Resignations prompt Grand Valley management shuffle

The head of the Grand Junction office of the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority is the latest high-profile director to announce a resignation this year.

Scott Aker will leave to become deputy director of the Mesa County Department of Human Services.

Aker joins Tim Sarmo, Palisade town administrator; Ann Driggers, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership; Chris Reddin, executive director of the Business Incubator Center; Heidi Hoffman-Ham, director of the Downtown Partnership; and Gilbert Lujan, supervisor of the Mesa County Workforce Center, in announcing their resignations.

“CHFA’s an incredible organization that helps people throughout Colorado,” Aker said. “It was a real honor to set up a satellite office.”

Aker oversaw the opening of the CHFA office on Main Street in Grand Junction. The statewide organization assists people who have difficulty qualifying for traditional mortgages to purchase homes or businesses.

Aker previously worked as vice president of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and supervisor of the Mesa County Workforce Center. He’ll to return to employment in county government in September and plans to finish his time at CHFA on Aug. 5. “This is an opportunity to return to the group I worked with when I came to the county,” he said.

Sarmo plans to leave his Palisade post at the end of September and spend more time traveling with his wife, Allison Sarmo, former cultural arts coordinator for the Grand Junction Commission on Arts and Culture.

“I’m young enough and healthy enough. I should do this,” said Sarmo, adding that he views the next chapter in his life as a sabbatical, if not long-term retirement.

“I’ve enjoyed working,” he said as he wraps up 33 years of government employment. Sarmo previously served as town manager in Silverton for seven years and regional manager of the Northwest Colorado office of the Department of Local Affairs for 21 years. He’s wrapping up five years at his post in Palisade.

Driggers resigned as CEO of GJEP, but has remained as a consultant for the organization. GJEP works to attract businesses to Mesa County as well as assist existing businesses. Kelly Flenniken, formerly an assistant to Driggers, is interim director.

Jay Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, is leading a search committee to find a new GJEP director. “We feel it’s necessary to do a national search,” Seaton said. “We’d like to hire somebody locally, but feel we owe it to the organization to search nationally.” He said GJEP will accept applications through Aug. 12 and potentially hire a director before October.

Reddin announced that her last day as executive director of the incubator will be Aug. 5. She told the Business Times she expects to remain in the Grand Valley and return to the private sector. “My heart’s in the private sector. I’d like to be an entrepreneur.” Reddin worked nearly five years as incubator director.

Heidi Hoffman-Ham left Grand Junction in late July after her husband found a business opportunity in another state, according to the Downtown Partnership. The partnership has received more than 40 applications for the position and plans to narrow the list to 12 by Aug. 12. A new director could be selected by September.

The Downtown Partnership includes the Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Association. The DDA is funded through the City of Grand Junction general fund and taxes levied on downtown area properties. The Downtown Association is a private organization consisting of downtown business owners.

Lujan announced plans to join the Express Employment Professionals staffing service in Grand Junction on Aug. 1 as a business development consultant.