Chief Sustainability Officer

City of Fort Collins, CO | Full-time


The Opportunity

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado, is seeking a new Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) to lead the Sustainability Service area and support organizational policies, goals, and objectives established by City Leadership. We are looking for a collaborative, human-centered leader to embrace our commitment to equity and inclusion and support our triple-bottom-line approach by leading and directing the three departments of Economic Health, Environmental Services, and Social Sustainability. 

The Community

The City of Fort Collins sits nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains alongside the Cache La Poudre River banks. At 5,000 feet in elevation, residents enjoy a moderate, four-season climate, with an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. With 174,800 residents, Fort Collins is Colorado’s fourth-largest city and spans 57 square miles. With the 20-year growth projection, the City of Fort Collins is expected to reach 255,000 residents.

The first people who hunted in this region arrived approximately 11,000 years ago, and Northern Colorado remains an integral part of the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations. European American trappers and traders arrived by the early 1800s but rarely established permanent settlements. Gold and silver discoveries in the Colorado mountains in the mid-1800s and the prospect of land for farming and ranching attracted people from eastern cities and across the globe to the Colorado Territory, including what would become the town of Fort Collins: an agricultural colony that emerged from its founding days as a military camp. The expansion brought new residents whose descendants still live here today, including Mexican American families from southern Colorado, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, Germans from Russia, and other immigrant families who settled here in the 1800s.

Since 1879, Fort Collins has been the home of the state’s land grant institution, Colorado State University, which currently enrolls 34,000 students. Along with the University, the City’s major high-tech and manufacturing companies and breweries attract new residents from all over the country and the world. The City is known for its unique innovative, entrepreneurial, and collaborative spirit that brings together the public and private sectors and the Colorado State University community. Fort Collins is the home of the Colorado State University Energy Institute, whose mission is to deliver real-world energy and climate solutions that address society’s most pressing global challenges, and Innosphere Ventures, a science and technology incubator that accelerates the business success of startups and emerging growth companies.

Our adaptability, openness to failure, risk-taking, the overarching character of collaboration and strong ties between leaders from the university, city government, and local businesses, and a sense of community led to Fort Collins being chosen by Smithsonian Institute curators as one of the country’s most innovative places for the exhibit, “Places of Invention.” People can make a difference here and have contributed to the City’s reputation for breakthrough inventions in clean energy and socially responsible innovation.

We have exceptional medical systems, strong public and private K-12 schools, and many recreational offerings for families. We like to think every age can live, work, and play in our community, and with 300 days of annual sunshine, mild temperatures, and record snowfalls, it is always a good time to come to Colorado.

The community’s overall social diversity continues to grow, and there are abundant outdoor recreation opportunities available to the many residents who enjoy healthy lifestyles. The nearby Horsetooth Reservoir is a key attraction, as is the Cache La Poudre-North Park Scenic Byway. Thanks to voter support of sales tax ballot measures, the City conserves valued lands and provides recreation and educational access to our community treasures.

There are 50 natural areas and over 100 miles of trail encompassing more than 36,000 acres. Fort Collins has a strong appreciation for arts, culture, and entertainment and is known as the cultural hub of northern Colorado. There are many great performance theaters, museums, and art galleries to visit. The Downtown district provides many venues for live music, shopping, dining, and nightlife. Fort Collins is widely considered the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. Various national organizations and magazines recognize Fort Collins as one of the best places to live in the nation. People come and want to build their lives here.

The Organization

The City of Fort Collins is a home-rule city with a Council-Manager form of government. The City Council is comprised of six District Councilmembers who are elected for four-year terms and a Mayor who is elected at-large for a two-year term. All elected officials are non-partisan. The City Council appoints the City Manager, City Attorney, and the Chief Judge. The City Manager has overall responsibility for all other City employees. The City of Fort Collins directly provides a full slate of municipal services including operating its own electric, water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities. The City of Fort Collins, at the direction of City Council and voters, is moving forward with building and implementing high-speed next-generation broadband to the entire community with an expected completion in 2022. Fire protection is provided by the Poudre Fire Authority (PFA). The City of Fort Collins operates with a biennial budget and provides funding for municipal operations, including approximately 2,500 employees.

The City of Fort Collins aspires to provide exceptional services to the community while cultivating an outstanding organizational culture for its employees. To achieve its vision, both internal and external services are data-informed and implemented according to organizational values.

