Leigh Girvin steps down from Summit County conservancy group after 13 years | SummitDaily.com

Leigh Girvin steps down from Summit County conservancy group after 13 years

Jessica Smith
jsmith@summitdaily.com

Last year, the Continental Divide Land Trust (CDLT) celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Summit County-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization protects open space land through preservation agreements, stewardship and public education.

Now, entering into its 21st year, the organization is going through some transition. Leigh Girvin, who has been the executive director for the past 13 years, is stepping down from the position.

"It's been a great run," she said. "I'm proud of what the organization has accomplished in that time. We've really, I think, established our role in the community as the land conservancy organization. We've got a number of conservation easements on really important and valuable open space properties, and it's been great, it's been fun."

As for her decision to leave the organization, she said, "I just knew that it was time for me to make a change."

The CDLT has formed a transition committee in order to determine what the organization's direction will be going forward.

Rachel Winkler, who has spent two years as assistant for administration and development, has been named CDLT program manager. She graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in natural resource recreation and tourism, with a concentration in environmental communication.

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"This is what she wants to do and I feel that I'm leaving the land trust in really good hands," said Girvin, of Winkler. "I could only leave if I knew I was leaving it in good shape, and I really do."

Winkler said that working with Girvin over the past two years has helped prepare her for this role.

"She's been a great mentor to me, she's been so much more than just a boss," Winkler said. "It's been a really good transition, and I think she's really set me up for success."

The organization also recently announced the election of Kimberly Dufty as board president. Dufty has worked with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and her mother, JoAnn Dufty, was a longtime CDLT board member as well.

She's looking forward to working with the transition committee to determine the organization's future.

"(It's) an opportunity for us to look at, where are we going?" Dufty said. "The challenge with land trusts is they're forever you know, in perpetuity, and of course we are not … It's a perfect time to (figure out) what are our options? And what's the best way to ensure these properties are taken care of and looked after forever."

Through March, Girvin will be working with the CDLT to help with the transition. Then, she's not sure what she'll do next, though it does involve staying in Summit County.

"This is home," she said, and it has been for 40 years. "I'm not planning on going anywhere."

She added, "I want to thank the community for their support of Continental Divide Land Trust, and I hope people will continue to stay involved and interested in protecting our natural land."