Lake County CDC looking for new director

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Gypsy Ray

The Lake County Community Development Corporation (LCCDC) is looking for a new executive director.

Gypsy Ray, who has held the title for four years, submitted a letter of resignation in November to stakeholders. She will serve in her current position until the end of the year.

In the letter, Ray didn’t elaborate on an exact reason for her departure, but told The Leader after an opportunity to purchase the family’s Georgetown Lake cabin from her in-laws presented itself, she and her husband, J.B., decided to follow through.

Bill Williams, president of LCCDC, said that Ray’s presence in the corporation and surrounding communities will be missed.

“She’s been amazing,” Williams said. “The way she’s integrated herself in the community from Leadership Flathead to Rotary, she dove in head first not being from this area originally. She did it flawlessly.”

WILLIAMS SAID that LCCDC is looking for Ray’s successor to fill the position as soon as possible, but the position will not be filled with just anyone.

“We’re not going to compromise and plug someone in there,” he said, adding that the executive director position is “a very niche” one.

The ideal candidate should have economic development experience as well as leadership skills, community organization experience, and be able to manage 15-20 people, to name some qualifications, Williams said.

Ray, who has a background in community and housing development, said in her letter she experienced “quite a learning curve” applying her experience to economic development in rural communities.

Growing up in Missoula, Ray attended the University of Montana where she obtained a bachelor’s in social work. She then went on to Walla Walla University in Washington to get a master’s in social work.

RAY HAS had three other jobs in her adult life.

She began her career working with teenage mothers and housing at a program called WORD from 1994 until 2000.

Next, she started a home for teenage mothers and babies called Mountain Home Montana in Missoula.

Three years later, she left to go work for Missoula County for the Drug Free Communities program, finally landing in Lake County in 2014.

She was hired by LCCDC after the founding director of nearly 20 years, Billie Lee, stepped down.

Ray said that one of her biggest accomplishments with LCCDC was getting employees through the transition of Lee to Ray, followed by helping people understand what the corporation does.

Although she and J.B. have already made the move to Georgetown Lake, Ray said she recently extended her time with LCCDC to help find a good fit for the position.

Great benefits and constant work are positives to the job, Ray said.

Explaining that she enjoys staying busy, “I do a little bit of everything and don’t sit still. That’s what this job is; you never have the same day twice.”

Ray doesn’t want the qualifications of the position to intimidate anyone.

Noting that LCCDC consists of “very skilled, dedicated veteran” staff members, the next executive director will be surrounded by people to help teach nuances of the job, Ray said.

Not to be intimidated, Williams said, the new candidate will have large shoes to fill.

“Gypsy’s an absolute professional and just gets it,” Williams commented. “Not many people can do that; get it all done without any issues, without even complaining.”

Coming up next for Ray is in January, when she’ll be opening a private consulting practice in Anaconda.

“It’s exciting and a little scary,” she said. “I’m a very social person, so I’ll have to work on balancing being social in the community.”

Ray said she hopes that the next executive director for LCCDC is up for the challenge.

“I hope the person who reads this story says, ‘that’s the job for me.’”

The application process is being handled through the Polson Job Corps and can be found by visiting https://montanaworks.gov/job-details?jadrId=102959153.

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