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Olympic Museum moving ahead on search for CEO of Colorado Springs venue

March 6, 2018 Updated: March 7, 2018 at 7:51 am
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The U.S. Olympic Museum begins to take shape as crews work on the steel beams of the 60,000-square-foot building Monday, March 5, 2018, in Colorado Springs. The Museum is schedule to open in the summer of 2019. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

U.S. Olympic Museum officials have a short list of CEO candidates and expect to have that leader on board later this year.

They began with more than 50 candidates after launching a national search last year. They now have fewer than a dozen, said Dave Ogrean, the search committee chairman and former executive director of Springs-based USA Hockey.

He declined to say how many candidates are being interviewed or who they are. But he said a job offer could be made in "coming weeks" and a CEO hired and in place by year's end.

That timing isn't certain though, Ogrean cautioned.

"Until they get with us and we get with them, you can't be certain that it's going to be a good marriage," Ogrean said. "If somebody new expressed interest and came out of the blue, it's not too late for somebody else to be considered.

"We still might get to a point where either when we finally see somebody face to face, they don't like us or we don't like them. Or there's something about the job or the city or whatever where a marriage doesn't get made."

Not all short-list candidates will come to town for interviews, he said. But two are to be in town for "welcome receptions" Wednesday and Friday, say invitations sent to community leaders.

Ogrean would neither confirm nor deny those get-togethers with candidates.

The nonprofit museum hired RSR Partners, a Connecticut-based executive search firm with offices in the U.S. and Tokyo, to help find a CEO, Ogrean said.

Museum officials are looking for someone with "excellent outreach and communication skills and a strong sense of entrepreneurship because this is, in fact, a start-up," he said.

The $75 million, 60,000-square-foot Olympic Museum and hall of fame is under construction at Vermijo and Sierra Madre streets in southwest downtown Colorado Springs. The venue - whose displays and exhibits will serve as a showcase for the nation's Olympic movement and its athletes - is scheduled to open in 2019.

For now, Pam Shockley-Zalabak will continue as the museum's interim CEO, Ogrean said.

Shockley-Zalabak, the former chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was named to the position in August. Her background as the longtime head of a growing institution means the fledgling museum is in good hands for now, which allows officials to search for a CEO in unhurried fashion, Ogrean said.

"She is a five-star, gold-plated insurance policy," he said. "She's got so many great skills that she demonstrated at UCCS over the years. She spent an awful lot of time, for the last 20 years, raising money and getting buildings built. That's what this is all about."

Shockley-Zalabak has told museum officials she doesn't want the job permanently, Ogrean said. Shockley-Zalabak retired in February 2017 after 15 years as UCCS chancellor and 40 years with the school.

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Contact the reporter: 636-0228

Twitter: @richladen

Facebook: Rich Laden

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