Longtime local will take the helm of HeritageAspen
October 24, 2002
Longtime Aspenite Georgia Hanson has been named the new executive director of HeritageAspen, the former Aspen Historical Society.
She was the hands-down favorite for the post, said one member of the organization’s board of trustees, which decided to look locally for a new director after Grace Gary was let go from the position last August.
“I cannot think of a better person, who has been in the community as long as Georgia, who knows the history of this community better,” said Peter Helburn, one of two vice presidents on the board. “She just knows everybody and everything. She knows how to get things done in the community.”
“We are thrilled to have Georgia on board,” said board president Brian Wilson in a prepared statement. “Her understanding of this community and her outstanding leadership and managerial skills will lead us well as we focus on community outreach for our organization.”
Hanson, 59, took over her new role Monday. She wrapped up her former job as community relations liaison for Hines Resorts’ Highlands Village project in June.
She was one of about two dozen candidates for the HeritageAspen post and one of four individuals who were interviewed.
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It was Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, also a trustee, who “doggedly chased” Hanson until she submitted an application for the position, Hanson said.
But the job, she added, is a perfect fit.
“It’s right up my alley. It’s something I’m passionate about,” Hanson said. “I’m excited about expanding our outreach and making the museum part of everybody’s routine.”
HeritageAspen is headquartered at the Wheeler-Stallard House Museum and also manages other historical sites in and around Aspen, including the Holden-Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum, and the ghost towns at Ashcroft and Independence. It also maintains a historical archive, presents lectures and organizes historical walking tours of town.
The organization is moving forward with plans to open a mining museum at the Holden-Marolt Barn next summer and will then begin work on a ski museum at the base of the old Lift One, according to Helburn.
But Hanson will also be focusing her efforts on determining the future direction of the Wheeler-Stallard House, the grand Victorian on West Bleeker Street in Aspen’s West End.
“I would like to make it more accessible to absolutely everyone,” Hanson said. “I mean, something where you walk in, hands on, enjoy and learn, whether you’re 6 or 60.”
To that end, she’ll be working with both the board of trustees and the community at large.
“There are lots of opinions about what the museum should be ? how we present our shared history to the public,” she said.
Hanson first came to Aspen in 1969. She has been active on various city and county task forces and boards, and on issues of substance abuse and recovery opportunities. Her work with local nonprofit and community groups earned her recognition as the first recipient of the annual Leadership Aspen alumni award in 2000. She was honored as Volunteer of the Year for the City of Aspen in 1999.
HeritageAspen is now on its third executive director since longtime director Jody McCabe stepped down from the position in October 1998.
Hanson said she anticipates her new job to be a long-term assignment for a supportive board.
“The board is actively supporting my vision to focus on community outreach,” she said.
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