Recreation Director

City of Fort Collins, CO | Full-time


The Community

The City of Fort Collins sits nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains alongside the banks of the Cache La Poudre River. 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 fort. The expansion included the sugar beet industry’s growth, which brought new residents whose descendants still live here today, including Mexican-American families from southern Colorado, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, as well as Germans from Russia.

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 world. The community’s overall social diversity continues to grow.

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. The Downtown district provides many venues for live music, shopping, dining, and nightlife within the City. Fort Collins is widely considered the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. The City has a strong appreciation for arts, culture, and entertainment. Various national organizations and magazines recognize Fort Collins as one of the best places to live in the nation.

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 the City Council and voters, is moving forward with building and implementing high-speed next-generation broadband to the entire community with 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 world-class services to the community while cultivating an outstanding organizational culture for its employees. In order 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 exceptional service, have the opportunity to engage with decision-makers, provide input regarding the allocation of City resources, and have access to government information in a timely and transparent manner.


The Recreation Department is a valuable resource for staying active and connected in the Fort Collins community. The Department promotes the Fort Collins community’s health and well-being through numerous programs and activities offered for all ages and abilities. With a full-time staff of 41, part-time staff of 364, and a budget of $11 Million, the Recreation Department actively supports one of the City’s seven Strategic Outcomes; Culture and Recreation. This Strategic Outcome has multiple objectives designed to provide and maximize access to diverse cultural and recreational amenities.

The Department offers a wide variety of programs through the various City facilities. The City recognizes that recreation preferences are not the same for everyone and continually monitors local and national trends to ensure that the recreation facilities and programs offered continue to respond to the needs of the Fort Collins residents. The Department strives to provide recreational amenities according to level of service standards, works to expand year-round usability of existing recreation facilities and support for universal access, and ensures that programs promote public health and wellness.

Recreation is part of the larger Community Services Service Area that also includes Cultural Services, Natural Areas, Parks, and Park Planning and Development. As the community grows and becomes more diverse, the Recreation system of facilities, amenities, and programs will play a leading role in creating full inclusion with welcoming messaging in all formats and opportunities.

The Opportunity

The Recreation Director provides strategic and forward-thinking leadership to the many facilities, programs, and services that support the diverse recreational needs of the community. The Director develops and implements realistic goals and objectives and actively collaborates with staff to ensure alignment with the department’s mission to provide exceptional service to the community. The Recreation Director ensures the department remains committed to supporting the recreational priorities of Fort Collins and continues to serve as a community resource for staying active and connected.

The Director is responsible for Recreation strategic planning and reporting and effectively leads the preparation of short-term and long-term plans. This position also routinely evaluates the results of overall facility and program operations and service levels and leverages data to drive future decisions. The Director develops and manages the department’s biennial budget and coordinates the development and implementation of specific, measurable outcomes associated with the City’s Budgeting for Outcomes process, City Council Work Plan, and City Manager initiatives. Reporting to the Community Services Director, the Director effectively represents the Recreation Department and serves as a member of the Community Services Leadership Team. In addition, the Recreation Director actively collaborates with the Parks and Recreation Board.

With a unified vision, collaborative style, and demonstrated commitment to employee well-being, the Recreation Director leads and supports a staff of passionate and talented employees. This position directly manages three Recreation Managers and one Communications Specialist. The Director leads the team in ensuring effective marketing, promotion, and publication of the department’s activities and programs. The Recreation Director partners with their leadership team to purposefully provide equitable access to recreational experiences.

First Year Priorities

  • Lead the development of the design and construction plans for the Southeast Community Center. Account for cost recovery and operational self-sufficiency to align with the Building on Basics 2.0 program and prepare for anticipated construction in 2023 and 2024. 
  • Collaborate with staff to update the Recreation Operational Plan and create near-term and long-term Facilities Plans to care for and lift up the aging infrastructure. 
  • Assess current projects and initiatives, standardize policies and procedures, and collaborate with staff to reprioritize workloads and explore future growth opportunities. 
  • Foster a welcoming and collaborative team environment. Build trust, support employee growth and development, and further empower employees to bring fresh ideas and innovative approaches that positively impact the many programs and services provided by the Recreation Department.
  • Further market, promote, and effectively communicate the many programs, services, and offerings provided to the community. 
  • Spend time building relationships with community partners. Maintain an open mind, create opportunities, and bring forward new ideas and concepts that continue to advance recreational opportunities for the community. 