The City develops resiliency and sustainability through organization-wide systems and processes that ensure consistent employee work practices and alignment across service areas. The City places a high value on public input and strives to include community members as fellow problem-solvers whenever possible. Residents can expect to receive high-quality service, engage with decision-makers, provide input regarding the allocation of City resources, and access to government information in a timely and transparent manner.

The City of Fort Collins recognizes and honors the legacy inherited from the decisions, relationships, and thoughtful planning of those who cared deeply about our community. We also realize we are a more robust and better community when we welcome everyone to participate in shaping our future. The 2019 City Plan, which serves as our long-range vision and development framework, shapes decision-making and funding priorities to implement the future the community desires. Whether building a more inclusive and equitable community, supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, addressing and mitigating the impacts of climate change, or creating additional transportation and housing options, we are committed to partnering to make Fort Collins an even better place for future generations. We know this means keeping our current infrastructure updated and maintained while thinking ahead.

The City is a dynamic and continually evolving organization. However, the vision, mission, and core values of the City remain a constant that helps all employees focus on the primary goal: service to our community members. This commitment is one that the nearly 2,500 City employees take seriously. From exceptional snowplow drivers and emergency dispatchers, utility crews and recreation officials, IT specialists, vehicle mechanics, and police services, the City’s workforce provides high-quality municipal services around the clock employing their wide variety of talents.

Fort Collins is a community with a strong sense of place. It has gained accolades as one of the best places for job seekers in Colorado, one of the best towns in America, and among the healthiest, most livable, and bicycle friendly.

Among the awards Fort Collins has won over the past two years are:

  • 5, 2021 Top 10 Remote-Ready Cities in the U.S.: Livability – January 2021
  • 8, Colorado City Ranked Among ‘Most Relaxed’ in Country: Out There Colorado – April 2021
  • 4, 25 Best Cities in the U.S. to Own an Electric Car: 24/7 Wall Street – April 2021
  • 2, Best Tasting Drinking Water in North America: American Water Works – June 2021.
  • 42, 2021 Top 100 Places to Live: – October 2021
  • 6, Safest Cities for Cyclists: Your Local Security – May 2021
  • 2021 Municipal Equality Index 100 – November 2021
  • 2021 What Works Certified City: Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • 18, 20 Safest Cities in Colorado: SafeWise – April 2020
  • 21, Top 30 Creative Small Cities: CVSuite – May 2020
  • Clean Air Champion: RAQC – December 2020
  • 8, Most Fitness Friendly Places for 2021: Smart Asset – December 2020

We believe these awards are possible due to our employees, volunteers, community members, partnerships in the City and region, and the strong leadership from City Council.

Councilmembers and City leaders are engaged nationally and internationally on issues facing our community. The City of Fort Collins is involved in Bloomberg Philanthropies and has received funding and consulting for several key projects. This philanthropic organization focuses its resources on five areas: the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation, and education. Mayor Jeni Arndt is one of the thirty-eight mayors from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Africa selected for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative 2021-2022 program. The intention is to equip mayors with the leadership and management tools to tackle complex challenges in their cities and improve the quality of life of their residents.

Fort Collins was also selected as one of 30 U.S. cities participating in the What Works Cities City Budgeting for Equity and Recovery program. This new effort will help cities confront budget crises while strengthening their commitment to equity in the wake of COVID-19. The program will help cities develop and implement plans to drive financial recovery and ensure their budget crises do not disproportionately harm low-income residents and communities of color. From the City’s 2021 application, we acknowledged, “The City of Fort Collins has a strong desire to invest in long-term, meaningful equity advancement, and yet in the absence of the requisite models, knowledge, and abilities, this is unchartered territory for our organization.”

The German Marshall Fund of the United States is a nonpartisan American public policy think tank and grant-making institution dedicated to promoting cooperation and understanding between North America and Europe. Fort Collins was chosen as one of twelve cities to participate in “Cities Fortifying Democracy,” a first-of-its-kind cohort of American and European cities that will come together in teams to collaborate on what cities are and can be doing to strengthen their resilience and the foundation of democracy from the ground up. The cohort — comprised of twelve five-person city teams —will zero in on the democratic vulnerabilities and innovations in four key areas where local stakeholders can make a difference: governing, voting and elections, public safety and justice, and local journalism.

