Chris Jarnot named next board chair for Vail Valley Foundation
Ann Smead, the current chair, will step down in July after five-and-a-half years of service
The nonprofit Vail Valley Foundation announced Wednesday that Chris Jarnot, a former Vail Resorts executive, will become the new chair of its board of directors on July 22. Jarnot will replace Ann Smead, who is stepping down after serving in the role since 2017.
Jarnot was chosen in a unanimous vote of the Vail Valley Foundation’s board executive committee.
“It is an enormous honor and a humbling responsibility to take on this role,” Jarnot said in a news release. “My family and I have experienced first-hand the profound impact the Vail Valley Foundation’s leadership has had on our community over the past 40 years, and I’m excited to work with our incredible board and the amazing VVF team to grow that impact going forward. The organization has evolved over the years as our community has evolved, and under Ann’s leadership, it has catapulted into new areas. Ann has led the organization masterfully, especially these past couple of years, to a strong, fortunate position from which we can look for new opportunities to make this an even better place to live, work and visit and to showcase that to the world.”
The mission of the Vail Valley Foundation is to enhance quality of life in the Vail Valley and showcase the community to a global audience through arts, athletics, and education.
Jarnot was raised in Eagle County, and worked with Vail Resorts for 34 years, rising from a seasonal guest services attendant and marketing intern to leadership roles heading its marketing and sales efforts, serving as chief operating officer for Vail Mountain, and ultimately overseeing multiple of the company’s resorts as executive vice president of the mountain division before he retired in 2020. During his career, he worked closely with the Vail Valley Foundation to develop and host many events, including the 1999 and 2015 world championships.
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“Chris Jarnot has a proven track record of quality leadership, and he is extremely knowledgeable about the Vail Valley Foundation and our community, is insightful to its needs, and has valuable ideas about how we can further be of service to this valley,” said Vail Valley Foundation President Mike Imhof. “Since I moved to the community in 1998, I have had the good fortune to work with and for Chris at other organizations, and all these years later I have the further good fortune to work with him again.”
‘An outstanding leader’
July 1, 2022, will mark the end of Smead’s five-and-a-half year term as board chair. Smead joined the board of directors in 2004 and became chair on Jan. 1, 2017. Under Smead’s leadership the organization increased the diversity of its board of directors, took on several new initiatives, and expanded virtually every project and event. Smead took a leadership role via the Private Sector Task Force to help unify the community’s response to the pandemic and helped raise more than $1.5 million for the VVF Community Fund, which provided support for those affected by the secondary effects of COVID-19.
“Our organization serves the community in so many ways, which is made possible by extraordinary community support, that lifts up and defines our community both here, for local students and families, across all our arts and athletics, and in the international spotlight,” Smead said in the news release. “I want to thank the Board, the Life Trustees and staff of the Vail Valley Foundation. It has truly been an honor and pleasure to work with this incredible group of people for the past five-plus years. I believe we accomplished a great deal to help guide the organization through a critical time, leading the way through the pandemic, and setting the organization up for success for many years to come.”
Smead, a University of Iowa graduate who began her career with IBM as a systems engineer, has a decorated history of serving the local community since moving to the community full-time in 1999. She served on the Vail Mountain School board of directors and was its chair from 2014-2016. She was also the Vail Valley Citizen of the Year in 2014 and was awarded the Walking Mountain Science Center’s Reach for the Peak award in 2016.
Smead is the second chair of the board of directors for the Vail Valley Foundation, after founding chair Harry Frampton stepped down in 2017. Jarnot will be the organization’s third board chair.
“It has been an honor and privilege to work for Ann as our Chair of the Board. She is, in every way, an outstanding leader who cares deeply about our mission, board, staff, donors, partners and this amazing community we serve,” Imhof said. “Ann’s accomplishments are many. We are a better organization today because of her. From board governance, board evolution, to expanded programming across our mission to the challenges of the pandemic, Ann’s leadership, guidance, and support has allowed the VVF to continue to grow and improve no matter what the obstacles. I consider the last six years working with and for Ann a highlight of my professional life.”
To learn more about the Vail Valley Foundation, its mission, and its board of directors and staff, go to VVF.org.