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The end of one chapter, the beginning of another

Tom in Cadiz

Is this the moment I decided to leave Flat Earth and join the Vail Valley Foundation? During a recent visit to Spain, including this remarkable jaunt to Cadiz, Renee and I had plenty of time to consider what the future held.

They say that lightning can strike out of a clear blue sky. Or, at least, I saw a Discovery Channel show about that once.

Metaphorically, the lightning strike came for me in March, when I received a phone call from the Vail Valley Foundation exploring my interest in migrating to Avon, Colorado, and joining their communications team.

I’ll forego my usual practice of burying the lead and just be out with it: I’m taking on a full-time position as Director of PR and Communications for the Vail Valley Foundation. The Foundation has a long and storied legacy in the Vail Valley, not only for their renowned ability to put on high-quality events like the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships, but also for their community-building approach to education, their stewardship of the land, and a host of good works too long to mention here.

In a life well lived, no major decisions come easy. Flat Earth Media has been a labor of love ever since it was born out of the chaos and excitement surrounding the early days of Nokero. From there, I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with more than my fair share of non-profits and start-ups. Together we have worked on a diverse set of projects: to create stronger economies in the American West, to build connections between international students and create tomorrow’s leaders, to help the Colorado River return to the ocean, to create smarter transportation systems in the West, to bring high-tech smart technology to American homes, to help bring a friend’s landscape photography into the spotlight, and even learned from a company that has incredible new ways to brew a better beer. I’ve worked Olympic events in Nanjing and Innsbruck, and written stories with bylines throughout the wild places of Colorado (and even one from Alaska).

Throughout all of this, I’ve had support from a team of quite talented people. I always had the goal of building the firm to a point where I could bring each of them on full time, and perhaps I would have accomplished that some day, but when an opportunity like this one comes along, there is very little question about what direction I should go.

And so, starting June 1 2015, I will be closing the doors on Flat Earth Media and beginning my new life at the Vail Valley Foundation.

Amazingly, the diversity of my past five years is surpassed by the diversity of activities I will undertake at the VVF. From the Youth Foundation to the International Dance Festival, from the Global Energy Forum to the GoPro Mountain Games, the Foundation has always been wide open to exploring new ways to make Eagle County a better place for everyone who lives and visits there.

The people I have already met at VVF are fantastic. Several of them I knew from my previous work as a journalist, and some are new to me. Already I can tell that they have that fearless attitude that I believe is requisite for success in the non-profit or start-up world … that ability to push aside one’s job description, and take on new tasks and challenges as they come.

There is one person I will not have the pleasure of working with … on a daily basis anyway … and that is John Dakin, the outgoing head of PR and Communications who leaves behind a very worthy legacy. JD and I have met on many occasions through my work as a journalist, and he has guided the PR and Communications for the Vail Valley Foundation for 28 years. During that time he helped establish the VVF as one of the finest organizations of its kind in the world. He did so by staying true to the core values that helped make the VVF, and the Vail Valley in general, such a wonderful place to live and work ever since those glorious early days. He will be greatly missed, and I can say with confidence that his shoes are far too big for me to fill – all I can do is come together with my new team to find our own ways to build upon what he has created.

So … that’s it for now. I plan on revisiting this space from time to time just to keep old connections and old friends in touch, and to advise my favorite non-profits on a pro-bono basis (those that will have me, anyway). In the meantime, I send my heartfelt thanks to the small audience of this site and its clients, and I hope we all have cause to cross paths again sometime in the near future.

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