2023 Southeast Rural Philanthropy Days Workshops and Speakers

Tuesday, September 12th

Community Resource Center will have a registration and help desk set up at Otero College for the entirety of the day.

Hearty and Heavenly Hello Breakfast | 8:00 AM – 8:45 AM

The opening breakfast for the week of RPD will provide plenty of protein options to fuel you up for a day of listening and learning! We’ll also add some sweeter breakfast options for those who need to pep up for the day ahead.

AgriTourism Tour: Exploring Outdoor Rec, Agriculture, Tourism, and Conservation

Session Description:

Join us for this AgriTourism Tour: Exploring outdoor rec, agriculture, tourism, and conservation, guided by Canyons & Plains Board President, Rick Wallner. This tour will begin in Rocky Ford at the Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds, listen to the story of the Crystal Lake and Fairgrounds project, and talk to a panel of community leaders discussing the untapped recreational and tourism opportunities throughout the Eastern Plains. Our next stop will be at a local farm where we will learn about the opportunities and challenges around local agriculture in Southeast Colorado – and maybe even get to pick a melon! The tour will then head towards La Junta for a visit highlighting a “proposed expansion” project for alternate access to Bent’s Fort where we will learn about partner development and ongoing projects at the Fort.

The Eastern Plains are often overlooked as true recreational and tourism opportunities, but during this tour, participants will hear and learn from local community leaders who are challenging this assumption.

You don’t want to miss this opportunity to see the momentum and vision of the Southeast Region!

Tour Guide:  Rick Wallner, President, Canyons & Plains Regional Heritage Taskforce

Rick served as Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site outside of La Junta, Colorado from 2002 through 2018. Major projects in his time there included production of an award-winning orientation film; completion of a 1.5-mile hiking trail with interpretive panels; construction of an interpretive plaza for visitor orientation; and publication of a new Junior Ranger booklet. He managed the Trails & Rails program aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief between La Junta and Albuquerque for fifteen years. Rick also has served stints as Acting Superintendent of both Bent’s Old Fort NHS and Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico. Beginning in 2015, Rick also supervised the Chief of Interpretation at Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.

Rick’s career with the National Park Service spanned over 32 years. He worked seasonally at Bent’s Old Fort NHS, Yellowstone and Everglades National Parks. He began his permanent career in 1988 at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania; followed by work as an Interpreter at Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS (also Pennsylvania); District Interpreter at Buffalo National River (Arkansas); and Assistant Chief of Interpretation at Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota).

Rick holds a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and a Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Recreation from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Rick grew up in Canon City, Colorado. He has lived in La Junta with his wife, Vicki (a current Park Service employee) since 2002. He has two daughters – one residing in Kansas City, the other in Portland, Oregon. Rick is a current member of the Board of Directors of the Koshare Museum in La Junta, serving as President from 2008-10; he is a past member of the Rotary Club of La Junta, serving as President in 2012-13; he also is a Past President of the Bent’s Fort Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. In August 2016, he was honored to receive the Sunshine Award from the La Junta Chamber of Commerce for his service to the community.

Since January 2020 Rick has served as Board President of the Canyons & Plains Regional Heritage Taskforce, a heritage tourism development organization serving seven counties in southeast Colorado — Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, Prowers, and Las Animas. The non-profit group promotes visitation to and stewardship of the unique historical, natural and cultural assets of southeast Colorado among resident, state, national, and international audiences. Since its formation, Canyons & Plains has garnered over $1.2 million in funding for projects in the area. In 2020, Canyons & Plains became the management entity for the Santa Fe Trail State Scenic & Historic Byway. Rick also serves on the La Junta Tourism Advisory Board and the State of Colorado’s Destination Development Committee.

When not working in a park, Rick enjoys visiting them. He has visited 386 of the 424 National Park Service Units in the United States.

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

Session Description 

For many rural and agricultural communities, seeking assistance for mental health is seen as a weakness. Problems are not to be discussed publicly and many were raised to believe emotional obstacles can be overcome by pulling up our bootstraps and working through quietly. Panelists from a variety of Southeast Colorado settings will discuss the landscape of mental health in their respective fields; from the challenges of cultivating a workforce, to helping our community learn to understand the importance of mental health, to resources and organizations who are tackling this topic every day.

Participants will leave this panel discussion with a better understanding of the intersections of generational poverty, access, stigma, and culture in the Southeast and how that impacts the approach to addressing mental health concerns along with the innovative strategies happening around mental health in the Southeast.

