Newton to leave CORE as it transitions to new era

Mona Newton stepping down after nine years leading the nonprofit focused on climate change

Staff reports
Mona Newton

After more than nine years leading a local nonprofit focused on fighting climate change, Mona Newton is leaving as executive director at Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE), it was announced Wednesday.

During Newton’s tenure, CORE has focused its efforts on reducing carbon emissions from buildings, the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the community; has led forward-thinking and model projects in recent years, including Basalt Vista affordable housing; and worked on the approval of a 5 MW solar project in Pitkin County, the nonprofit said in the announcement.

Newton, who was hired in March 2012, more recently has organized a group to tackle escaping methane from a closed coal mine in Pitkin County.

“After nine years, I’m ready to turn over the helm of this incredibly impactful and innovative organization to someone new to continue this difficult challenge to beat the race against time to reduce climate emissions,” Newton said in the announcement. “It’s the right time, as we’ve accomplished so much, and this is a good time in the organization’s evolution to bring in a fresh face.”

CORE is in a transition year as it pivots from energy efficiency to reducing the valley’s carbon footprint, and the organization is currently working to find new funding areas.

Created in 1994, CORE was partners local governments, local utilities and citizens to create a sustainable energy future in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP) that was established in 1999 to financially support CORE, and was considered visionary at the time.

Since Pitkin County tightened up its building code last year to require new homes to be built more energy efficient, REMP fees aren’t being paid at the same level as before.

CORE’s budget this year is nearly $2 million. The city of Aspen gave CORE $1.4 million and the county contributed $270,000 from REMP, according to the organization. For next year, the city of Aspen has pledged $1.2 million to CORE.

“With the decline of the REMP dollars, we know that we need to diversify our funding sources in order to continue reducing carbon, we need resources, we need staffing, we need financial wherewithal to make this work,” Newton told the Aspen City Council in April.

In the coming years, fundraising and fund diversification will be a larger part of the executive director’s role to allow CORE to serve a wider regional customer base, the agency said in Wednesday’s announcement.

Newton will remain as director during the search for her replacement, which the organization’s board hopes to have accomplished by the end of the year.

“We have Mona to thank for building such a talented and competent staff over these past nine years and for enabling CORE to proceed ahead full steam without losing any of our momentum,” said CORE Board of Trustees Chair Bill Stirling said in the announcement. “This community will forever be indebted to her.”