Steering Committee

2024 San Luis Valley RPD Conference Committee

Conference Co-Chairs

Karla has been involved in the agriculture industry for many years. She has served as an ag lender, ag real estate broker, and more recently as a farmer/rancher operating a potato, small grain, and alfalfa farm in addition to managing a ranch. She served 8 years as a Rio Grande County Commissioner. She serves on numerous boards including the water community and financial industry as well as non-profits. Karla is a trustee on the Outcalt Foundation and serves on the SLV Regional Council for El Pomar.

Advisory Committee

Natalie joined Community Resource Center as the Rural Action Network™ Program Coordinator after finishing a year of service as the Regional Engagement Associate VISTA with CRC. Natalie is originally from Ohio where she graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Economic, Education, Development, and Sustainability with a focus on international and community development. She is excited to bring her experience with community development and rural communities to the CRC team. When not at work, Natalie can be found cooking, roller blading, or going to concerts.

Katy Sawyer brings the perspective of having working in grassroots nonprofits in development countries as well as national nonprofits in the US to her role as the Associate Director of AmeriCorps Programs. Katy’s passion for national service began during her own AmeriCorps service. After graduating from Tufts University, 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. Deciding to combine 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 can be found hiking and delighting in seeing snow again after five years in the tropics.

Lani joined Community Resource Center as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader in 2022, and has been with the organization since and is now the Rural Action Network™ Program Coordinator. As a native to the South, she graduated from Florida International University in Miami with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. With a strong passion for serving the community, Lani is excited to bring her skills and expertise to the team. In her free time, she enjoys being out in nature whether that be hiking, water/winter sports, rock climbing, or chasing sunsets.

Amy grew up in the San Luis Valley and has lived here for nearly 40 years. She has a deep love for outdoor adventures and has a background in group leadership and experiential learning. With more than a dozen years in the local nonprofit community, Amy loves the innovation and grit that SLV folks have in addressing community needs. Amy has served on previous RPD steering committees and was a founding member of the first SLV Nonprofit Collaboration Summit. She is so excited for all the potential and opportunity the 2024 SLV RPD conference brings to the Valley.

Hospitality Sub-Committee

Nancy Harris is the Executive Director of the Alamosa Live Music Association and has been with the organization since 2015. ALMA aims to build community by providing quality live music experiences that are accessible to all. Nancy is also the Manager of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Alamosa County, a program of Spark the Change Colorado, which connects folks aged 55 and up with volunteer opportunities in the local community.

Kathy Rogers Woods, Director of Economic Development for the City of Alamosa is a lifelong San Luis Valley Resident. Now an employee of the City, formerly Kathy was elected as City’s first female City Council member and then Alamosa’s first female Mayor. Kathy served as a Trustee at Adams State University and is currently serving a second term as a Board member for Trinidad College. Kathy has been/ is involved and active in many other community positions throughout the SLV and beyond and is in her 13th year of being a Regional Council member for the El Pomar Foundation.

Program Sub-Committee

Ivette Atencio is a lifelong resident of Monte Vista, CO. Ivette grew up in the San Luis Valley and has a great deal of love and passion for her community. Ivette lives with her husband, TJ Atencio, who was born and raised in Monte Vista. Ivette has worked throughout the San Luis Valley within various roles. Although, the roles have maintained one thing in common, which is to help and serve others. Ivette currently serves as the Monte Vista Community Officer for the LOR Foundation. Ivette’s strongly believes that in order to create healthy and thriving communities, we must care for one another and work together. This is the foundation that builds a strong community.

Cassandra, a proud native of Garcia, CO, has an insatiable love for her culture, which she celebrates through her culinary adventures, skillfully crafting both traditional and innovative family recipes. Her tres leches cake is legendary. When not stirring up delectable dishes, Cassandra finds solace under the moonlight, sipping tea and gazing at the night sky, a true lover of nature’s beauty, especially the awe-inspiring landscapes of the San Luis Valley.

An alumna of Adams State University, Cassandra holds a BA in Education with an emphasis in Mathematics. She’s a lifelong learner and dedicated educator, relentlessly advocating for educational improvement. Cassandra is on a new mission with the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, where she’s determined to break barriers and build bridges in the community. As an equity champion, Cassandra is committed to facilitating dialogues and professionally-led training to drive positive change in the Valley. She’s all about amplifying community voices and recognizes the need to create a more equitable place for everyone. With her dedication, open heart, and leadership skills, Cassandra’s ready to listen, learn, and lead the way!

