Environmental Sustainability Director

Website City of Fort Collins

Environmental City Government

The Environmental Sustainability Director is uniquely positioned to shape the future of Fort Collins’ healthy and sustainable environment. The Director provides leadership to the development and implementation of the policies, programs, and services that equitably advance the Council’s and the community’s priorities on sustainability, air quality, climate, waste reduction, community engagement, meaningful performance measurement, and supporting the organization in leading by example to achieve its own sustainability goals. The Director is responsible for environmental sustainability strategic planning and reporting and effectively leads the preparation of short-term and long-term plans. The Environmental Sustainability Director leads the department-wide view of workload management to ensure team members can successfully provide services to the community and organization. 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 and City Council Work Plan.

With a demonstrated commitment to employee well-being and thoughtful financial and environmental stewardship, the Environmental Sustainability Director leads and supports a diverse staff of passionate and talented employees. This position directly manages the leadership team in Environmental Services, which includes three managers and one administrative support staff member. Given the transition underway in the Department, the new Director will have the opportunity to hire several of its leadership positions in early 2024.

The Environmental Sustainability Director reports to and supports the Chief Sustainability Officer and actively collaborates with the Social Sustainability and Economic Health Department Directors and their staff on the establishment, oversight, and implementation of interdepartmental projects and the integration of triple-bottom-line sustainability. In addition, the Environmental Sustainability Director partners with the Deputy Director of Sustainability Services who provides direct support on strategic planning, personnel management, and other operational support as needed. The Director represents the Environmental Services Department and City to community groups, public forums, City Council, and other boards or commissions. The Director also coordinates all public communication relating to environmental sustainability. Finally, the Director leads the Department’s efforts to provide leadership at all levels to advance Fort Collins’ goals, including serving as the Core Member in the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, supporting Fort Collins’ membership in Colorado Communities for Climate Action, and supporting regional collaborations, e.g., Larimer County’s Climate Smart and Future Ready efforts.

The Successful Candidate

The Environmental Sustainability Director is deeply committed to environmental stewardship, sustainability, and resilience. The successful candidate exemplifies servant leadership, embraces our commitment to equity and inclusion, and supports our triple-bottom-line approach by assessing economic, environmental, and social impacts to drive decisions. The Environmental Sustainability Director brings their own set of diverse experiences that add value and perspective while promoting equitable solutions that address our ambitious community goals.

Through a balanced approach, the Environmental Sustainability Director supports innovation while creating a safe, healthy, and supportive culture. The ideal candidate is a highly effective leader known for quickly building trust and rapport while empowering employees. A natural convener, facilitator, and collaborator, the successful candidate recognizes the importance of relationships and partnerships at all levels and navigates political, hierarchical, and multi-sector relationships with ease. The Environmental Sustainability Director is an effective communicator and active listener who integrates the diversity of thoughts and experiences of others to deliver solutions that achieve desired results. Hearing, balancing, and respecting various views, as well as navigating power dynamics, during the transition and decision-making process will be key while moving forward.

The Environmental Sustainability Director embodies our core values and adapts with the dynamic evolution of our community. The successful candidate brings energy, passion, and experience in change management, creating and evolving new processes and systems for ensuring effective service delivery, and embracing change and transformation in order to lead the Department through a time of significant transition. The successful candidate is a strategic, systems thinker who easily sees the big picture and long-term vision for the City and uses information to anticipate internal and external needs. In addition, the Director naturally sees the interdependencies between Environmental Services, Social Sustainability, and Economic Health and proactively supports a people-centered, integrated approach to problem-solving. Remaining grounded in equity, the successful candidate proactively collaborates to put people, their communities, and community priorities at the center of our work.

