Jillian Sutherland, Co-Founder of Community Builders
Since moving to Glenwood Springs in 2011, I have been inspired by the deep love people have for this place. Not simply this town, but the entire region. The American West has always captured our collective imagination – the wildness and beauty that still exists here reminds us of our own resilience, opportunity, and our calling to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Community Builders has always been about honoring this legacy of the West and ensuring that it remains a livable and vibrant region for generations to come.
This work has given me many gifts: colleagues who are dear friends, trips to all corners of the Intermountain West, and even learning the value of offering beer at public workshops! More valuable than all of these gifts, however, were the lessons I learned on leadership, compromise, and how to find common ground. I got to witness community leaders navigate hard conversations about growth, change and uncertainty about the future firsthand.
Some of you will remember that back in 2011, when my husband and I moved out here, the whole nation was recovering from the Great Recession. I could not have predicted in a million years that as we now emerge from a global pandemic a decade later, this region would be experiencing even higher housing costs and demand than the peak prices of the pre-recession aughts. Our communities are facing deep challenges: we feel these market pressures, we know our economies must diversify, we experience the drought and the smokey summers, we struggle to overcome our political divisiveness. As co-founder of Community Builders, I am most encouraged that this organization exists to help communities find their way through these trying times.
The decision to take on a new role outside of Community Builders is bittersweet. I am leaving to do more locally-focused work in my hometown as the Executive Director of the Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority. The best of what I bring to this opportunity, I learned during my time at Community Builders working with the amazing people and communities across our great region. Over the past six years, I have loved collaborating on many unique projects through our assistance and training programs, driving resources to places that are at a crossroads. Serving as a co-founder and director, and getting to know so many amazing partners, has been an honor. To my team, I am so excited to see what is ahead for Community Builders!
Thank you so much for the love and encouragement that so many of you have given me as I push toward this next chapter in my professional journey. I’m looking forward to staying in touch, cheering you on, and sharing lots of good news.