Telluride Foundation

Jason Corzine, the current National Park Foundation vice president, is the new Telluride Foundation CEO, the nonprofit announced recently. (Courtesy photo)

Telluride has been calling Jason Corzine since he first viewed the valley as an eight-year-old. He and his family were visiting friends back then, but little did he know at the time that he’d one day be frequently working within the region. Later on in life, while with The Trust for Public Land, Corzine was part of the Red Mountain Project, which was a collaboration with local governments, stakeholders and the U.S. Forest Service to acquire mining claims.

“I have been in and out of Telluride for most of my life. … Once you first make that trip into southwest Colorado and you land in Telluride, it leaves an indelible mark on you, and it’s safe to say that this physical space has occupied much of my psyche my entire life. I’ve spent most of my life in and out of this community, both recreating and working,” he said.

Corzine, as well as his family, will now be living in the community, as he was recently named the new CEO of the Telluride Foundation, a nonprofit he’s partnered with throughout his career. The foundation made the announcement within the past week, ending a year-long search to find current president and CEO Paul Major’s replacement. Corzine, who is currently the vice president of the National Park Foundation, will start Feb. 1.

“Jason has had an outstanding career that has given him the experiences and skills to step forward and to lead the Telluride Foundation forward as we embark on a new decade in our history. On behalf of the board, we offer our enthusiastic welcome to Jason and his family,” Telluride Foundation Board Chair Anne Slaughter Andrew said in a news release announcing Corzine’s hiring.

He replaces Major, who served as the nonprofit’s leader for the first 20 years of its existence. While Corzine has an extensive resume, including being a previous foundation grantee, he knows he must initially listen to the community.

“When you look at an opportunity at the Telluride Foundation, you see their history, you see their best-in-class services and it’s a perfect alignment with the passion that I have to get into rural communities, to engage the stakeholders. … My obligation is to honor the incredible work that has been done by this organization, while also starting to chart a new path,” he said. “ … My first 90 days are about coming into the community, learning and listening first and foremost. Hearing from community leaders what works. Hearing from partners and our nonprofits what works for them. What are our relationships that we have to double down on. One thing that I think is a low-hanging fruit for us is to engage Telski, as the largest employer, and see what in that relationship we can advance on for the betterment of the community.”

He admitted that when he first heard the job was available a year ago, he wasn’t in a position to pursue it, but instead was focused on current initiatives he had previously started with the National Park Foundation. When he learned that no one had been hired within the past year, he decided to apply.

“It just wasn’t the right time for me. I acknowledged it and let it slide. Then a year past, and they had not found their ideal candidate so it resurfaced again. As time goes on, a lot of things start to crystalize for individuals and I was one of those,” he said, adding that work trips from his home in Denver to Washington D.C. “ … I was personally and mentally in a much different space about a year later. When it resurfaced, I jumped at the opportunity to put my name in the mix.”

An avid outdoorsman, Corzine is looking forward to becoming a community member in every sense of the word, including enjoying the surrounding San Juans.

“What intrigues me about this more than anything is the ability to serve a community while living in the community,” he said. “It’s an honor, honestly, to be able to take this one.”

Corzine has a bachelor’s in biology and chemistry and a master’s in environmental science from the University of Texas (San Antonio). Prior to the National Park Foundation, he served as the Community Futures and Southwest region director for The Trust for Public Land from 2000-18