Moderator: Terri Schreiber, The Schreiber Research Group, MBA, MPA, CEO/Founder of The Schreiber Research Group (TSRG)

Terri L. Schreiber is a skilled problem solver utilizing her background in the IT sector, product and people management, research, and analysis to find concrete solutions for improving the health of individuals and communities with respect to addiction-prone substances. Terri has been leading high-performing teams for more than 20 years and has experience in researching, writing, and publishing on issues related to the substance abuse crisis nationally and in Colorado. Terri has earned a Master’s in Public Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration, and completed all course work for a PhD in Public Affairs. Her interests span both the private and public sector. For two decades she has worked with large and small organizations including the Otero County Health Department, Valley-Wide Health Systems, Accenture, Microsoft, The United Way of King County, Harvard’s Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership and the Benzodiazepine Action Work Group (BAWG) through the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. Terri’s research includes survey work that investigates local public health department provision of programs, services and activities in response to the opioid crisis and the availability and service provision of medications for opioid use disorder in county jails. Terri’s community outreach includes work as the Project Director on a HRSA Implementation grant, the lead researcher on a HRSA-funded planning grant along with being a co-investigator on university and state-funded grants. Terri currently works on grant-funded projects in rural southern Colorado on various public health related topics, on research projects for TSRG and on benzodiazepine-related curriculum development for Peer Recovery Support Specialists with BAWG.

Panelist: Becca Edlund

Panelist: Joseph (JC) Carrica III EdD, MA, CAS, ice President/CHISO Valley-Wide Health Systems

Panelist: Mike Engebrecht

Panelist: Lisa Thomas, Spark the Change

Panelist: Nicole Shannon, Mental Wellness Program Coordinator – Southeast Region
Nicole Shannon is the Mental Wellness Program Coordinator in the southeast region for Spark the Change Colorado. She started her career teaching Jr High School art, peer leadership, and student government. During her time as a teacher, she organized partnerships with small and large organizations to galvanize student leaders to raise funds, awareness, run campaigns, and volunteer to better the lives of the students, the school, and her community. Nicole moved to southern Colorado to be closer to family. During her free time, she likes to create art and explore back roads with her husband, Tommy, and two dogs: Maggie and Henry.

Session Description 

Centering community in nonprofit work is essential to meeting our missions and creating sustainable social change. This session will focus on the benefits and challenges of this work and strategies for engaging those most impacted in nonprofit organizational planning, programs, and development. Participants will explore tools and tactics for participatory community engagement and identify tangible next steps for engaging diverse stakeholders and centering community in decision making processes.

Presenters: Alex McHenry, Director of Civic Engagement, Community Resource Center

Alex brings over twelve years of experience in the fields of education, leadership, and community engagement. As the Director of Civic Engagement, Alex oversees Community Resource Center’s civic engagement programs including the Participation Project and the Root Causes Network helping nonprofits to build and strengthen their advocacy efforts. Alex has a masters degree in conservation social science and is passionate about working at a systems level to tackle complex social issues.

Session Description 

Grant funders speak “the language of numbers.” While this may not be your first dialect, it is important that your organization effectively communicate its story via well thought-through budgets, properly prepared financial statements (including
improvements to standard accounting system-generated reports) and clear, accurate reporting. Financial presentations provide vital information on your past, present, and future, and are necessary to making the case for investment in your organization and its
programming. Participants in this session will increase their nonprofit financial literacy, learn to create and utilize quality documents, consider how to present financial data in an impactful way, and have opportunity to share/ troubleshoot specific challenges.

Participants will benefit from exposure to and greater understanding of:
 Accurate terminology used for nonprofit financial planning and reporting (e.g.
Statement of Activity vs. Profit & Loss Statement)
 The financial documentation required for completion of grant proposals, and its
effective presentation
 The process to create organizational and program/project budgets (expenses
AND revenues; treatment of in-kind contributions)
 Internal use of financial documents, including for longer-term financial
considerations (e.g. operating reserves, restricted funds).


Illene Roggensack, President, Third Sector Innovations, Inc.

Illene Roggensack is a Certified Fundraising Professional (CFRE) and frequent Rural Philanthropy Days presenter whose sweet spot lies in building bold and solid nonprofit organizations. She is owner of Third Sector Innovations (Grand Junction) and co-owner of Strategic By Nature, Inc. (Durango), firms that help to facilitate increased organizational capacity and sustainability – and maximized services’ impact – via planning, marketing/communications, fundraising, board/staff leadership development, and building of quality structure and systems.

Session Description 

You’ve written and received a grant, great! But, now what? This session will focus on grant implementation and the important steps to take after receiving a grant from a nonprofit and local government viewpoint.

