2023 Steering Committee
Maureen Rikhof | Otero College
Maureen Rikhof is the Director of International Relations at Otero College and also owns a construction company with her husband that focuses on rebuilding housing in the La Junta community. Previously, Maureen was the ED for non profit organizations in the metro area and has relocated to the Arkansas Valley in early 2020.
Susan Waring | Las Animas School District
My name is Susan Waring and I am the District Communication Officer at Las Animas School District. I have worked for the school district for 23 years and love my job! I was born and raised in Las Animas and live on a farm/ranch east of town. My hobbies are helping on our farm, taking trips with my daughter, reading, gardening and I love going camping in our 5th wheel camper.
Natalie Georgalas | Community Resource Center
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.
Kristin Carpenter | Community Resource Center
Sammie George | Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)
“Sammie George joined the GOCO team in July 2021 as the Eastern Colorado Program Officer. Prior to this position, she was the Executive Director of the Bent County Development Foundation overseeing economic development in the county and working collaboratively throughout the region with neighboring economic development organizations. She has a BBA with an emphasis in Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship with over 10 years of work experience in these fields.
Born and raised in the Lower Arkansas Valley, she understands both the opportunities and the challenges of living in rural Colorado. After living on the Western Slope and in the Roaring Fork Valley, she and her family boomeranged back to Rocky Ford where they own and operate their family business Good Day Disc Golf, LLC- a disc golf mobile retail store. In her “spare time” Sammie enjoys disc golfing, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, paintballing, mountain biking, paddle boarding, camping, or simply sitting by a campfire with friends and family.”
Steve Sanchez | Southeast Colorado Hospital District
The last five years have been at Southeast Colorado Hospital District in Community Relations, Emergency Preparedness, and as Grant Development Manager. 32 successful years as Colorado School Principal and Superintendent with an offer of a continued contract on retirement. Colorado native, happy camper, one-uping others, and community servant. Elected, Southeast Colorado Health Care Coalition Board Chair, Elected, Colorado Health Care Coalition Representative, Colorado Healthcare Association Hospital Preparedness Advisory Group – Southeast Regional Representative. National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians – First Responder. Masters in Administration, Masters in Supervision, and Bachelors of Science – Technology Education. In the last four years I have taken an additional 400+ hours in Medical Coursework for knowledge and proficiency. Over 35 years of successful grant writing and grants management. Over thirty years involvement in clubs, foundations, activities, community support, and volunteerism.”
Nancy King | Southeast Health Group
Nancy King, MS, MNM, LPC, serves as Development Director for Southeast Health Group. Over the past 25 years, Nancy served as an art therapist, community liaison, and fundraiser for the community behavioral health organization. This is Nancy’s 5th RPD, and 4th time serving on the steering committee.
Caroline Trani | Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA)
Brooke Leonard | Arkansas Valley Resource Center, Inc.
I was born and raised in Southeast Colorado, growing up on a cattle ranch helped me understand agriculture and the importance of community. After living in Denver, CO for a year I chose to return closer to home and graduated from Otero College. I have been working at Arkansas Valley Resource Center for over 15 years and have become passionate about helping people live safe and healthy lives. My hope is to be part of showing others that it is possible to live a happy, healthy life without violence and that if someone has experienced trauma there are ways to cope and become a survivor.
Dawn Richardson | Rocky Mountain Microfinance Institute
Dawn Richardson spent fifteen years as a high school history teacher in the Denver area then in 20014 she and her partner decided to jump into entrepreneurship and built a craft distillery. Dawn was responsible for all of the manufacturing, sales, marketing, branding and managing two tasting rooms as well as a restaurant as part of the distillery. Dawn and her family moved to Trinidad in 2021 and decided a change of pace was in order and she opened a kayak rental company and started working for Rocky Mountain Microfinance Institute, which marries her background in education with entrepreneurship and community outreach.
Al Melton | Trinidad History Museum (History Colorado)
Al Melton is the director of the Trinidad History Museum. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in History and a master’s degree in Public History. He has lived and worked in southeast Colorado since 2017, and in that time he has worked closely with other organizations in the community to help address food access, fifth-day education for K-12 students, and other issues that exist in rural communities.
Anne-Marie Crampton | Lamar Community College Foundation
A thirty-year resident of Southeast Colorado, Anne-Marie Crampton has worked at Lamar Community College since 1998. In the past 24 years, she has served different capacities including School-to-Career Coordinator, Director of Communication & Development, Director of Institutional Advancement, LCC Foundation Executive Director. All of these roles have had significant ties to marketing, grants, and the college’s foundation.
Crampton graduated from the University of Arizona with a BS in Business Administration – Marketing and completed her MA in Education Administration from Adams State.
Anne-Marie is active in her community as a Rotarian, Prowers Economic Prosperity president, and a Lamar City Council member. She is married to LCC’s Athletic Director and former baseball coach, Scott Crampton, and together they claim two grown children, their spouses, and one grandchild.
Cynthia Sollenbarger | Arkansas Valley CASA
Cynthia Sollenbarger is the Program Director for Arkansas Valley CASA and serves as a board member for the La Junta Chamber of Commerce. She moved to the Arkansas Valley in 2001 and has grown to love the people and the beauty that this part of the state offers.
Cindy McLoud | Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation
Danelle Berg | Otero County Economic Development
Lifetime resident of Otero County!
Julie Worley | Southeast Colorado Youth Entrepreneurship Project (YEP)
Julie has worked in rural economic development and youth entrepreneurship for the past 20+ years. She continues to work with youth across the six counties of SE Colorado through the Southeast Colorado Youth Entrepreneurship Project (YEP). If she isn’t working with the youth, she is busy helping adult entrepreneurs develop and establish their small businesses.
Sarah Pompelia | 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.
Tracey Stewart | The Colorado Health Foundation
Nicole Shannon | Spark the Change Colorado
Nicole Shannon (She/Her/Hers)
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.
Pamela Denahy | Visit La Junta (City of La Junta)
Gabrielle Hammer Nieschburg | Lamar School District Re-2
Jessica Tomlin | Stay at Home Mother
Kaye Kasza | 5 Loaves Pantry
Kaye Kasza strives to provide access to nutritious, safe food through 5 Loaves Pantry in McClave. Other volunteer activities are teaching at her church youth group and promoting beef and agriculture through the local CattleWomen. Prior to retirement, Kasza provided informal education to Southeast Colorado as CSU Extension Agent, focusing on Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H Youth.
Fallon Miller | Department of Local Affairs - Division of Housing
Fallon Miller has been working in real estate and affordable housing since 2010 for various organizations. Since January, she has worked for the Colorado Division of Housing, focusing on the creation and preservation of housing across Southeast Colorado and increasing capacity at small housing organizations across the state. Fallon works with housing partners in local communities to create housing opportunities for Coloradans who face the greatest challenges to accessing affordable, safe and secure homes. Projects ranging from homelessness prevention to homeownership and everything in between. Fallon is the Division of Housing’s lead on the Operation Turn-Key acquisition funding for the purpose of providing or developing non-congregate shelter, supportive housing, or affordable housing.
Duane Guruel | Small Town Project/City of Rocky Ford
“My journey overcoming the adversity of poverty, gangs, and incarceration, combined with an education in information technology, fuels my passion to discover how technology can increase equity and improve the quality of life for people while also driving economic success. This has led me forward on a path through start-ups, entrepreneurship, corporate enterprise, nonprofit and public service.
In 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 I believe 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.”
Danielle Smith | Southeast Health Group/Valley-Wide Health Systems