Landri Taylor has taken over as CEO of the Stapleton Foundation, succeeding long-time CEO Beverly Haddon on July 18. Taylor, 65, has been a fixture in Stapleton having worked with developer Forest City (2000-2009), lived in Stapleton and served on the foundation board for more than 10 years. Ironically, just this year Taylor resigned his school board position to move to Aurora and be closer to his children’s families.
Taylor says his priority is “just to make sure that our existing programs continue to be strong. He says the foundation is “the best kept secret in this area of Denver,” and he’d like that to change.
The foundation was created in 1990 when the entire framework for redeveloping the former Stapleton Airport site was being formulated. The foundation is seen as the long-term conscience of the 1995 Stapleton Development Plan, aka Green Book.
The foundation enjoys a permanent funding source comprised of a “community fee” collected at time of closing on the sale of residential and commercial properties in Stapleton. In 2015, the fee generated $600,000. The foundation also supports itself with grants, amounting to $1.3 million in 2015. In addition to a CEO, the foundation employs three full time staff and a number of contract employees.
The foundation’s four initiatives are neighborhood connections, lifelong learning, health and wellness, and sustainable development. Taylor said as Stapleton moves closer to build-out, he wants to bring more emphasis to affordable housing and education. Regarding housing, Taylor wants to convene stakeholders to “really talk about the affordable housing goal that the developer has and how to assist the developer to get there.” Taylor is monitoring the city of Denver’s proposed “permanent housing fund” to find out how it might affect the housing plan written into the development agreement between Forest City and the Stapleton Development Corporation.
His focus in education will be something he calls “educare,” an “enhancement to daycare by providing pre-K educational instruction to children before kindergarten.” Taylor wants to ensure that there are enough seats in the Denver Preschool Program “all over the Stapleton school area including the ring (surrounding) schools.”
Taylor also spoke about “branding” Stapleton neighborhoods. He said a “3,000 acre neighborhood is too big” and envisions a day when places names such as Conservatory Green, Eastbridge and Town Center will predominate over the “Stapleton” label and help with the integration of the former airport site into long-established neighborhoods such as Park Hill, Montclair and East Colfax.
In terms of organizational goals, Taylor will be evaluating the structural relationship between the foundation and two of its primary programs: be well Health and Wellness and Northeast Transportation Connections. NETC is already a 501(c)(3) organization and be well has applied for the same status: do they spin off or remain under the foundation umbrella?
Taylor said he also plans on increasing the transparency and accountability of the foundation through such measures as an annual report and more emphasis on metrics to help demonstrate the effectiveness of programs such as be well. “We should be proud to talk about what we do and how we do it especially since it was the communities around Stapleton that led to us being formed. It is our responsibility to talk about how we operate, what we do and how we use the resources that we bring into the foundation.”
When asked what attracted him to the CEO position, Taylor said, “It’s doing the impossible, to start dreaming and figure out how to get it done.” He referred to a quote attributed to Walt Disney: It’s fun to do the impossible. “That’s what keeps me charged up.”