Graf leaving Kids Voting post for suicide foundation

Martha Graf, executive director of Kids Voting Mesa County for the past seven years, is stepping down to become the executive director of the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation.

Graf said she is seeking a change and is looking forward to working with new people.

“I have a great board in place that has a lot of energy and a variety of perspective,” Graf said about Kids Voting board members.

“She will be greatly missed,” said Kids Voting board President Rachel Schowalter in a news release issued Monday. “We appreciate that she stayed to see our organization through some tough times and yet leaves while we are in a growing stage with a strong board and building community support.”

Kids Voting Mesa County, a nonprofit, nonpartisan youth civics education organization that started in 1996, ran into funding problems last year when roughly $20,000 in local government funding drastically decreased. The group was forced to rely more heavily on private donations to replace its lost funds and opted to hold a second annual fundraiser in addition to its yearly Kids Voting banquet.

Students in School District 51 utilize Kids Voting by casting their own ballots alongside elections for adults. Students interview candidates, conduct public forums, formulate opinions on candidates and provide editorials and columns about election-related coverage to The Daily Sentinel for publication.

Graf said the Kids Voting format also overlaps into the adult realm, for example, when students come home from school and show parents a video of them interviewing a candidate.

Sometimes the work of students changes a parent’s view of a candidate, and changes a vote, Graf said.

“Kids who are part of this are really engaged,” she said.

Graf will replace Karen Levad, who was tapped to head the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation in 2012. Kids Voting hopes to appoint a replacement for Graf in June.


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