Presenter: Tara Marshall, Southeast Regional Manager, Division of Local Government

Session Description 

We We have all suffered through a poorly run virtual meeting. In the changing world we live in, meeting virtually is now a core part of how many of us do our work. Virtual meetings present huge opportunities for increased attendance, and don’t have to leave you drained or pulling teeth for engagement. To successfully facilitate a virtual meeting we need to approach them differently than we would running an in-person meeting. Join two of Community Resource Center’s virtual facilitation experts to learn how to facilitate stronger virtual meetings that engage folks and leave them energized.

This session will cover how to prepare for a virtual meeting, design a strategic agenda, facilitation and technology tips to build engagement, and key follow up steps after a meeting. Participants will leave understanding the essential elements to running an effective, efficient, and even enjoyable virtual meeting.
After attending this workshop, participants will be able to:
– Design a strategic agenda for a virtual meeting
– Build engagement in virtual meetings using different facilitation techniques
– Understand the importance of key preparation and follow up steps
– Host an effective and enjoyable virtual meeting

Presenter: Natalie Georgalas, Rural Action Network Program Manager, Community Resource Center

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, Arrow Performance Group LLC

Renny Fagan is a senior consultant with Arrow Performance Group, providing facilitation, strategic planning and organizational consulting services to government and nonprofits. A Colorado native, Renny served as the President and CEO of Colorado Nonprofit Association from March 2009 until February 2021. He 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 Mile High United Way, Colorado Channel Authority, Colorado Education Initiative and Jefferson Human Services Foundation. He was formerly board member and chair of the National Council of Nonprofits and served one term on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Session Description 

Identifying a target audience and establishing your brand. How to attract, engage, and retain your ideal client. Social media optimization and Social media best practices. How to become a social media weapon

Presenter: Christina Robben, founder of Robben Marketing Solutions

Christina Robben, founder of Robben Marketing Solutions, is a driven entrepreneur who specializes in content strategy, marketing, and creation. With a background in video production, she began her journey as an executive producer for CU Boulder’s student-run sports broadcast. Christina later worked as a reporter for a local TV station before transitioning into marketing, where she recognized the need for small businesses in Southern Colorado to amplify their digital presence. This realization led to the creation of RMS, which has helped over 50 small businesses build organic communities on social media through strategic planning. Robben continuously performs market research to ensure her clients are optimizing their social media through high-quality content and consistency while empowering them to understand its impact on their brand and customers.

Session Description 

This workshop will explore the fundamentals of creating and running an effective, efficient, and sustainable volunteer program. We will discuss identifying and documenting potential volunteer roles, determining appropriate intake and screening processes, developing necessary orientation and training components, managing and tracking volunteer assignments, and recognizing and retaining vital volunteers.

This is a skill-building workshop in which participants are encouraged to reflect upon and share ideas about practical applications of best practices in volunteer engagement in their own organizations, and takeaways will include awareness of best practices, new ideas, and concrete plans for volunteer program enhancements.

Presenter: Ms. 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 vibrant volunteer engagement strategies for organizations in the fields of social justice, senior advocacy and education, and consults on building infrastructure for effective and efficient volunteer engagement across all sectors.

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

Session Description 

How do we fund it?” is the question at the center of many of our discussions about vital public services and community programs. Colorado’s unique fiscal and budget constraints make that question more complicated. And with Coloradans often asked to decide fiscal policy at the ballot, understanding what’s involved is more important to our communities than ever.

This session will help participants dive into Colorado’s budget and fiscal landscape to understand how we got here, what things look like for the state and the southeast region now, and the role of individuals and organizations in informing where we go next.
Participants will have a better understanding of Colorado’s budget and budget process, the effects of TABOR and other constitutional constraints, our state’s and the region’s fiscal picture, and what that could mean for the programs and people we care about. They’ll also learn about the important role everyday Coloradans play in deciding fiscal policy, and how individuals, organizations, and communities can engage.”

Presenter: Andrea Kuwik, MSW, MPA, Senior Policy Analyst, Bell Policy Center

Andrea leads the Bell’s policy team and focuses on several economic mobility issues, including public funding, aging issues, financial empowerment, and worker protections and benefits. Beginning her career performing direct social services, Andrea has worked with individuals experiencing chronic health conditions and homelessness, as well as communities impacted by natural disasters. Prior to joining the Bell Policy Center in 2018, Andrea contributed to the policy and advocacy work of several Colorado organizations. Andrea has a bachelor’s degree in political science, history, and economics from the University of Pittsburgh, an MSW from the University of Denver, an MPA from the University of Colorado Denver, and is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs.

Session Description 

Small nonprofits may not always have the time and space to think through their approach to diversity, equity and inclusion. Yet the importance of recognizing diversity, providing a welcoming environment to include people, including those who should be accessing your services but aren’t, and creating a culture of equity has never been more important. This workshop will introduce principles and language for DEI work in organizations, and provide tools that participants can bring home and apply immediately.

