Salazar to become commissioner of insurance

Marguerite Salazar is the state’s new commissioner of insurance. She will start August 19, according to information from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office.

“Marguerite Salazar’s deep roots in Colorado and small business acumen will serve her well in this new role,” Hickenlooper said. “She is a savvy executive, understands regulatory reform and already knows her way around the insurance industry. We are proud she is joining our team.”

Salazar will replace Jim Riesberg, who recently resigned. He had served as the commissioner of insurance since July 2011.

Salazar will oversee the regulation of the insurance industry in Colorado. Her role will be key to assisting consumers and other stakeholders with insurance needs, including homeowners affected by Colorado wildfires and subsequent flooding. As the chief executive of the Division of Insurance, Salazar will work with the insurance industry to bring an inclusive, open, firm and fair-minded regulatory approach to all lines of insurance under her supervision such as life, homeowner, property and casualty, auto, workers’ compensation and title insurance.

“This is a great opportunity to continue serving the people of Colorado and build on my past work as a public-private executive,” Salazar said. “I look forward to assisting consumers and others find the optimal balance of effectiveness and efficiency when dealing with insurance issues in our state.”

Salazar began her career as a mental health therapist working in the San Luis Valley, where she developed and grew her business, Access Social Work Services, through contracts with public health agencies, hospitals and nursing homes in the region.

Later, Salazar served more than 20 years as the president and CEO of Valley-Wide Health Systems in Alamosa, a large, rural community health system serving more than 45,000 Coloradans through 22 primary care and dental clinics.

Salazar has most recently worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As regional director, Salazar was primarily responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act throughout the six-state Rocky Mountain Region. In that capacity, she worked closely with governors, congressional delegations, state and local elected leaders as well as insurers and health care providers in the region.

Salazar earned both a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology and gerontology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Adams State College.