Community Services Director

City of Fort Collins, CO | Full-time


The Community

The City of Fort Collins sits nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains alongside the banks of the Cache La Poudre River. At 5,000 feet in elevation, residents enjoy a moderate, four-season climate, with an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. With 174,800 residents, Fort Collins is Colorado’s fourth-largest city and spans 57 square miles. With the 20-year growth projection, the City of Fort Collins is expected to reach 255,000 residents.

The first people who hunted in this region arrived approximately 11,000 years ago, and Northern Colorado remains an integral part of the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations. European-American trappers and traders arrived by the early 1800s but rarely established permanent settlements. Gold and silver discoveries in the Colorado mountains in the mid-1800s and the prospect of land for farming and ranching attracted people from eastern cities and across the globe to the Colorado Territory, including what would become the town of Fort Collins, an agricultural colony that emerged from its founding days as a military fort. The expansion included the sugar beet industry’s growth, which brought new residents whose descendants still live here today, including Mexican-American families from southern Colorado, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, as well as Germans from Russia.

Since 1879, Fort Collins has been the home of the state’s land grant institution, Colorado State University, which currently enrolls 34,000 students. Along with the University, the City’s major high-tech and manufacturing companies and breweries attract new residents from all over the country and world. The community’s overall social diversity continues to grow.

There are abundant outdoor recreation opportunities available to the many residents who enjoy healthy lifestyles. The nearby Horsetooth Reservoir is a key attraction, as is the Cache La Poudre-North Park Scenic Byway. The Downtown district provides many venues for live music, shopping, dining, and nightlife within the City. Fort Collins is widely considered the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. The City has a strong appreciation for arts, culture, and entertainment. Various national organizations and magazines recognize Fort Collins as one of the best places to live in the nation.

The Organization

The City of Fort Collins is a home rule city with a Council-Manager form of government. The City Council is comprised of six District Councilmembers who are elected for four-year terms and a Mayor who is elected at-large for a two-year term. All elected officials are non-partisan. The City Council appoints the City Manager, City Attorney, and the Chief Judge. The City Manager has overall responsibility for all other City employees. The City of Fort Collins directly provides a full slate of municipal services, including operating its own electric, water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities. The City of Fort Collins, at the direction of the City Council and voters, is moving forward with building and implementing high-speed next-generation broadband to the entire community with expected completion in 2022. Fire protection is provided by the Poudre Fire Authority (PFA). The City of Fort Collins operates with a biennial budget and provides funding for municipal operations, including approximately 2,500 employees.

The City of Fort Collins aspires to provide world-class services to the community while cultivating an outstanding organizational culture for its employees. In order to achieve its vision, both internal and external services are data-informed and implemented according to organizational values. The City develops resiliency and sustainability through organization-wide systems and processes that ensure consistent employee work practices and alignment across service areas. The City places a high value on public input and strives to include community members as fellow problem solvers whenever possible. Residents can expect to receive exceptional service, have the opportunity to engage with decision-makers, provide input regarding the allocation of City resources, and have access to government information in a timely and transparent manner. 

Community Services

Fort Collins is consistently and broadly recognized as a destination community to live, work, play, and visit. Integral to the City’s reputation and established quality of life are the places, programs, services, values, and vitality that Community Services bring to the community. The quality of parks, trails, natural areas, arts, culture, and recreation programs and opportunities create a sense of pride among residents, while also drawing visitors and revenue into Fort Collins.

As the community grows and becomes more diverse, Community Services creates opportunity for residents and visitors to thrive while offering high-quality spaces and programs. Fort Collins has a long and dedicated history of cultivating arts and culture within the community. The creative sector’s offerings are valued for the authentic experience and diversity they bring into the community and are also an economic multiplier, drawing significant value. Parks and recreation are part of a holistic system of public spaces that spans the natural and designed, big and small, urban and not-so-urban, but together bring beauty to Fort Collins and giving it an intentional sense of place.

With a FY2021 budget of $53.5M, the Community Services service area provides vital services through a talented and dedicated staff of 595 full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees across five departments:

Cultural Services

For over 40 years, the Cultural Services Department has provided inspiring creative programming in the Fort Collins community. Supported by a dedicated staff, the Department encompasses several outstanding facilities and programs, including The Lincoln Center, The Gardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Art in Public Places Program, Carnegie Center for Creativity, and the Fort Fund grant program.

