Other Group

Colorado Democracy Alliance (CODA)




Denver, Colorado

Founders ("Gang of Four"):

Tim Gill

Patricia Stryker

Jared Polis

Rutt Bridges

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For more information, see Democracy Alliance (Other Group)

The Colorado Democracy Alliance (CODA) is a left-wing membership and strategy organization created to assist the Democratic Party in turning Colorado into a consistently left-leaning state in elections.1

The Colorado Democracy Alliance is associated with the national Democracy Alliance, a national strategy organization created in 2005 to incorporate high-level influencers and donors in the Democratic Party in order to create permanent left-wing “infrastructure.”2


For more information on the “Colorado Model,” see Albert C. Yates

The Colorado Democracy Alliance was founded in 2004 by Democratic donors Tim Gill and Patricia Stryker. It was supported by a group of Democratic donors called the “Gang of Four,” which consisted of Gill, Stryker, Jared Polis, and Rutt Bridges.3

Albert C. Yates, a retired academic, is credited with connecting the Gang of Four and establishing the CODA. He has been described as the creator of a “Colorado Model” for creating left-wing infrastructure in a state.4



Pamela Shifman is the president of CODA since September 2021. Prior to this, from 2008 to 2020, she served in several positions with the NoVo Foundation including the director of NoVo’s Initiatives for Girls and Women and later on Executive Director of the Foundation. In 2020 she founded philanthropic advocacy group Shake the Table. She serves on the board for several organizations including The Young Women’s Freedom Center, The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, The Ms. Foundation, and Tools and Tiaras. 5

Board of Directors

According to an August 2008 panel discussion (available here) during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, Public Interest Network president Doug Phelps was chairman of CODA.6 The panel discussion was also attended by Rob Stein, a founder of the national Democracy Alliance (DA), DA executive director Kelly Craighead, CODA executive director Laurie Zeller, and DA member Frank Smith.

A 2006 CODA confidential strategy document (available here) obtained by the now-defunct right-leaning group Face the State listed CODA’s board members as the following individuals:7

Colorado Democracy Alliance Members (2006)
Al YatesKelly Nordini
Rutt BridgesKen Gordon
Ted TrimpaMary Alice Mandarich
Tim GilmoreMike Melanson
Andrew RomanoffSteve Adams
Alice MaddenTim Gill
Carolyn SiegelLynne Mason
Dominic Del PapaMitch Ackerman
Jenifer BrandeberryRick Reiter
Joan Fitz-GeraldRich Pelletier


A 2006 CODA confidential strategy document (available here) obtained by the right-leaning group Face the State (now defunct) listed CODA’s “operatives,” including “covert” operatives, as the following individuals:8

Colorado Democracy Alliance "Operatives" (2006)
Al YatesInterim Executive Director of CODA, Pat Stryker's political advisor
Rutt BridgesBoard Chair of CODA & CEO of Bighorn
Ted TrimpaTim Gill's political advisor and atty/lobbyist for BHF Law
Tim GilmoreTed Trimpa's legislative assistant at BHF Law
Andrew Romanoff**Speaker of the CO State House - Co-Chair, Mainstreet Colorado
Alice Madden**Majority Leader of CO State House - Chair, Mainstreet Colorado
Carolyn SiegelAFL-CIO public relations - "Educate the Idiots"
Dominic Del PapaIKON Public Affairs - Strategy & Coordination
Evan Dreyer**Ritter Campaign Manager
Jenifer BrandeberryLobbyist, CO Trial Lawyers Association (CTLA)
Joan Fitz-Gerald**CO State Senate President - Chair, Moving Colorado Forward
Kelly NordiniDirector of Ops for State House 527
Mary Alice MandarichSenate Chief of Staff & Director of Ops for Senate 527
Mike MelansonIKON Public Affairs - Strategy & Coordination
Steve AdamsPresident, CO AFL-CIO
Tim GillCODA Board Member - Money man: Nov 8th Organizer
Lynne MasonCO Education Association - Public Affairs Director, CEA-Base of Operations
Mitch AckermanPresident, CO SEIU
Ray RiveraAFSCME employee, Operations Manager, CO Senate 527
Rick ReiterPolitical Op, Citizens for Progress, Dem Governor's Association 527 -> Ritter Campaign
Rich PelletierAmerica Votes, State Director
** Indicates "covert" or "off the record" operative


“Educate the Idiots” Campaign

In a 2006 confidential strategy memorandum (available here) obtained by Face the State, CODA outlined “specific tasks for various members of the state’s liberal infrastructure, including a campaign to ‘educate the idiots,'” which was assigned to Carolyn Siegel and the AFL-CIO. According to the document, intended targets of the campaign included “minorities, GED’s [sic], drop-outs…” as part of a minimum wage “wedge issue management.”9 10


  1. Kroll, Andy. ” This Machine Turned Colorado Blue. Now It May Be Dems’ Best Hope to Save the Senate.” October 29, 2014. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/colorado-udall-hickenlooper-senate-democracy-alliance/.
  2. Edsall, Thomas B. “Opinion: Are Liberals Fundraising Hypocrites?” The New York Times. September 30, 2015. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/01/opinion/are-liberals-fundraising-hypocrites.html?_r=0
  3. “Colorado Democracy Alliance” BallotpediaAccessed October 11, 2018. https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Democracy_Alliance
  4. Witwer, Rob. “Rocky Ride.” National Review. March 5, 2009. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2009/03/23/rocky-ride/.
  5. “Pamela Shifman.” Democracy Alliance – Colorado. Accessed October 25, 2023. https://democracyalliance.org/people/pamela-shifman/
  6. Vadum, Matthew; Jones, Josh; Dellinger, James. “Transcript of ‘Democracy Alliance: Colorado as a Model–Donor Cooperation for Social Change’ panel discussion.” August 27, 2008. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2018/10/democracyalliancepaneltranscriptfromdnc2008.pdf.
  7. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2018/10/colorado-democracy-alliance-membership-document-2006.pdf
  8. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2018/10/colorado-democracy-alliance-membership-document-2006.pdf
  9. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2018/10/colorado-democracy-alliance-membership-document-2006.pdf
  10. “DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE MEMO DETAILS DEM PLAN TO “EDUCATE THE IDIOTS” AND TARGET MINORITIES.” Face the State (obtained via WayBack Machine). October 1, 2008. Accessed October 10, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20081004033950/http://www2.facethestate.com/articles/democracy-alliance-memo-details-dem-plan-educate-idiots-and-target-minorities.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Laurie Zeller
    Former Executive Director
  2. Joe Zimlich
    Board Chair
  3. Doug Phelps
    Founding Member
  4. Tim Gill
    Founding Member ("Gang of Four")
  5. Ted Trimpa
    Board Member
  6. Rutt Bridges
    Founding Member ("Gang of Four")
  7. Patricia Stryker
    Founding Member ("Gang of Four")
  8. Jared Polis
    Founding Member ("Gang of Four")
  9. Albert C. Yates
    Board Member and Co-Founder
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