Denver’s head of the National Western Center revamp leaves for new gig with home developer

The National Western Center redevelopment project will be spearheaded by a new Denver official next month after longtime advocate Kelly Leid steps down.
3 min. read
The 2017 National Western Stock Show kicks off Saturday in Denver. (Courtesy of the National Western Stock Show)

The National Western Center redevelopment project will be spearheaded by a new Denver official next month after longtime advocate of the project Kelly Leid steps down.

The mayor's office announced Leid's departure and replacement Wednesday calling him an "outstanding leader and public servant" during the last six years as first the head of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative and then the Office of the National Western Center.

Leid's last day with the city of Denver is planned for Oct. 2. He's expected to join Oakwood Homes in October as a vice president overseeing the development of the Reunion Community in Commerce City, according to Oakwood.

“These past six years have been an incredible honor to serve Mayor Hancock and this great city," Leid said in a statement. “This journey of public service, especially regarding our work in the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods is some of my proudest work for Denver. I am deeply grateful to the mayor for the trust that he placed in me to help advance his bold vision for a world-class city.”

Leid previously worked for Oakwood Homes in the land development division, overseeing the precursor to BuildStrong Education — a private foundation that invests in community educational programs and reform initiatives

“We needed someone with strong experience in both the public and private sectors with a track record of overseeing complex project organization and delivery, as well as someone well-connected across the Front Range, and he is about as experienced and well-connected as anyone could possibly be,” said Pat Hamill, Oakwood Homes chairman and CEO, in a statement.

For Denver, Leid was in charge of overseeing the city's efforts in buying about 106 acres of private property in Elyria-Swansea to transform the National Western Complex and Denver Coliseum from the home of a roughly two-week agriculture event complete with professional rodeos, a horse show and a western trade show to a year-round destination and global hub for agriculture and innovation.

Gretchen Hollrah is expected to take over the reins for that project Oct. 3. Hollrah has served the past year as deputy director of the Office of the National Western Center and was previously deputy chief financial officer for four years.

"I am excited about the journey ahead, and I am deeply honored by the mayor’s confidence in me and in our team," Hollrah said in a statement.  "The National Western Center will be unlike any other place in the country, with new multi-use facilities to keep the National Western Stock Show in Denver for the next 100 years, a boldly envisioned presence for Colorado State University in Denver, and a truly unique place for visitors to enjoy."

Both the Office of the National Western Center and North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, which handles the stock show redevelopment and five other projects in north Denver, are seeing leadership turnover this year. Former City Council member Timothy Sandos started as executive director of the NDCC this summer after Anna Jones stepped down.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at [email protected] or

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