A Look Back and Look Ahead
Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde shares answers to questions about her work to date as city manager and reflections on what’s to come next year.
What are some of the most interesting things you have learned on the job since you started in May 2021?
I’ve learned how deeply involved this community is in most everything the City of Boulder does. It’s great to see such passionate representation of so many perspectives. I have marveled at how much staff and community supports each other in times of crisis. From supporting businesses and workers throughout difficult economic times to seeing how folks have come together to provide critical resources like emergency rental assistance, food and clothing donations and protective masks. Perhaps more poignantly, watching the continued support of community and first responders who continue to grieve and heal from the tragic shooting last spring and who again came together so generously to support victims of the October fire that left many heartbroken and in deep need of resources and support as they began the journey of rebuilding their lives. It has been humbling to see such generosity and kindness manifest itself so visibly and tangibly.
What are some of the 2021 city accomplishments that you are most proud?
I’ve been so impressed with how committed staff is on so many different fronts. While I haven’t been around for the whole year, it’s been great to be a part of setting new climate goals for our future, working with staff to continue to embed racial equity considerations into our collective decision-making, being able to promote safe and healthy work environments through the pandemic, and passing a budget for next year that will focus on building back our staff capacity and addressing some long overdue facilities and maintenance needs. I am so impressed with how quickly staff put forward a free vaccination clinic that continues to be at capacity as we are now privileged to help our youngest community members stay safe. I am so proud to see innovative efforts that place our vulnerable communities at the heart of the work, like the new solar garden at the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park, the first city-owned garden in the country dedicated to low-income participants And lastly, I’ll add that even though this was a difficult issue that certainly divided our community, the work staff engaged in to address critical flood concerns on CU South was both incredibly hard and truly thoughtful. The intentionality staff took to address many community concerns and help advance not just crucial flood protection efforts, but also champion affordable housing opportunities for our community and greatly expand additional open space, was tremendously impressive.
What are you most excited about looking ahead to 2022? What do you hope to see the city accomplish?
First, I’m excited to be in a position where we can think of adding resources to our work instead of reducing them. Staff has been stretched so thin in the past year, so increasing staff capacity to respond to community needs is incredibly exciting and it will enable us to do things like open up much needed library and park resources that so many in Boulder have continued to call for. 2022 promises to to be a year of change, and I’m looking forward to working with a new council body that will inevitably push us to think of our work in new and progressive ways. I’m looking forward to strengthening our internal services work that provides the backbone for so many programs and services we deliver, plus increasing our focus on budgeting for resilience in ways that advance both our future climate and racial equity goals. Being data driven, I’m excited to explore new opportunities to track and measure our work in ways that not only inform our policies, but allow us to better share and communicate with the public. And I’m excited about various change and reform efforts that are being planned across the organization, including policing strategies and an increased focus on mental health support; consolidation of city facilities in ways that enhance sustainability goals reflected in the recently approved Facilities Master Plan; streamlining city permitting processes; and continuing to advance public safety by standing up our first advanced life support engine by the end of 2022. I am also excited for a renewed emphasis on our greatest city asset – our staff – by honing in on retention and recruitment efforts.
Do you have any personal goals or aspirations for the year ahead?
On a personal level, I just hope to continue getting to know this community and exploring all the things that make Boulder such a unique place. It feels like “home” already, and I’m looking forward to deepening those ties in the future. I’ve spent a lot of the past six months catching up on existing priorities and work in order to quickly support my city team, but I hope the coming year allows me more time to appreciate the wonders of the outdoors in ways that allow for more reflection and renewal. And professionally, in addition to all the projects I mentioned will be exciting to see in 2022, I personally hope to spend more time with our non-profit community, local business community and the amazing volunteers that make up our numerous boards and commissions. I want to honor the time and expertise those organizations and individuals bring to the table, and am looking forward to hear more about their priorities for the coming year.
We know you're a foodie. What are some of your favorite places to eat in Boulder so far?
Oh my goodness, there have been so many and so many yet to try. I love a pint and a pizza at Twisted Pine Brewing Co. or Pizzeria Locale, and the quesadillas from Tierra in Rosetta Hall are amazing. I love the flautas from Nopalitos and can’t speak highly enough of the fresh baked bread from Dry Storage. My son has declared Sweet Cow the best ice cream he’s ever had, and I admit to being slightly addicted to the Dutch chocolate flavor, so I have learned the “tiny” size is a perfect size to end a meal. The prosciutto and ricotta at Jill’s Restaurant & Bistro is richly decadent, and my latest discovery has me sending everyone to Chiri’s Momo Delights cart on the Mall – so, so good!