Steamboat Springs The Yampa Valley Housing Authority is nearing a hire for its executive director position, and former Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Donna Howell is one of two finalists for the job. The Housing Authority's interim executive director, Curtis Church, is the other.
Routt County Commissioner and Housing Authority board member Nancy Stahoviak said the Housing Authority's selection committee narrowed its choices to Howell and Church after phone interviews with candidates Monday. Noting that both finalists are local, Stahoviak said some strong candidates from outside the Yampa Valley withdrew from consideration due to the high cost of living here.
"It just gets tougher and tougher all the time," Stahoviak said of the hiring process.
Stahoviak said Housing Authority board members will interview Church and Howell within the next few weeks and then make a decision.
The Steamboat Springs School Board bought out Howell's contract in August. Howell said Wednesday that she decided to apply for another job in the community because she and her husband decided to make Steamboat Springs home when she took the superintendent job four years ago.
"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," said Howell, citing hiring difficulties that she also faced due to Steamboat's high-priced housing market.
Howell said she is committed to preserving the fabric of the community, which she said depends on keeping a variety of people in the Yampa Valley. Howell said there are correlations between the Housing Authority position and her longtime superintendent career.
"Throughout my career I have purchased property," Howell said. "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, a former project manager who has led the Housing Authority on an interim basis since former executive director Elizabeth Black resigned from the post in June, said he wants the job for good.
"I think it's an important job that needs attention in our community, and I've been doing it four and a half months, and I like the job," he said.
This is the second time the Housing Authority has sought an executive director since Black's resignation. After interviewing three candidates earlier this year, the Housing Authority's selection committee decided to reassess the hiring process. Church said he did not apply the first time around.
"I wasn't confident in my skills the first time," he said. "I was too tough on myself the first time, and I do have the abilities to do the job."
Stahoviak said she hopes for an executive director that can take the Housing Authority to "the next level."
"We always seem to forget that, for all purposes, the Housing Authority is still a very young organization," Stahoviak said. "We're still in our very infant stages. In my opinion, what we need is a director who can help us grow."