Howell tapped to lead YVHA

Housing Authority: Ex-superintendent has 'wonderful challenge'



Yampa Valley Housing Authority director Donna Howell

— The board of directors for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority has chosen former Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Donna Howell to lead the organization.

The board chose Howell over the other finalist for the job, Curtis Church, a Housing Authority project manager who has served as its interim executive director since Elizabeth Black resigned from the post in June.

"I believe the reason we selected Donna was because of her broad background in administration and management and her understanding of the financial issues of governmental entities," said Nancy Stahoviak, a Routt County commissioner and Housing Authority board member.

Mary Alice Page-Allen, Housing Authority board president, added that Howell's knowledge of the community and "the scope of her abilities" are strengths.

"She's plugged into the community," Page-Allen said. "She's worked with a lot of folks. She brings a well-rounded organizational management skill set to the Housing Authority."

During interviews, Stahoviak said Church was asked whether he would stay with the Housing Authority if he wasn't chosen for the executive director position, and he said he would.

"We all really value Curtis Church and all the work he's done for the Housing Authority and will continue to do for the Housing Authority," Stahoviak said. "He will benefit from the things Donna can teach him."

Page-Allen agreed.

"He is a very valuable member of our organization," she said. "In my mind, it takes both of them to make our organization better."

Howell will begin as executive director in January. She was traveling Wednesday and not available for comment. As a finalist for the position last month, Howell acknowledged that the job would be different from her last one, but she said the positions require a similar skill set.

"I feel strongly that I want to make a contribution to the community, and I am acutely aware of the housing issue from my previous position," Howell said at the time. "Throughout my career I have purchased property. I have built schools. I've had experience in terms of building projects and financing them. But I haven't done it every day."

Church did not return messages left on his cell phone and at his office.

Stahoviak and Page-Allen said one of Howell's first priorities would be public outreach, particularly to the city of Steamboat Springs.

"We need to definitely work with the city of Steamboat Springs," Page-Allen said. "They're a leader on affordable housing issues in our community."

The Steamboat Springs School Board bought out Howell's contract earlier this year, citing a "contentious" working relationship with the superintendent. While the Housing Authority board discussed the terms of Howell's departure from the school district, Stahoviak said there was not a concern.

"I think there are times when individuals for one reason or another have conflicts and don't fit," said Stahoviak, who called the executive director position "a wonderful challenge" for Howell. "She's very well qualified for the position."

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

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another_local 7 years, 9 months ago

An excellent choice!. Donna is talented, smart, experienced and effective. This will move the YVHA forward.


sportzmama 7 years, 9 months ago

Yea, yippee skippy, hooray!!!! Excellent choice for the position. Ms. Howell is a wonderful asset to this community and she will do a great job for the housing authority!!!!!

Congrats Donna!


okie 7 years, 9 months ago

Way to go Donna, way to go housing authority, what a wonderful asset to the city and community.


bikegirl 7 years, 9 months ago

The housing authority is fortunate to have Donna!


elkwatch 7 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, way to go! Just hope they didn't give her a 4-year ironclad contract.


speakingup 7 years, 9 months ago

Maybe we can use what she got from her contract buyout to pay her first one or two years salary.


sportzmama 7 years, 8 months ago

Elkwatch: I'm not sure how much you "get out" but Ms. Howell's contract with the school district was actually pretty standard for execs. The reason for that is because they are 1) In a position with incredible responsibility, and 2) there is never a guarantee of employment. The further up the chain you go, the more likely it is that you could lose your job. They really are employed and fired at the whim of board members, stock holders, etc. I've worked at the executive level in several industries, and the top dog has always had a buy-out or "golden parachute" clause as it's called.

Give it a rest already. Ms. Howell negotiated her contract in good faith with the board that was seated at the time, and it was THAT board that chose to exercise the buy out.


letomayo 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe Howell will do a good job, maybe not. It is up to her ability and willingness to do some of the work. You may like her but what is her experience with housing, besides that "affordable" housing?

What does this Authority do and what are her duties and responsibilities?

It appears that Stahoviak was saying Howell didn't fit the school district board of education. What were the qualifications and how did that fit Howell's resume and experiences?

Howell said, "Throughout my career I have purchased property. I have built schools. I've had experience in terms of building projects and financing them. But I haven't done it every day."

I've moved around and bought houses and property too. Does that make me qualified?

A superintendent would know what was going on with a building project, does her comment "I have built schools. I've had experience in terms of building projects and financing them. But I haven't done it every day." qualify anyone?

