2024 San Luis Valley Rural Philanthropy Days Workshops and Speakers

Wednesday, September 11

Community Resource Center will have a registration and help desk set up at the Ski Hi Complex for the entirety of the day.

Networking Breakfast | 8:00 AM – 8:45 AM

Breakfast burritos from Mt. View. Breakfast will be held at the Ski Hi Complex – Banquet Room.

Welcome remarks will commence to ground us as a group before breaking off into capacity building sessions.

Agricultural Landscape of the SLV | 8:30 AM – 12:15 PM

Session Description

The San Luis Valley, home to one of the nation’s largest potato economies, has often had to think outside of the box to overcome challenges in the field of agriculture. Join us on this half day tour and panel to learn from nonprofit leaders across the San Luis Valley about the food systems and the work that is happening to prepare for the challenges the future may hold for agriculture. Hear from the leaders of Care and Share Food Bank and La Puente about their efforts to increase food access and how through collaborative efforts and community informed programming food security work is evolving. Learn from a panel of local participants that will share about what is happening to address water, soil, and land needs to provide sustainability for the future. The tour will give us an opportunity to dive more deeply into better understanding new initiatives in agriculture, including featuring the Sand Dunes Mushroom Cooperative, which came out of the closure of the Colorado Mushroom Farm.

Panel Moderator: Erin Minks

Tour Guides:

Zoila Gomez

Capacity Building Sessions | 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Session Description 

The arts have been integral to community and activism across the San Luis Valley for centuries. As our communities grow and look for new opportunities in 2024, the arts continue to be a rich source of ideas, engagement, and energy. Arts in Society, founded in 2017, is a collaborative grant-making program that fosters cross-sector work through the arts by supporting the integration of arts and culture into multiple disciplines critical to the health and well-being of Coloradans. In this session, you will learn about the Arts in Society grant, hear examples of funded projects in the San Luis Valley, and discuss ways to integrate the arts into your community work.

Presenter: Lares Feliciano, RedLine Contemporary Art Center // Heart & Lungs Ranch

Lares Feliciano is an interdisciplinary artist and cultural worker based in Alamosa, CO. Feliciano uses animation, installation, and collage to create worlds where marginalized experiences are front and center and all of time exists at once. She holds an M.F.A in Cinema Production from San Francisco State University and a B.A. in Film & American Studies from Smith College. In 2020 she joined the RedLine staff as Art Grants Manager where she supports artists and organizations across Colorado. Lares believes that everyone is an artist and is on a mission to support creativity in all.

Session Description 

Over 70% of interorganizational collaborations do not succeed. There are many reasons for this failure rate including funding, politics, and expectations. However, collaboration is an amazing process to consider when dealing with a messy problem, one where no one person, organization, sector, or industry can solve. This session explores when collaboration is a good option and what are the elements required to have a successful collaboration. This session also provides some interesting ideas on what constitutes a successful collaboration. Finally a brief case study will be shared with the participants.

Presenter: Pat Greer, PhD, Consultant and Co-Chair of Community Resource Center’s Board of Directors

Currently I have a small consulting practice and am mostly retired. I am currently the co-chair of the CRC Board of Directors. I held a wide variety of positions over my 23 years with local governments and 11 years with the University of Denver. I have 20+ years of nonprofit board experience, and 3 decades teaching graduate classes. I present on topics including leadership, human resources, collaboration, and organizational development. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and six grandchildren, training my dogs and horse, gardening, and hanging out with my cat.

Session Description

This session will cover financing tools for local food system development, findings from the 2023 SLV Community Food & Agricultural Assessment, the goals and process for the 2024-25 Community Action Plan, and how people can share their ideas for policy, programs and projects that are relevant to our regional food and ag systems.

Presenter: Jae Sanders, Coordinator of the SLV Community Food & Agricultural Assessment and Action Plan, San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition

Jae Sanders has been working with non-profits and community endeavors around food sovereignty and food access issues since 2009. She began the work in Taos, New Mexico, took it to Sebastopol, California and now resides in Saguache County, Colorado. Jae has supported and organized a CSA, outdoor farm store, ranch to family meat sales, bulk buying coop, hemp farming education and has helped organize the San Luis Valley Seed Exchange since 2019. Since September of 2022 Jae has been employed by the SLV Local Foods Coalition as the coordinator of the SLV Community Food & Agricultural Assessment and Action Plan. Jae’s personal mission is to help create affordable housing and resilient food systems in her community; support local farmers and ranchers to thrive; and curate education which inspires, enables and encourages more people to grow more food. SLV Seed Exchange – https://slvse.org SLV Community Food & Agricultural Assessment – https://slvlocalfoods.org/cfaa

Session Description 

This interactive session will present best practices and tips for success in seeking and writing grants. Participants will leave understanding the essential elements included in a grant proposal, key-terminology, funding research, and grant management tools. We will discuss strategies to overcome challenges that many rural nonprofits face in grantwriting. This crash-course in grantwriting is also full of tips for how to make your grants even more competitive.