Presenter: Lisa Duran, Community Resource Center

ILisa has worked for over 30 years in the nonprofit sector doing community organizing and social justice work.  She helped to build Colorado’s immigrant rights movement, directing Colorado’s first immigrant-led immigrant rights organization and serving as a co-founder of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. She also served as Executive Director of Grassroots Grantmakers, a national membership organization of foundations and community funders working to lift up grassroots voices and leadership in philanthropy. Lisa’s graduate studies included a focus on philanthropy, foundations, race, and social movements. In her organizing work she developed popular education practices that stress the co-creation of knowledge, the importance of participant stories in building relationship, and the necessity to productively address imbalances of power and privilege. Lisa brings to CRC a deep belief that directly impacted individuals must determine solutions and policies that affect them and a passionate commitment to building equity, inclusion and access among diverse communities.

Session Description 

This interactive session will present best practices and tips for success in seeking and writing private grants. Participants will leave understanding the essential elements included in the Colorado Common 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 GrantCorps, 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. A native of 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, practicing yoga, and exploring the rural rivers and trails of the Southwest with family and friends. Katy is also conversant in Spanish!

Session Description 

A 101 guide for finding, writing and managing grants for local government funded projects. Getting grants is an important part of helping your small rural community thrive, finding the right grants to help fund your project is the first step. This session will teach you how to define your project for a grant application, how to identify applicable grants to develop a capital funding stack and then write the grant. We will discuss what to consider for planning the project before you tackle finding the funding, implementation capacity – this includes how the project will be managed from inside your office, who and how the project is being administered, who your local and state partners are and how to ensure successfully project close out – helping develop the trust with funding agencies to help fund future projects! Attendees will leave understanding the foundation basics of developing a local government grant funded project and all the planning that goes into it, develop and communicate the project scope, ideas on where to look for funding, how to write a basic grant and what important components to include.

Presenter: Gillian Laycock, PHR, EMT, Assistant Town Manager, Town of Limon and Huge Main Street Manager

After moving from South Africa to Colorado in 2003, Gillian moved to Hugo, Lincoln County in 2016. Gillian is the founder of The Garage Workspace, and economic development focused 501c3 that strives to provide access to learning and resources to Lincoln County. She is the Assistant Town Manager for the Town of Limon, the Executive Director of Hugo Main Street, and Proprietor of two small family-owned businesses, Red Brick on Main (hospitality) and Hugo Liquors (retail). Gillian is an artist working primarily in metal and paint. Her portfolio of work experience includes Big Box corporate management and Human Resources consulting, focused on organizational structures primarily in the civil engineering and energy industries, entrepreneurship, non-profit development and Local Government administration. Her work and passion focus on rural Colorado community and economic development. She advocates to improve collaboration and local regionalizing of knowledge and resources to strengthen resilience across the Central Eastern Plains Region. Gillian has served her communities as a volunteer EMT in Hugo and Limon and as an Elected Official on the Hugo Town Board. She is a Boettcher Fellow and currently serves on the DOLA Energy Impact Mineral Fund Committee for the State, participates in the CRC Northeast Regional Leadership Committee and is the Rural Action Network Chair for the region. In 2022 Gillian wrote and was awarded over $4 Million in grant funding for the communities and organizations she serves.

Session Description 

Learn about the State of Colorado’s digital equity work, including the creation of the state’s first ever Digital Access Plan. You will also hear from several organizations in Southeast Colorado that are working to bridge the digital divide. We will share how non-profits and funders can prepare for Digital Equity Act funds that will be available in 2024.

Presenter: Melanie Colletti, Digital Equity Manager, State of Colorado, Department of Labor, Office of the Future of Work

Melanie joined the Office of the Future of Work as Digital Equity Manager in September of 2022. She brings 17 years of public library experience to the role, and is all too familiar with the barriers many people experience when it comes to digital inclusion, resilience, and literacy. Melanie has a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Denver. Born and raised in Colorado, she has lived in cities from Cripple Creek to Denver.

Session Description 

Done well, strategic planning builds unity, commitment and focus while answering fundamental questions:
– What is our vision for this organization and its impact?
– How well do we understand the world around us, and are we responding in a purposeful and relevant manner?
– What goals do we have, and how do we position the organization for success in their pursuit?

This session’s step-by-step guide to strategic planning is particularly helpful for organizations with limited time and patience for planning. We’ll discuss your nonprofit’s readiness to launch the process, and explore how to effectively plan then pursue activities that realize your big dreams!
Participants will:
1. Self-assess their organization’s readiness for a planning process.

2. Learn about various methods for quickly and effectively planning for the future of all aspects of an effective organization (programming/mission and infrastructural supports), and for leading a board of directors/committee through a meaningful process of inquiry and discovery.

