Sundeen, Krueger announce retirements from public service
Two longstanding local public servants announced their retirements Tuesday.
Pitkin County Human Services Director Nan Sundeen will be stepping down early next year, after directing the department since 1991. John Krueger, the city of Aspen’s director of transportation, is retiring Dec. 31, after working for local government for more than 25 years.
Both have heralded careers in their line of work.
In 2017, Sundeen was recognized for her dedication to service to the community with the Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Association of Nonprofits and in 2018 received the Director of the Year from Colorado Human Services Directors Association and Colorado Counties Inc.
Over Krueger’s tenure, he won several awards for Aspen from the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies, including Colorado Resort Transit Agency of the Year.
Sundeen came to Aspen from Boston and has had a lifelong vision of equitable access to care for all. For 30 years, her “day job” has been director of Pitkin County Human Services. In this position, she has been responsible for leading Social Services, Pitkin County Senior Services, administering the Healthy Community Fund and, until 2017, also Public Health.
Under Sundeen’s leadership, Pitkin County and nonprofit partners were able secure stable funding through voters’ passage of the Healthy Community Fund, which now generates almost $3 million a year to support Roaring Fork Valley health and human service nonprofit partners.
In 2011, she helped secure the Mountain Family Health Center expansion in Basalt to provide affordable, comprehensive and integrated health care to more than 2,000 low-income patients in Pitkin and southwestern Eagle counties. And in 2015, Sundeen brought together her team, the schools, child and youth serving nonprofits and a local foundation to launch the Aspen Family Resource Center to improve the health outcomes of Aspen’s school-aged children and their families.
“It has been such a privilege to work with extraordinary staff and nonprofit partners to strengthen the social and health programs in the valley,” she said. “After 30 years, I think now is a good time to step aside and make room for a new generation of leaders.
“There is more to do and so many more opportunities heading our way. I won’t be very far away, and I will be cheering everyone on as they work towards creating more workforce resiliency and a more livable community for everyone.”
Pitkin County is now recruiting for Sundeen’s successor. Interested applicants can learn more at http://www.pitkincounty.com
Krueger started with the city of Aspen in 1995 in the Parks Department. After several projects building connector trails to Aspen and others that partnered with the Colorado Department of Transportation, he transitioned to the role of transportation director and has been guiding the city’s transit efforts ever since.
“When I first came into the role, the expectation was less complicated and extensive,” Krueger said. “Back then, we didn’t have a lot of involvement with CDOT and grants, there was not a lot of involvement with RFTA, the city has a limited role with the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, and there wasn’t a lot of regionalism. There was just local bus service and a couple of programs.”
That changed significantly over the years. Krueger headed projects in Aspen that included permanent traffic counts on Highway 82, the Rubey Park remodel, electric bus ownership and service, bus stops at Eighth and Hallam streets and Garmisch and Main streets, implementation of bus rapid transit, the Maroon Creek highway bridge replacement and community outreach programs.
Under his leadership, the city has applied for and received $14.7 million in grants and funding and added car sharing, We-Cycle bike share and the Downtowner to its transit mix.
Krueger said the most most memorable and impactful work he did for the community was in the remodeling of Rubey Park Transit Center downtown and bringing electric buses to Aspen.
“No one remembers now how bad the old Rubey Park was, but we have a great facility now that people use every day, and we have millions of people moving through there every year,” he said. “Also, when we first got electric buses, getting them funded was hard. There wasn’t a lot of interest and understanding about them, and now they’re half our fleet. It’s huge for the community in terms of noise, emissions, the environment and climate.”
The ever-present Entrance to Aspen issue also got Krueger’s attention. Under Krueger’s tenure, a roundabout was built at the intersection of Highway 82 and Maroon Creek and Castle Creek roads, bus lanes were added between Buttermilk and the roundabout, and bus lanes were added in town.
“For the 25 years I’ve been here, traffic and congestion and small-town character have always been an issue,” he said. “Maintaining that along with air quality and keeping Aspen a place where people want to visit is important. The discussions about the Entrance to Aspen are always there, sometimes in the foreground and sometimes in the background.
“I do think the community should start talking about it again. There are some opportunities with the federal infrastructure bill, and CDOT is working on getting more funding. The community and elected officials need to come together and figure out what they want to do about it. That’s the first step. We’ve done the easy things. What’s left are the hard things.”
Information for this article was used from separate press releases issued by the city of Aspen and Pitkin County government Tuesday.
On a recent trip to Spain, I discovered something that I believe tops the espresso martini. It’s called a barraquito.