On June 4, 2019, we conducted a day-long interview Sprint for our Bringing Business Home Campaign, which showcases community members whose lives have been positively influenced by their employment at a local business. Over the course of 10 hours, we interviewed eight different people from six different businesses in Fort Collins. These employees work for both small and large businesses — all of which contribute to the strength of our economic vitality.

When he was 19 years old, Joel Bitler wound up at Sky Ranch near Pingree Park for a summer job during college.

A native of the Midwest, he immediately fell in love with the Rocky Mountains, which is something all Coloradans, old and new, can relate to. With his passion for all things outdoors — everything from biking and hiking to rock climbing and fishing — he didn’t count out northern Colorado as a viable place to call home once he finished getting his education in Wisconsin.

So, when he was offered a job opportunity at Columbine Health Systems about 15 years ago, he took it without a second thought. At the time, he was a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

“I wasn’t looking for any old job,” Joel explained. “I wanted to be a proud employee where I could grow and further my skills. I wanted to make a difference, and I knew I’d get that working at highly reputable healthcare provider like Columbine.”

Joel has come a long way since that initial job offer in 2004. He eventually became a Registered Nurse, after Columbine supported him in getting his degree at Front Range Community College. He’s also served a stint as the healthcare facility’s Director of Nursing, and now, he has an important role as Director of Clinical Services, where he can positively influence healthcare decisions from the inside.

“I like to think we’re making a real difference in our day-to-day work,” he said. “Our focus is always on putting the patient first, making sure we’re doing the right thing and leading the way in healthcare.”

Through Columbine, Joel spends a lot of his time giving back and volunteering in the local community. He’s involved in the CSU Research Committee, which helps guide healthcare-related research by Colorado State University professors. He regularly works with Front Range and for the Poudre and Big Thompson School Districts. He’s also in the Northern Colorado Healthcare Coalition for Larimer County and Weld County, in which he weighs in on disaster emergency procedures among many other important public health issues.

Those are only a few of his many work-related volunteer commitments. In whatever free time he can find, he also volunteers for Foothills Unitarian Church’s mobile food bank as well as the sports teams his kids are on.

But work and volunteer efforts aren’t the only things that define Joel as an active member of our community.

Joel moved to Fort Collins in 2004, and he hasn’t looked back since. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Emily, and two kids, Silas and Linnea. You can find this active family hiking around Horsetooth or riding their bikes on the Spring Creek Trail to Old Town or local breweries.

“Walking around Fort Collins, you run into people from all over the country that have realized how amazing it is to call this city home like myself,” he said. “No matter where you go, everyone always makes you feel like family, even if you’re from somewhere else.”

That magic is what keeps Joel in Fort Collins and why he strives to make the community a healthier place to live for our seniors through his job at Columbine. That magic is what makes him one of the many residents in our city who are always bringing business home.