City of Aspen hires new director for affordable housing program |

City of Aspen hires new director for affordable housing program

UK resident and State Department diplomat selected over 51 other candidates

After a nearly year-long vacancy, the city of Aspen has hired a new executive director of the local affordable housing program, which manages over 3,000 deed restricted for-sale and rental units in its multi-million dollar inventory.

Matthew Gillen, who currently resides in the United Kingdom, has worked for over 20 years as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State.

He beat out 51 other candidates for the job, which was left vacant last August when former executive director Mike Kosdrosky was forced to resign after clashing with city officials over myriad issues, including the governance structure of the organization and holding an executive session illegally with the board over his salary.

Gillen and his family will move from Washington D.C. to the valley in the coming months, and he will begin his new job on Oct. 13.

His annual salary will be $146,016, plus benefits.

Assistant City Manager Diane Foster will continue to serve as interim executive director of APCHA until Gillen takes on his new role.

Gillen was one of three finalists who interviewed with the APCHA board of directors late last month.

Matthew Gillen

He told the board, which is comprised of citizen volunteers and elected officials, that it’s time to put down roots in the valley and get involved in the community.

He and his wife own land between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs they plan to develop and be near her aging parents.

“It was always our plan to move to the valley and that time is now,” he said.

He has served as a diplomat in countries all over the world for the State Department, and currently Gillen assists American citizens adopt children internationally.

He is familiar with the resort life and its housing challenges, having lived a season in Beaver Creek in the 1990s working as a lift operator and sharing an apartment with four guys and sleeping on a couch.

“I do understand the importance of maintaining a vibrant community, which means making sure people can actually live in the place, the real locals who run the place, give vibrancy so it isn’t just a place for people with second homes to pop in a couple of times a year,” Gillen told the APCHA board on June 23.

While he doesn’t have any direct experience in housing programs, Gillen said his skills and values match the position.

City Manager Sara Ott and Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock also believe that, as they jointly selected Gillen over other finalists who did have experience in public housing programs.

They said in a news release that Gillen comes to APCHA with a strong, proven background in leadership, relationship building and policy implementation.

“Matthew’s strong background in public policy, diplomacy and listening to various needs in the areas he’s served make him an excellent choice to lead the efforts of APCHA,” Ott said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to his leadership in advancing solutions to our region’s biggest challenges in affordable housing.”

Gillen holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

His role in the State Department has included being a diplomat in Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Ireland and Chile in various program, policy and management roles, according to city officials.

He also served in policy positions in Washington D.C. in the bureaus of Consular Affairs, European Affairs and as an American Political Science Association Fellow in Congress.

Gillen will oversee all housing programs, policies and personnel of APCHA, including operations management and finance.

“I look forward to engaging in the community,” he told the board. “A very important part of diplomacy is letting people know what you’re doing, why it’s important.

“It’s not enough to just do the work, you have to sell it a bit and let people know why it’s important and make sure everybody understands APCHA is a wonderful program and is aware of how great it is.”