This month, three new staff members joined the city administrative team, bringing decades of experience in their fields and the region. City officials say their expertise will be key as Moab looks forward to major public works projects and mapping the trajectory toward this year’s commitment to powering the city solely with renewable energy by 2032.
As the first person to take the role of communications and engagement manager for the City of Moab, Lisa Church brings not only experience and deep investment in the community, but also exactly the skill set and tone to be effective leading the city in reaching out to and hearing from citizens, Moab City Manager David Everitt said.
A journalist and editor for more than 20 years, Church previously served as a former communications director for nonprofit theaters in the Kansas City area, and locally for the Canyonlands Field Institute and Moab Music Festival. She most recently worked as the editor of The Times-Independent, and Church is now looking forward to a new challenge, she said.
“I envision the job as being the point person at the city who can get information out quickly and factually, maintaining as much transparency as possible,” she said.
As part of the effort to increase transparency, she and her colleagues within the city will work together to communicate both internally and to the wider public about city projects and processes. Having lived in Moab since 1995, Church said she understands and is eager and prepared to help answer questions that arise as the city continues to change.
“Lisa has knowledge of daily issues and the politics here,” Everitt said. “She has a great tone and is a critical thinker who’s respectful of the fact that people have a job to do and are doing their jobs.”
Church is excited about networking with peers in other cities, as local governments are innovating ways to facilitate productive dialogue with constituents across the country.
“My hope is to set up a clearinghouse for communication to flow effectively inside and from the city out. What projects are we working on, what each department does and how they work,” she said. “The idea is to help people more clearly understand what the city does.”
Also defining her role as the first sustainability director for the City of Moab, Dr. Rosemarie Russo brings academic mastery and more than 30 years of experience in a career dedicated to sustainability initiative planning and execution.
The Moab City Council established the position of sustainability director after adopting the city’s Water Conservation Plan in 2016 and adopting a resolution establishing a community-wide goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2032, according to a recent press release.
Russo developed the Climate Wise Program in Fort Collins that was nationally recognized as a Top 50 Innovative Government Program by Harvard University, according to a recent city press release. While at the City of Fort Collins, she helped analyze energy efficiency, renewable energy, water use and conservation, waste reduction and transportation strategies for the city, taking into account economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits.
She has also developed and taught classes at several colleges in the areas of business sustainability, ecotourism, law and waste management. She holds a Doctor of Education degree from Antioch University, a Master of Studies in Law degree from the University of Vermont, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers. She also has a Sustainability Management Certificate from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“We have a great vision, and it takes people to execute that vision,” Everitt said. “Dr. Russo brings years of experience as a sustainability director in a Front Range city that has proven it can be done.”
Well-rounded experience was an important factor in the recent hiring process to fill all three key city administration roles, Everitt said.
“We were seeking the optimal amount of new energy, mixed with experience and institutional knowledge,” he said.
Moab City Engineer Chuck Williams, who previously lived in Tucson, began in his new role earlier this month, and recently completed his move to Moab from Arizona. He has spent the month meeting engineering and public works staff members, and learning about Moab’s current infrastructure situation.
He joins the city as master plans are completed for sanitary and sewer line maintenance and reconstruction, water storage distribution, and storm water mitigation.
Williams said he’s looking forward to working not only with the city public works and engineering teams, but also local builders and developers and the wider community to effectively implement new master plans.
“An important aspect of public works is to make a plan, and then make sure it doesn’t sit,” he said.
Prior to the last four years working as a public works engineer for a private firm in Tucson, Williams spent 25 years in a rural community in northern Arizona in both public and private engineering roles. He brings experience and technical expertise not only in planning and design, but also implementation and project management, Everitt said.
All three new members of the administrative staff are a good fit for the family-like environment the city has cultivated, especially as officials gear up for major projects and improvements, Everitt said.
“Local government is one of the few places where we get a chance to reorient to the value of government,” Everitt said.
“I think people who live here year-round do have questions – how is this going to work and how does it affect me today?” Church said. “My door is always open, and I hope people will be comfortable coming in and talking to me.”
New communications director, sustainability director and city engineer hired
We were seeking the optimal amount of new energy, mixed with experience and institutional knowledge.