by Marissa Lorenz
On Tuesday, Grand County Acting Manager Ed Moyer announced the hiring of Christine Travis of Kremmling for the newly-created position of County Communications Director.
Travis grew up in Englewood, Colorado, but spent much of her childhood with cousins and other relatives in Indiana. Her family would return east as she went into high school, and Travis would eventually return to what had remained her “home base,” as a student at Indiana University, where she would earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
As a new college graduate, Travis took a corporate marketing job within the financial industry. She returned to Denver in 2000 with her
then-husband when colleagues told her of Colorado’s booming financial marketing sector.
Finally, the couple decided to make their way to the mountains as “the place they really wanted to be.” They settled in Kremmling in 2009 where they owned a successful woodworking business for many years and where their family would take root.
Travis’ parents followed her back to the area soon after, wanting to be closer to family and the two grandchildren. Her son graduated from West Grand in 2017, and her daughter is currently a 5th grader in the school district.
Travis says she most values Kremmling and Grand County for the outdoor opportunities afforded to her and her children. “We’re right in the center of this triangle between Winter Park, Steamboat, and Summit. It puts us right in the heart of this outdoor playground.”
Travis describes enjoying the reservoirs, kayaking, fishing, and hiking, but admits to really being a winter sports enthusiast–“they’re what keeps me here.”
“I love skiing,” she remarks.
“And we just got some new-to-us snowmobiles this year. This weekend, I just took the dog for a walk, and we spent time on the 4-wheeler.”
In accepting theCommunications Director role, Travis draws on a diverse work experience that she credits with preparing her for the new position, “–the entirety of my career–up to and including my most recent position as a dispatcher for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
“With each position,” she explains, “the experience I gained was like making a house from Lego blocks–each block contributes to the whole of the house.
“I graduated from college just as the internet was being invented, for lack of a better word. Watching communications evolve, particularly with the advent of social media, has been powerful. I consider my journalism education more classical and traditional compared with much of today’s media. But watching and participating in communications during the shift from newspapers and magazines to Twitter and Snapchat has been fascinating.”
But it was in her position as dispatcher during the recent East Troublesome Fire that really “opened her eyes” to the communication gaps in Grand County.
“There is a reason dispatch is called the ‘communication center,’” Travis notes. “We have many households in our community–whether they’re seniors, English is a second language, or simply in a cell coverage ‘hole’–where access to live updates via Facebook and other social outlets is limited.
Blending traditional and social media to ensure ALL of our community’s residents receive messages, not only in times of crisis but the day-to-day news and information they need to feel safe and informed and a part of this community, is important.
“That’s what communications is to me, making sure everyone in the community feels that they have a voice. So that is how I see this role, as bridging the gap between the commissioners and county leadership, the elected officials, and the community
at large–making sure that everyone feels like they can participate in the conversation.”
But Travis is quick to note that those gaps do not indicate any previous failure in the system. “The County and especially Alexis Kimbrough have done an amazing job through COVID and through the fire. Any issues have been solely due to sheer man-power concerns and people being spread too thin, trying to provide thorough communications among many other responsibilities.
“I see this dedicated position as more of a jumping-off point. I hope to take all the hard work that was done before, building and adding to it, in order to fill the inevitable gaps that need to be addressed.
“I’m especially excited,” she continues, “to see how we can blend social media and traditional media, integrating and using all the possible techniques, to focus on internal communications–using digital-based techniques and tactics to communicate most effectively with County staff members so they can be the best ambassadors to the community.”
“On behalf of the Board of County Commissioners and the entire Grand County team,” Moyer stated, “we welcome Christine into her new role as Communications Director and look forward to working with her, and the many great things to come.”
Travis will take up her new role on March 15.