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Luis Benitez, a former Eagle Town Board member and Vail Resorts talent manager, is leaving his post at the first director of Colorado’s outdoor industry department to take the position of vice president of government affairs and global impact for VF Corporation.
Benitez was appointed head of OREC by former Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2015. At the time, it was only the nation’s second state outdoor recreation department. Here’s the release on Benitez leaving the department March 23:
Colorado’s inaugural OREC director leaves State service to advance industry from private sectorLuis Benitez joins VF Corporation
DENVER – March 6, 2019 – Luis Benitez, Colorado’s premier director of the newly created outdoor industry department is leaving State service. After six years (four with the State) of public service, Benitez has accepted a position as VF Corporation’s vice president for government affairs and global impact. In this role, Benitez will oversee government affairs strategies and activities for VF and its brands, and manage oversight for the VF Foundation.
A 2015 hire of the Governor John Hickenlooper administration, Luis Benitez was tasked with forming a history-making Colorado office – only the nation’s second – to convene, advocate for, and grow Colorado’s emerging outdoor rec industry. Benitez’s results proved equally historic as his office’s creation.
“The work of the past four years has been tremendously rewarding and I’m honored to have worked with such dedicated colleagues, partners and advocates,” said Luis Benitez. “It takes a special opportunity to draw me away from what we’ve accomplished together at the State and this opportunity with VF is that rare fit between opportunity and passion. My relationship and respect for VF and its family of brands spans decades. This opportunity combines my greatest passions with working for a company whose brands I have literally entrusted with my life as a professional climber.”
Under Benitez’ leadership, Colorado saw the outdoor industry engage the state’s previously uncoordinated efforts, attract the industry’s premier trade show – Outdoor Retailer, and grow the industry from $28B in 2015 to its current $62B level today. According to OIA, Colorado’s current outdoor recreation industry employs over 500,000 people.
A lifelong outdoor professional, Benitez’ impact to the outdoor recreation industry stretched beyond state borders. Luis took a leadership role in the cultivation of [eight] other state outdoor recreation offices and the construction and adoption of shared state office principles and mission – the 2018 Confluence Accords. Its success led to this year’s Confluence of States continued collaboration and launch of its shared voice: www.confluenceofstates.com.
“Luis is a passionate champion for the outdoor recreation industry and his tireless advocacy here at the State has positioned Colorado as the basecamp for the outdoor industry,” said OEDIT Executive Director Betsy Markey. “We welcome the opportunity to partner with him in the private sector to continue to nurture Colorado’s thriving outdoor industry.”
Benitez’ final day with the State is March 23. A national search will begin for his replacement and Colorado’s OREC office will continue its national leadership under the direction of OREC deputy director Nathan Fey.