member of the Association for Senior Citizens Board.

Last election cycle, Dan served as the Captain of the House District 4 Democrats, where he, his friends, and his neighbors built a grassroots organization dedicated to improving the community. Following the election, he went to Washington DC and served for two months on the Obama-Biden Presidential transition team. There, he helped draft the President’s first executive order on transparency and ethics in government.

Dan was elected on November 2, 2010, and entered office on January 12, 2011. He won the general election with over 75 percent of the vote.

Dan is an active member of the West Highlands Neighborhood Association, loves jogging, and enjoys teaching and mentoring at North High School.

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