Presenter: Katy Pepinsky, Director of Grant Services, Community Resource Center

Katy Pepinsky (she/her/ella), works with AmeriCorps VISTA members, consultants, and nonprofits to build grant access equity across Colorado. Katy started with CRC in June 2022. Prior to her current position, Katy worked as the Executive Director of a youth services organization in La Plata County. For over twenty years, she has worked with a diverse array of non-profit and service organizations to help build more resilient communities. Originally from Bloomington, Indiana, Katy holds a master’s degree in Extension Education from Colorado State University and a Professional Non-Profit Management Certificate, from Fort Lewis College. Katy lives in Durango and enjoys reading, cycling, and exploring the rural rivers and trails of the Southwest with family and friends. Katy is also conversant in Spanish!

Session Description

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors is excited to share the successes and challenges of our Regional Partnership Initiative project titled Cultivando Querencia or Growing Belonging. This exciting project involved three focused listening sessions with the diverse communities of Alamosa, Center and San Luis in south central Colorado. Through the project we developed a plan to do community outreach and inquire from our Hispanic and Indigenous communities what conservation, recreation and their connection to land means to them. These processes have allowed us to integrate valuable community feedback into our organizations strategic plan and it has also informed municipal Recreation and development plans in the region of the San Luis Valley.

Presenter: Esteban Salazar, Health and Wellness Coordinator, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors

Esteban Salazar is the Health and Wellness Coordinator with San Luis Valley Great Outdoors. His Alma Mater is Adams State University where he graduated with a B.A. in History and Anthropology. Esteban’s professional credentials include several years as a Cultural Resource Management Field Technician & Crew Chief in the southwestern U.S.. Esteban has experience in Marketing, Curriculum Development, Public Outreach, Data Analysis, Geographic Information Systems Mapping and is a consummate conservationist and advocate for Public Lands.

Session Description

This session will provide an overview of the process, materials, and application of having a strengths-based organization.

Built on decades of research from the CliftonStrengths Assessment, CoreClarity specializes in solutions that have been proven to increase engagement, communication, and collaboration of both individuals and teams.

Its trusted methodology focuses on the naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that can be productively applied in a way that is memorable, understandable, applicable, and actionable for individuals, teams, and organizations.


Denise M Benavides, Professional Development Manager, ECCSLV, and a CoreClarity Facilitator/Coach

Specialty/Focus: Educator & Youth Facilitation; Individual & Team Coaching: Denise has both a BA and MA degree in education, as well as a K-12 principal license. She has been trained in the Institute of Cultural Affairs Group Facilitation Methods as well. She is a seasoned educator with 20 years’ experience as an educator, mentor, and coach. Denise has focused on helping adults and students maximize their talents, while building mental wellness to increase individual achievement. She loves sharing the CoreClarity method because there is no greater joy than sharing what is “right” with us, and observing people blossom before her eyes! The dynamics of collaboration for adults and children based on talents has no bounds when utilized using a common language. Each of us is unique and has talents to offer. As a CoreClarity facilitator she aspires to help individuals and groups discover their talents to better understand themselves and others. It is extremely rewarding to witness the growth, energy and joys brought about through this process! Certified Since: May 1, 2007.

Dana Barlow, Facilitator/Coach CoreClarity

Dana has an AA in music education and has a Colorado state license. She has credentials at the preschool level and has knowledge teaching young students academics and social/emotional skills. She has always been in athletics, and has experience at all levels. She is currently a youth basketball coach as well as a junior high girls basketball coach. She sits on multiple boards involving athletics and students while facilitating communication within schools and faculty.

Session Description

Supporting Trauma Awareness and Nurturing Childhood Environments was a community-academic partnership funded by the CDC, aimed at addressing transmission of generational trauma by providing awareness and education on adverse and benevolent childhood experiences through trainings both in the community and at early childhood centers. We would like to share about the prevalence and awareness of ACEs and BCEs, its importance to the SLV, while highlighting the foundation of early childhood in our communities; we would also like to include information of family, friend, and neighbor care in early childhood and the challenges and importance of this type of support. This is relevant to all non-profits and organizations that have employees who are caregivers or serve families with children.


Mara Hsu, Professional Research Assistant, Rocky Moutain Prevention Research Center (RMPRC)

Mara Hsu currently works for the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center (RMPRC), part of the Colorado School of Public Health on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She joined the team as part of the STANCE project: STANCE (Supporting Trauma Awareness and Nurturing Childhood Environments). This CDC-funded public health practice-based core research project is designed to reduce the intergenerational transmission of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in the San Luis Valley (SLV) of Colorado. Mara’s experience in early childhood ranges from preschool teacher to director to mentor to coach and trainer.

