Speaking with the Speaker: A Terrance Carroll Interview
by Becky Bye
I first met Terrance Carroll when we attended the University of Denver Sturm College of Law together. I could immediately tell he was bright, talented, and sociable, but little did I know that this unassuming classmate was on his way to becoming one of the most distinguished, influential attorneys and politicians in Colorado.
Carroll is Colorado’s newest Speaker of the House and represents House District 7. Besides his role as a busy legislator, he practices law and serves as an ordained minister. I caught up with him between his duties for his various commitments and causes to get a quick interview.
Carroll was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in that politically charged environment. His mother was and remains his hero and role model: "Despite her lack of formal education and growing up in a segregated era, she always understood the value of being involved in the community. She always taught me I had a responsibility to do something — not to just complain about things, but to do something."
He’s obviously taken that advice to heart. He recalled that even as a 7-year-old, he began developing his political resume by campaigning for Jimmy Carter, and he has continued to pursue political causes.
Throughout his life, along with his interest in politics and public service, another constant was his passion for religion and his own faith. One of his many endeavors included obtaining a masters of arts in divinity at the Iliff School of Theology and serving as an ordained minister in American Baptist churches. Carroll says he is "very active in my faith community. It has always been an integral part of my life on a daily basis. Going to my seminary and the process of getting an ordination was a very important part of my life."
He also is convinced that his experience as a minister helps him with the demanding political role: "Being speaker of the house is basically pastoring to 64 people."
Another component in Carroll’s life is practicing law. After graduating from law school in 2005, he went into private practice and currently litigates for the international firm of Greenberg Traurig.
Why did he go to law school? Carroll recalls, "I always joke that I stayed up late to watch Perry Mason as a kid — but I always wanted to go to law school. I thought law school would give me the skills and a platform from which to foster change." He says Thurgood Marshall and other NAACP leaders also inspired him to embark upon the practice of law.
He advises young attorneys who want to get more involved in politics and the community to practice time management "to get both things done and to do them well." He suggests that young attorneys engage in pro bono and community work. He is on the CBA Board of Governors and believes that this type of activity can benefit young attorneys aspiring to get more involved.
Although various newspapers and media sources have interviewed Carroll about his past, present, and future, very few have divulged the fact that he is an Eagle Scout. After high school, he spent five summers working at the High Adventure Camp — a Boy Scout camp in the Blue Mountains of Virginia and "the Boy Scout version of extreme camping." By his final summer there, he was promoted to program director. Among his duties, Carroll taught campers lumberjack skills, which included throwing axes and building houses.
His axe-throwing days may be over but he has various hurdles ahead of him as Speaker and as a legislator. His most challenging task now, he said, is: "The budget, the fiscal crisis, and the economy. There are no two ways about it. These issues have consumed the legislative agenda."
With his plate overflowing, he is always busy. How does he keep his life in balance?
"That is easier said than done. Right now, I have no balance. I often joke that ‘I’m married to the Capital or the Capital is my girlfriend.’"
Carroll quickly adds, "I love what I do." Clearly, it shows.