by Marissa Lorenz
On Friday, April 8, the Town of Kremmling made notice of a special meeting, to be open to the public and held this week in order to interview four finalists for the position of Town Manager. By Monday afternoon, all but one candidate had withdrawn from consideration.
Ashley Macdonald, of Wellington, Colorado, is the only remaining finalist. She will interview with the Kremmling Board of Trustees at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 14. She will also be in attendance for a Meet-n-Greet reception at 6:30 p.m. at the Kremmling Chamber of Commerce. The public is invited to attend.
Macdonald is a Colorado native, having grown up and lived in Loveland into her mid 20s, at which point she moved to Wellington.
A licensed real estate agent at the time, Macdonald was soon caught up in a development project in her new hometown when neighbors were looking for citizens to work with the local council to build a community park.
“I became a Leslie Knope,” she says, referring to the beloved character on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” sitcom. “That opportunity to make a change in the community I lived in was the spark that led me to public administration. Working in local government–well, they’re the boots on the ground, the people who help realize the vision and goals of citizens and town leaders–they make the magic happen. It gets me really excited!”
Macdonald was hired by the City of Fort Collins as their senior real estate coordinator in 2017. In this administrative role, she was directly involved with city planning and development, working with government departments and the public to “acquire land for road and utility projects, rights-of-way and easements, and natural areas; and handle negotiations for proposed projects, as well as managing City-owned properties.”
In March 2019, Macdonald joined the Wellington Fire Protection District as deputy district manager. Under the fire chief, she serves as primary administrator to the District’s combination professional/volunteer department and is the designated election official.
Among her many other duties, she advises on District regulation and policy; collaborates with internal and external stakeholders; supports grants management and financial reporting, budgeting, and planning and development efforts; and provides oversight and guidance on general business functions.
Macdonald has formal education in Public Administration, National Emergency Incident Management & Water Fluency. She has also served as a town trustee in the City of Wellington since 2014.
Macdonald is mother to two school-aged kids (one each in middle school and high school). She has deliberately chosen to raise them in a rural community.
“We moved to Wellington for the smaller schools and more affordable living,” she explains. “I wanted my kids to really know their neighbors and teachers. I wanted them to have the opportunity to have a real relationship with their teachers.”
Macdonald is active in the school community as well. She is a face-painter and offers her skills for free at local festivals and fundraisers, brightening childrens’ faces and giving a break for parents. And she is especially enthusiastic about coaching middle school sports.
“I love coaching middle school kids,” she says. “Working with kids this age gives the opportunity to really provide a positive influence in their lives while they’re at a formative stage. They’re rapidly developing, both physically and mentally, and are at an important crossroads.”
Macdonald says that the chance to continue these kinds of activities in a community similar to what she has chosen–a rural, agricultural, hunting, fishing community–while being able to grow her career in public administration is a huge part of her draw to Kremmling.
“I grew up on game meat, and my dad often hunted for elk near Kremmling,” she recounts. “I appreciate the unique niche Kremmling still holds for outdoor recreation. And hanging out in the town, well, I love that you can tell the locals. People know and greet each other by their first names. When you serve as town administrator in larger communities, you lose that personal touch with the community.”
Macdonald self-identifies as a “rock nerd” and loves rockhounding in Colorado’s mountains, mining areas, and changing topographies. She is an avid hunter and fisher herself and spends “lots of time car camping in Wyoming.” She likes to trick her kids into “hiking with purpose” (i.e. rockhounding) and is interested in enjoying all of those activities in the Kremmling area.
Macdonald has identified employment recruitment and retention and affordable housing as important issues facing the Kremmling community today. But she also sees lots of opportunity.
“I’m really looking forward to Thursday’s interview and the chance to meet more of Kremmling’s citizens,” Macdonald states. “It is the next step in exploring whether or not the community and I are good for each other and a good fit. I hope a lot of people show up, and I am thankful in advance for everybody’s time.”