Deb Ruttenberg broadens scope of work in new position with Grand County |

Deb Ruttenberg broadens scope of work in new position with Grand County

Tonya Bina
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

Thirteen years as director of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is about to wrap up for Deb Ruttenberg as she embarks on a new venture.

Ruttenberg has been selected to fill a new position in the county created to help multiple agencies ” such as the judicial district, Social Services, Public Health, local schools, family advocacy organizations, mental health and others ” collaborate to better meet the needs of children and families.

“It’s making sure their needs on all levels are being met,” said Ruttenberg, Grand County’s new HB 1451 coordinator, who herself is still learning the scope of the position.

She officially starts at the beginning of the new year.

Her position is housed through the Grand County Juvenile Services Department, but will be funded through Social Services via 2004 state legislation, HB 1451, which aims to reduce costs for human and health services while providing better outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system. In passing it, the state recognized that oftentimes services can be fragmented and duplicated among various agencies.

“There have been few positions over the last 13 years that have come up in the county where I both thought, ‘I could do that,’ and, ‘I would like to do that,'” Ruttenberg said.

With Grand Futures, Ruttenberg said she has been involved with meetings concerning HB 1451 focus in the county during the last 18 months. And in working with various families and agency workers in the realm of substance abuse prevention, Ruttenberg said she already possesses familiarity heading into her new job.

“It’s a broader focus,” she said about her reason for the move, “and it will allow professional growth.”

During her years as the director of Grand Futures, a tri-county coalition created in 1990 by a former Grand County juvenile diversion officer and district attorney, Ruttenberg continued substance-abuse prevention work she began at the young age of 16.

Then, she attended an “Operation Snowball” retreat with her mother, head of the department of human services in Oak Lawn, Ill., and met peers recovering from alcoholism.

That teenage movement to stay clean “shaped the last 23 years of my life,” Ruttenberg said.

She is most proud of shaping Grand County’s approach to substance abuse-related problems, such as coordinating with the Sheriff’s Office to implement regular compliance checks at restaurants, bars and liquor stores to help keep alcohol out of the hands of underage drinkers. She also became the first TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) certified trainer in the county. As such, she has trained as many as 500 workers about alcohol service and use.

Her work extended communitywide, providing the resources and tools for people “to make healthy, positive choices.”

Both her mother and father worked in social work. “Maybe subconsciously I saw the fulfillment they had in helping people,” Ruttenberg said, adding in jest, “Obviously I didn’t do it for the money.”

Ruttenberg obtained her undergraduate education in psychology at the University of Illinois and her master’s in social work at the University of Denver.

Looking back, Ruttenberg said her position with Grand Futures allowing her to work with individuals, families and communities was “one that I’ve felt a great deal of personal satisfaction over the years.”

A spring break skiing trip to Winter Park with sorority sisters via Amtrak from Chicago led her to Grand County, where she’s resided since.

On Dec. 14, Ruttenberg starts an 18-week training schedule for her second Boston Marathon, April 20, an event that will coincide with the 10th anniversary of her marriage to husband Dane.

The mother of 5-year-old twins, Ruttenberg said she is looking forward to the new chapter in her life and career.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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