Aspen Skiing Co. decides it needs a Miracle
The Aspen Times
Aspen Skiing Co. has hired a respected local resident to serve in a newly created position called director of community engagement.
Michael Miracle, a 10-year Aspen resident and editor-in-chief of Aspen Sojourner magazine, will take the post Oct. 12.
Miracle will “seek to ensure that (Aspen Skiing Co.) is informed about and understands community issues, listens to diverse voices within the community and can be a productive, engaged participant on issues of public concern in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Skico said in a statement.
Skico Vice President of Sustainability Auden Schendler will supervise Miracle. Schendler said Miracle will act as a sort of “air-traffic controller” who helps track important meetings that Skico must monitor or attend and situations where Skico must make its positions known. For example, he said, Skico didn’t weigh in on the debate over the Highway 82 bridge in Glenwood Springs even though the issue has a huge effect on the upper Roaring Fork Valley.
Schendler said Miracle also will make sure Skico executives understand community sentiments. There is “room for improvement” in Skico’s relations with the community, he said.
“I don’t think we’ve done a good job of saying, ‘Here’s what we think; what do you think about that?’” Schendler said. “Part of his job is to bring an outside viewpoint to us.”
Miracle said he was told that one of the reasons he got the job is he told “brutal truths” that he sees in Skico’s relations with the community during one of his interviews. As an example, he said he noted Skico could occasionally “come out against something,” such as a proposed building.
“I think you need to come out on the community’s side in some of these battles,” Miracle said, recalling his comments in the interview.
Miracle said he will articulate Skico’s views to the community in an effort to try to make sure the company’s position is understood but not in a way where it looks like he is trying to sell something. He sees himself as a conduit between the Roaring Fork Valley community and Skico. The “marriage” between them should be working, but sometimes it seems to be on rocky ground, he said. He sees an opportunity to help. Part of that is listening to members of the community and “not just hearing but understanding.” In that way, he sees part of his role as an ombudsman.
Miracle said he has thought for years that he would like to work for Skico someday but didn’t really know in what capacity. He applied for the director of community engagement position when his wife pointed out the job description to him.
Schendler said an observation by Skico general counsel and Vice President Rana Dershowitz led to the creation of the new position. Dershowitz noted Skico didn’t have a staff member in government affairs or serving as a community liaison.
There is a precedent for Skico trying to get a better feel for the community sentiment. Former Skico President and CEO Bob Maynard hired a consultant in the late 1980s or early 1990s to hold small group discussions with residents in Aspen and Snowmass Village to gauge their opinions on issues of interest to Skico.
Miracle has been editor of Aspen Sojourner for his entire time in Aspen. He said the job was a perfect marriage and this was the first time he applied for a different position. The magazine has a strong team remaining, he said.
Miracle also was an editor at Skiing magazine and has lived in seven different ski towns, he said. He and his wife, Txell, have a son, Marcel.