Mountain Recreation’s Board of Directors will begin conducting a search process to replace Executive Director Janet Bartnik, who has accepted a position with Prince William County’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in northern Virginia. It’s a move back to family for Bartnik.
“My father turns 80 this month,” said Bartnik. “I don’t want to miss out on this time with him. The Position in Prince William County affords me the opportunity to be only 40 miles from Dad after all these years of being nearly 1,800 miles away.”
Bartnik was raised in Virginia and earned her undergrad and graduate degrees at Virginia Tech. She spent much of her professional career in Parks and Recreation in Missouri before coming to Mountain Rec in 2017.
“By far, the best accomplishment of this Board was hiring Janet. Her work to fulfill the expectations of the Board has improved the District so much; winning the Vail Valley Partnership’s Organization of the Year after the reorganization and rebranding efforts was confirmation that Janet’s leadership, along with an amazing staff, earned the trust and respect of Eagle County citizens,” stated former Board President Liz Jones.
Upon arriving at the District, Bartnik was tasked with increasing access to facilities and programs – by ensuring diverse and ample offerings to serve a wider breadth of ages, abilities, and interests. Bartnik hit the ground running to connect with the community and re-envision what the District and its staff could grow into.
“She set the bar high, coming to the District with over 25 years of extensive parks and recreation, and local government knowledge,” shares Scott Ruff, Superintendent of Recreation Facilities at Mountain Rec. “From the beginning she opened our eyes to an elevated level of professionalism, allowing us to not only network and collaborate with agencies across the U.S. – but to grow professionally as a staff and develop local partnerships for the betterment of our community.”
Mountain Rec’s Gypsum Rec Center became the first rec center in the State of Colorado to reopen amidst COVID, thanks to a unified front across the District.
“Janet has built her career around the simple yet powerful principle that we are better together. Over the past five and a half years she’s manifested that here – by building a unified District, promoting partnerships, and welcoming everyone to the table,” said Scott Robinson, Superintendent of Business Operations at Mountain Rec. “There’s a reason why Mountain Rec has a solid foundation allowing it to grow into a key player in the health & wellness of our community. Action speaks volumes, and I’m proud to have been in the arena working alongside her.”
Early on Bartnik hit a home run with the award of a KaBoom! grant in partnership with Eagle County Public Health that utilized a community-build project to bring a playground, exercise stations, and turf to Dotsero Mobile Home Park residents. Not long after, Bartnik shepherded the rebranding of the District, including its renaming to Mountain Recreation in 2018, and in concert with Board and staff, developed a new website intended to improve customer service and create transparency for government information.
Bartnik’s approach has always been to listen to the community first, that has led to working with the Town of Gypsum to renovate the Gypsum Rec Center’s fitness area and restructure facility memberships to include fitness classes, child watch, and tumble tots within the membership rate. In Eagle, this led to a new concessions and restroom building at the Eagle Sports Complex. In Edwards, that’s led to working with staff, partners, and volunteers to lead the charge for the addition of an outdoor ice rink in Freedom Park during the pandemic. The rink has quickly expanded to meet demand and is now set for two sheets in winter 2023-24.
KaBoom! playground community build day at the Dotsero Mobile Home Park.
In addition to facility enhancements, Mountain Rec established a partnership with SOS Outreach to grow the reach of outdoor recreation programs in the valley, developed a partnership with Small Champions to provide accommodation services so that everyone in the community can participate in programs regardless of their ability, and partnered with Eagle County Healthy Aging and others to grow access to active older adult programming. On top of that, the District created a community partnership grant program to help partners whose mission aligns in helping the community.
“Janet has always looked at the bigger picture to deliver on community-driven needs, create genuine connections, and ensure everyone gets to play,” shares Anna Englehart Superintendent of Recreation Programs at Mountain Rec. “At the District she’s been a mentor, supporting staff when needed but also stepping back and trusting our own individual expertise… and personally, she’s been a role model and mentor, a mom who knows the balancing act of family and work – and knowing family comes first.”
“Despite the fun of community-building projects and programs, the one thing I am most proud of is the work we’ve done to build a strong staff team and robust culture,” said Bartnik. “Not only have we created flexibility for team members, but we’ve also created space for succession planning and professional growth and development. Mountain Rec is regularly training its team members in-house and offering opportunities to grow through outside professional development activities – and our efforts are reaping results with many state and national recognitions, and professional certifications.”
During Janet’s time at the District, staff have been recognized at the state and national levels of the Parks & Recreation industry.
Bartnik’s last day with Mountain Rec is March 31. While the District Board searches to find the District’s next leader, the District’s Superintendents: Scott Ruff, Anna Englehart, and Scott Robinson will be the interim team of leaders with Janet’s consulting support from afar.
To help with the hiring process, the Board has contracted with third-party professional recruitment firm, Columbia ltd. The Board, Columbia ltd, and District staff will work hand in hand to determine what the District needs from an Executive Director.