Challenge Aspen taps Lindsay Cagley as new CEO
Snowmass hospitality leader selected from pool of 170 applicants over monthslong process
Incoming Challenge Aspen CEO Lindsay Cagley sees her new role as more than the chance to run a longstanding local nonprofit.
“I always consider my job on the one hand mentorship and on the other hand removing roadblocks so that everyone can be more successful,” Cagley said.
The adaptive sports nonprofit announced her appointment to the position last week. She comes to the Snowmass Village-based nonprofit from Limelight Snowmass, where she has been the general manager since 2018; her tenure officially begins May 10, according to a news release.
Cagley, a longtime Roaring Fork Valley local, also has an extensive background in sales and marketing that she said can help guide fundraising efforts and foster growth at Challenge Aspen. She has more than a decade of experience in the field, including seven years in the sales department at the Limelight before becoming general manager.
“From my perspective, it’s all about making connections when it comes to generating support for the organization,” she said. “It’s really important to be able to just see potential connections and follow through on them, so I think I can help in that nature — it’s a small, tight team so the more hands on deck, the better.”
When she begins her tenure May 10, Cagley plans to get to know that team on every level: volunteers, staff, board members. She sees her experience in sales and guest experience as a way to help the organization in its efforts “to serve as many people as possible,” she said.
“The organization is already amazing and their staff is incredibly dedicated. Their board is so committed,” Cagley said. “They’re united in the mission, so they’re already on a really solid path. … I think they’re in a really great position and they’re such a respected organization and they’re already doing so much, but I can tell they want to do more.”
With her professional history in guest experience and sales, Cagley also brings a personal history of and a passion for working to find ways for people with disabilities to experience the things they love. Her father, a “musician at heart,” had a stroke in 2004 that paralyzed the right side of his body; while his basic needs are being met, the stroke “pretty much took away his primary outlet of expression,” she said.
“When it comes to living your life, having confidence and getting to participate in the things that you love, it’s hard to find someone who’s comfortable even just with … the risk involved in helping someone with disabilities without experience or training,” Cagley said. “I just found that it was really difficult to find someone who could provide those experiences for my dad, safely.”
She hopes to bring him to Snowmass Village this summer to participate in some Challenge Aspen programming for the first time; his experience and that of local families was part of the inspiration that sparked Cagley’s interest in the role.
“Hearing the stories of locals whose families are participating in the programs and how it’s changed their lives is really pretty amazing,” she said.
Her commitment to the mission will serve Cagley well in the new role, according to her predecessor Jeff Hauser.
“Her father’s situation, I think, brings a real passion for people who are struggling with disabilities,” Hauser said. “That’s probably 80% of the game, … having a passion and having a soft spot (for helping people with disabilities).”
Hauser finished his tenure as CEO at the end of December after an announcement in the fall that he would step down “to focus on personal pursuits.” (His summer plans include travel and summit attempts of 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and other highest points in the western states, he said.)
He had met Cagley about 10 times on previous occasions through the Snowmass Rotary and Challenge Aspen board meetings hosted by the Limelight.
“I think she’s got great energy — I think she comes highly regarded by her past employers,” Hauser said. “I think she’ll be a good fit.”
That passion stood out during three months of review for nearly 170 applicants from across the country for the role, according to Challenge Aspen Marketing and Development Director Garry Schalla.
“No stone was left unturned” in the search process, Schalla said. The organization used The Moran Company, a recruiting firm that specializes in nonprofit hiring, to help with the hiring process; a selection committee of four Challenge Aspen board members and board President Jack Kennedy made the final decision with consideration for staff input.
“I can only speak for what I saw, … but I think that we saw someone who was energetic, who was truly excited about this new chapter in life, who had some really good ideas in the interview process,” Schalla said.
Cagley said she has “a lot to learn” as she transitions into the role and is looking forward to the new opportunity.
“I’m just so inspired by the staff and board at Challenge Aspen and the participants and everything they have accomplished,” she said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
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Break out the neon windbreakers and the ski jeans for the last week of the at Snowmass: the lifts stop turning at the end of the day April 25.