ACES narrows search for new director
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
ASPEN – The search for a new executive director at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies has been narrowed to four candidates.
The post, being vacated as longtime director Tom Cardamone shifts to a new role with the nonprofit, drew an impressive field of applicants, according to Jeff Berkus, president of the ACES board of directors and a member of the search committee charged with seeking Cardamone’s successor.
Nearly 80 people, representing every region of the country, applied, Berkus said. Some boasted strength on the business/management side, while others had a strong environmental background, he said.
“In the first couple of weeks, we got four responses. Then we got an onslaught,” said Berkus, who wasn’t sure what sort of response to expect when ACES first put out the call for applications.
The committee narrowed the field to 12 candidates, who each went through an extensive telephone interview, he said. From that group, four individuals – two men and two women – have been chosen to visit Aspen for interviews with the center’s staff and board of directors. A social event involving the applicants and ACES personnel is also likely, according to Berkus.
With the holidays quickly approaching, the next round of interviews may wait until early January, Berkus said, but he anticipates ACES will announce the selection of its new director by the end of next month, if not before then.
The pool of finalists includes one area resident, according to Berkus, who said there were several strong local candidates. They will be considered as ACES looks to fill other roles within the organization, he said.
Though the new director will step into a post Cardamone has held, either jointly or alone, for 35 years, Berkus said the prospect of selecting a new leader is made easier by Cardamone’s continued involvement with ACES.
“It’s a special opportunity because Tom is not going away,” Berkus said.
Cardamone came to ACES 36 years ago when his wife, Jody, was named its first naturalist-director. A year later, they became co-directors and the organization’s only staffers. Eventually, Jody moved into the role of head naturalist and Cardamone took over as the sole executive director.
ACES, founded in 1968 as a nonprofit educational organization on Hallam Lake in Aspen, now operates at four sites, acquiring Rock Bottom Ranch near Basalt, The Catto Center at Toklat in the Castle Creek Valley and Spring Creek in the Fryingpan Valley between 1999 and 2009. In addition, it holds a couple of habitat sites.
In announcing his move out of the director’s post, Cardamone said he would focus on development educational and stewardship potential at the four ACES facilities.
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Development in Basalt barely skipped a beat in 2020 despite the coronavirus. It’s expected to be busier next year.