2. Discuss methods for assessing existing programming and internal systems, identifying need for change, exploring new opportunities, and vetting and prioritizing activities for future effort.

3. Explore various formats for committing a plan to writing, to include a review/evaluation component that better ensures an ongoing follow-up/accountability process.

Presenter: Illene Roggensack, President, Third Sector Innovations, Inc.

Illene Roggensack is the owner of Third Sector Innovations and co-owner of Strategic By Nature, offering assistance with planning, organizational development, board and staff leadership, fundraising and marketing to buoy and propel nonprofit organizations. Illene’s expertise comes from nearly 40 years as an executive director, fundraising director, board member, volunteer and consultant. This experience is coupled with an MBA and recognition as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Illene is a Past President of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and in the past ten years started The Giving Club to promote collective philanthropy, catalyzing a total four active clubs for women and men in Grand Junction and Montrose.

Session Description 

Immigrants in rural areas of Colorado face administrative, economic, linguistic and cultural barriers to integration and success in many ways beyond that of their counterparts in metro areas on the front range. As Colorado lawmakers stated in the bill that established the Colorado Office of New Americans (ONA) – “Supporting the integration and inclusion of immigrants and refugees in our communities helps the whole state thrive”. In this session, ONA will share what they are doing to improve the civic, economic and social integration of immigrants in the state, and will host a panel discussion of local experts who can speak to the unique challenges and opportunities for immigrant integration in the Southeast region.

Presenter: Dee Daniels Scriven, Director of Colorado’s Office of New Americans

Dee Daniels Scriven serves as the Director of Colorado’s Office of New Americans. Prior to her job at ONA, Dee worked for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement in various positions including as an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program analyst, Special Assistant in the Office of the Director, Regional Representative for Region VIII and Refugee Policy Counsel. Prior to ORR, Dee served as an Assistant Attorney General in the D.C. Office of the Attorney General, Child Protection Section and as a public defender in Baltimore City and Montgomery County, Maryland. Dee has also worked abroad with a grassroots nonprofit organization, Paz y Esperanza, in Peru. Dee earned her BA from Colorado College in International Political Economy and her Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Session Description 

Having a strong website (and an accompanying social media presence) is increasingly important to reaching volunteers and donors and winning support for your mission. But what if you don’t have a huge budget to hire designers or staff to constantly update these channels? Jennifer Stapleton of Fire & Bliss Creative will start from square one and walk you through the basics of what a website needs to communicate about your work. Together, you’ll identify your core audiences and come up with the right social media platforms to reach them. Jennifer will teach you the secrets of repurposing content so you can keep communicating with the world, even if you have limited time. She’ll also share tips and free or low-cost tools for getting this work done, no matter the size of your staff or budget.

Presenter: Jennifer Stapleton, Founding Partner, Fire & Bliss Creative

Jennifer has more than two decades of experience leading marketing and communications for some of the most well-known nonprofits and social movements in the country, including six years at The Pew Charitable Trusts. She moved to Colorado in 2022 after spending too long in Washington, DC. Her special magic as a marketer and communicator is identifying target audiences and how to move them to action. She has placed hundreds of stories in national media outlets like NPR. the Washington Post, the New York Times, and broadcast television and been parts of teams that have garnered multi-million dollar donations. She founded Fire & Bliss because she only wants to work with nice people and values-based clients. Jennifer lives in Evergreen with her wife, two kids and two dogs.

Taco Tuesday Networking Lunch | 12:25 PM – 1:30 PM

It isn’t Tuesday without a Taco Bar! A wide array of options will be made available for dietary needs but we will not be skimping on flavor.

Southeast 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.

Southeast Nonprofit Community Fair: Meet the Nonprofits | 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Join us for a celebration of the nonprofit sector across the Southeast 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 Southeast 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.

Inspirational Welcome Reception | 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Join us at Inspiration Field for our Welcome Reception! After a long day, we want to let you roam, stretch, graze and mingle with a cocktail hour, colorful charcuterie boards full of sweet and savory options. We’ll serve a light meal with wraps and salad from Sweet Inspirations to wrap-up our first full day together.

Wednesday, September 13

Community Resource Center will have a registration and help desk set up at the Gobin Building in Rocky Ford.

A Sweet Start to the Day Breakfast | 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Sand Cherry Coffee makes the best pastries for counties! Join us for a super sweet start to a really fun day. Savory options will be available to balance out the pallet and fuel you for the networking and learning we know you’ll enjoy!