Sustainability Services

We dream of a world where everyone empathetically listens to and cares for each other in service of an abundant future for all life.

Originally established in 2012, Sustainability Services was created to increase collaboration with the Fort Collins community in pursuit of innovative alliances and deeper integrated investment in our economic, environmental, and social triple-bottom-line. While we have achieved a lot in the last decade, it’s important to recognize Fort Collins’ roots in sustainability go much deeper, beginning with the Open Space Sales Tax in 1973, followed by the Air Quality Action Plan in 1994, our Waste Diversion and Climate Action Goals and an Affordable Housing Plan both in 1999, and the formation of the Economic Vitality and Sustainability Action Group in 2004.

Today, Sustainability Services comprises three departments: Economic Health, Environmental Services, and Social Sustainability. With a budget of $15.6 million and a talented and dedicated staff of nearly 50, Sustainability Services values courage and bravery; vulnerability and authenticity; diversity, equity, inclusion, and access; a supportive environment; and a future orientation that respects the past. The employees are committed to enhancing community resilience and leading at the intersection of people, the planet, and prosperity. Through shared leadership with the community, we can continue to achieve our ambitious goals.

Economic Health

Economic Health focuses on partnerships and creating economic opportunities through programs that prioritize business support, retention and expansion, talent and workforce development, and innovation and entrepreneurship in support of a healthy economy that is vibrant, resilient, and integrated with the community's social and environmental fabric.

Environmental Services

Environmental Services supports our community’s values and adopted policy goals by offering programs and services that improve indoor and outdoor air quality, address the climate emergency, increase recycling and waste diversion, coordinate municipal sustainability activities, undertake environmental compliance, and support strategic municipal and community efforts.

Social Sustainability

Social Sustainability supports a diverse and equitable community that successfully meets the basic needs of all residents. Through programs, policies, partnerships, and direct funding, Social Sustainability supports housing affordability, childcare access, nonprofit programming, and coordination around homelessness initiatives.

Sustainability Services is a welcoming, inclusive, and purpose-driven work group. Employees strive to learn together, come to work as their whole selves, and foster a culture of belonging. Sustainability Services recognizes the joy and difficulties that come from the work they do.

The Opportunity

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado is seeking a new Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) to lead the Sustainability Service Area (SSA) and support organizational policies, goals, and objectives established by City Leadership. We are looking for a collaborative, human-centered leader to embrace our commitment to equity and inclusion and drive our triple-bottom-line approach by leading and directing the three departments of Economic Health, Environmental Services, and Social Sustainability.

Through shared leadership and collaboration, the CSO develops strategies to embed triple-bottom-line evaluation in the organization to inform and improve project management, policy development, program design, and City Council decisions. Directly manages the Deputy Director, Economic Health Director, Environmental Services Director, Social Sustainability Director, and Senior Financial Analyst and provides support to the broader Sustainability Leadership Team (SLT) to ensure integration across the three departments. This position effectively partners with the SLT to foster a strong sense of belonging, power sharing, and cultural resilience in the service area. The CSO nurtures deep connections with regional and global partners while lifting community voices to influence our shared future.

Reporting to the Deputy City Manager, the CSO serves as a member of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), and authentically contributes to and advances citywide discussions and initiatives, while faithfully representing and balancing the needs and concerns of the service area. Through purposeful community engagement and intentional partnerships, the CSO embodies clarity on the City’s role as a collaborative leader to address complex systems change in priority sustainability issues such as housing and homelessness, climate, air quality, waste reduction and recycling, primary and small business support, workforce development, and childcare and human services.

The Successful Candidate

The Chief Sustainability Officer is deeply committed to our sustainability goals and the balance of economic, environmental, and social needs in a community. The ideal candidate values the collective strength of people, planet, and prosperity. The CSO embodies our core values and adapts to the dynamic evolution of sustainability and resilience in Fort Collins. Successful candidates are committed to the City, exemplify servant leadership, embrace our commitment to equity and inclusion, and support our triple-bottom-line approach.

A seasoned executive, the Chief Sustainability Officer is strategic and easily sees the big picture and long-term vision for Sustainability Services and city organization and uses the information to anticipate internal and external needs. They acknowledge past successes and the history that came before them as they make informed decisions about the future. The ability to lead bidirectional change, while aligning culture, policy, and approach, is essential. In addition, the CSO naturally sees the interdependencies between Economic Health, Environmental Services, and Social Sustainability, and proactively supports an integrated approach to problem-solving. The ideal candidate routinely assesses alternatives and truthfully articulates the financial, economic, environmental, social, and strategic advantages and disadvantages before proposing solutions.

