Marques leads PPWFC after Rice’s departure

Traci Marques

Traci Marques must complete six months as the interim director of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center before she can be considered for the full-time position, a job that Lisa Rice held until her departure Nov. 9.

El Paso County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, chairman of the board that oversees PPWFC, expressed confidence in Marques.

“That’s the standard period of evaluation anyone in a senior position must go through when they work for the county,” VanderWerf said. “It’s contingent, but if, at the end of six months, she has worked out, we will offer that position to her on a permanent basis.”

At a Friday board meeting, VanderWerf basically gave Marques a vote of confidence and said there will not be a national search for Rice’s replacement.

“He did [give a vote of confidence],” Marques said, “and a vote of confidence from the board members was greatly appreciated.”

Marques interviewed for the position of PPWFC executive director after Charlie Whelan retired in February, but Lisa Rice was hired May 26, replacing interim director Dennis Hisey, the former county commissioner. Rice’s last day on the job was Nov. 9, and Marques, who had been promoted to deputy director in July, became interim executive director.

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“I’m excited to be in the interim spot,” said Marques, who has been employed at PPWFC since 2012. “Being the deputy director, it was a natural fit to move into this position.”

The Pikes Peak Workforce Center, which is primarily funded by federal grants, offers services to job seekers and employers in El Paso and Teller counties.

“I love the mission and vision of the Workforce Center,” Marques said. “You leave the job every day knowing you made a difference.”

Marques declined to comment on Rice’s departure and Becca Tonn, the PPWFC public information officer, wouldn’t say if Rice was fired, calling it a “personnel matter.” VanderWerf said it was a human resources matter and declined to comment further but also said they had “parted ways.”

Funding at PPWFC was cut by 24 percent — which amounted to $2,226,069 — when the new fiscal year began July 1, leading to four positions being eliminated. Further mid-management departures occurred while Rice was executive director, including that of Dana Barton, the director of business relations and employment development, who had been at the organization for five years. Barton took a job as the director of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center.

Marques was the PPWFC customer service and community outreach director for three years before becoming deputy director. She was hired five years ago to lead the business relations group.

PPWFC has 48 employees and the budget for July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, is $7.46 million. The organization served nearly 40,000 job seekers through its educational workshops and job fairs in the last year.

“What’s important about all this is the mission of our organization and how we serve our community,” Marques said. “That won’t change.”