If the YVHA is an important aspect of our city, then we need to have the best qualified. My thought had to do with "cronyism." I'm not saying its so, just scratching my chin.


nofear 7 years, 8 months ago

Now that you brought it up, letomayo, my question is how does Ms. Howell's resume' stack up against a gentleman who has been the YVHA project manager, interim director and member of the board? Talk about a guy who has experience in terms of building projects and financing them....every day, Mr. Church had already dedicated his time to affordable housing in our valley and clearly shared those goals and objectives.

Whether you agree or disagree with Ms. Howell's previous employment in Steamboat Springs, I think a topic like affordable housing needs a front man who can speak with experience. Mr. Church knows how affordable housing has developed,he has been involved with affordable housing work sessions, and knows how the approval process works.

After losing the last three directors, maybe it was time to examine a new way to look at the YVHA administrative position instead of strictly using the checklist you suggest, sportzmama. I think Mr. Church is an asset that would have best fit what the struggling housing authority needs to succeed.


elkwatch 7 years, 8 months ago

sportz - sorry but you're wrong on both counts:

  1. Howell's 4-year no-way-out superintendent contract was and still is unheard of in the state of Colorado.
  2. The board that gave her that contract was a different board from the one who bought her out. Jeff Troeger was the only one who remained from the previous board and he had voted against the contract.

Keep your facts straight.


letomayo 7 years, 8 months ago

Howell was given a contract by one board and bought out by the board of Connelly, Troeger, Kozatch, Devinsentis, and Rusk (abstained). Howell never cared to work for this board which led to her firing.

The board of Troeger (abstained), Gleason, Havener, Stephenson, and Loomes gave her the four-year contract. That is unheard of in this state. It is this board that is responsible for the need to buy out her contract. They gave her a locked tight, anything-goes contract.

As I said before and it sounds like someone knows Mr Church (who I don't know) probably had better qualifications. That is why I'm scratching my chin and thinking "cronyism?" She is really the best qualified? Who did the hiring? Would that reveal something?


id04sp 7 years, 8 months ago

How about the ethics of paying someone a salary to run YVHA when she has already received the buy-out on her school board contract? Doesn't that make her a double dipper at the county trough?


steamboatsconscience 7 years, 8 months ago

zalobar careful, you'll get the attention of sbvor with those comments! dim once again you prove you don't live up to your name.


PJ Howe 7 years, 8 months ago

A $100,000 per year for another political appiontee. Thought the board would have learned their lesson with hiring a director without housing experience.


steamboatsconscience 7 years, 8 months ago

The Howell appointment stinks of cronyism absolutely It only reinforces my belief that in this town the inmates run the asylum. If I was Mr Church I would tell them to stick it and see how well she does without him still doing all the work. Hey Donna do us a favor and take a long vacation to Tahiti on the taxpayers dime, uh I mean our $300 grand, instead of taking someone else's job.


okie 7 years, 8 months ago

Get over it you bunch of whiners, Waa Waa Waa that's all you do. She got the job, not Mr. Church, embrace it.


localroots 7 years, 8 months ago

If I were Mr. Church I would also watch your back -oh I mean e mails. You never no when your boss might feel the need to check up on you. Howell will make a good figure head but Church will be doing all the work while she shmoozes with her rotary friends on the taxpayers money. Unbelievable that they gave her a pass and let her double dip like that. Maybe with all her dough she will build a couple of houses and donate them to the YVHA. NOT! PS -My crystal ball tells me this pack leader is on the prowl again.


sportzmama 7 years, 8 months ago

Hello.......... my facts are correct - just a different point of view. The point is this - GET OVER IT!!!! You're blaming Ms. Howell for a contract that yes, she negotiated, but the old BOARD approved. Maybe the golden parachute was foresight on Ms. Howell's part as she'd seen how Dr. D. treated previous female people in a position of authority.

All I'm saying is yes, in education it may have been an unprecedented contract, but in the Corporate world, her parachute was quite normal AND the Board approved it.

Haven't any of you EVER negotiated in YOUR best interest to get the best deal for YOU?????? I know I have and if you say you haven't you're not being honest.

I believe Ms. Howell was hired by YVHA because of her networking skills, as well as other ADMINISTRATIVE qualifications she has. Did Mr. Church want to be the permanent Director? If he did AND has more housing experience but not as much administrative experience, this could be a good thing as when you're an exec. director, your job is always tenuous. Also remember, with that title and $$ your time is not your own. Execs. are usually on call pretty much all the time and they know that going in.

