Foundation CEO Ceil Folz moving on
At the foundation
Ceil Folz joined the Vail Valley Foundation in 1989. Here’s an incomplete look at some of her accomplishments.
• As director of operations, Folz assumed the responsibilities for athletic events including World Cup ski and bicycling and the American Ski Classic. She was also the director of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and the AEI World Forum.
• As senior vice president, Folz assumed responsibility for the 1999 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, and represented the Foundation at international skiing and cycling events.
• Folz assumed the president’s role in 1999. Since then, the Foundation has merged with the Vilar Performing Arts Center and the Youth Foundation. The Foundation in those years has renovated the amphitheater, created new concert series in Vail Village and Eagle and has grown the Vail Dance Festival.
EAGLE COUNTY — The 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships was by far the biggest project the Vail Valley Foundation had tackled. With that event now in the rearview mirror, the woman who led the effort is moving on.
Ceil Folz, the Foundation’s president and CEO since 1999, Monday announced she will leave the organization effective Oct. 9. Mike Imhof, currently the Foundation’s senior vice president, has been named interim CEO until the group’s board of directors decides on a permanent replacement.
“It’s the greatest job on earth, and a lot of really great people will want it,” Folz said. “The board won’t need to hire a search firm for this.”
Folz has worked for the Foundation in various roles since 1989, when she left a job at the Vail Recreation District to take a job as the nonprofit’s project administrator. She was promoted in 1994 to senior vice president and in 1999 was named to replace John Garnsey at the top of the Foundation’s organizational chart.
Harry Frampton is the longtime chairman of the Vail Valley Foundation board of directors. Frampton recalled that while the board was leaning toward Folz as they sought to replace Garnsey, the final push for her candidacy came from board member Steve Haber.
Haber had worked with Folz a few years before and told the rest of the board “she had every trait we needed,” Frampton said.
“She was a great hire,” Frampton said.
While board members had a good idea of who they were hiring, Frampton said Folz still had a surprise for them and the community.
“What I didn’t know is how much (Folz) cares about Vail,” Frampton said. “She has really, deep down, wanted to make Vail a better place.”
Folz also helped make international ski racing a better event. The 2015 championships were timed to put marquee events into prime time in Europe, where the sport is a big deal. The TV package for the 2015 championships also put an unprecedented amount of ski racing on American TV.
That understanding of ski racing as a sport for television is one of the reasons Folz is a member of this year’s inductees into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Susie Tjossem, who leads the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum in Vail, said Folz has helped change the sport.
“She’s really helped in taking ski racing to the next level,” Tjossem said.
Folz said she was firm that the Foundation not throw a going-away party in her honor. That leaves the Oct. 2 Hall of Fame celebration in Vail as a chance to honor Folz’s achievements.
Folz is quick to credit the team at the Foundation and the board of directors for what the organization has done over the past 16 years. And, she said, she’s always been happy with the speed projects can come together. For instance, a renovation project to upgrade the restrooms at the amphitheater started with a quick discussion at a morning meeting. Within a few months, the job was funded, approved and started.
“Ideas very quickly become reality — I like that,” Folz said.
While everyone at the Foundation puts a lot into their work, the boss sets the example and then some.
“It’s an unusually all-consuming job,” Frampton said. “Usually, when people have a job, they go home and they’re done for the day. With this job, you have to work all day long and then there’s something at night, whether it’s a dance performance, or ski racing, or something else.”
While the job has many demands, Folz always seemed to cheerfully accept her responsibilities.
“I work a lot, but a lot of my work is going to dance performances, or to the Vilar center, or working with the greatest athletes in the world,” she said.
Still, Folz said, she’s looking forward to slowing down a bit, at least for a while.
“This is just a good time for me to look at what other things are out there for me,” she said, adding that when wrapped up in a project like the championships, it’s easy to forget “there’s a whole world out there.”
“The Vail Valley Foundation has a whole new future,” she said. “It’s somebody’s else’s time to take the next (steps).”
Folz has joked to friends that she’s looking forward to going to yoga classes at 9 a.m. instead of 6:15. And while she may not take an entire season to just ski, that’s part of the plan — if she can get on the hill.
“I woke up the other morning and realized I need a ski pass for this season,” she said. “I’ve got to get to work on that.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.