The Successful Candidate

The Recreation Director is passionate about developing recreation programs that are diverse, inclusive, and accessible and naturally collaborates across the organization in support of the Recreation mission. The ideal candidate has a thirst for laying out a big-picture vision and strategic goals for the Recreation Department while creating an acceptable balance between cost recovery and program growth. The Director is a strategic systems thinker with strong leadership skills necessary for managing change in support of a growing and evolving department.

As a visionary leader, the successful candidate brings a fresh yet experienced voice and perspective to Recreation with a strong ability to see the interdependencies between the department and broader Community Services’ portfolio. The Recreation Director recognizes the importance of relationships and partnerships at all levels, values diversity of thought, and actively supports the many different users of recreation. With genuine curiosity, the successful candidate collaborates and leverages resources to continue evolving the programs and services offered to the community. Importantly, the Director fosters mutual respect and brings a strong desire and ability to understand the diverse needs of internal and external customers to create experiences and deliver services that exceed their expectations.

The Recreation Director actively nurtures an open and welcoming environment that advances diversity, equity, and inclusion. The successful candidate leads and empowers staff while promoting a forward-thinking culture that embraces creativity, innovation, and emerging trends in recreation. The Director sets the tone for the organization and brings a sense of calm and stability while intentionally growing and developing staff. It is essential that the Director thoughtfully identify opportunities and implement changes that support an organizational culture built on trust and respect and effectively leverage the team’s talents to support the many programs and services offered to the community.

An outgoing person, the Director actively advocates for recreation and supports its facilities, programs, and services at all times. The Director is considered an excellent communicator and is well known for encouraging participation, welcoming input, and connecting with the community to further define the future of recreation in Fort Collins. Hearing, balancing, and respecting a variety of views during the decision-making process while moving forward is essential.

Total Compensation

The City of Fort Collins offers a competitive comprehensive benefits package, including a market competitive salary range of $88,200 – $147,033 and an anticipated hiring range of $115,000 – $125,000. Other benefits include medical, dental, vision, wellness program, life, and short- and long-term disability insurance. Additionally, the City of Fort Collins offers other benefits, including 401(a) and a 457 deferred compensation plan with an employer contribution, optional Health Savings Account, Flexible Spending Accounts, and relocation assistance for the successful out of area finalist.


The Recreation Director is subject to residency requirements under the City’s Charter (Article IV, Section 3), which require the incumbent to reside at the time of appointment and throughout employment in this classification within five (5) miles of the City limits as measured by a straight line connecting the parcel of property upon which the residence is situated to the nearest boundary line of the City. City limits and the Urban Growth Area /Growth Management Area can be found on FCMaps.


The Recreation Director has eight years of progressively responsible experience in Recreation with at least five years in a leadership role. In-depth knowledge in providing recreational services to the community is essential, as is knowledge of effective recreation and leisure practices and trends. Experience with facilities management practices is ideal. A sound financial background with a strong understanding of budgets and financial management is required. An exceptional ability to develop effective partnerships is essential, as is demonstrated cultural competence to effectively interact, work, and develop meaningful relationships with people of diverse identities, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds. A strong customer service mentality, unquestionable ethics and integrity, and a value set aligned with the City of Fort Collins, and the Recreation mission are essential.

A bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Parks and Recreation Administration, Recreation Management, Facility Management, or related field is required, with a master’s degree desired. A Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) is preferred. An equivalent combination of experience and education that enable success as the Recreation Director will be considered.

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. If you are interested in applying, we encourage you to think broadly about your background and skill set for the role.

How to Apply

The City of Fort Collins is deeply committed to high-quality public service and cultivating an outstanding culture for its employees. As a high-performing government, Fort Collins attracts and employs diverse and competitive talent, retains its workforce through development and growth opportunities, and promotes intelligent risk-taking to address increasingly complex challenges.

Applications will be accepted electronically. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Open until filled with the first review of applications November 9, 2021.


Heather Gantz | Manager, Executive Search |

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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