March 7, 2019

Jones leaves a legacy of public service

2014 Women of Distinction - Government, Energy and Utilities

After 24 years as Fort Collins deputy city manager, Diane Jones stepped down in March.

She remembers arriving in March 1990. Spring snow was on the ground but the days were bright and crisp – a welcome contrast to the gray, rainy days she left behind in the Pacific Northwest.

An Oregon native, Jones received a bachelor’s degree in humanities and secondary education from Western Oregon State University. She followed that with advanced studies in counseling and psychology which, she said, “I’ve used a lot, believe me.”

Jones left college intent on becoming an English teacher but was offered a job in educational research and development for the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

“There were 14 regional labs across the country and we did outreach and organizational development,” she said. “We taught people to be process facilitators and work cross culturally with community and school groups, helping them create agendas for their communities.”

From there, she moved into public administration. “Oregon had just approved a major land-use law for the state and I was hired to do community outreach and facilitate groups working on comprehensive land use plans”

After a year and a half, she was hired by the city manager’s office in Gresham, Ore., to work on a variety of policy issues and projects for the community. The English teacher in her came out.

“I had a reputation with my red pen,” she said. “It’s so important to communicate well and I was a stickler. It’s not about looking smart and showing that you’re an expert, it’s about making the information understandable to all audiences.”

She was invited to interview for the Fort Collins deputy city manager position. She accepted and the rest is public history. While the physical charac¬teristics of the community have changed, she said, the heart and soul of the city remains robust.

“I feel so good about my contributions and hope I’ve added value to this community,” she said. “I’ve worked on so many projects, and you never do it alone. It’s collaborative. You work with support people, professional people and citizen committees who all contribute.  I love public service because it’s about making life better for the community.”

Jones still is working part-time for the city as she transitions into retirement.

“I’m grateful I can still do something useful,” she said, “but, at the same time, I’m glad I don’t have 20 things to juggle simultaneously.”

While she’s proud of her work, she’s also proud of the friendships she cultivated over the years.

“As I get older, I realize it’s not the things you do, it’s the friends you make,” she said. “So I hope my legacy is that I’ve been a decent and good friend to others.”

BizWest Staff

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