Former Aspenite chosen as new housing director | AspenTimes.com

Former Aspenite chosen as new housing director

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A former Aspenite who has been working in senior housing administration on the Front Range will be the next executive director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

Maureen Dobson, the top pick among candidates who were interviewed for the post, accepted the job on Wednesday. She will begin work on July 8.

“She was pretty much the unanimous choice, by the housing staff and us,” said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager.

Dobson, 44, was one of three finalists for the job who were in town last Friday for interviews by both the housing office staff and a team consisting of Sadler, City Manager Steve Barwick, County Manager Hilary Smith and interim housing director Cindy Christensen.

She is currently the director of resident services for Golden West Senior Housing in Boulder, where she is responsible for the administration of resident services for a housing complex that serves 255 low-income elderly residents and 56 assisted-living residents.

Dobson holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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She is no stranger to Aspen, though her job duties will be considerably different this time around.

Dobson said she came to Aspen to play, living here from 1981-84.

“I had just graduated from my undergraduate program at Santa Barbara. I lived at T Lazy 7 and worked there for three years,” she said. She also worked at City Market during her last two years here, before heading back to school to pursue her master’s degree.

She has worked in senior housing administration for the past 12 years, at Golden West, and Allied Housing Inc. in Denver before that, following a stint serving the elderly as a social worker.

She is also a skier.

Dobson had an attitude and background as a housing advocate that pleased the interview team, according to Sadler.

“The one thing I think she said that we all liked was, when you get a degree in social work, you either become a practitioner or you go into community building, and community building is what she does,” Sadler said. “That’s not a bad thing for us.”

Dobson said she defines community building as identifying the different interests in a community and then giving them equal power and an equal say in the process.

“And then working toward a product that meets the greater good of the community,” she added.

Sadler said Dobson’s policy and management skills should lend themselves to the housing director’s role.

“I really felt like a lot of the skills I had would fit,” Dobson agreed.

Aspen and Pitkin County are currently developing a new intergovernmental agreement that will define the workings of the Housing Authority. The actual construction of housing will no longer be in its purview, and three housing staffers who have been most involved in development now answer to Sadler.

The Housing Authority and the housing board will still advise both governments on various aspects of housing development at government’s request, Sadler said.

The housing board has not yet met Dobson. Sadler said he had hoped to add a board member to the interview team, but scheduling conflicts got in the way. Selection of the director was ultimately up to Barwick and Smith.

Dobson will succeed former housing director Mary Roberts, who resigned effective March 1, in the midst of the debate over revamping the operations of the housing office and redefining the role of the director.

Her salary will be $71,000, Sadler said.

Dobson and her partner, Ola Lau, own a home in Niwot. Dobson said she still has friends in Aspen and is hoping they’ll help her secure housing. They are looking for an opportunity to house-sit or manage a property that provides them with a residence.

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