Sherri Valdez, CEO, Early Childhood Council of the SLV

Currently employed as the Executive Director of the Early Childhood Council, she is dedicated to leading a nonprofit organization, implementing several early childhood programs, and one that supports systems development and transformational change for children, families and community through relationship building and by inspiring others. Sherri stays connected to her community and at the state level by participating in several collaborative efforts impacting children and families. Sherri’s mission is to advocate for social change on issues facing young children and their families.

Veronica Cisneros, SESB Coordinator, Early Childhood Council of the SLV

My journey in this evolving field started 23 years ago. Working with young children has always been my passion since I was a kid. As my mother was a leader in this field, watching her, learning from her, and becoming inspiring to others in this field has had a positive impact on me. It has been a humbling and rewarding career and I feel honored to have had a positive impact and touch the lives of numerous children, teachers, families, and communities across the SLV.

Session Description

Recognizing the power of partnership to serve youth in the San Luis Valley, The Attainment Network (TAN) Boys and Girls Clubs of the SLV (BGCSLV) and Adams State University (ASU) formed a partnership to transform rural WBL, increase access for l/earners, and start the process of erasing equity gaps in the San Luis Valley using partnerships and a hands-on approach. This holistic approach includes youth, community organizations, institutions and industry partners. Collaborating to build capacity for WBL, we will focus on high demand industries in the SLV. Learn how this coalition is evolving and how you can be a part.


Ashley Maestas, San Luis Valley Pathways Director, The Attainment Network

Ashley Maestas brings over 12 years of experience with career development focused on creating and supporting wrap around services and programs to enhance rural communities. Ashley believes strongly in the power of partnerships, establishing and maintaining relationships with local and state government agencies, higher education, economic development, communities, and businesses for client success. Before joining The Attainment Network, Ashley served as the Director of Alumni Relations & Career Services for Adams State University (ASU), where she led a team that provided numerous connections for students, alumni, and the community. Before ASU, she worked for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment as a Labor & Employment Specialist and at The Training Advantage as a Career Counselor & Case Manager. Ashley was born in raised in Colorado, growing up in the San Luis Valley. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Government & History from Adams State University as well as a master’s degree in Public Administration. Ashley’s passion is providing opportunities for those in rural communities, she is fueled further by making sure those opportunities exist for her middle schooler, Gisel.

Rachael Cheslock, Adams State University

A SLV valley native, Rachael Cheslock has a huge heart for the valley. After 16 years of early childhood teaching experience and 3 years of mental health counseling, she has been working alongside community partners to bring her combined passion for education and mental wellbeing to support the youth all across the San Luis Valley in building hope, resiliency, and new perspectives through active work-based learning opportunities. When she is not at work, she is indulging in bird watching, nature photography, playing softball, or churning her creative juices with random craft and art projects. She lives with her best friend, aka: husband Lance, and their deservedly spoiled child (a goldendoodle named Olli) outside of Alamosa.

Olivia How, Extended Learning Program Director, Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley

Olivia How is the Extended Learning Program Director for Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley. She has been with BGC for over two years, focusing her efforts around work-based learning and life & workforce readiness skills training. Being a Valley native, she is deeply rooted in the San Luis Valley and continues to help build programs to enrich the lives of learners and give them access to opportunities both in and outside of the SLV.

Monte Vista Walking Tour: Experience the Full Monte | 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Session Description

Monte Vista, Spanish for Mountain View, is a historic, lively city located in the heart of the San Luis Valley, established in 1886. Join us for a tour that will give you a chance to learn about Monte Vista’s past as well as hear from youth and community leaders about their hopes for its future. Featuring stops at the Monte Vista Historical Society, which has worked hard to preserve historic buildings, homes, and stories; the Church Project, a community art space for all; a chance to learn more about and admire the murals throughout the town; and a visit to the high school to experience student enterprise first hand with a coffee from their shop while you learn about the new projects, as shared by the students.

Capacity Building Sessions | 10:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Session Description

Dr. Katrina Ruggles, LPSC, LPC, is a counselor in the Center School District and grant/program coordinator at the Center Viking Youth Club, a youth development nonprofit she helped found, both located in the San Luis Valley. She is also a counselor educator at Adams State University in their MA/Ph.D. programs. Katrina is a San Luis Valley native and has been coordinating services focused on the overall health and wellness and positive development of youth since 2000. She leads the Center Positive Youth Development team who deliver tiered supports both during the day and after-school for academic, career, social-emotional, and physical wellness and development, with a focus on equity, youth voice, community and family partnership, and cultural empowerment. Under her stewardship, graduation rates have increased, drop-out rates decreased, teen pregnancy rates decreased, and post-secondary attendance rates increased.


