SAN LUIS VALLEY — A very significant change is on the horizon for both the City of Monte Vista and the government operations of Alamosa County. Valley Publishing has learned that Gigi Dennis-Lounsbury, currently the Alamosa County Administrator, was the final candidate for the Monte Vista City Manager’s position and, pending all the internal processes involved in hiring for such a key position, has accepted the job.
“I’m excited. A little apprehensive. I have a lot of love for the county — the commissioners from both administrations have been just wonderful to work with — and I have a lot of enthusiasm for the city. I’m experiencing the whole gamut,” Dennis-Lounsbury says when reached at her home on Monday evening.
“But...,” she pauses and then laughs a little. “I feel kind of like Mary Poppins. And maybe, maybe the work that I needed to do in Alamosa is close to being done and is ready for someone else to take off. And it’s time for me to go and do something special in another community.”
That “work” that Dennis-Lounsbury needed to do in Alamosa was no small thing.
During her tenure, the “one-cent for justice” sales tax was passed, and a new justice center was built. There was an expansion on the jail and numerous improvements were made at the airport, including securing Sky West as the commercial carrier for the city. She also was a great encouragement to others, which she described as “hoping I helped to leave a fingerprint on some of the county employees, so they’ll continue to step up and do great things for the county.”
Dennis-Lounsbury will bring an extraordinary background of experiences to her position in Monte Vista, yet she also personifies that expression “still waters run deep.” Known for being a steady yet somewhat soft-spoken person, her career is marked by one significant accomplishment after another.
After serving for six years as the Colorado state senator representing the San Luis Valley plus Pueblo, Huerfano, Las Animas and Custer Counties that made up District 5, Dennis-Lounsbury was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the State Director of USDA Rural Development. While in that position, she oversaw and managed the portfolio of programs in rural housing loans and grants, multi-housing and farm labor projects business loans, community grant and loan programs and utility service. Ultimately, Dennis-Lounsbury designed and implemented a statewide reorganization of the agency to streamline services while improving community outreach and education in rural communities.
Four and a half years later, she was appointed by Governor Bill Owens to serve as Colorado’s Secretary of State, overseeing all functions related to that office including the Business Division, elections, Non-profits, Bingo and Notary. In that position, she also oversaw 120 employees and managed a budget of $64 million.
Dennis-Lounsbury then ventured into the private sector, serving for eight years as the Senior Manager of External Affairs for Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which gave her a real-time, upfront, in-depth understanding of the energy industry that has played a crucial role in the Western states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming as well as Nebraska.
Upon getting married to Mark Lounsbury and returning to the San Luis Valley, Dennis-Lounsbury stepped back into public service, ultimately taking her current position as county administrator with the Alamosa County government.
As the time to move on grows near to move on, Dennis-Lounsbury is not without some emotion about leaving.
“I came back to the SLV at a time when I was getting married, and I needed a job, and I loved the opportunity that the county presented to me. I hope the county feels I maximized my time well with them,” says Dennis-Lounsbury.
Even while looking back at the past six-plus years, Dennis-Lounsbury is also looking forward to working with the Rio Grande County Commissioners, the employees of the City and all the “opportunities that are waiting for expansion in Monte Vista.”
“I don’t know the rest of the team very well yet, but I graduated from high school in Monte Vista — that’s where I first knew my husband — and I guess I’m a Monte Vista girl at heart. I’m excited to be at home and planning to advance Monte Vista to meet the needs of economic prosperity,” says Dennis-Lounsbury.