First Year Priorities

  • Quickly gain an understanding of our challenges; engage and develop relationships with the staff and our partners; and actively problem solve to identify innovative solutions; acknowledging that although Fort Collins has made good progress in many areas of environmental sustainability, there is still significant work to meet our 2030 environmental goals.
  • Embrace shared leadership with colleagues in the Sustainability Services Area. Ensure internal connectivity between Social Sustainability and Economic Health, support joint goals, and identify opportunities for continued collaboration to meet our community’s growing sustainability needs.
  • With support from the Deputy Director of Sustainability Services and a change management consultant, lead the Department through the implementation of its transition strategy – envisioning the future both in structure and operations.
  • Lead the hiring and onboarding process for the leadership positions within Environmental Services and support the hiring of remaining staff. Foster and create connectivity for the Department, especially in a hybrid format, by ensuring employee voices are heard; normalize and provide multiple avenues for a full range of perspectives to be shared; track progress, evaluate success, and evolve the approach to match the department, organization, and community needs; and find creative ways to bring the department together both for learning and fun.
  • Through a people-centered approach, recognize that environmental gains must be balanced with economic and social well-being. With this in mind, bring a holistic, strategic perspective and strong leadership to the implementation of our various sustainability and environmental plans, including Our Climate Future and Municipal Sustainability and Adaptation Plan, and lead the team and organization in a strategic refresh of the City’s internal commitment to lead by example (as demonstrated by the 2019 Municipal Sustainability and Adaptation Plan).
  • With a continued focus on the triple-bottom-line, further define and prioritize Environmental Services projects and initiatives informed by Council Priorities to be set in early 2024. Centered in equity and leading with race, and supporting resilience, consider the proper timing, resources, and community support to bring reality to these initiatives. In partnership with the Chief Sustainability Officer and other Department Directors, lead the Department’s engagement in the 2024 biennial budgeting process (Budgeting for Outcomes) to reflect these resource needs.
  • Actively champion and support the City’s ongoing efforts to lead with equity in our processes and service delivery. Collaborate with colleagues in the Equity Office and throughout the Sustainability Services Area to ensure our Service Area operationalizes equity in its actions to equitably promote, protect, and enhance a healthy, sustainable, and resilient environment.
  • Encourage continued collaboration with other City departments. Consult as needed, partner when appropriate, and recognize the connections that facilitate greater efficiencies and reduce redundancies.

Environmental Services Department

Protecting and enhancing the environment is a core value in Fort Collins, and the community’s leadership on environmental stewardship and conservation reinforces that core value. For decades, the City of Fort Collins has led the way in innovative and sustainable environmental programs. The City adopted its first Open Space Plan in 1974, created the Natural Areas Program in 1992, and established its first climate action goals in 1999. Additional examples include a Nature in the City program, Cache la Poudre River and watershed restoration, Transit Master Plan, a robust network of bike paths, waste reduction programs, air quality and emissions policies, climate action planning, sustainable purchasing practices, and green building standards. The City has set some of the most aspirational climate goals in the country, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and 100% renewable electricity by 2030.

The Environmental Services Department is an integral part of the Sustainability Services Area. Originally organized 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. In addition to Environmental Services, the service area also includes the Departments of Social Sustainability and Economic Health. 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.

As a Department, Environmental Services has an ongoing budget of approximately $2.6M and in FY2023, has an additional budget of nearly $2.0M in one-time resources. The team includes a talented and dedicated staff of 19 full-time and six part-time employees. Many City departments work to support the environmental health of Fort Collins, and the Environmental Services Department plays one of the leading roles in that effort. Environmental Services contributes to and has active goals in several strategic plans, including the City Plan (comprehensive land use plan), Municipal Sustainability and Adaptation PlanAir Quality Plan, and Our Climate Future. Specifically, Our Climate Future is an update to three community environmental plans, including our Climate Action Plan, Energy Policy, and Road to Zero Waste Plan. Centered in equity and leading with race, Our Climate Future aligns strategies designed to support shared leadership and partnership with the community, equity, and resilience, as well as greenhouse gas mitigation, energy conservation, and waste reduction.