Katrina Ruggles, Ph.D., LPSC, LPC, Counselor in the Center School District and grant/program coordinator at the Center Viking Youth Club

Dr. Katrina Ruggles, LPSC, LPC, is a counselor in the Center School District and grant/program coordinator at the Center Viking Youth Club, a youth development nonprofit she helped found, both located in the San Luis Valley. She is also a counselor educator at Adams State University in their MA/Ph.D. programs. Katrina is a San Luis Valley native and has been coordinating services focused on the overall health and wellness and positive development of youth since 2000. She leads the Center Positive Youth Development team who deliver tiered supports both during the day and after-school for academic, career, social-emotional, and physical wellness and development, with a focus on equity, youth voice, community and family partnership, and cultural empowerment. Under her stewardship, graduation rates have increased, drop-out rates decreased, teen pregnancy rates decreased, and post-secondary attendance rates increased.

Carmen Pavlovsky, she/her/hers, Center Consolidated Schools, 26JT

Carmen Pavlovsky (she/her) is a San Luis Valley native and graduate of Center High School. She then received a Master of Science in Environmental Science. Now as the Out of School Time Coordinator for Center Schools, she works with youth to build positive life skills. She moved from Colorado, to California, Nebraska, Arizona, and then back to Colorado. She came back to Center to serve the school and community that once served her by providing her with a platform for success. She believes that youth are not just the leaders of the future, but are the leaders and change makers of today.

Session Description

The presentation will describe how the Early Childhood Council has partnered with key stakeholders to advocate for needed funding/flexibility to implement the new Universal Pre-k Program in the San Luis Valley. This will include: addressing local issues such as kindergarten cut-off dates, ensuring sufficient resources exist to implement the program well, and retaining maximum dollars when stimulus funds sunset in the 2024-25 budget cycle.

Presenter: Bryan Lindert, Chief Program Officer, Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley

In this role, he manages implementation of all Council programs including acting as the Early Head Start and Local Coordinating Organization (Universal Pre-k) Director. Bryan brings more than twenty years of human services experience to this role including leadership positions in child welfare, juvenile justice, and early childhood organizations. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Virginia and is currently a Master’s Degree candidate at Adam’s State.

Session Description

In February 2023, the City of Monte Vista and San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!) convened over 75 community members and 20 state and federal partners in a 3-day Recreation Economies for Rural Communities (RERC) workshop. RERC is an EPA technical assistance program that helped Monte Vista develop an action plan to stimulate the economy with outdoor recreation as the driver. After creating the action plan, it was up to the community to commence work and reach the collective goals. The session will discuss how Monte Vista has maintained momentum and is starting to see some results from the TA program.

Presenter: Annie Altwarg, Active Transportation Coordinator, SLV GO!

Annie graduated from Western Colorado University with an MBA. She found SLV GO! through the Wright Collegiate Challenge and their new efforts to connect the SLV via a multi-modal trail. Before joining SLV GO!, Annie worked with the policy team at PeopleForBikes to advance electric mountain bike access on public lands and lobbied for bicycle-related bills on the Hill in Washington, DC.

Session Description

In this interactive workshop, we’ll discover and outline key moments in your organization’s history, and identify key data from your organization’s operations, to help you outline and craft a narrative that conveys your purpose, mission, and impact. The workshop will include meditation to stimulate creativity, writing and art activities to help you craft an outline for your narrative, and guidelines for effective use of data in narrative writing. The workshop will help you find new ways to engage the general public and potential funders to help them understand the purpose and impact of your organization.

Presenter: Jean Alger, PhD, Ink and Vein Writing and Mindfulness Services, LLC

Jean Alger grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and lived in Oklahoma for several years while attending graduate school. She has a doctoral degree in literature and writing, and taught at the college level for 15 years. Now, she works as a freelance editor, workshop leader, and marketing director at the Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative.

Session Description

Explore the dynamic landscape of rural innovation and entrepreneurship, uncovering the challenges and opportunities that drive growth. Through real-life examples and strategic insights, discover how collaboration, resourcefulness, and community engagement fuel sustainable businesses. Learn actionable strategies to cultivate an ecosystem supportive of rural entrepreneurship, from access to capital to leveraging digital connectivity. Join us to celebrate the ingenuity of heartland communities and empower attendees with tools to spark innovation and drive economic development in rural areas.

Presenter: Aaron Miltenberger, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of the SLV

Aaron Miltenberger joined the Boys and the Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley as President/CEO in April of 2018. A long-time advocate for historically underserved and marginalized youth, with 30+ years of working in student and youth development programs. Mr. Miltenberger has worked with foster homes, environmental education programs, youth corrections, wilderness therapy programs and social services. He was a three-year employee at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley working in the Intel Computer Clubhouse. Most recently, Miltenberger was the Director of Student Life and Recreation at Adams State University, where he worked for 10 years. He received his Master’s in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from ASU in 2012. He serves on several local and state Boards focused on youth prevention and support.

