BOULDER — Almost exactly two years after Bill Capsalis took over the executive director position at Naturally Boulder, the natural and organic products industry veteran is stepping away, and the industry accelerator and advocacy nonprofit group is searching for a new leader.
Capsalis, who took over leadership of Naturally Boulder in March 2021 following the departure of longtime director Arron Mansika, accepted the job thinking he’d be in the role for about 18 months, he told BizWest. “It’s been two years, and I felt like it was just time to consider leaving.”
Having just completed Naturally Boulder’s work at the giant Natural Products Expo West trade show in California, the timing felt right, he said.
Capsalis, who expects to vacate NB’s executive director position next month, will welcome a grandchild this year, “and I do want to spend more time with my family,” he said.
After 35 years, Capsalis and his wife recently sold their Boulder home and are building a new house in Longmont.
“We’ve got some big changes going on,” he said.
Capsalis has moonlighted as a professional musician for more than four decades, “and I hope to do more of that as I free myself from the job at Naturally Boulder,” he said.
Naturally Boulder was launched in 2005, and Capsalis, whose recent industry experience includes serving as CEO of Haystack Mountain goat dairy in Longmont, has been involved in different capacities for the group’s entire existence.
“The organization is now a petulant 18-year-old, and it kind of needs some new thinking” to lead Naturally Boulder into the future.
Naturally Boulder’s board of directors will lead the search for a new executive director, but Capsalis is willing to provide assistance in the hiring and transition process as needed.
“I’m leaving the role of executive director, but I’m not leaving Naturally Boulder, nor am I leaving the community,” he said. “I’m around. I’m available.”
When Capsalis began as executive director in 2021, Naturally Boulder, which had long operated out of the now closed Boulder Alfalfa’s grocery store at 1651 Broadway, was in search of a new base of operations.
The organization now operates out of offices at the Kiln co-working space on Pearl Street.
Apart from the move, Capsalis’ tenure overlapped with a challenging period for Naturally Boulder (and nearly every other business and non-profit group), as the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing and organizations, such as NB, that put on live events were grappling with an uncertain future.
In-person events are now back, but it is still “kind of a weird time for everyone who does event planning,” Capsalis said.
Naturally Boulder’s approach to the post-COVID new normal is to get leaner by reducing its full-time staff from three people to two.
“That might sound bad, but for a long time Arron (Mansika) ran the thing by himself,” Capsalis said. “…With people not coming back (to events) in full force after the pandemic, we just can’t predict programming as well as we used to be able to.”
Despite the ongoing challenges, Capsalis is bullish on Naturally Boulder’s future and the board’s ability to recruit a high-quality new leader.
“If you love the community, and you love natural products companies and founders, and you enjoy engaging in wonderful work helping emerging, early- and mid-stage businesses, then this is the perfect job for you.”