As Senior Vice President of Government Relations in the Colorado office, Tonette Salazar brings more than twenty years of expertise to S360’s clients. Tonette serves as a strategic thinking partner and advocate for her clients, helping them navigate complex policy issues in the state.
Tonette has a strong history of success in the Colorado legislature and political arena. As an experienced lobbyist she has advocated for an array of education clients including school districts, community colleges, school counselors and career and technical education organizations. She has also worked extensively on homeowner association issues, labor and employment issues, and work force issues. Tonette tackles complex challenges with strategic thinking, thorough policy analysis and powerful coalition building.
Tonette began her policy-focused career as staff for Legislative Legal Services, the non-partisan office staffing the Colorado General Assembly. There she honed her legal research skills and learned the nuances of drafting state policy and agency regulations. She credits her strategic approach to advancing clients’ policy goals and strengthening their political brands to her experience working for former Speaker of the House, Ruben Valdez, a pioneer in education and community issues.
Tonette’s most notable achievements include leading the lobbying effort to help secure passage of in-state tuition and financial aid for undocumented students, negotiating a compromise on construction defects, and creating a new special education funding formula for public education.
In addition to representing clients at the state capitol, Tonette expanded her skill set by driving state engagement for the Education Commission of the States. There, she focused her expertise towards education policy and strategic planning for non-profits. She developed thoughtful strategies for the organization to connect with all 50 states on important education issues from preschool through workforce-preparedness education. She also served as an expert in education-focused hearings across the country. Tonette then returned to lobbying and worked in an advisory role with national and international clients looking for state political engagement and strategic planning for business development.
A native of Las Cruces, NM, Tonette holds a BA from University of Denver and a JD from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She also volunteers her time working with the next generation of Latinx leaders through the Latino Leadership Institute and serves on the Mile High United Way Board of Trustees, the oldest United Way in the county. She lives in Denver, CO, with her husband and three children. As a former competitive gymnast and judge, Tonette now spends her time supporting her children’s endeavors in dance, baseball and taekwondo.