Highlands Ranch Metro District, District General Manager
Mackenzie Eason & Associates has been retained by the Highlands Ranch Metro District to help recruit their next District General Manager. Reporting to the Metro District Board of Directors, the District Manager will provide leadership on the day to day operations of the organization. The District Manager will have a key role in helping the Board develop its vision for Highlands Ranch and in advising the Board on how to execute the plan to realize the vision. Once formulated, the District Manager will be responsible for executing an actionable plan to lead the future vision for the Highlands Ranch community. This position is available because the current General Manager is retiring after 24 years of service to the Metro District.
A 22,000-acre master-planned community, Highlands Ranch was founded in 1981. Since then, the community has grown to over 29,054 single family and 7,648 multi-family homes and a population of 99,741 residents. Highlands Ranch is located 12 miles south of Denver in Douglas County and offers a wonderful quality of life and opportunities for an active lifestyle. As the local government of the community, the Highlands Ranch Metro District’s Board of Directors is comprised of seven elected board members who represent the citizens of Highlands Ranch. The Highlands Ranch Metro District is committed to providing quality municipal services while managing resources wisely for the community of Highland Ranch. To that end, the Highlands Ranch Metro District has responsibly managed their finances to ensure a solid foundation. Their AA+ bond rating, sufficient reserves, and conservative approach to managing their resources allow the District to maintain their reputation of being one of the premier communities in the country.
The vision of the Highlands Ranch Metro District is to lead cooperative efforts to assure quality, responsive service and support to their community in the creation and management of Parks and Recreation, Open Space, Public Works, and Cultural Activities. They ensure the wise use of their resources by encouraging citizen involvement and public/ private collaboration.
The Highlands Ranch Metro District is responsible for:
Water and sanitation services through an agreement with Centennial Water and Sanitation District
Recreation programs and services
Developing and caring for parks, trails and natural open space areas
Building community infrastructure, including major roads, traffic signals, and storm drainage and stormwater management
Managing and maintaining landscaping, fence and community entries along major roads
Street lighting through Xcel Energy
Community events and volunteer activities
Managing the Highlands Ranch Mansion
In collaboration with the Metro District’s Board of Directors, the General Manager of Centennial Water District and other county, regional and state partners, the next District General Manager will shape the organization’s path with a holistic and innovative approach towards continuously enhancing the quality of life for the residents and leading the evolution towards prosperity and vitality of Highlands Ranch into the future.
Highlands Ranch Metro District Guiding Principles
The District General Manager of the Highlands Ranch Metro District is charged with the responsibility of implementing the policies set forth by the Board of Directors. The District Manager will be a key advisor to the board and lead the collaborative effort of assessing the current structure, identifying the needs of the Metro District, and developing the future vision of Highlands Ranch that will continuously improve the quality of life for its residents and maintain the reputation of being a premier community in the Denver metroplex and in the country.
The District Manager oversees the overall operations of the District. He/ she is responsible for managing and supervising, either directly or indirectly, 92 district employees plus summer seasonal staff. The District Manager directly supervises the Department Directors of Finance and Administration, Public Works, and Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces. He/ she also supervises the Community Relations and Human Relations Managers, as well as an Administrative Assistant. The main duty of the District Manager is to implement the initiatives and policies set by the Board of Directors and align the daily operations of each department with the Board agenda. It is imperative that the District Manager hold District employees accountable to performance, goals, timelines, and budgets to maintain workflow efficiency and keep moving Board directives forward in a timely manner. The District has a unique organizational structure that works collaboratively with the Centennial Water and Sanitation District and shares certain employees with Centennial. The community has grown substantially since this shared service agreement was implemented, so one of the key initiatives of the next District Manager is to assess the organizational structure to ensure the District is operating effectively and to identify restructuring opportunities as well as key new positions needed to ensure balance and efficiency.
As the primary external representative for the District, the General Manager is also responsible for public engagement with residents and property owners within the District, other governmental and quasi-governmental entities, constituency groups, developers, businesses and other private or public organizations regarding District services, policies, or issues. The District Manager will attend, and often present written or oral presentations, to all District meetings, committee meetings, study sessions, and events on behalf of the Metro District. The organization’s success and enhancement depend on many external partnerships and collaborations with various stakeholders. It is crucial for the District Manager to maintain these strong relationships, build consensus, and negotiate with the benefit of the Highlands Ranch Metro District and community at top of mind.
Government Service Partners of Highlands Ranch Metro District
2020 District Board of Director Initiatives
With Highlands Ranch largely built out in residential housing and land development, the Metro District is focused on innovative, progressive planning for the future quality of lives of its residents. The District Manager will bring forth ideas for evolving the community to meet changing demographics and their needs. There are some key initiatives that the Board of Directors have identified that the next General Manager will lead in planning and implementation.
The best candidate will be able to demonstrate their suitability for this role by quantifying how they can lead the District in implementing the following areas of focus:
Highlands Ranch Senior Center: The demographics of Highlands Ranch is changing. Twenty years ago, less than 10% of the population was above the age of 65. Today, it already exceeds 20% and by 2040, it is projected to hit 40%, if not sooner. To accommodate for these changes, the Board and General Manager are in the planning stages of a 20K sq. ft. Senior Center.
