Molly Owens has been hired as the new human resources director for the Aspen School District, it was announced this week. Owens, who will earn $120,000 annually, begins her new role on May 1.

She currently serves as a senior deputy public defender in the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office.

Owens replaces former human resources director Elizabeth Hodges, who resigned in mid-January with no severance pay. Hodges was hired in the spring of 2016 and she began work that July, though she was in the midst of legal troubles in Missouri at that time, which stemmed from her work on the estate of two deceased clients that prompted complaints from family members. The district moved to terminate Hodges during December; it had to come to light four months earlier that she was disbarred as an attorney in Missouri and faced a $1 million judgment for her handling of a probate case. A May 2016 grand jury indictment against Elizabeth Hodges did not turn up in her background check, and she did not voluntarily report that information, according to previous reports.

According to a statement from Dr. John Maloy, superintendent of schools: “The District began a search process for a new Director of Human Resources in January. Nineteen applications were received and vetted by a screening committee. Of the 19 applications, seven candidates were selected to interview before a broad-based interview team which consisted of K-12 teachers and support staff, building principals and district office administrators, board members and Aspen Education Association representatives.”

Maloy wrote that the interview team narrowed the field to two candidates who underwent final interviews, which included a case study presentation.

“After the team selected a finalist, regular hiring protocols were followed. Prior to an offer being extended reference checks of former and current colleagues and supervisors and background checks, including fingerprinting, were completed,” he said.

Dr. Maloy this week opined that the district was fortunate to have many qualified applicants but in the final review, Owens stood out as the clear choice.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carroll College in Montana and has a Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law in Boulder; the concentration of her work has been employment and labor law.

Dr. Maloy further stated, “We’re excited to have Molly as a member of the Aspen School District team. She brings great energy, vision, dedication to her work, and an eagerness to create strong relationships. What came through in the interview process and the reference checks was Molly’s willingness to take initiative; her record of collaborating with colleagues to solve problems; and the fact that she is a quick study and a great teammate. Finally, I want to acknowledge and recognize the interview team for the time and effort they dedicated to the interview process — their work paid off in the selection of this highly respected candidate.”