For new commissioner Tollett, leadership is key
December 29, 2015
Jane Tollett had an epiphany one day while sailing on the Great Lakes with her dad.
Tollett had a chemical engineering degree, but she wasn't satisfied with her career in manufacturing management.
Gazing out over the pristine scenery, Tollett decided she wanted to do something to protect it.
She had some previous environmental experience – she had worked in a pesticide research lab in college and worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to get an injunction against the Ford River Rouge coal plant for air pollution.
“In a leadership role you try to envision the future and try to position yourself to get there, and I felt that politics needed more business leaders and more leadership. I felt I could be an asset to the county in this role.”Jane Tollett
"I thought, 'I've had these jobs doing environmental work, and that really is what I want to do,'" Tollett said. "'It's what I feel passionate about. I want to protect the Lakes.'"
Recommended Stories For You
Tollett, considering pursuing a master's degree, went to visit the University of Cincinatti.
"In 30 minutes they had me enrolled in the master's program," Tollett said.
She earned her master's in environmental engineering and went on to hold leadership positions in Procter & Gamble Co.'s environmental engineering division.
For 25 years, Tollett worked for multiple divisions within Procter & Gamble, from health and beauty to paper.
"Paper was fun," Tollett said. "Big equipment, big problems."
Tollett retired and moved to Grand County with her family in 2007.
Soon after, she started working with Grand County Water Information Network, a non-profit focused on water quality in Grand County.
"I had heard they needed some help," Tollett said. "I've always mentored people. That was always very important at (Procter & Gamble) – mentoring and being mentored. You get a lot of experience and help that way."
Career with GCWIN
Tollett served as GCWIN's executive director for seven years.
During that time, she worked on three databases and expanded the organization's water monitoring and educational programs.
"Short of reworking the entire mission of GCWIN, which the then county board of commissioners told us they were not interested in doing, there was really no further place to take it," Tollett said.
"And I felt that a new person would bring some new life into the organization.
It was Tollett's belief in the importance of leadership, a conviction born from her time with Procter & Gamble, that drove her to seek the commissioner position, she said.
"In a leadership role you try to envision the future and try to position yourself to get there, and I felt that politics needed more business leaders and more leadership," Tollett said. "I felt I could be an asset to the county in this role."
The newly minted commissioner said she looks forward to working with Commissioners Merrit Linke and Kris Manguso on a variety of issues.
Budget, water issues are priority
Balancing the county budget is one of the big issues the board of commissioners faces.
"The budget is critical – getting the budget where we want to it to be without cutting services, without cuts that are so deep that people can't get their work done," Tollett said.
Water agreements like the Windy Gap Firming Project, Moffat Firming Project and Windy Gap Bypass are also top issues, Tollett said.
"I will continue to be a champion for water issues," she said. "The county has done a lot of good work in those areas, and I'd like to see that continue."
Tollett said she wants to restore the public's esteem of local government.
"I would like politicians and people in these roles to be seen as role models for children, for businesses, for organizations, instead of how people often see them today, which is viewed with lack of respect," she said.
Tollett said she plans to run for reelection next year.
"The key thing is we want to build on the good," Tollett said. "There's been a lot of good done in Grand County over the last years, so we want to build on it and move forward."
Tollett replaced former Grand County Commissioner James Newberry after his resignation on Nov. 18.
The Grand County Democratic Party formed a vacancy committee following Newberry's resignation that selected Tollett out of three finalists.