Tanya joins the team with knowledge of FSWCF’s mission and work, she recently served as a member on the Board of Directors. She pioneered bilingual education, resources, marketing, events, and webinars that include simultaneous live translation to bridge the gap between English and Spanish speakers in her previous roles. She regards herself as a lifelong learner, advocate, and convener.

As Director of Programs, she will be responsible for creating and implementing FSWCF’s programmatic strategy, fundraising for programs, creating partnerships and ensuring a high standard of delivery across all programs. She will work closely with the Executive Director, Community Advisory Committees and our Entrepreneur Success Coordinator on the design and implementation of a range of initiatives to support underserved businesses in rural Colorado.

Lares Feliciano is an 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. Her work explores the in-between, layers of diaspora, and the complexity of memory. 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. She has completed residencies with RedLine Contemporary Art Center and Grand Canyon National Park and was a participant in the Colorado Creative Industries Change Leader Institute.

Lares is passionate about the power of the arts to create change and strengthen communities. In 2020 she joined the RedLine staff as Art Grants Manager where she supports artists and organizations across Colorado. Previously, Feliciano served as Program Director for Think 360 Arts for Learning and launched the Artist in Residence program at the Children’s Museum of Denver. Lares believes that everyone is an artist and is on a mission to support creativity in all.

Don Hanna is the Director of Positive Activities Lead to Success (PALS) Children’s Program for the last seven years. PALS works with children who have histories of trauma and/or behavioral/social/emotional struggles to develop coping skills and build resilience. He also serves as pastor of Alamosa Presbyterian Church. He holds a BA from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and a MDIV from United Theological Seminary. Don is passionate about building up his surrounding community and tries to approach this from a broad perspective of what will create well-being for those in the Valley. Don lives in a house his great great grandfather built on a farm where his family grows hay, and keeps horses, chickens, goats, sheep, ducks, dogs, and cats. He is married and has four children – three daughters and one son. Don enjoys a host of hobbies, including rock climbing, hiking, rafting, guitar playing, cooking, and woodworking.

A third-generation Montanan and proud miner’s daughter, Katie is a passionate advocate for higher education’s role in meeting community-identified needs across the Rocky Mountain West. Katie serves as a program manager in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Office for Outreach and Engagement where she connects CU teaching, research, service, and creative work with the needs and interests of communities across Colorado. Katie served for 8 years as the director of member services for Campus Compact of the Mountain West, a consortium of colleges and universities in Colorado and Wyoming with an expressed commitment to community service, and has held leadership roles at the University of Wyoming and the University of Montana. Katie holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of Montana and is a PhD candidate in Higher Education at the University of Denver.

A born connector and natural optimist, Camila believes in the power of interpersonal relationships to show the interconnectedness between individuals, community and the issues that affect our daily lives. This commitment and innate empathy has shown up throughout her career, which led her to join the Foundation as a program officer, focused on the Child and Youth Physical Health & Well-being, Food Access and Security and Capacity Building strategies.

Over 14-plus years in philanthropy Camila has worked closely with students, families and organizations to shape and advance their vision for happy and healthy lives. A born and raised Denverite, she felt compelled to move into philanthropy after a career in the corporate sector.

Identifying as mestiza and Chicana, Camila accredits her understanding of the relationships between all things and people to her ancestors and the strong women in her immediate family. Her identity is a driver of her career and inspiration for community involvement, including being a founding member of LatinasGive!, a Latina philanthropic giving circle and grassroots network. Ties to her alma mater, Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU), remain strong and she serves on the MSU Denver President’s Community Cabinet.

Marlayna Martinez is employed by the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus as a community research liaison in the rural San Luis Valley in Colorado since 2019. She has been dedicated to working within early childhood and supporting our youngest community members and the people and systems that surround them. Through this work Marlayna continues to build relationships in the six diverse counties of the San Luis Valley and understanding the lived experiences of children and families. She brings skills and knowledge in group facilitation, event planning, and nutrition education. She previously worked as a Cooking Matters coordinator breaking bread with community and teaching about healthy eating habits and also worked on a Farm to School Taskforce working with school districts to incorporate healthier options and local foods on their school menus. She was born and raised in Colorado and married a San Luis Valley Native in 2014. She is a proud mother of two young children and spends lots of time with her hands in the dirt either with plants, with children, or with community.

