Around the Institute

Celebrating the Generous, Serving Spirit of Our Region

June 27, 2021  • Daniel R. Porterfield

Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield delivered these remarks at A Tribute to Essential Workers hosted by the Aspen Music Festival and School on June 27, 2021 in Aspen, CO. Follow him on twitter @DanPorterfield.

What an honor to be together for this remarkable celebration of community. And what an honor to partner with Bob and Soledad Hurst who do so much to make a difference.

For example, thanks to Bob and Soledad, the Aspen Institute has launched a major new initiative to help meet compelling human needs in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys.

And, as you heard in the video, the Hurst Family have been crucial supporters of our region during the COVID-19 crisis. Along with the Greenwald family, the Lewis family, and the Aspen Community Foundation, they spearheaded the 2020 Rescue Fund that raised more than five million dollars to help individuals, families, nonprofits, and small businesses.

Please join me in thanking Bob and Soledad Hurst and all who give to the greater good.

Today, we celebrate the return of summer—and, in 2021, summer is the season of gratitude. There are many to thank.

Thank you to the original inhabitants of these lands, the Northern Ute people, whose ancestry and culture is embedded throughout our region.

For elevating the arts and serving as our hosts today, thank you to the Aspen Music Festival and School and its brilliant President and CEO, Alan Fletcher.

Thank you to my Institute colleagues Cristal Logan and Evan Zislis—and everyone who has made today possible—all staff, all performers, all public health advisors, all guests.

And, thank you to all Aspen organizations and groups taking part in today’s event. Music and the arts are the food of life and core to the mind-body-spirit ethos of Aspen and our region.

In this season of gratitude, today is all about saying thank you to a group of extraordinary people who have led us through the pandemic—all frontline workers.

These heroes are teachers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and postal workers.

They’re farmers, cooks, servers, case workers, mental health professionals, and bus drivers.

They’re utility workers, grocery store staff, census volunteers, community advocates, and small business owners.

They’re artists, musicians, elected officials, and community leaders.

They’re students, neighbors, friends, parents, and grandparents.

So many people have worked tirelessly to keep our communities functioning despite unimaginable hardship and personal losses that have touched so many.

Everyone, please join me in thanking our frontline workers.

We come together during the COVID-19 crisis, which is certainly not over, with hope and resolve to renew, rebuild, revitalize, and reimagine. As we mourn the loss of each life, we take heart in the generous, serving spirit that defines our region.

And, in that spirit, we are honored to welcome Governor Jared Polis to this stage.

Our governor is a true advocate for the people of Colorado.

He’s a passionate public servant.

I heard one local leader refer to him as the “equity governor.”

He cares for people, he promotes collaboration, and he has worked tirelessly to lead the state’s response to the pandemic.

We’re grateful to have him here to offer a few thoughts.

Please join me in welcoming Governor Jared Polis.