Who knows, lets just give Ms. Howell a chance.


elk2 7 years, 8 months ago

I'm surprised at Donna's "Chutzpah". Having the nerve to STEAL 300K from the children and teachers of SS and still stay in the community. Proof of her Narcissism. I have the utmost respect for Nancy Stahoviak but she made a huge mistake.


dimwitiguess 7 years, 8 months ago

Howell is a political appointee who will get a salary. Church will do all of the work and Howell will act as though she was the all-knowledgeable leader. Watch how much really happens. There'll be lots of action and no movement. YVHA has shown it must not be serious about getting anything done.

What will Howell go on to next when she's ridden out of YVHA when they see what a know-it-all she is. She is one person who thinks highly of herself. Go back to Vermont, or Texas, or Illinois.


Zalobar 7 years, 8 months ago

Dim wit makes the point loud and clear by saying, "Lots of action and no movement. We have a planned shortage of service community housing !!! (I would beg to call it affordable.) In past notes here I have criticized the preservation of the So. Valley and the YV Land Trust. I think the YV Housing Authority is a sham because they could have long ago been as successfull as the Land trust, By the purchase and set aside of only 100 acres of land for a planned free market community of say 25 units or more @ acre ranging from 300 sq. ft. studio, to 900 sq. ft. 3bd 1 bath units. Thats 2500 units People !! Built for $200@ sq. ft. $60k to $180k @ unit. Thats 25 units in one building on halfe an acre with the other halfe acre for parking and green belt. There wouldnt be a Service community housing shortage for the next 10 years. We would have BUS Drivers !!! Think of the reduced carbon footprint from people who now are risking their lives driving 17 to 40 miles each way daily Paying $300 @ month of their hard earned dollard just for GAS? A plan like this would break all the RULES of engagement. Thereby getting something DONE. The political appointees would have DONE their job and be forced to move on to some other engagement, having taught the rest of us how its done. This would not be good politics. Keep up with the planned shortage and preserve the NEED for a housing authority. What we get is River Walk. The other $400k plus @ unit development by Super8. Im not an authority on Anything, but I know the simple rules of supply and demand. Keep the demand high, keep the supply low, Keep the working Stiff on the Highway. The working people in this area must have sore septums from being lead around by the nose-ring. Stop being cattle.


elk2 7 years, 8 months ago

You will never convince Mary Allice Page-Allen that her choice for this position wasn't the perfect fit. Just as in her job at the County level, she always makes things more complicated, and impossible to accomplish for the average guy. Most people can't afford to hire a lawyer and an engineer just to have their little plot of land pass her rules and regs. Donna Howell doesn't have an unselfish bone in her body. She is incapable of relating to people on their level of need. Although she is very good at wrapping a pretty package and calling it generous and thoughtful. It's just GREED!! How will Donna ever be able to relate to a person who can't afford housing in Steamboat when she lives a luxurious lifestyle. Mary Allice, you mean well but are misguided.


letomayo 7 years, 8 months ago

Good points Zalobar. The trouble I see in Steamboat right now is it is the same group of people who have their fingers in everything and if you disagree with their ideas and plans you are pushed right our of the system.

Housing of any kind for anyone who is trying to make a living here is going to need out-of-the-box thinking. Not the OOTB thinking that these who vie for control say they are using.

Get someone creative to address these issues.


dimwitiguess 7 years, 8 months ago

steamboatcon, leto, Zalo, It is apparent that no new ideas will come to the YVHA because Howell only promotes her own ideas. Everyone else has to agree. Whoever hired her for this position doesn't really care about housing that is quite clear!

Hey, I'm gonna buy some more property soon and I'm wondering if I can get an assitant position at YVHA. If I need to I'll walk by all the building downtown and stop and watch the construction carefully that way I can say I have participated in those building projects.

"Hyperbole Howell" knows how to promote herself unless she's talking to someone who knows how she works and knows that she says anything that can even possibly make her sound good. When she is questioned closely though anyone who really cares about real success can see right through the BS.

Yeh, YVHA has taken on a new direction - "DETOUR." A short-term inconvenience for a permanent position at the taxpayers' expense.

Thanks, steamboatcon, but if I said anything that doesn't live up to my name that was probably an error because I know you and others know that I cannot be anything other than a dimwitiguess.


dimwitiguess 7 years, 8 months ago


Sounds like you know Howell well. She can't relate to anyone except those who can do something for her. YVHA will accomplish nothing real under her "direction." I was going to say "leadership" but it's more like a dictatorship.



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