Keynote Panel: Gaining v. Draining: Dreams, Innovations, and Successes | 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Join us for the Southeast Rural Philanthropy Days Keynote Panel – Gaining and Draining: Dreams, Innovations, and Successes, facilitated by Maureen Rikhof, Director of International Relations at Otero College. A panel of local leaders will discuss the resources and opportunities the region has to offer, why they love being a part of their communities, and the innovative nature of their efforts. The panelists will bring diverse perspectives that span the arts, business and industry, youth engagement, natural resources, education, and government. Participants will leave feeling inspired and hopeful as our panel paints a vision of dreams, innovations, and successes worthy of future investments.

Meet the RAN Funders | 10:50 AM – 12:40 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 twelve 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 | 1:00 PM – 2:45 PM

Almost Home Cooking is creating their signature sandwich-on-the-go boxes to keep you energized and mobile through the busy Wednesday we have scheduled!

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 45-minute dedicated lunch break.

Capacity Building Sessions | 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Session Description

Individuals living at the intersections of LGBTQ+ identity in rural Colorado face disproportionately high rates of food insecurity and are less likely to access the social supports that are available. One Colorado has been working in Pueblo County to address these disparities through information-sharing, community engagement, and coalition-building to affect structural and policy change. The intention of the session is to share what we have learned through our work and equip participants with an anti-oppressive, community-led model to address LGBTQ+ food insecurity in their communities.

Presenter: Skylar Patron, RN (they/them), One Colorado

Skylar is on the Health Equity team at One Colorado. They are a registered nurse, soon to be nurse practitioner, with a passion for social justice and LGBTQ+ health. Sky has worked in an ICU, developed a health equity based resource coordination program for the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s COVID-19 response, and led efforts in community engagement in rural Colorado. At One Colorado, Sky facilitates trainings on LGBTQ+ best practices and advocates for equitable and inclusive statewide health policies.

Session Description 

As a result of the federal American Rescue Plan, Colorado has received $3.8B to support COVID recovery efforts. Referred to as the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF), Colorado’s plan includes allocations for COVID response, affordable housing, mental health, workforce development, economic recovery, transportation and infrastructure, and parks and agriculture. In state fiscal year 2021, $2.3B of these funds were appropriated, and $1.5B in 2022. 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 new SLFRF funding 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, Director of GrantCorps

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. A native of 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, practicing yoga, and exploring the rural rivers and trails of the Southwest with family and friends. Katy is also conversant in Spanish!

Session Description:

The birth to five years are critical to children’s physical, emotional, and social development and provide the foundation for their long-term, health, educational, and economic futures. Care during these formative years not only contributes to children’s development, but also enables a functioning economic system, supporting parents with reliable care while they work. This session will convene regional leaders in early childhood education (ECE) to discuss the biggest challenges facing the sector as well as opportunities to address those challenges. Panelists will discuss ECE workforce obstacles that impact the region and the accessibility of care throughout the southeast. They will also dive into solutions that have been tried, what has been successful, and what opportunities exist in meeting ECE challenges.

Facilitator: Sarah Pompelia, Program Officer – Buell Foundation

Sarah Pompelia is a Program Officer at the Buell Foundation. In this role, Sarah enjoys building relationships with partners across the state and seeing partners’ impact in the short- and long-term. Sarah started her career as an elementary school teacher. She earned a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Policy at the University of Denver. Her dual degrees focused on the intersecting systems and policies impacting children and families.

Prior to joining the Buell Foundation, she was a Policy Analyst at Education Commission of the States where she worked on a range of education policy issues. In her free time, Sarah loves spending as much time as she can reading or in the mountains skiing, hiking, or camping with family and friends.

Session Description 

This presentation shares the basics of evaluation capacity building aimed at supporting organizations like nonprofits. It frames evaluations with a learning mindset and concentrates on the basic skills to launch an evaluation. Case examples will be used from a capacity building project with a rural Colorado nonprofit. We will engage in some hands-on practice with some survey and focus group development basics. The session will end with a discussion of who and how we count may impact the stories tell.


Natalie De Sole Rooted-Growth, LLC

Natalie (she/her) started Rooted-Growth to coach mission-driven organizations to develop, process, and use data. She aims to build positive learning environments and incorporates a social justice lens when triangulating data. Natalie often uses a community-based participatory research approach encouraging the participants to engage, frame, and co-interpret the evaluations. Natalie De Sole is White, half-Coloradoan and half-Southern Italian, and grew up in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe until the age of 14. She knows what its like to struggle with social norms. While acknowledging structurally marginalizing forces, Natalie focuses on strengths and protective factors. In 2011, she received her MSW from the University of Michigan in Social Policy and Program Evaluation. She holds an adult teaching certificate from the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE), which she earned while teaching macro capstone classes at Metro for two years. She currently lives in Lafayette with her husband, Elliott, and dog, Billy.