Session Description

In this session, participants will learn about several frameworks and approaches to strengthen their restorative leadership of staff and teams. Participants will learn tools to develop and lead happier, more productive staff, teams, and organizations.

Restorative leadership holds the promise of transforming organizational cultures, fostering resilience, and cultivating thriving communities. In this session, participants will embark on a journey to deepen their understanding of restorative leadership and explore practical frameworks and approaches to enhance their leadership capabilities within their teams and organizations. Key Themes: Embracing Accountability with Empathy; Integrating Trauma-Informed Principles; Facilitating Restorative Conversations; Balancing Restorative Leadership with Organizational Goals; and Cultivating Happiness and Productivity.

Presenter: Cassidy Meehan, Director of Social-Emotional Learning, Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley

Since moving to the valley in 2018, Cassidy has held positions across the valley as an AmeriCorps Service Member, School Counselor, an MST Family Therapist, and currently the Social-Emotional Learning Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley. Cassidy received her Masters of Social Work in 2021 from Metropolitan State University of Denver and her licensure shortly after. Cassidy leads with a positive, energetic approach and highly values intention with leadership.

Session Description

This session explores resource stewardship in the San Luis Valley, focusing on accountability, transparency, and equity. We’ll address the unique challenges and opportunities of operating in a close-knit community where collaboration is essential. Funders will gain insights on authentic engagement with local nonprofits, while funding recipients will learn about implementing robust accountability processes. The discussion will explore strategies for fostering transparency and promoting equitable resource distribution. By leveraging our community’s interconnectedness, we’ll discuss how to build stronger, more effective partnerships that address the Valley’s pressing issues and create lasting positive impact.

Presenter: SLV Tierra

A community-organized, POC-led group dedicated to creating a thriving San Luis Valley.

Session Description 

As a result of federal legislation, Colorado has received billions of dollars to support COVID recovery as well as economic, infrastructure, and climate initiatives. Though many government grant opportunities exist at this time they can often be hard to find, apply for, and manage, specifically for small, rural nonprofits. This 90-minute interactive session will provide an overview of local, state, and federal government grant making, will highlight some of the current ARPA, IIJA, and IRA grant opportunities available to Colorado nonprofits, and will share some of the resources CRC has developed to support nonprofits with grant seeking, development, and management.

Presenter: Katy Pepinsky, BS, MA, Director of Grant Services, Community Resource Center

Katy Pepinsky (she/her/ella), works with AmeriCorps VISTA members, consultants, and nonprofits to build grant access equity across Colorado. Katy started with CRC in June 2022. Prior to her current position, Katy worked as the Executive Director of a youth services organization in La Plata County. For over twenty years, she has worked with a diverse array of non-profit and service organizations to help build more resilient communities. Originally from Bloomington, Indiana, Katy holds a master’s degree in Extension Education from Colorado State University and a Professional Non-Profit Management Certificate, from Fort Lewis College. Katy lives in Durango and enjoys reading, cycling, and exploring the rural rivers and trails of the Southwest with family and friends. Katy is also conversant in Spanish!

Networking Lunch | 12:25 PM – 1:30 PM

Premium Takeaway Sandwich or Salad Lunch. Sandwich Box Lunches includes sides, dinner rolls, and desserts made by Sunflour Bakery.

San Luis Valley Regional Town Hall | 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Session Description: 

This interactive session will bring together nonprofits, community leaders, and funders for a purposeful discussion about local and regional strengths and opportunities to build community. Participants will leave feeling motivated, inspired, and connected to their fellow conference participants.

Facilitator: Katy Sawyer, Director of Capacity Building, Community Resource Center

Katy joined Community Resource Center in 2020 to help build and launch the COVID Containment Response Corps- an AmeriCorps program that engaged over 800 people in National Service across Colorado. Katy brings the perspective of having worked in grassroots nonprofits in developing countries as well as national nonprofits in the US to her role as the Director of Capacity Building. Katy spent over 10 years working with Jumpstart, a national early childhood education organization, gaining experience in program management and development, AmeriCorps programs and funding, nonprofit fundraising and board management, and national campaigns. Combining her professional skills and experiences with her love of (and degrees in) international relations and Spanish, Katy moved to Nicaragua to work with organizations providing supplementary educational opportunities to children in Granada. Katy was excited to discover CRC and move to Colorado. In her free time, Katy enjoys exploring Colorado, new trails, and (attempting to) cross some 14ers off her list.

