Ask Nancy Heard, Mountain Operations Manager at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, what she likes to do in her free time and she will respond, “think about the Caverns!” That mind-set and dedication are part of what makes her such an integral part of the Glenwood Caverns team.
Nancy has been with the Caverns since 2008; she started on April Fool’s Day! She is responsible for overseeing attractions, cave tours, and maintenance. “The best part about the job is the variety,” says Nancy. “I get time in the field and time at my desk. I truly enjoy the contact with the guests. Guests are so blown away with even the most simple of courtesies when extended genuinely, and I find that so rewarding.
“There is never a dull moment!” she adds. “We are constantly moving forward.”
Nancy moved from her hometown in Michigan to Denver in 1985, fresh out of college. “I worked for Martin Marietta Aerospace. I started in the engineering department and ended my tenure with the corporate training department, where I taught computer-aided design to other engineers.”
While at Martin Marietta, she earned an MBA from the University of Colorado and moved to Aspen. For the next 16 years she worked at Aspen Skiing Co., first as lift operations manager at Snowmass and then as General Manager of the mountain photography division.
Nancy lives in Basalt with her husband (“Jimbo”) and two teenage girls, Mackenzie and Nicolette. Besides thinking about the Caverns in her free time, she can be found swimming at the Hot Springs Pool or biking the Rio Grand Trail.
Throughout her years at the Caverns, there is one very memorable day that sticks out in Nancy’s mind. “We made special accommodations to provide the opportunity for a 4 year old child with disabilities to ride the Alpine Coaster. She didn’t have any limbs. Several of us put our heads together and came up with a solution to attach her to her dad using climbing harnesses. It was a very special time for the girl and the parents were so grateful. They said that this would likely be the only roller coaster their daughter would ever be able to ride. It was very touching,” Nancy reflects.
Another significant day was the opening of the Cliffhanger roller coaster. “I was involved start to finish on that ride,” says Nancy. “I worked with the broker to negotiate the price; I flew to Missouri to inspect it; I organized the shipping and installation; I oversaw the refurbishment of the ride and the final inspection and commissioning of the ride. It was a proud day when the Cliffhanger opened to the public!”
For Nancy, working at the Caverns has been a unique experience. “Glenwood Caverns is different because of the ownership. Steve and Jeannie Beckley are wonderful people. They are very involved in the Caverns. They truly care about the product and the employees. When a decision is being considered, Steve asks, ‘what is best for the guest?’ and the decision usually becomes obvious. Steve has a way of bringing us all back to center when asking this question.”
Nancy’s favorite part of the Adventure Park is the Nature Trail. “It is a beautiful trail, and it offers so much opportunity for development. I enjoy the constant brainstorming process of ‘what should we do next?’”
“What should we do next” is a motto that makes Glenwood Caverns the dynamic, ever-growing place that it is. Nancy and the rest of the Glenwood Caverns staff are excited about the future of the park, and they hope you are, too!