Lara Carlson, Rooted-Growth, LLC

Lara is the Senior Programs Director at Walking Mountains and supports organization operations and the Youth
Program, Graduate Program, and Community Program teams. She has worked at Walking Mountains since 2003 in various programmatic roles. Lara loves teaching programs for both kids and adults, as well as teaching and mentoring others in developing their teaching and interpretive skills. Lara earned her B.S. in Outdoor Education from Northland College,  M.A. in Environmental Studies from Prescott College, M.P.A. focused in Nonprofit Administration from University of Montana, and holds a Colorado Elementary Education teaching license. Lara is a Certified Master Environmental Educator through CAEE and a Certified Interpretive Guide and Certified Interpretive Trainer through NAI. During her free time, Lara enjoys knitting, playing outside, hiking with her husband and dog, and skiing.

Session Description

Some call it the Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle, we call it the Great Boss Evolution! In this era where the tight labor market is being felt unlike ever before, it is more important than ever for employers to be able to hire and retain great employees. This highly interactive session will provide attendees with insight into best practices for hiring and actionable ideas for increasing employee retention and loyalty.

Topics to be discussed include:

1. Hiring best practices and retention strategies with a focus on utilizing talent from often overlooked populations
2. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B) in the workplace
3. Local leadership & professional development resources
4. Preparing for staffing transitions to obtain the best possible outcome.

Using real life examples from Good local bosses who are walking the talk, we’ll demonstrate how tweaking or introducing new business practices can have a significant impact on your ability to hire and retain the talent your business needs to thrive. Participants will walk away with tangible ideas they can implement to improve employee wellbeing and business success.

Session Description 

The aim of the session is to bring together experts in Brownfields and Historic Preservation Tax Credits in order to show how an individual can utilize both programs to have a successful project. There is a misconception that if one finds hazardous materials in a historic building then the project is no longer feasible; however, that is not true with the knowledge of available funding sources. Experts who help to manage the programs and a consultant with experience applying both programs to a project will speak on how anyone with a historic building could utilize both Brownfields and Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

Learning objectives:

  • Attendees will have a clear understanding of the requirements for each of the two transferable Colorado tax credits (environmental and historic)
  • You will know which kinds of entities qualify for each of the kinds of credits – private, non-profit, government, tenants, owners, etc.
  • You will know the pros and cons of each type of credit so you can decide which ones work best for your project.
  • You will know the regulatory process for each type of credit
  • Learn tips and tricks from a past successful applicant.


Sara Kappel, Historic Tax Credit and Incentives Specialist, Colorado State Historic Preservation Office

Sara is the Preservation Tax Credits and Incentives Specialist for the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). She is originally from rural southwest Kansas and currently reside on the Eastern Plains of Colorado so not much difference in scenery.  Sara’s background consists of working on Historic Preservation projects in Missouri and Georgia.  As a Preservation Tax Credit Specialist for the SHPO, Sara works with consultants, property owners, municipalities, and anyone interested in applying for a grant or tax credits, on the best approach to seeking funding for their potential projects and brainstorming on how to fill in gaps for a successful project in the state of Colorado.

Jane Daniels, Preservation Consultant & Project Manager

Ms. Daniels is a preservation consultant and project manager for numerous historic preservation projects in the Rocky Mountain region, primarily Colorado. She holds degrees in Geography, Historic Preservation, Real Estate & Construction Management and has over 15 years of professional experience in the field.  Ms. Daniels has extensive background in the overall preservation process with emphasis on stakeholder/community engagement, downtown development, application of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation (SOIS), completing Federal and State Historic Preservation and Brownfield Tax Credit applications, grant writing and administration, and management of historic property development projects through direct collaboration with property owners and their rehabilitation teams. With a passion for preservation, Ms. Daniels is a proactive team player who aims to alleviate the complexities of preservation projects, large and small!

Ariel Steele, Tax Credit Broker and President, Tax Credit Connection

Ariel started her career as an attorney and has worked with tax credits for nearly two decades.  Her company, Tax Credit Connection helps property owners through the regulatory process for historic, environmental, and conservation tax credits.  Tax Credit Connection also helps landowners to sell however many of their credits they can’t use themselves so they can get cash for their credits.  She loves learning about the exciting projects people are doing all around the state and can’t wait to help you!

Session Description

Join us for this walking tour of Rocky Ford, guided by Small Town Project Executive Director and Rocky Ford City Councilman, Duane Gurulé, where we will visit some of the organizations providing vital resources and support to the community. These organizations and individuals are an invaluable asset to the community and offer innovative solutions in addressing some of Rocky Ford’s most pressing needs. Stops will include:
Valley-Wide Health Systems to hear how they are addressing rural stress and supporting farmers and ranchers mental health through their Coffee Break Project.