San Luis Valley Nonprofit Community Fair: Meet the Nonprofits | 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Join us for a celebration of the nonprofit sector across the San Luis Valley region. In this highly interactive session, nonprofits and local governments serving across the region will have the opportunity to host a table where their peers, statewide leaders, and funders can approach them to connect and learn more about their work. Form new relationships, strengthen existing ones, and build knowledge about the great work of your organization during the San Luis Valley Community Fair. Through this session, funders and nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to develop a mutual understanding of one another in a relaxed environment. Prior to the Fair, you will have the opportunity to read through a directory of local organizations and identify potential partners you wish to approach.

Welcome Reception | 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Our Wednesday evening Welcome Reception will be held as a block party in downtown Alamosa. Dinner includes choices from the Mammoth Potato & Salad Bar, Purple Pig Pizzeria & Pub, SLV Brewing, and Woody’s Q Shack.  

Thursday, September 12

Community Resource Center will have a registration and help desk set up at the Ski Hi Complex.

Breakfast and Remarks | 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Breakfast will be held at the Ski Hi Complex – Banquet Room.

Keynote Panel – Hilos Culturales: Cultural Threads of the San Luis Valley | 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Session Description

The San Luis Valley Rural Philanthropy Days’ keynote lifts up the vital roles of trust, relationships, and storytelling in enhancing rural philanthropy. This panel will feature six storytellers sharing their compelling stories, valuable insights, and practical strategies for building trust, nurturing relationships, and leveraging the power of storytelling to make a lasting impact. Our storytellers, including Emily Brown, Zoila Gomez, Huberto Maestes, and others, have experiences that have shaped their time in the San Luis Valley, and what they share will leave you feeling inspired and empowered to create stronger, more resilient connections.

The title of this session is generously shared by Herman and Patricia Martinez, from their latest publication, by the same name, which is full of vignettes celebrating the Upper Río Grande region.


  • Emily Brown, SLV Public Health Partnership
  • Zoila Gomez, Los Promotores
  • Huberto Maestes


Meet the RAN Funders | 10:45 AM – 12:20 PM

These sessions provide a platform for grantmakers who fund the Rural Action Network to engage in dialogue with participating nonprofits on their grantmaking priorities and funding opportunities. These sessions create a valuable space to connect with and educate potential grantees in a structured and stress-free environment. Nonprofits gain valuable insight on potential partnerships with each funder and the opportunity for open dialogue and questions directly with foundation staff.

There will be three Meet the RAN Funder sessions back-to-back, with local participants registering to connect with the 11 Rural Action Network core funders. Each funder will facilitate a 25-minute conversation with a group of local participants sitting in a circle. At the end of the conversation, local participants will transition on to their next session, and the grantmaker will connect with a new circle of participants.

Participating funders include:

Networking Lunch | Funder Office Hours | 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

The Funder Office Hours will provide grantseekers an opportunity to connect one-on-one with foundation staff to discuss any project or application-specific questions. Pre-registration of participating grantmakers is required and funders will self-facilitate these conversations.

Funder Office Hours will occur during the lunch session, after a 30-minute dedicated lunch break.

Alamosa Walking Tour | 2:45 PM – 4:15 PM

Session Description

Alamosa, located along the Rio Grande, is surrounded by high desert, majestic mountains, sand dunes, forests, and canyons. Faced with the same funding accessibility challenges of many rural communities, Alamosa has found strength in resource sharing and coming together as a community. With stops at Center for Restorative Programs, Habitat, HUB, La Puente’s PALS Children Program, The Mural Project, Rainbows End, and more, you are sure to be inspired by the stories of the people and nonprofits that live in and serve this community, while enjoying the sights of this beautiful town.

Arts in the Valley Panel | 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Session Description

The San Luis Valley has deep cultural roots, a vibrant history, and a thriving practice of arts. Learn more from a diverse set of Valley artists who will talk about the how and why of the art they create, from music, theater, visual, literary arts and beyond.


  • Jean Alger, Freelance Editor, Workshop Leader, and Marketing Director, Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative
  • Belinda Garcia, Somos Agua

Capacity Building Sessions | 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Session Description

As nonprofit professionals we want to bring out the best in our organizations and the people that power them. reDirect’s Supportive Environments for Effectiveness, or “SEE,” is a research-based framework that can be a powerful tool to support nonprofits’ ability to effectively engage their team members. SEE offers a new way to think about volunteer engagement which considers how we support both our volunteers and our staff, making it easy to ensure that we’re considering the various needs of all involved. When we use this framework and give people what they need to succeed, we see happier volunteers and more productive organizations with deeper and longer-lasting relationships between the two.

Presenter: Traci Lato-Smith, CVA, Volunteer Management Consulting

Traci Lato-Smith, a Certified Volunteer Administrator, has spent her career developing systems for engaging volunteers to support mission-focused work. Traci has created volunteer engagement strategies for organizations in a variety of fields and consults on building infrastructure for effective, efficient volunteer engagement across all sectors.

