Our view: New horizons ahead for Mizen
It seems rare these days for anyone to serve in one capacity and work for one organization for 10 years, let alone almost four decades, but that is exactly what Susan Mizen did. The longtime executive director of Horizons Specialized Services retired on Dec. 31, 2019, after 38 years with the organization, which is dedicated to serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our community.
Mizen is a quiet leader, an unsung hero, a calm and cool advocate for a segment of our community who needs representation, and at times, someone to fight for services that lead to independence. She helped create a sustainable, highly successful organization that serves five counties, including Routt and Moffat counties, and assists with early interventions from ages 1 to 3 and then offers adult services for clients 21 and older. It’s also an organization that has become a lifeline for many local families.
One of Mizen’s greatest achievements during her tenure with Horizons was getting a 1-mill property tax passed to support Horizons in 2005. The local tax has provided a more stable funding source for the regional organization that is also dependent on Medicaid and other government money.
Mizen was also instrumental in helping to secure a $1.27 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant in 2011 to build Soda Creek Apartments, an eight-unit transitional living complex in downtown Steamboat Springs. She also helped the nonprofit purchase four group homes and rent others to help Horizons’ clients experience assisted independence.
Mizen’s work was recognized at the statewide level this past year when she was honored with the Jane Covode Award, the highest recognition given by Alliance Colorado, an association of boards and agencies dedicated to strengthening services and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. According to Alliance Colorado, the award celebrates “exemplary effort, integrity, passion and long-term commitment to the intellectual and developmental disability system and the people it serves.”
At issue: Susan Mizen has retired as executive director of Horizons and a celebration will be held in her honor on Friday in Steamboat Springs.
Our view: Mizen has a long and successful career as head of one of our area’s most impactful nonprofits, and she deserves to be lauded for her work.
- Logan Molen, publisher
- Lisa Schlichtman, editor
- Jason Gilligan, community representative
- Don Moss, community representative
But maybe more important than awards and accolades is the respect Mizen has earned from those she has worked alongside. Parents describe Mizen as a person who never wanted anyone to fall through the cracks and worked hard to ensure people with developmental disabilities had opportunities to live and thrive in our community. Her colleagues call her compassionate, forward thinking, organized and focused, and she is credited with putting together a solid team that is equipped to carry the organization into the next four decades.
Mizen will be honored this week at a retirement celebration from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at Olympian Hall. We expect a big crowd to show up to honor a woman who has worked so tirelessly for individuals in our community who deserve our attention and support. Thank you Susan for a job well done — you truly are an inspiration.
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