Lift-Up officials replace executive director with interim administrator |

Lift-Up officials replace executive director with interim administrator

Ray K. Erku
Glenwood Springs Post-Independent
Lift-Up staff, including director Angela Mills (right), and volunteers load the back of a pick-up truck with food during a distribution at Third Street Center in Carbondale on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The executive director of Lift-Up has been replaced with an interim administrator, the nonprofit organization confirmed Tuesday.

No explanation, however, was provided as to whether Angela Mills, who served as executive director since 2018, was terminated or left voluntarily.

“She has moved on,” Director of Development, Marketing and Communications Debbie Patrick said. Patrick declined to provide further details.

Mills also declined comment for this story.

John Dougherty, human service innovations for Lift-Up, will act as interim director.

“He will be working with Lift-Up board and staff to continue the mission of Lift-Up to all communities that we serve,” Patrick said. “At the right time, then we’ll be looking forward to hiring a new executive director.”

In the meantime, Patrick said Dougherty will be tasked with helping the board evaluate whether the nonprofit will continue with mobile pantries and/or brick-and-mortar sites. This way, Lift-Up can determine the best ways to better serve communities in Garfield and Pitkin counties.

Patrick said Lift-Up will conduct a survey to better evaluate what they’ll implement in relation to how they serve the community. The survey will likely be released in March, Patrick said.

Lift-up currently has mobile pantry sites in Parachute, Rifle, New Castle and Glenwood Springs as well as a brick-and-mortar pantry site in Aspen, which just reopened in October 2020. Rifle and Glenwood Springs also offer extended table visits at local churches.

In addition to food services, Lift-Up has thrift stores in Rifle and Parachute.

Throughout the course of 2020, Mills was at the forefront of helping distribute hundreds of weekly meals to residents and families affected by COVID-19. In fact, by September 2020, Patrick said Lift-Up had distributed more than 1 million pounds of food.

In addition to directly feeding those in need, the nonprofit organization helped gather and distribute more than 300,000 pounds of food through grocery rescue, a farm-to-pantry concept that acquires fresh produce and dairy from local ranches and farms, Patrick said.

Mills’ departure, however, comes after a time when controversy emerged in November. Lift-Up was accused by some of exhibiting racial bias against Latino clients. In response, Mills went on record with The Aspen Times, saying she didn’t physically see racial distribution but she wouldn’t rule it out.

Moving forward, Patrick said Lift-Up will also be looking to implement a new management system, with an aim to balance volunteers and full-time positions.

“Before we shift back into how things were done, we’re evaluating the new things we learned in the last year, going through mobile and COVID and other structures and then also looking at the brick and mortar sites and what makes sense,” Patrick said.


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