Session Description

Join the team at History Colorado for a dynamic panel discussion on the Colorado Heritage for All initiative. This initiative aims to designate 150 historically marginalized sites onto the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties by 2026. By honoring African American, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, Asian American, LGBTQ+, Disability Rights, and women’s history, the initiative ensures a more inclusive historical record and access to preservation incentives.


Marcie Moore Gantz, Director, State Historical Fund/Patrick Eidman SHPO Office

A lifelong resident of Colorado, Gantz has a Masters of Nonprofit Management from Regis University, and two B.A. degrees in Dance and Business Administration from Stephens College. Gantz also brings more than 15 years of managerial experience as well as a wealth of knowledge in grant-making and funding oversight. Some highlights of her professional experience include: Being a current member on Historic Denver’s Board of Directors and the Steering Committee for the Colorado Funders for Inclusiveness and Equity Serving, most recently as the Grants and Accessibility Manager of Colorado Creative Industries, where she played a key role in the distribution and reporting of statewide grantmaking during her tenure at the agency Founding Nia Philanthropy, a social investment and data insights practice that helps social entrepreneurs, purpose-driven ventures, and impact investors make a difference, utilizing a gender and equity lens and technology Strategically overseeing and implementing the Gill Foundation’s Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado as Deputy Director of the fund from 2006-2008 Stewarding a special tax district and innovative public funding mechanism for arts, scientific and cultural entities as the Deputy District Administrator for the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District from 2000-2005. Under her leadership at State Historical Fund she is building on her previous place-based grantmaking work that centered accessibility, transparency, and equity with the added benefit of now being able to promote the preservation of Colorado’s rich history and diverse cultural heritage for future generations.

Patrick Eidman, he/him, Deputy Preservation Officer, History Colorado/State Preservation Office

Eric Newcombe, State Historian in SLV Region

Eric Newcombe is the State and National Register Historian for the Southwest region of Colorado at History Colorado, where he helps to identify and evaluate historic places for eventual listing in the State and National Registers. With a master’s degree in historic preservation from Colorado State University, Eric has dedicated his career to preserving America’s rich historical heritage. Prior to his current role, he served as the Section 106 Compliance Officer, Head of the Historic Tax Credit Program, and Grant Administrator at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office. Eric also has a background in education, having taught high school history for several years. His deep passion for historic places and American history continues to drive his work in the field of historic preservation.

Layla Anzelc-Tolian, Colorado Heritage for All Community Engagement Historian and Research Fellow at History Colorado

Layla Anzelc-Tolian is a Colorado Heritage for All Community Engagement Historian and Research Fellow at History Colorado. She is one of three fellows working towards Colorado Heritage for All’s goal of designating 150 historically marginalized sites onto the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties by 2026. Layla has a master’s degree in United States History from Adams State University, and has spent her career thus far gaining experience in both archaeological and historical fields. She is dedicated to the preservation of Colorado’s historic places and looks forward to working with communities across the state on this project.

Session Description

We all know that data enhances our narratives, but how do we turn our data into a narrative? This session will explore basic data types and visualizations using Microsoft Excel as well as free software. Topics of discussion will be where to find data (both raw data as well as dashboards maintained by government agencies) and how “AI” impacts the data landscape. In addition, links to resources for topics such as data cleaning and intermediate techniques/software will be provided for attendees that have an interest in diving deeper on their own.

Presenter: Ivy Brooks, she/they

Ivy Brooks is a transplant from Texas. Her background is in Mathematics as well as some amount of programming. She served with Community Resource Center for a year, during which time she created a grants research dashboard for use in fund development. In her free time, she enjoys reading and doing/learning mathematics.

Session Description

Nonprofits are a force for good in communities and a major contributor to the economy creating more than $62 billion dollars in economic impact in Colorado. The impact of nonprofits is felt more deeply in rural communities and the San Luis Valley in particular. In this session, a panel of statewide and local leaders will explore the newly released Colorado Nonprofit Economic Impact Report and its findings specific to the San Luis Valley Region. Participants will leave with data, language, and resources to strengthen their case for support as critical drivers of community change and economic impact.


  • Jaime Burgher, Director of Programs, Colorado Nonprofit Association
  • Katy Pepinsky, Director of Grant Services, Community Resource Center
  • Sarah Stoeber, Executive Director, SLV Development Resource Group


  • Jason Medina, Executive Director, Community Foundation of the SLV

Session Description

Incorporating youth and community voices into your evaluation processes will enhance your organization’s strategy and learning. However, participatory practices can be daunting if you have yet to start collecting data. Surveys are the easiest way to start a data collection practice. This presentation will review some simple steps for gathering survey data and some interactive ways to incorporate youth and community voices.

