Eagle hires Melissa Daruna as assistant town manager
Daruna, who led a statewide conservation nonprofit for the past 4 years, starts March 20
Eagle has hired Melissa Daruna, who has spent the past four years leading Keep It Colorado, a statewide conservation nonprofit, as its assistant town manager.
In November, Eagle embarked on the search for an assistant town manager to coordinate positive work relationships and flow between departments, officials, contractors, community organizations and regulatory agencies.
Additionally, Eagle Town Manager Larry Pardee said the candidate chosen for the assistant town manager opening would also help coordinate efforts in alignment with the town’s net-zero goals.
The town received 39 applications for the assistant town manager position, which were eventually narrowed down to five finalists. Of the finalists, Daruna’s experience set her apart.
“All five finalists for the job impressed us, but Melissa was a standout,” Pardee said in a media release.
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In her four years as executive director of Keep It Colorado, Daruna sharpened her understanding of conservation and sustainable practices. With this background, the sustainability focus of the assistant town manager job description will be something Daruna feels comfortable tackling.
“I’m feeling particularly excited about the opportunities for that position to be helping the town of Eagle focus on long-term sustainability plans and economic development — and of course, addressing housing,” Daruna said.
On top of her time at Keep It Colorado, Daruna’s experience also includes nine years of work within a local government — mainly within parks and recreation. Daruna worked for Ken-Caryl Ranch Metropolitan District in Jefferson County for nine years, eventually serving as the district manager from 2017 to 2019.
Daruna said that while running Keep It Colorado, she looked back on her experience in local government fondly. That love of working closely with a community and making palpable impacts was something that drove her to apply for Eagle’s assistant town manager position when it opened.
“It feels a little bit like going back to my roots in my career and focusing on community service and a local community,” Daruna said.
Before her time in Colorado, Daruna’s stomping grounds were in Illinois. She grew up in Island Lake, Illinois, and attended Western Illinois University for her Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration degree. She also holds a law degree from the University of Illinois Chicago Law School.
Coming to Colorado allowed Daruna to elevate the presence the outdoors had in her life. Passionate about skiing, mountain biking, camping, rafting, trail running and fly-fishing alongside her husband and 6-year-old son, Daruna said living in Colorado truly allowed her to feel more connected to the outdoors.
With her family, Daruna moved from Golden to Eagle in June 2022, and she said that it immediately felt like home to her family.
“We were used to an environment with a strong network and community that had a lot of access to the outdoors,” Daruna said. “We are really enjoying the change of pace and lifestyle up here — just how close-knit the community has been.”
Pardee said one of Eagle’s strategic plan objectives is to strengthen the town’s organizational culture. He said hires like Daruna, who seem motivated, collaborative and fun to work with are anticipated to help boost that organizational culture while also providing active, responsive community service.
Daruna said she is eager to hit the ground running, taking feedback from the community and implementing initiatives that the people of Eagle stand behind. She said she is excited to hear from the community about how their day-to-day lives are impacted by town plans.
“I feel really strongly about providing leadership to my team and to the community by listening first and really trying better to understand what’s motivating things like sustainability initiatives and net zero plans and just really engaging all viewpoints and finding common ground to move those initiatives forward,” Daruna said.
As she prepares to join the staff at the town of Eagle, Daruna said she is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with what she said she can already tell is a “rockstar team.”