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Great Outdoors Colorado announces new executive director

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 -- GOCO
April 20, 2016


Rosemary Dempsey
Director of Communications

Jim Spaanstra to lead organization through transition as Executive Director Lise Aangeenbrug departs

DENVER – Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) has announced the selection of Jim Spaanstra as its new executive director. Spaanstra will fill the vacancy created on May 1 by Lise Aangeenbrug as she departs the organization to become Executive Vice President of the National Park Foundation in Washington D.C. Aangeenbrug has served as executive director of GOCO since January 2009.

The GOCO Board of Trustees selected Spaanstra to lead the organization for one year through its transition. Spaanstra, a GOCO Board member for the last seven years, is partner in the Denver office of the international law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels. He is a nationally recognized environmental and natural resources lawyer and currently serves as chair of the Colorado School of Mines Board.

“The GOCO Board is fortunate to have a professional of Jim Spaanstra’s caliber and merit, with such strong knowledge of GOCO’s projects and programs, step in during a transition period for the organization,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “We look forward to a continued partnership with GOCO and Mr. Spaanstra as we implement the Colorado the Beautiful initiative, with its vision that within a generation, every Coloradan will live within 10 minutes of a park, trail, or vibrant green space. Colorado offers incredible outdoor resources, and GOCO is a critical partner with the state in ensuring Colorado has healthy children, a healthy economy, and a healthy environment.”

The GOCO Board, which will undertake the coming executive director search process, is currently chaired by Heather Carroll, President of the Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation in Colorado Springs. She said, “It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve on the Board with Lise Aangeenbrug at the helm. With her vision and leadership, GOCO’s reach and impact grew tremendously. We are proud that she will be extending her experience and talents to the benefit of the entire country. With her departure, the Board is thankful for Jim Spaanstra’s acceptance of the executive director position and for his stewardship during our transition period.”

Addressing Aangeenbrug’s tenure at GOCO, former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, “During Ms. Aangeenbrug’s directorship, GOCO awarded $400 million in grants and adopted a bold new strategic plan with initiatives focused on protecting land; connecting people to parks, trails and nature; and inspiring the next generation to get outdoors. We have more to do. Colorado needs GOCO more than ever.” Salazar championed the amendment that established GOCO in 1992. He was Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources at the time.

On her pending departure, Aangeenbrug noted, “I am honored to have worked alongside an incredible group of people – the GOCO Board, GOCO staff, and Governor John Hickenlooper. I am forever appreciative of the many wonderful grantees and partners across the state who generated ideas, created change, and led critical projects from inception through completion. I am deeply proud of all we have accomplished together and know GOCO will continue to do great things for the people, nature, and wildlife of Colorado.”

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,700 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit goco.org for more information.