Natural Areas

The Natural Areas Department conserves valued lands and provides recreation and educational access to these community treasures. Fort Collins’ Natural Areas are integral to the community’s identity and vitality, with 52 natural areas and over 100 miles of trail encompassing more than 46,000 acres. These Natural Areas are protected for their ecological values, and provide quality of life, physical and mental health benefits, and are cherished and stewarded by residents.


The Parks Department provides maintenance and stewardship of parks, cemeteries, trails, medians, and other public grounds for the community. Through the Forestry Division, the department also supports the popular Community Canopy Program, and the many benefits trees provide to the community. The City’s parks and trails help define the Fort Collins lifestyle. The community enjoys over 966 acres of developed parks, including seven community parks and 43 neighborhood/pocket parks, and over 45 miles of paved trails connecting the community.

Park Planning & Development

The Park Planning & Development Department collaborates with the community to plan, design, and build a world-class system of parks, paved trails, and other public spaces.

The Recreation Department is a valuable resource for staying active and connected in the Fort Collins community. The Department promotes the Fort Collins community’s health and well-being through numerous programs and activities offered for all ages and abilities.

The Opportunity

The Community Services Director serves a vital leadership role in the organization and leads a large service area that provides immense value to the community.  The Director provides strategic and forward-thinking leadership that is centered in equity to the departments of Cultural Services, Natural Areas, Parks, Park Planning & Development, and Recreation. This position embraces the holistic, interconnected elements of Community Services and effectively contributes to the City’s strong reputation as a destination community.

The Director is responsible for Community Services strategic planning and reporting and effectively leads the preparation of short-term and long-term plans. The Director develops and manages the service area’s biennial budget and coordinates the development and implementation of specific, measurable outcomes associated with the City’s Budgeting for Outcomes process, City Council Work Plan, and City Manager initiatives. Reporting to a Deputy City Manager, the Director effectively represents Community Services and serves with other service area directors as a member of the Executive Leadership Team. In addition, the Community Services Director actively collaborates with others in support of cross-department collaboration and integration.

With a unified vision, collaborative style, and demonstrated commitment to employee well-being, the Community Services Director leads and supports a large and varied staff of passionate and talented employees. This position directly manages the Cultural Services Director, Natural Areas Director, Parks Director, Park Planning & Development Director, and Recreation Director. The Community Services Director partners with the leadership team to plan, develop, promote, and deliver high-quality programs and services to the community.

First Year Priorities

  • Ensure internal connectivity and integration between the Community Services departments. Collaborate effectively, recognize where the work intersects, identify a shared vision and common goals, and work towards them.
  • Actively recruit new leadership team members, filling current vacancies that positively contribute to effective operations and align with the City’s vision, mission, and values while also preparing for the future.
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of the funding challenges and complexities within Community Services to contribute to and continue to drive long-term financial stability. Leverage multiple funding models and develop service plans and budgets that reflect the community’s values.
  • Bring a holistic, strategic perspective and strong leadership to the implementation of the Parks & Recreation Master PlanFoCo Creates Arts and Culture Master Plan, and Natural Areas Master Plan ensuring public spaces are equitable, inclusive, interconnected, and complementary of one another. 
  • Collaborate to lead the design and build of the voter-approved Southeast Community Recreation & Arts Center. Provide equitable access to recreational experiences and ensure facilities and programs continue to respond to the community’s evolving needs.
  • Remaining grounded in equity, proactively collaborate with the community and external partners to put people, the community, and community priorities at the center of the work as services, assets, and overall operations are redefined.
  • Continue to support economic recovery efforts. Promote the synergy between parks, recreation, cultural services, and economic health, providing amenities for residents while unlocking recreation tourism potential.

The Successful Candidate

The Community Services Director is passionate about all things related to arts, culture, natural areas, parks, and recreation and is deeply committed to articulating and promoting the value of Community Services. The Director, a strategic systems thinker, possesses the strong leadership skills necessary for managing a large, complex environment. As a visionary leader, the successful candidate brings a fresh, yet experienced, voice and perspective to Community Services with a strong ability to see the interdependencies between all departments.

