Ramsey Kropf ('91) calls herself the beneficiary of luck, but, despite her humility, her career arc shows the confluence of talent and hard work paying off. Her career path has included working with judges, at firms, and now in an appointed position for the federal government.
“I think it’s really helpful to have a variety of experiences,” said Kropf, who now works for the U.S. Department of the Interior as deputy solicitor for water resources. “I was really fortunate.”
Name a prominent ski town in the American West, and Kropf has probably lived there. Her parents worked in the ski industry, and Kropf moved from Aspen to Breckenridge as a child. She later lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Unsurprisingly, Kropf grew up as a skier, and continued with the sport through college as a member of the University of Denver’s ski team during her undergraduate years. But Kropf was no ski bum. She excelled in the classroom, studying marketing as an undergrad and foresaw a future in business.
After several years of professional work experience doing business in the ski industry, Kropf saw an opportunity to grow. She decided to attend law school. The decision came down to several options, but the University of Colorado Law School was the right fit.
“I rolled . . . into Boulder and I was like, ‘Why would you want to go anywhere else? This is the most beautiful, incredible place in the world,’” Kropf said.
Kropf came to Colorado Law not entirely sure what she would pursue, but figured it would be something that would get her back into the ski industry. That changed when she took a class with Professor Charles Wilkinson.
“He was so inspiring that I decided, ‘I’m going to take every natural resources class that I can possibly take,’” Kropf said.
She graduated with a JD/MBA from the University of Colorado in 1991, and her career has taken her far ever since. She worked in Arizona as a staff attorney for the special master for the general stream adjudication in the state. She stayed for several years until her family relocated to Wyoming, where she took a job as a special master for the Bighorn River adjudication. After some years, she moved on to Patrick, Miller, Kropf & Noto (now Patrick, Miller & Noto), a firm in Aspen, Colorado, devoted to water resources, where she spent more than 16 years. She became a partner there in 2000, but continued working as the special master for the Bighorn River adjudication. Her expertise in water resources led to further career advancement. Kropf got the chance to move east, as she received an appointment to be the deputy solicitor for water resources at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Because the state of Colorado has such a strong water law background . . . my name came up through knowing other Colorado water lawyers that were serving under this administration,” Kropf said.
“The appointment came out of the blue for me and I was really honored.”
Kropf balances her work life with the commitment to be outdoors. Despite her work ethic and success, she finds motivation from outdoor writer Edward Abbey to continue to enjoy the outdoors.
“Do not burn yourselves out,” Abbey wrote. “Be as I am—a reluctant enthusiast . . . a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.”
“It’s not just about the fight for the outdoors; get out and enjoy it,” Kropf said.
Kropf stays true to the ideal. Living in Washington, D.C., she rides her bike and raves about the beauty of the city and the scenery. Kropf frequently makes it out West and still gets to enjoy the outdoors of Colorado. Plus, she is close with her family and she frequently travels to watch her daughter play collegiate soccer. In fact, Kropf was at one of her daughter’s soccer events as she spoke about receiving the Alum of the Month honor.
Ramsey Kropf is many things, from outdoor enthusiast to family woman to lawyer. It’s clear that talent and hard work have helped drive her to the appointed position she holds today.
What is your fondest memory of being a student at Colorado Law?
Being a law clerk with David Getches and Norton Steuben, and taking Charles Wilkinson’s seminar on natural resources, which included a spring break tour of Arizona during a snowstorm!
What do you know now that you wish you had known in law school?
The work you do is not about finishing an assignment, it’s about looking ahead to the next steps to reach client goals. Helping a client get to a finish line rather than finding obstacles to success are key components for success.
What advice would you give to current students as they’re preparing to graduate?
Prefer to talk to your clients and counterparts in person over email communications. Change occurs one relationship at a time, and you build those relationships by talking to people. Email can get in the way of your efforts.
Who was the biggest influence on your career?
David Getches, John Thorson, and my husband, daughter, and parents.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
I am very proud of bringing the Bighorn River adjudication to a close in Wyoming after working on it for 19 years. I also am proud of work I did for the small Colorado Western Slope town of Gypsum, Colorado, in firming their long term water supply and work on a small reservoir that is important to the town’s future.