May 14, 2024

La Plata Economic Development Alliance Board Accepts Michael French’s Succession Plan

The plan calls for a transition of the Executive Director role to Sarah Tober, current Deputy Director, on July 1 and French exiting the organization. 

The Board of the La Plata Economic Development Alliance (Alliance) has accepted Executive Director Michael French’s transition and succession plan.

DURANGO, CO —La Plata Economic Development Alliance today announced that Michael French, their esteemed Executive Director, will be stepping down from his role on July 1, 2024. Sarah Tober, who currently serves as the Deputy Director, will succeed Mike as the new Executive Director.
“Good leaders know how and when to replace themselves”, stated Michael French. “The Alliance is in as good of a position as possible to enable new energy and lead the organization into the next chapter. I am very confident in the transition plan, Sarah’s experience, and her purpose-led drive to continue our trajectory and programming.”
Since taking on the role 30 days before the pandemic shutdown, French has been instrumental in driving economic recovery and growth and fostering innovation in programming and partnerships. Under his leadership, the Alliance’s team has created a Three-Year Housing Investment Strategy for the region in collaboration with the Regional Housing Alliance (RHA), a Catalyst Fund for predevelopment grants, and a revolving loan fund with the RHA and Rental Assistance programs. The Alliance last year also received a three-year Opportunity Now workforce development grant from the State of Colorado to create multiple micro certifications in partnership with Fort Lewis College. The Alliance was recently named Non-Profit of the Year at the Durango Rocks Awards hosted by the Durango Chamber of Commerce for their efforts in workforce housing and development.
“Mike has been extraordinarily impactful in the last four and a half years he has led the organization”, stated Steve Elias, Chairman of the Board and Dean of FLC Katz School of Business. “He and his team have brought millions of dollars into our community, improved our balance sheet by 500%, and more than tripled our reserves. We are in incredible shape in our programs and finances to undergo this succession plan with Sarah. The board is extremely impressed with her approach and experience.”
Sarah Tober, Deputy Director of the Alliance, brings a wealth of experience to the position, having had previous leadership roles in not-for-profit and private businesses. She has been with the Alliance for two years as a deputy director, leading the housing programming. Sarah has an MBA from the University of Texas and resides in La Plata County with her husband, Bobby, and son, Wyland.
“Being part of the economic vitality and intentional growth of the community while leading this reputable organization is an honor,” stated Sarah Tober. “I am grateful to the Economic Development Alliance board, staff, and Mike French for paving the way in building a progressive economic development organization. Our work helps to address our area’s critical employer and workforce needs to ultimately build community resiliency and I am so proud to carry on this legacy.”
“Mike’s performance was beyond expectations, and we have the same confidence in Sarah’s ability to build on the success of the Alliance,” stated Steve Elias.
French plans to stay in the community and participate on an as-needed basis post-transition. “I love this community and do not have any plans to leave. It was simply a good time for a transition,” stated French. “I will spend some time with my family and then look for other opportunities to be impactful here in our region.”