Arvada, CO . . . . After a combined total of 33 years with the City of Arvada, D. Michael “Mike” Elms is retiring as Director of Community Development effective March 6, 2015.
Taking over as Director of Community Development is Rita McConnell, the City’s Planning Manager since 2013.
Elms served as an Assistant Planner with Arvada from 1979 – 1985, and returned to serve as Planning Director and Director of Community Development from 1988 - present. Of his contributions, City Manager Mark Deven stated, “Mike has been a great asset for the City of Arvada. He has been a critical member of the City's leadership team demonstrating unwavering loyalty and commitment to Arvada. A person only needs to understand the changes that have occurred in Arvada since 1988 in order to appreciate Mike's role within the Arvada community and his contributions to the City organization.”
Elms was instrumental in the adoption of three updates to the City’s Comprehensive Plan and three updates to the Land Development Code. He helped to create a new Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan as well as the Long Lake Masterplan which includes the North Area Stadium Complex. His vision and leadership were key in preparing the Arvada community for the coming of the Gold Line commuter rail system. “It has been a privilege and an honor to have been involved with such a great organization,” Elms said. “Amazing things have happened in this City during my tenure—visions and goals that have become tangible realities—which is a testament to the City Council, management, and the employees of the Community Development Department.”
After a national recruitment, Rita McConnell was selected to replace Elms. “As we congratulate Mike on his retirement, we are extremely fortunate to have Rita McConnell take the reins of the Community Development Department,” Deven stated. "Rita has already demonstrated her brilliance and leadership capabilities as Arvada's Planning Manager since 2013. With more than 80 applicants for the Community Development Director position, Rita clearly rose to the top. She is a natural leader and truly demonstrates Arvada's values.”
McConnell has a successful history working in local government leadership positions throughout the Denver Metro area since 1987. She has managed departments that included code compliance, planning, engineering, and building, and has participated in several Comprehensive Plan updates and Land Development Code rewrites which gave her the opportunity to demonstrate skills in project management while honing public outreach strategies. She assisted in the formation of the Douglas County Housing Partnership and served on the Board of Directors in efforts to provide affordable housing opportunities in Douglas County. She particularly enjoys providing fun opportunities for resident involvement in Community Development activities to make their participation easy and meaningful.
Of her appointment, McConnell said, “I embrace this opportunity with the City of Arvada and the entire community. At the end of each day, I like to ask, ‘Did I matter today?’ My intent is to make a positive difference each and every day. That is my commitment to the Arvada community.”