Presenter: Natalie De Sole, MSW; Adult Teaching Certificate (ACUE); Adjunct at Metropolitan University of Denver; part of many professional groups including the American Evaluation Association, Colorado Evaluation Network, and Colorado Nonprofit Association

Natalie De Sole (she/her) started Rooted-Growth to increase the use of evidence within organizations while contextualizing the data with lived experiences. She sees evaluation as a critical tool that can increase awareness, strengths, and learning within hard-working, mission-driven organizations. She is white, half-Coloradoan and half-Calabrian (Southern Italian), and she grew up in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe. Over the past fifteen years, she worked for as an internal evaluator and an external evaluator for 6 organizations before starting Rooted-Growth in 2018. Recent projects evaluated youth-focused programming efforts related to career self-efficacy, trauma-informed SEL, transformative education, and building a youth-inclusive city. Natalie received her M.S.W. in evaluation at the University of Michigan, and teaches research methods/macro capstone classes at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Session Description

A high performing board is essential to a successful nonprofit. What is “high performing?” How do board members fulfill their role without being either micromanagers or members in name only? How do good boards get to be the best? How do boards and executive directors form mutually supportive relationships that propel the organization? This session is for executive directors and board members who want strategies, roadmaps and lessons learned anecdotes to address these common issues.

Presenter: Renny Fagan, CEO, Colorado Nonprofit Association

Renny Fagan was the President & CEO of Colorado Nonprofit Association for almost 12 years. With 1,400 nonprofit member organizations statewide, the Association provides knowledge resources and advocates for the entire nonprofit sector. During his tenure, the Association initiated legislation to increase charitable giving, including a 2018 law that enables Coloradans to donate their state income tax refund to any eligible nonprofit of their choice. Renny is a former state legislator, director Colorado Department of Revenue, deputy attorney general, and state director for U.S. Senator Ken Salazar. He serves on the boards of the Colorado Channel Authority, Mile High United Way, Jeffco Prosperity Partners and Colorado Education Initiative. He was formerly board member and chair of the National Council of Nonprofits. Renny now consults with nonprofits and government entities about strategic direction, board governance, stakeholder facilitation and public policy advocacy.

Session Description

When a new person joins the team, be sure to use their start-up time to integrate them into the culture and values of that team. Learn to build onboarding plans for new hires that go beyond the paperwork and day-to-day tasks. Ensure they are experiencing the mission and work environment that builds motivation and invites them to be high-quality contributors from the get-go.

Presenter: Amy Scavezze

Amy has been working in team development for 20 years, starting in ropes course facilitation as a teenager. She is an experienced facilitator, innovator, and has hired and trained more than 200 people in many different positions. Amy has provided onboarding training to groups and individuals and is passionate about making safe spaces for growth and progress to take place.

Session Description

The Leadership Pipeline conversation is a critical one in every rural community. In the San Luis Valley, a region of vast geography and diversity, it is more important than ever. With a shrinking and aging population, particularly in formal and informal community leadership roles, the time is now to talk about the challenges and opportunities of building a pipeline that supports everyone from high school graduates to seasoned career professionals. Hear from four Alumni of the Boettcher Foundation’s Doers & Difference Makers who are also San Luis Valley leaders about what it will take to build an inclusive and accessible leadership ecosystem in their community. The panelists will share some of their personal stories of growing up in the valley, attending Adams State University, and working in the local government and nonprofit sectors. The presentation will also include time for participants to map some of the assets in their communities.


  • Lupita Garcia, Program Coordinator and Business Office Manager, Energy Resource Center
  • Azarel Madrigal, Sen. Hickenlooper’s Office
  • Aaron Miltenberger, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of the SLV
  • Esteban Salazar, Health and Wellness Coordinator, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors


  • Curtis L. Esquibel, Senior Director of Communications & Community Engagement, Boettcher Foundation

Networking Reception | 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Join us at the beautiful Rio Grande Farm Park for dinner catered by Tacos Martinez and a networking reception.

Friday, September 13

Networking Breakfast

Everyone who has signed up for the optional Friday half-day programming will meet at the Alamosa Senior Citizens Inc for breakfast.

Rest on the Rio | 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Session Description

This experiential and interactive half-day of programming focused on wellness will give participants the opportunity to put core themes of wellness into practice. Opening with a keynote speaker, the day will feature San Luis Valley residents sharing about and guiding you through wellness activities. Attendees will have the opportunity to select from an outdoor breakout activity in beautiful Blanca Vista Park, highlighting the healing power of nature, and an indoor activity that will provide a chance to explore healing exercises to promote greater levels of resilience and wellbeing.

Fort Garland and San Luis Tour | 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Session Description

Learn about the cultural, artistic, and religious traditions of San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado, as well as the history of Fort Garland. With stops at the Fort Garland Museum, Community Center, Heritage Center, a local coffee house, and the Town Hall, this tour will give you a chance to learn directly from locals about these communities, see the opportunity and innovation of these rural towns, as well as learn about the challenges they face.