Rhonda Blanford-Green is coming home.
CHSAA's Board of Directors voted to hire Blanford-Green as the association's next commissioner on Tuesday, board president Eddie Hartnett told CHSAANow.com.
"She's going to lead the communities of Colorado to the next level, and we're so excited about that," Hartnett said. "She's a progressive thinker. That came out in the interviews, as well as what we know about her historically."
Blanford-Green will be introduced to the membership as commissioner at the Legislative Council meeting in April.
Blanford-Green worked at CHSAA both as assistant commissioner and associate commissioner from 1996-2012. She was the executive director at the Nebraska School Activities Association from 2012-15, and has been an assistant executive director at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association since 2015.
"I stayed connected to Colorado, even when I wasn't here physically," Blanford-Green said. "I stayed connected with staff, and I stayed connected with ADs."
Blanford-Green often returned to Colorado to speak at student conferences and leadership events.
"It will feel like coming home," she said of returning as CHSAA's next commissioner. "It's almost like this has been a circle: I started here, had the opportunity to have the experience in Nebraska, I had the opportunity to have the experience in Louisiana. It's just come full circle."
Blanford-Green was selected from a group of three finalists who interviewed at the CHSAA offices on Monday and Tuesday with the Board, the CHSAA administrative staff, and the CHSAA administrative assistants.
"We had great candidates apply. It was a very tough decision," Hartnett said. "We had three really great finalists. Any one of them could've led us into the next decade.
"When you compared experience," Hartnett added, "Rhonda has commissioner experience in Nebraska, and also has Colorado history, which we heard from our schools was very important. That put her ahead of the pack."
Blanford-Green said it was "an honor to considered with such strong candidates."
"The process was one of the most intense and personal that I have ever been involved with over the years," she added. "I look forward to working collaboratively with the CHSAA Board of Directors and staff to serve the membership and Colorado student-participants."
The process to select the next commissioner started two years ago, with input from member schools filtering through to the Board. Hartnett stressed transparency and statewide feedback throughout the process.
"Every member school was heard," Hartnett said. "We brought that up repeatedly today."
Hartnett also praised the Board of Directors' work throughout the process.
"This was a long process that required a lot of work to be sure it was done right," he said. "I'm extremely proud of the work the Board did."
Blanford-Green will become the first female to serve as CHSAA's commissioner, as well as the first African-American.
She has quite an extensive resume, including her time at CHSAA. At various times in Colorado, she oversaw boys soccer, spirit, track and field, cross country, hockey and skiing. She also was in charge of equity, marketing, public relations and legislative relations.
She started a number of initiatives at CHSAA, including the creation of the association's transgender policy, which has since become something of a national model used by other states.
"If you look at the equity policies she's put in place, she's been a leader nationally," Hartnett said.
In 2012, Blanford-Green was named the executive director of the Nebraska School Activities Association — becoming the first African-American woman in the country to serve in that capacity.
She led the Nebraska association for three years, parting ways in 2015, and has been the assistant executive director at the Louisiana High School Activities Association since August 2015.
A 1981 graduate of Aurora Central High School, where she starred in track and also competed in spirit and volleyball, Blanford-Green went on to become an All-American in track at the University of Nebraska.
After college, she twice qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials. She was a coach for a spell before joining CHSAA.
Blanford-Green is a member of the CHSAA Hall of Fame as a participant (2012 inductee), the Sportswoman of Colorado Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame, and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
A mother of two, John and Aspen, she is married to John Green, the former district athletic director of Cherry Creek Schools.
Blanford-Green is the first external hire as commissioner since Ray Plutko was hired from California in 1986.