Environmental Services’ staff have frequent interactions with City Council to implement these plans and policies. Of the current City Council’s priorities for their 2021-2023 term, seven of the 31 priorities were led by the Environmental Services Department. Key accomplishments during this Council term including adopting interim greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, advancing a single-hauler contract for residential trash, recycling, and compost hauling, and improving air quality, particularly from oil and gas operations. In addition to the work with City Council, Environmental Services supports our community’s values and adopted policy goals by offering programs and services that improve indoor and outdoor air quality, implement climate action and resilience planning and reporting, increase recycling and waste diversion, coordinate municipal sustainability activities, undertake environmental data management, and participate in strategic municipal and community efforts. Staff play a key role in supporting interdepartmental efforts to embed sustainability into all City plans and processes. Environmental Services has managed the City’s Timberline Recycling Center and provides compliance and enforcement support for several environmental ordinances.

At the same time, Environmental Services last updated the Department’s vision in 2016, which was to promote, protect, and enhance a healthy and sustainable environment. In 2023, the Department initiated a change management process to update the Department’s vision, ensure its structure and operations match the work and commitments made by the adopted plans and policies the Department leads, continue to support a healthy culture that delivers its programs and services centered in equity, and is best poised to meet the moment of this critical decade of work on environmental sustainability. Change Management work will continue into 2024 with the support of the Environmental Sustainability Director.

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 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.

Awards Fort Collins has won over the past few years include:

  • No. 1, Best Place to Live in Colorado: Forbes – October 2022
  • No. 5, 2021 Top 10 Remote-Ready Cities in the U.S.: Livability – January 2021
  • No. 8, Colorado City Ranked Among ‘Most Relaxed’ in Country: Out There Colorado – April 2021
  • No. 4, 25 Best Cities in the U.S. to Own an Electric Car: 24/7 Wall St – April 2021
  • No. 2, Best Tasting Drinking Water in North America: American Water Works – June 2021
  • No. 42, 2021 Top 100 Places to Live: Livability.com – October 2021
  • No. 6, Safest Cities for Cyclists: Your Local Security – May 2021
  • Best Places to Work in Local Government: Engaging Local Government Leaders – July 2021
  • Municipal Equality Index 100 – November 2022
  • 2022 Certified Healthy Workplace Award: Healthy Links
  • 2021 What Works Certified City: Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • No. 18, 20 Safest Cities in Colorado: SafeWise – April 2020
  • No. 21, Top 30 Creative Small Cities: CVSuite – May 2020
  • Clean Air Champion: RAQC – December 2020
  • No. 8, Most Fitness Friendly Places for 2021: Smart Asset – December 2020
  • Official Bird City: American Bird Conservancy and Environment for the Americas
  • No. 3, Most Dog-friendly City in the U.S.: Rocket Homes – February 2022

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

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. Councilmembers and City leaders are engaged nationally and internationally in issues facing our community. Mayor Jeni Arndt was one of 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 to participate in the City Budgeting for Equity & Recovery program from Bloomberg Philanthropies, through What Works Cities. 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 uncharted 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 12 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.

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: $93,767 – $156,272, and the anticipated hiring range is $116,000 – $144,000; 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 five years of progressively responsible environmental sustainability-related experience and a bachelor’s degree in engineering, ecology, environmental planning, natural resources management, sustainability, environmental, or a related field. Advanced knowledge of natural resources management and environmental sustainability is essential, as is a demonstrated cultural competency to effectively collaborate and develop meaningful relationships with people of diverse identities, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds. Prior policy and program development experience is highly desired. Knowledge of the private sector and/or public-private partnerships is beneficial. A master’s degree in natural resources management, environmental science, or environmental management is encouraged. An equivalent combination of experience and education that enables success as the Environmental Sustainability Director will be considered.


The Environmental Sustainability Director is subject to residency requirements under the City’s Charter (Article IV, Section 3), which requires 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. It is important to note that Fort Collins voters will be considering a ballot measure this November to move this requirement from the City Charter to the Municipal Code, and future amendments to this policy may be considered by the Council.

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. For full consideration, please apply by Monday, October 9, 2023.


Please direct questions to Heather Gantz at hgantz@raftelis.com or Robert Colichio at rcolichio@raftelis.com.

Recruitment Brochure

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.

Compensation $93,767 – $156,272
Posted: Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Job # 25