Through shared leadership, the CSO is a future-oriented thinker that supports innovation while creating a safe, healthy, and people-centered culture. The ideal candidate is an inspirational leader known for creating a sense of belonging, building trust, and empowering employees. A natural convener and collaborator, the successful candidate recognizes the importance of relationships and partnerships at all levels and navigates political, community, and multi-sector relationships with ease. The Chief Sustainability Officer is an effective communicator and active listener who values the diversity of thought and the lived experiences of others to deliver solutions and achieve desired results. Hearing, balancing, and respecting various views during the decision-making process will be essential to advancing initiatives. Remaining grounded in equity, the successful candidate proactively collaborates to put people, their communities, and community priorities at the center of our work.

Fort Collins Leadership Competencies

  • Demonstrated cultural competence to effectively interact, work, and develop meaningful relationships with people of diverse identities, perspectives, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Strong learning orientation. Leverages all resources and is creative in ways of learning for self to continue adapting to changing issues and trends.
  • A desire and ability to understand the diverse needs of internal and external customers, and to create experiences and deliver services that exceed their expectations.
  • A desire and ability to utilize digital tools for organizational information, individual, and teamwork.
  • Capable of creating conditions of emotional safety and demonstrates self-awareness and regulation in responding to others. Can effectively share and shift power.
  • Able to balance confidence and humility and bring compassion and patience into challenging situations.

The Priorities

  • Ensure continued progress on our ambitious 2030 goals to see an 80% reduction in GHG, provide 100% renewable electricity, and achieve zero waste or 100% landfill diversion. Remain focused on having 10% of our housing stock be deed restricted and affordable by 2040 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • Continue to evolve our understanding of the triple-bottom-line. Braid together people, planet, and prosperity to more evenly distribute the challenges our community faces resulting in enhanced resilience.
  • Focus on systems change and cultural evolution. Embrace shared leadership, transform climate anxiety into climate hope, strengthen our return on impact, and recognize we cannot do this alone.
  • Actively champion and support the City’s ongoing efforts to center equity in our processes and outcomes. Collaborate with colleagues in Social Sustainability to ensure our actions equitably promote, protect, and enhance a healthy, sustainable, and resilient environment.
  • Nurture our own culture. Enable increased collaboration and continue to erode departmental lines in support of our shared vision while always respecting our core values.

Total Compensation

The City of Fort Collins offers a competitive comprehensive benefits package, including a market salary commensurate with education and experience. The annual salary range is $116,967 – $194,946 and the anticipated hiring range is $165,000 – $175,000; salaries are paid biweekly. Benefits include medical, dental, vision, life, and short- and long-term disability insurance. Additionally, the City of Fort Collins offers additional benefits, including 401(a) and a 457 deferred compensation plan with an employer contribution, an optional Health Savings Account, Flexible Spending Accounts, a significant Wellness program, and relocation assistance for the successful out-of-area finalist.

Education and Experience

Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for jobs unless they believe they can perform every job description task. We are most interested in finding the best candidate for the job, and that candidate may come from a less traditional background. The City may consider an equivalent combination of knowledge, skills, education, and experience to meet minimum qualifications.

At least ten years of experience in community sustainability efforts ideally involving economic, environmental, or social sustainability. A minimum of five years of senior management experience is required. An understanding of and commitment to equity and racial justice in the context of local government and sustainability is essential. Experience with and an appreciation for the interplay between business, nonprofit, and local government is ideal. A bachelor’s degree in sustainability, urban or regional planning, public administration, economics, social work, natural resources, or a related field with a master’s degree preferred.


The Chief Sustainability Officer is required to reside within the Fort Collins Growth Management Area during their tenure in office.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted electronically by Raftelis. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Open until filled with first review of applications on November 15, 2022.


For more information or questions regarding the Chief Sustainability Officer position, please contact Heather Gantz at or Robert Colichio at

The City of Fort Collins is an Equal Opportunity Employer and values diversity at all levels of its workforce. Applicants selected as finalists for this position will be subject to a criminal history/credit/ driver’s license check prior to the interview. Under the Colorado Open Records Act, information from your application or resume may be subject to public disclosure.


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