Leadership Profile: Mike Kosdrosky
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Posted by: Emily Nilsen
Each month Housing Colorado profiles a member volunteer who serves on a committee or another volunteer opportunity. This profile features members who have shown great commitment to the mission of Housing Colorado.
Mike Kosdrosky is Executive Director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA, pronounced “AP-SHA”). Mike oversees the largest mountain resort affordable housing program in North America, and possibly the world, with an estimated market value of $3 billion. Mike believes the concept of value innovation applies to his work with APCHA as much as it does to executives at Amazon, Apple, and Tesla. Creating value through innovation, not imitation, is key to transforming any organization, especially pubic-run organizations. In this spirit, Mike is working to modernize APCHA’s policies, assets, and operations, including a plan to create one of the most sophisticated Housing Information Management Systems in the country. Mike has over twenty-years’ experience in public policy, public administration, consulting, and economic development. Mike is no stranger to public policy having worked in Washington D.C. and then in the Ohio Legislature. Mike also served the Governor of Ohio for four years as a business/economic development adviser working on deals that collectively retained and created over 10,000 jobs. Mike has his Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Colorado Denver and is one of the newest members of Housing Colorado’s Legislative Committee. He also serves as a Director on the board of Club 20, the primary private/public representing the collective interests of Western Colorado communities and industries. Mike is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but now lives in Basalt, Colorado, with his wife, Jill.
How did you end up in affordable housing?
Just out of curiosity, three years ago I responded to the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority job posting on the Colorado Municipal League website. I didn’t know anything about APCHA other than the job was in Aspen. But as a public administration professional I was looking for a unique and challenging career opportunity. To be honest, my goal wasn’t to work in affordable housing, but to be a city manager (which remains my professional goal). However, because affordable housing is such a critical issue - as much an economic issue as it is a social one – I found the challenge appealing, particularly in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. Affordable workforce has been key to Aspen’s long-term success as both a year-round community and as a world-renowned tourist destination.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people of Aspen. We have one of the most astute and engaged communities in the world. Not only does everyone have an opinion here, but they’re sure to share it with you.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Making the case for constructive change.
How did you get involved with Housing Colorado?
I don’t recall. But as a professional with a strong background in public policy, I naturally gravitated toward Housing Colorado because of the great advocacy work that it does. I also think the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority has an important story to share about affordable housing statewide.
How do you currently serve Housing Colorado and what do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I am a new member of the Legislative Committee. My goal is to communicate the importance of affordable housing in creating and sustaining healthy communities and economies.
What are some exciting progressions or projects currently going on in your work?
Aside from several new affordable housing development projects, my focus is on transforming my organization and building a foundation and strategy for long-term success.
What project, program or undertaking are you most proud of and why?
I’m proud of our work with Real America and others to deliver the largest Low-Income Housing Tax Credit apartment project to the Roaring Fork Valley in years. I’m also proud of APCHA’s efforts to transform the way it does business and measures success, particularly our automation effort to build a Housing Information Management System.
What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
Your organization is only as strong as its weakest link; and your team only as strong as its weakest member. These two propositions are not mutually exclusive.
Who has been an instrumental mentor through your career so far or who do you look up to?
My father taught me to be bold and entrepreneurial, while my mother taught me to ask good questions and trust common sense. As a student of history and politics, I admire leaders who’ve shown the courage of their convictions in the face of extreme adversity and opposition. People like Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.
What website(s) do you find useful in your work?
Amazon. Were you seriously expecting me to reference something housing related?
If you were given the chance to go on a vacation to any place of your choosing, where would you go and what would you do?
I’d go to Aspen and work on affordable housing. Seriously, I’d take a year to road bike Italy and take in as many wineries and restaurants as possible.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Colorado?
As most people know, affordable restaurants in Aspen are about as difficult to find as affordable housing. I miss some of my old Front Range hangouts that lack any pretense. Places like Golden Europe Restaurant in Arvada where great Eastern European food and a stein of bier are found inside an old converted Pizza Hut building. Nothing pretentious about that! I also miss having a greasy happy hour burger on Fridays at My Brother’s Bar on 15th Street in Denver.
What book are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it?
I’m reading several. Leadership on the Line, Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading; Blue Ocean Strategy, How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant; and re-reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.