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San Juan Basin Public Health director announces departure

After 10 years at helm, Liane Jollon takes new job on Colorado’s Front Range
Liane Jollon will leave San Juan Basin Public Health on June 1 to begin a job at the Health District of Northern Larimer County the next month. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Liane Jollon, executive director of San Juan Basin Public Health, has accepted a job as the executive director of the Health District of Northern Larimer County. Her final day on the job will be June 1.

Jollon’s departure comes amid a period of immense transition for public health services in the region. The federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency comes to an end on Thursday,ushering in a host of changes nationally. On a local level, SJBPH, the department Jollon has led for nearly a decade, is in the midst of a dissolution at the behest of commissioners in Archuleta and La Plata counties.

Although Jollon had previously expressed interest in and applied for the director position at La Plata County Public Health, the department that will take over from SJBPH on Jan. 1, she said the opportunity was one she “could not resist.”

Unlike SJBPH, the Health District of Northern Larimer County is not the governing public health agency. It is a special health district, similar to a library district, funded primarily through a property tax levied on residents of the district. It provides services complimentary to those offered by the Larimer County Public Health Department.

“Getting the chance to work in this special district to enhance health for a larger population is an opportunity that very much excites me and interests me,” Jollon said. “I have learned so much here in the southwest corner of the state about all of the factors that go into enhancing health in a community.”

During her time as director, she led the department through a politically tumultuous pandemic that divided SJBPH constituents. On multiple occasions, protesters showed up at her private residence to voice objections to state-mandated public health restrictions. She has received multiple awards in recognition of her leadership and accomplishments during the pandemic.

“What we’re learning every day in the public health field is there are factors outside of our control that do not always set us up be our healthiest selves, or to be our best selves in general,” Jollon said. “The opportunity to get back to that work in a different way than we have experienced public health through the COVID-19 pandemic is very exciting for me.”

The move to Fort Collins, where the district is based, is a significant departure for Jollon, who has lived in Durango since 1999. She joined SJBPH as a clinic nurse in 2010, working her way up the ranks to clinic manager, and then the director of the health services division. She was named executive director of the agency in August 2013.

Jollon said she will miss the dedicated staff of SJBPH and the community members who stepped up during the pandemic.

“I am so proud of the way our team came together and put the community first and worked through incredibly complex problems with ever-changing information and ever-changing direction,” she said. “ … It’s a really bittersweet feeling to go through something that's a tremendous crisis, but also see the very best in people.”

Jollon will report to work in Fort Collins on July 1.

rschafir@durangoherald.com



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