* Rebelliously Creative & Innovative Strategic Consultant

* Purveyor of Gap Solutions

* Connectivity Evangelist

* Life Enthusiast

Dre likes to color outside the lines. Her work in marketing and economic development has been a splendid platform for the culmination of her studies in the ASU MBA program, her Art and English degrees, and CEcD certification. In her professional life, she have been fortunate to be a part of progressive new projects, portfolio diversification, and acting as a change agent during times of organizational culture change and rebranding.

Amanda Pearson works with La Puente Home Inc. and its sister nonprofit, La Puente Enterprises in the role of Director of Organizational Capacity, helping the organizations and their programs reach strategic, values driven goals. This position also has allowed her to be a part of developing community initiatives such as the Eviction Mitigation program in partnership with the 12th Judicial District, a Broadband Collaboration in partnership with the SLV Development Resource Group and SLV Council of Governments, CASA del Valle, an organization seeking to support children in our legal system who have come from environments of abuse and neglect, and La Puente’s Rural Alliance for Dignity, an AmeriCorps program that provides 40 AmeriCorps across a diverse set of programs in Central and Southern Colorado in a unique melding of boots-on-the-ground service and capacity building. Amanda is a licensed Colorado Attorney, retired judge and former Department of Social Services attorney. She received a BA in History/Government from Adams State College (now University), a JD from the University of Colorado, a Masters in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Organizational Learning Performance and Change from Colorado State University. Currently she lives in Alamosa with her husband of 39 years, Nels. They have two adult sons, Garrett and Wyatt.

Before joining the Caring for Colorado team as a Statewide Philanthropy Lead, Stephanie worked as the policy and partnerships manager for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, where she led coalition and policy work focused on education, housing, family economic security, and healthy eating active living issues. While at the Children’s Campaign she participated in the Emerging Equity Leaders Fellowship focused on increasing representation of people of color in nonprofit leadership. She found her love and passion for policy work when she first worked as a public policy fellow at the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a middle and high school math teacher. When she is not working, you can typically find her hanging out with her partner and their dog Kane Brown, or hanging out with her friends. She is a cycling enthusiast and is thankful for all of the great trails she gets to explore in this beautiful state.

Kaylee A. Gomez Romero is a first generation San Luis Valley native. She currently works with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) as the South Central, Community Relationship Manager for the San Luis Valley region. Kaylee received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2015 with an emphasis in Marketing. Currently, Kaylee obtained her Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from Adams in 2022. Her career goal is to continue her work in the SLV Community by making connections., Kaylee has had many roles, including working for the Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement Center (CASA,) and serving as an executive member of AS&F as the Vice President of External Affairs and the Student Representative for the ASU Board of Trustees. Kaylee’s interests are in Chicano history and literature, and its presence in the San Luis Valley. She is proud to be working with CHAFA and all that entails.. In her spare time Kaylee likes to watch movies and television shows, cook and eat delicious food, and spend time with her family and friends.

Christian is originally from West Texas, and moved to the San Luis Valley in 2015. He has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Public Administration. He enjoys off-roading and exploring the Sangres with his dog.

Mikela Tarlow has over 20 years experience focused on building innovation teams primarily with Fortune 500 companies and authored 2 books: Navigating the Future(McGraw Hill) and Digital Aboriginal:The Direction of Business Now (Warner Business). As a 25 year resident of the San Luis Valley, she has spent the last 8 years focused on youth workforce development.

Hawley is the Rural Outreach Coordinator for CSU Pueblo. She has a deep-seated love for rural Colorado and wants to do everything she can to support communities that experience significant barriers to higher education. Her role at CSU Pueblo is to collaborate with rural communities to identify their goals so she can better service educational needs across the entire state – not just in our most populous areas. CSU offers many modalities for continued education whether you’re a degree-seeking student or someone who is just looking to add a few courses or a new certification to your education portfolio. These goals can be achieved on campus or online. CSU also has self-paced independent study classes and degrees which can be completed remotely on your own time – with or without computer access. If you are looking for continued education but aren’t sure if there are opportunities for that in your area, chat with Hawley about what CSU Pueblo can do for you!

For more information, please contact:

Amy Scavezze, Event Coordinator
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