After a 40+ year career, Jeff Shoemaker is stepping away from his role as Executive Director of
The Greenway Foundation (TGF). To view the full photo album from Jeff’s Evolution Party,
please visit TGF’s Facebook Page.
|Farewell Letter from Former TGF Executive Director, Jeff Shoemaker:|
|As I prepare to step away from The Greenway Foundation (TGF) after 40+ years, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of these four decades in my life. |
In early 1982, I shared with my family, in particular my father Joe, that I would not be returning as a public school teacher at the end of that spring semester. As the Founder/Chairman of TGF as of 1974, Joe had been in a search of an Executive Director for TGF and, upon hearing of my decision to leave teaching, “strongly encouraged” me to consider accepting that position. An interpretation of “strong encouragement” from Joe Shoemaker could be, understandably, interpreted as a “command”. My father was a USNA graduate, a Navy Officer, an engineer and attorney, a former Colorado State Senator as well as a former candidate for Mayor of Denver and a candidate for Governor of Colorado. Joe was far more known for “command” vs. “request”.
My initial reply to Joe’s “command” was telling him “no”. I grew up as “Joe Junior” and Joe Shoemaker and Greenway Foundation were already intrinsically intertwined. However, as Joe and I continued to discuss the matter further, he actually evolved “command” to “request”. With that evolution, I agreed to accept the Executive Director position for 6 months to 1 year, establish the office of Executive Director into a position of stability and then, move on to “next”. And, of course, heh, the rest is history…….
Throughout my blessed four+ decade career at TGF, I have never had a single “Groundhog Day”. Every day, week, month, year, decade allowed me unique opportunities, challenges, accomplishments and, yes, on occasion, disappointments. FYI, disappointments rarely occurred…
Over the course of this last year, at my “request”, the always amazing Team at TGF took on the daunting challenge of creating a completely new TGF website for the first time in a very long time. One of my related “homework assignments” was to create a TGF Timeline, meaning a summarized review of the accomplishments at TGF over the course of its almost five-decade history. As I reviewed countless TGF “Greenway Current” newsletters and annual reports from 1974-2021, I was truly overwhelmed regarding the impact this locally born and ongoing locally-based Foundation has helped champion.
That stated, it is my belief that nothing of significance in life happens in isolation, meaning, in the case of TGF, “If It Takes A Village To Save A Child, It Takes A City To Save A River”. It is also my belief that one of the key factors that has allowed Denver to celebrate being a Great City is that Denver now has, once again, a Great River. Consider all that has occurred over these last five decades and yes, based on TGF’s commitment to always partner with countless public and private based individuals and organizations to, in turn, allow Denver’s goal of creating a Great River to evolve from “vision” to “reality”. Proof of what I believe to be an ever evolving and realized celebration of that goal can be enjoyed by opening the TGF Timeline.
As we collectively celebrate the five decades of TGF’s successes, it is more important than ever to endorse that there is so much more to accomplish. So many more opportunities needing to be realized to allow TGF’s longstanding mission to “Revitalize Rivers and Reconnect Communities” to continue to be realized.
Of all of the joys I’ve been allowed to experience over my tenure at TGF, my greatest joy is that “Greenway Foundation – The Next Generation” is already in full play! TGF has an incredibly energized, committed and focused Board of Directors under the longstanding leadership of Kip Stastny. TGF has an incredibly energized, committed and focused Team, under the already established leadership of Executive Director Ryan Aids.
I will conclude this sincere and grateful outreach with the following: There is no “done” at The Greenway Foundation. Conversely, there is only “next”. The opportunity for TGF to continue its stated mission remains only possible through the continued engagement and support of a committed community.
At the end of the day, when I break it all down, it’s pretty simple – “If You Love Your River, Love The Greenway Foundation!”