The Director brings their own set of diverse experiences that add value and perspective while promoting solutions that address Community Services’ ambitious goals. Recognizing Fort Collins as a destination arts, culture, and creative community, the successful candidate encourages creativity and innovation in unconventional ways and collaborates to grow and evolve the City’s ability to serve the community successfully. The Community Services Director actively nurtures an open and welcoming environment that continues to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion while maintaining a commitment to continuous improvement and service excellence.

Considered a realist, the ideal candidate has multi-sector experience and a strong business mindset necessary to understand the complexity of diverse business models. The Community Services Director has strong financial management experience with a history of effectively managing complex funding streams. The Director quickly identifies trends and problems hindering progress and develops and implements best practices to drive necessary change and evolution while reflecting a holistic, interconnected view of Community Services.

The Director is recognized as a highly effective leader, genuinely encourages and supports collaboration, and employs a leadership style that invites participation and gathers input, and at the end of the day, is decisive and results-oriented. Importantly, the director leads and empowers staff while promoting a forward-thinking culture that embraces change for the better. It is essential that the Director thoughtfully identify opportunities and implement changes that support an organizational culture built on trust and mutual respect and effectively leverages the team’s talents to ensure Community Services continues to meet the community’s evolving needs.

The Community Services Director recognizes the importance of relationships and partnerships at all levels and navigates political and multi-sector relationships with ease. The Director encourages broad engagement and leverages others’ knowledge and power to significantly impact initiatives and works to ensure experiences are inclusive and equitable. The successful candidate values diversity of thought, fosters mutual respect at all levels, and effortlessly balances internal needs with external initiatives. The Director is considered an excellent communicator and is well known for communicating complex information and being open, honest, and transparent in all interactions.

Total Compensation

The City of Fort Collins offers a competitive comprehensive benefits package, including a market competitive salary of $140,000 – $160,000. Other benefits include medical, dental, vision, wellness program, life, and short- and long-term disability insurance. Additionally, the City of Fort Collins offers other benefits, including 401(a) and a 457 deferred compensation plan with an employer contribution, optional Health Savings Account, Flexible Spending Accounts, and relocation assistance for the successful out of area finalist.


Directors of a city service area or a group of city service areas, deputy city managers, and assistant city managers shall reside within the Fort Collins Urban Growth Area during their tenure in office, but need not reside within the Fort Collins Urban Growth Area prior to their appointment.


The successful candidate has ten years of progressively responsible experience in Community Services, including Cultural Services, Natural Areas, Parks, Recreation, and Park Planning & Development, with at least eight years in a senior leadership role. A strong customer service mentality, unquestionable ethics and integrity, and a value set aligned with the City of Fort Collins and Community Services’ functions are essential.

A sound financial background with a strong understanding of budgets, financial management, and complex funding models is required. An exceptional ability to develop effective partnerships is essential, as is demonstrated cultural competence to effectively interact, work, and develop meaningful relationships with people of diverse identities, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds. A bachelor’s degree in Business, Liberal Arts, Parks and Recreation, Public Administration, Natural Resources, or related field is required, with a master’s degree encouraged. An equivalent combination of experience and education that enable success as the Community Services Director will be considered.

Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for jobs unless they believe they can perform every job description task. We are most interested in finding the best candidate for the job, and that candidate may come from a less traditional background. The City will consider any equivalent combination of knowledge, skills, education, and experience to meet minimum qualifications. If you are interested in applying, we encourage you to think broadly about your background and skill set for the role.

How to Apply

The City of Fort Collins is deeply committed to high-quality public service and cultivating an outstanding culture for its employees. As a high-performing government, Fort Collins attracts and employs diverse and competitive talent, retains its workforce through development and growth opportunities, and promotes intelligent risk-taking to address increasingly complex challenges.

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Please apply no later than April 18, 2021.


Heather Gantz | Manager, Executive Search |

The City of Fort Collins is an Equal Opportunity Employer and values diversity at all levels of its workforce. Applicants selected as finalists for this position will be subject to a criminal history/credit/ driver’s license check prior to the interview. Under the Colorado Open Records Act, information from your application or resume may be subject to public disclosure.

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