Tri-County Family Care Center and their vision to educate and empower families and individuals to be strong and self-reliant.  Small Town Project and their mission to enhance economic and social vitality in Rocky Ford and improve the quality of life for residents of our community by achieving health equity. Join this tour to learn about these organizations, the individuals supporting this work, and what is needed to continue the success and growth of Rocky Ford.

This tour will begin and end at the Gobin Building and will include about one mile of walking.

Tour Guide: Duane Gurulé, Executive Director, Small Town Project and Rocky Ford City Councilman

Duane Gurulé’s journey overcoming the adversity of poverty, gangs, and incarceration, combined with an education in information technology, fuels passion to discover how technology can increase equity and improve the quality of life for people while also driving economic success.  This has led Duane forward on a path through start-ups, entrepreneurship, corporate enterprise, nonprofit and public service.

Duane says, “discovering myself personally and professionally and understanding how I add value and what purposes I want to give that value to have led me back to my rural hometown to lead the community toward growth, both, socially and economically.”  Rural southeast Colorado is challenged with many disparities and Duane believes that by “implementing” technology and processes and “”configuring”” it with strategic planning and consideration for the better good of the community we can create the systemic change that can promote equity and well-being for people and businesses in the community.

Session Description 

Understanding your identities can be the first step to building empathy towards others. When you understand how your identities influence your perspectives, it becomes easier to understand how others’ different identities influence their perspectives differently. Participants will complete their own social and personal identity wheels and engage in vulnerable and safe discussion of social and personal identity, community identity, and breaking the cycle of socialization to enter the cycle of liberation. Participants will leave with tools to build empathy and understanding in order to bring together and value the diverse voices in the communities they work in.

Presenter: Marlena Griesse, Area 4-H Youth Development Specialist, Colorado State University

Marlena has been the Area 4-H Youth Development Specialist for Crowley and Otero Counties since 2016. In her time she has enjoyed creating and teaching new 4-H programs, especially art and companion animals. She is an active member of the Colorado 4-H Engagement and Expansion Work Team and has valued the opportunities it has given her to learn about diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

Rocky Ford Reception | 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Christine’s Fine Dining will serve their scrumptious brisket dinner complete with vegetables, dinner roll, and cobbler to warm you inside and out. Delicious dietary alternatives will be made available.

Thursday, September 14

Innovative Solutions to the Housing Crisis in Southeast Colorado | 8:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Please note that Day 3 is an optional, half day focused soley on housing. The conference will end on Wednesday night for participants who do not register for this.

The housing crisis has impacted every part of the state – and the Southeast Region is no exception. Join us for this half day housing conversation where we will learn from a panel of regional leaders about local projects, what made these projects possible, and how to continue the momentum. Then, we will hear from a panel of funders and statewide organizations on the resources and funding available. The day will end with funders touring future, current, and completed housing development projects in La Junta, while other participants will have the opportunity to attend a Capital Stacking 101 session where they will learn how to weave together the various resources and funding, which make these projects possible

This session is open to any participants interested in learning from local housing experts and funders on the strategies, sources of funding, and resources available to address the housing crisis.

After this long and amazing week, we want to fuel you with wholesome options that will charge your battery and delight your taste buds. A breakfast buffet with ample protein, carbs and fats is yours to enjoy!

This regional panel will discuss local successes, challenges, and lessons learned around addressing the housing crisis in Southeast Colorado.

Facilitator: Fallon Miller, Housing Development Specialist, Colorado Department of Local Affairs

Panelists include:

  • Stephanie Gonzales, Executive Director, Southeast Colorado Economic Development
  • Rick Klein, City Manager, La Junta
  • Michael Yerman, Owner, MY Rural Planner
  • Steve Cordova, Executive Director, Total Concept

This panel will give funders the opportunity to discuss the different resources and sources of funding available around housing.

Facilitator: Fallon Miller, Housing Development Specialist, Colorado Department of Local Affairs

Funders include:

  • Division of Housing
  • Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA)
  • USDA Rural Development
  • Impact Development Fund
  • Housing and Urban and Development

This world café style session will allow fundersto give a short overview of their funding and resources and then participants will have the opportunity to walk up to each funder and ask any questions.

Funders include:

  • Division of Housing
  • Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA)
  • USDA Rural Development
  • Impact Development Fund
  • Housing and Urban and Development
  • The Colorado Health Foundation
  • El Pomar Foundation
  • Gates Family Foundation

This skill building session for local leaders will be facilitated by Michael Yerman and will focus on how to weave different sources of funding together.

This tour is designed for funders to see future, current, and completed housing development projects in La Junta and will be facilitated by Rick Klein, La Junta City Manager.