Historic Highland Ranch Mansion and Park: In 2010, Shea Homes gave the Mansion and funds for its renovation, to the Highlands Ranch Metro District. After conducting a comprehensive renovation of this beautiful building, the Metro District opened the Mansion to the public and for private event rentals in June 2012. The District also currently owns 50 acres of the 250 acres surrounding. In 2026, Shea Homes, the developer of Highlands Ranch, will turn over the entirety of the historic ranch lands and operations to the Metro District. This will require significant capital costs to maintain the buildings, land and ranching operations. Earnest planning for the future of the historic site will begin in 2023.
Parks, Recreation & Open Space: Highlands Ranch offers 26 public parks, more than 10,000 participants in their outdoor recreation programs, 285 acres of parkway landscaping including 42 miles of fence, and more than 2,500 acres of open space with 70 miles of trails. The Highlands Ranch Metro District builds, maintains, and manages the facilities, infrastructure, and programs. In addition, the District is evaluating the feasibility of converting parkway landscaping to a more sustainable design and materials.
Highlands Ranch Metro District Service Center Expansion: The existing 12,000-square-foot service center was constructed in 1999 for the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department and provides workspaces for Administration, Recreation, Planning, Facilities, Parks, Parkways, Park Services, Open Space, Forestry, and Fleet Sections. A renovation of the interior of the existing service center building and expansion of new buildings will allow for additional office spaces, conference, break and lunchroom areas, locker rooms (with additional fixtures) and provide for overall interior finish upgrades. New buildings will consist of a 6,200 square foot fleet services building and shops/storage totaling 8,600 square feet to be located in the center portion of the existing yard area.
In-Tract Line Replacement & Repair Funding: The water and sewer lines veering from the main line are the responsibility of the District. Some of the in-tract lines approaching their life span are in need of replacement. The maintenance fees for such repairs are currently being drawn from the General Fund but as the anticipated need increases, the Metro District will need to identify funding options for the replacement of in-tract water and sewer lines.
Technology Advancement: The District Manager will also need to increase visibility to its constituents through innovative, modern technology initiatives utilizing social media platforms and assess the current website to ensure the District is maximizing functionality and access to community events, information, data, and transparency.
Highlands Ranch Metro District needs a strong leader who is willing to step up and lead the charge for the future of Highlands Ranch. Throughout the last several years, a variety of national publications have recognized Highlands Ranch as the best place to raise kids, best Colorado towns for young families, and best places to live in America, among others, bringing attention to the community’s great quality of life. The District General Manager needs to help “re-imagine” the future vision of the community and what the District needs to do to remain a premier destination to live in the 21st Century.
The Ideal Candidate
The District General Manager should be a champion of the Highlands Ranch residents’ needs and the Metro District Board of Directors’ policy initiatives and should be a visible and articulate leader of those initiatives, both within the organization and around the region. The District General Manager will provide recommendations, ideas, plans, and financial conditions to the Board of Directors of the District on positive or negative matters affecting or involving the District. The role will also act as the liaison between the Board of Directors and Metro District employees balancing the functions of both bodies. He/ she should also be able to use performance metrics effectively in assessing the need for process improvements and in communicating the District’s progress toward providing consistently exceptional customer experiences and services.
The next District Manager must be a collaborative, innovative, astute professional who leads by example. The successful candidate should exhibit strong personal leadership skills that canmentor a young and talented team. It is important that the District General Manager listens and supports the existing senior management team to slowly integrate the changes needed to increase departments' and the organization's performance. He/ she will objectively and pragmatically assess the determination of work procedures, work schedules, and work flow to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations. Lastly, they must be able to build consensus among multiple and very diverse constituencies both internally and externally.
Leadership and business acumen are fundamental qualities needed for this role. Additionally, the capacity to influence and impact the Board of Directors, District employees, regional partners, and business and residential community, as well as be a catalyst and a strategist is critical to success. It requires leadership, judgment, management, mentorship, and results-orientation, as well as provides important partnership and cooperation with internal departments and external stakeholders of the community.
The ideal candidate will possess experience, knowledge and skills in the following areas:
Principles and techniques of managing municipal parks & recreation, public works, and urban planning, development, and maintenance
Sustainable infrastructure, land, and facilities development and management including knowledge of zoning, ordinances, codes, and infrastructure design, as well as maintenance of streets, stormwater, water, and sewer systems.
Principles and practices of conservative fiscal budgeting-preparation, financial reporting and administration
Adaptable and strong supervisory experience that can boost and maintain positive employee morale, inspire them to maximize their performance, and consistently provide the highest level of internal/ external customer service
Modern technology platforms for community outreach and transparency
Methods and techniques of data collection and analysis for sustainable development and process improvements
Solid negotiation skills in a broad range of project-related and administrative functions
Robust track record of collaboration and building strong partnerships with developers, non-profits, business stakeholders, neighborhood groups, surrounding city and county departments, and other governmental agencies
Lean process improvements, change management, and interdepartmental cross function and collaboration managing organizational change through the development and implementation of departmental goals, objectives, policies and priorities for each assigned service area
Excellent written and oral communication skills with the ability to articulate big ideas, sell a vision, influence others, and easily convey how to execute it.
Has worked under the direction of a Board of Directors and has a positive, can-do attitude about moving the policies and initiatives set forth forward to completion at a reasonable pace.
Education & Experience
Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Master's degree preferred.
Eight years in municipal management within parks & recreation, urban planning, public works, or closely related fields with increasing responsibility levels in leadership/ management including four years of administrative and supervisory experience.
Lean six sigma certification and/ or military leadership background preferred.