Ken Toltz is a successful businessman, community leader, professor, and a vocal advocate for the causes for which he has a special passion. A proud third-generation Coloradan born in Denver, Ken later embraced Boulder as his new home. There, he spent six active years engaged in the affairs of his local communities — both in the city of Boulder and at the University of Colorado Boulder. In the summer of 2019, Ken embarked on his new activism journey, relocating to Mitzpe Ramon, a small town in Israel’s Negev region. The town sits on the edge of a vast crater called Makhtesh Ramon, and Ken was inspired by the transformative power of the location, eager to redefine his purpose in the world.

Har HaCamel Viewing Platform in Mitzpe Ramon

Academic

Born and raised in southeast Denver, Ken grew up through the Denver public school system and graduated from George Washington High School. He holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado Boulder in Political Science and an MBA from the University of Denver with an emphasis in Marketing. From 2007 to 2009, Ken was a member of the faculty of University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, teaching MBA and undergraduate level courses in Marketing Management and Strategy, Consumer Behavior.

Jewish Community

Ken’s close-knit family provided a firm foundation in his Jewish heritage and traditions. His grandparents on both sides were founding members of Denver’s Jewish community and its institutions, helping to build synagogues, old-age homes, and Jewish hospitals, as well as serving in leadership positions with local Jewish institutions. His parents followed that example as generous donors, fundraisers, board members, officers, and leaders in local Jewish communal organizations such as the ADL, AJC, Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, and the local chapter of AIPAC.

One of Ken’s father’s proudest moments was when, on a mission to Israel in the early 1980s, he somehow acquired Golda Meir’s private phone number. One couldn’t say the former Prime Minister was pleased when he called out of the blue, but he still remembers the call fondly as a personal landmark moment. Not to be outdone, Ken’s mother was awarded Lion of Judah status by UJA national, which signifies years of high-level giving and fundraising. And Ken’s younger sister Amy continued with involvement in local organizations, eventually serving as president of the Allied Jewish Federation (now called JewishColorado) and co-chairing the host committee for the General Assembly when it was held in Denver.

Ken attended religious after-school programs through high school, working toward and completing his Jewish Confirmation. He has written about his personal connection to Israel frequently, but it still caught his parents by surprise when he decided to spend his junior year of college studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Back home, Ken’s desire to seek new challenges and frontiers served him well as he finished his Political Science degree by working on two U.S. political campaigns. He then began his professional career in Washington, DC, in the legislative department at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and went on to work on campaigns for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, and a presidential campaign as Deputy National Finance Director.

Private Sector/ Business

After moving back to Denver, Ken’s business experience ranged from small entrepreneurial businesses to large corporations to owning his own business. Ken was the President of Dependable Southwest Inc., owning and operating seven Dependable Cleaners in the Denver metro area. Previously, he held marketing and management positions in financial services, consumer products, and consumer services, and has held management positions with United Banks of Colorado, Brothers Gourmet Coffees, and Dependable Cleaners.

Ken has given back to Colorado communities in countless ways. Ken has linked his business and community interests frequently through his service on the boards of many local businesses, community groups, and national organizations. Ken has served on the board of the Denver-Boulder Better Business Bureau and the Anti-Defamation League. He also served on the board of the Corporate Alliance for Better Air and was appointed to the Citizens Advisory Panel for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, a position mandated by the Clean Air Act. Ken is also a founding Colorado member of the National Jewish Democratic Coalition (Jewish Democratic Council of America).

Political

Ken’s interest in government began in high school when he served as an intern in the Colorado State Legislature. Ken then went on to work with several local campaigns including: Carlos Lucero, candidate for the U.S. Senate and David Skaggs successful campaign for U.S. Congress in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. Ken also served as Deputy National Finance Director for Senator Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign.

In 2000, Ken entered the political arena as a candidate, successfully winning the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. The 2000 election campaign in Colorado’s 6th District was dominated by the tragedy which occurred in Littleton, Colorado in the heart of the district — the horrific shootings by students at Columbine High School. Issues of gun violence prevention dominated the campaign which changed the trajectory of Ken’s political work and turned into a 20 year long activist effort to reduce the tragic toll gun violence has exacted on American society.

As a first-time candidate for Congress, he garnered 42% of the vote in a heavily Republican district. Ken was a founding board member of Colorado Ceasefire, a statewide gun violence prevention organization formed in 2000 in response to the Columbine High School tragedy. Later, Ken founded and is now co-chair of Safe Campus Colorado, a grassroots citizens organization dedicated to getting concealed guns off of Colorado’s college and university campuses.

representing Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America — Boulder 2017

Israel

Early in his career, Ken worked in the legislative department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. Following his work with AIPAC, Ken assisted in the direction of Washington Political Action Committee (one of the first national pro-Israel political action committees founded by former AIPAC Executive Director Morrie Amitay). Ken is also a founding Colorado member of the National Jewish Democratic Coalition (Jewish Democratic Council of America). As a decades long activist with AIPAC, Ken also sees the value of working with other pro-Israel organizations including JStreet and others to help bridge any gaps and find common ground to express his support for a close US-Israel relationship.

Recently, Ken has turned his activism to a new cause, Zionism 3.0, which he envisions as a broad-based campaign to redefine Zionism for a new generation.

Ken’s recent move to Israel’s Negev region was prompted his desire to lead and facilitate the Zionism 3.0 Project, inspiring a new generation to take up the unfinished work of the last generation and carry it further towards the vision of the founders.

Writer

As a writer, Ken has contributed numerous advocacy Op-Eds and opinion columns to a range of publications including Huffington Post, The Hill, Newsweek, Times of Israel, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Jewish Daily Forward and many Colorado newspapers. Ken writes on gun violence prevention and his experience with the U.S. — Israel relationship including Diaspora-Israel Jewish community relations. (see links below).

Ken is also very proud that his two daughters, Allison and Leigh, following in his academic footsteps by completing graduate degrees in their fields.

Follow Ken Toltz on twitter.

Dawn

Ken Toltz in Thrive Global

Ken Toltz in HuffPost

Ken Toltz in The Times of Israel

Ken Toltz in Haaretz

Ken Toltz in Newsweek

Ken Toltz in The Hill

Ken Toltz in The Denver Post

Ken Toltz in Boulder Daily Camera

Ken Toltz in Greeley Tribune

Ken Toltz in Colorado Springs Gazette

Ken Toltz in Boulder Daily Camera

Ken Toltz in Boulder Weekly

Ken Toltz in Colorado Statesman

Ken Toltz in Westword

Ken Toltz in CU Independent

Ken Toltz on KGNU

Ken Toltz on CPR

Ken Toltz in Colorado Politics

Ken Toltz in Boulder Daily Camera

Ken Toltz in HuffPost

Ken Toltz in The Colorado Sun

Ken Toltz in Salon

Ken Toltz in Thrive Global

Ken Toltz in The Jerusalem Post

Ken Toltz in the Jewish Forward