2024 Western Slope Steering Committee

Conference Co-Chairs

KAYLA BOWERS, Executive Director Fruita Area (CO )Chamber of Commerce Kayla was born and raised in the Fruita area and joined the Fruita Area Chamber in November 2017, initially serving as Membership Director. After working for the Chamber for 1 year in the membership and events role, and then serving as Marketing Director for the Family Health West for nearly 2 years, she returned to the Chamber industry in March 2020 as the Executive Director. Despite the pandemic, she and her team used creativity and innovation to double their membership numbers by the end of 2022 and continue hosting valuable events and resources for our community. She and her husband, Coleman, also own a food truck business and help oversee the Fruita Living Magazine. They live just outside of Fruita with their two children, Skylah (14 ) and Zuri (10).

Erin Ivie is a non-profit director and board member for many organizations in Colorado including SpeakUp ReachOut (Eagle County); the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado (Treasurer); Office of Suicide Prevention Commission Co-Chair. She lives in Silt, CO with her husband, Nate and German Shepard, Rincon. She enjoys adventure and long good meals with good people.

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 sports, skating, or chasing sunsets.

Jennifer is the Co-Founder of Next Level Regen, a small health and wellness business in Grand Junction since 2018, and one of the Co-Founders of Bravestone Project, a non-profit that assists survivors of human trafficking and sexual traumas in finding hope, healing, and restoration. She moved to Grand Junction 12 years ago from North Carolina and loves Colorado! She enjoy hiking, planting and growing flowers, traveling, and spending time with my family.

Program Sub-Committee

Grace, a passionate advocate for philanthropy and community engagement, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University, majoring in Communication and minoring in Spanish Language. During her time at DePauw, she founded a university fundraising program for a local children’s hospital and a chapter of an international women and girls education program, earning recognition as a Children’s Miracle Network National Distinguished Leader. After graduating, Grace embarked on a 7-year professional journey in the nonprofit industry, focusing on underserved populations and grassroots efforts. Currently serving as the Director of Development and Marketing for Eagle Valley Community Foundation, Grace has honed her expertise in event fundraising, grassroots campaigns, strategic planning, and major donor development. A graduate of the Lilly School of Philanthropy’s MA program, specializing in nonprofit leadership, she is also a Certified Fund Raising Executive, showcasing her commitment to ethical practices and continuous learning. Beyond her professional achievements, Grace actively contributes to her community as the Vice President of the Eagle County Gives Collaborative and serves on various nonprofit boards including her Alma Mater. A finalist for the Vail Valley Partnership Success Awards Young Professional of the Year, Grace is not only dedicated to her work but also passionate about adventure, authenticity, and advocacy. Always on the lookout for new connections, community opportunities, and book recommendations, she embodies her love for reading and exploration.

Cathy Click is a practiced community builder through her work on citizen boards and running a small-town family restaurant over the past thirty years. As chair of her local community housing board and business owner, she is familiar with the many challenges facing the rural west. More recently at the Basalt Regional Library, she sought to bring expanded cultural and social services to the community through local, state and federal grants. Cathy lives in Basalt with her husband Bernard and their pup. She loves to hike and read and garden and knit. In her free time, she volunteers at the Aspen Thrift Shop and serves on the boards of The Project Shop and the Basalt Regional Heritage Society.

Jess Finnigan is the Executive Director at the Nature Connection, a joint program of Delta County and the Delta County School District that works to get kids and families outside. She has worked in outdoor education for 19 years teaching and leading programs to all audiences from preschool aged children to county inmates in a work-release program. It was in these moments that she witnessed in others and felt in her own self the power that outdoor experiences have to calm, empower, connect, and transform lives. She explored this in her thesis work at Northern Arizona University where she wrote a year-long high school gardening curriculum for her MA in Sustainable Communities. A mother to two young sons, she enjoys spending her free time floating on the river, trail running, and gardening.

Lincoln is the Founder and President of Adaptive Heroes. He is innovative, driven and passionate about helping others and has spent most of his adult life doing so. He is a native of western Colorado, married with 4 children and can be found enjoying time with his family when he’s not at work.

Christine is an executive leadership coach for women. She is also the founder of Roam Your Soul, a women’s leadership and adventure community. With 20 years in nonprofit and corporate leadership, Christine is an advocate for helping leaders cultivate what she calls, “radical care” in the workplace.

Christine coaches women who want to find deeper meaning in life through transformational learning and authentic community. She believes that everyone needs a support network, community, and opportunities to be vulnerable to engage in what makes life meaningful.

Christine has a Master’s in transformational leadership/change management and is a strengths-based transformational leadership expert. She is a PhD candidate in Organizational Leadership, specializing in “the human factor” – the responsibility leaders have in creating “radical care” in the workplace and the connection between personal/interpersonal needs and joy at work.

Cassie Fortman is the founder and president of the Grand Mesa Business Guild, a nonprofit based in Cedaredge, Colorado. GMBG brings together business owners and connectors monthly at fun and informational Meetups. By trade she is a designer and photographer who brings those skills together in the marketing world to create messaging and visuals that are authentic and awesome.

Gabriela Garayar is the Development Manager for Food Bank of the Rockies Western Slope distribution center. Gabriela has been fundraising professionally since 2017 but has engaged with nonprofits through philanthropic initiatives since 2010. Gabriela has served on several committees, has mentored youth for nearly a decade and was previously the Governance Chair and Board Member for Girls on the Run Greater Tampa Bay. Most recently she graduated from the rigorous and highly respected Institute Leaders in Development program, as one of 14 individuals selected in the state of Colorado. Gabriela previously resided in Florida for 15 years before coming to the Western Slope in 2021. She is passionate about equity and social justice work and seeing communities come together to work on solutions to better the lives of those underserved and historically marginalized.

Georgia has been the Executive Director of the Western Colorado Area Health Education Center for 8 years, Cumberland HealthNET/Carolina Collaborative Community Care for 5 years, and Arkansas State Board of Massage Therapy for 10 years.

Morgan Kareus is the Co-Founder and Program Director of Harmony Acres Equestrian Center.  She has a long history of working with horses and realized the many benefits of connecting people with Horses. She has a deep passion for sharing the healing benefits of animal-assisted therapies.

Scott has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since 2013, and now lives in Woody Creek with his wife, Dulcy, and two daughters. He works as the Grants Manager at Aspen Community Foundation (ACF) and cherishes the opportunity to support and serve non-profits, community leaders, and students in the Aspen to Parachute region. Before joining ACF in 2022, he worked in event operations and resort sales for the Aspen Meadows Resort, Home of the Aspen Institute. He is originally from Johnstown, PA, with a history degree from Gettysburg College. He’s a former schoolteacher who instead chose a career path as an operations manager and trainer for corporate and adult professional learning and development programs, with roles including Mars, Inc., and four years with the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. He is a skier, enthusiastic sports fan, hockey player, librarian of the Woody Creek book shed, and girl dad.

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.

Pat Landrum is the Principal Consultant of Landrum & Landrum Art and Transformation. Her background includes serving as executive director of community-based nonprofit organizations in Western Colorado, Denver, and Northern California; facilitating the development of policy and practice standards in specialized rehabilitation; and consulting to a variety of organization types to build capacity and sustainability for organization leaders, board and staff.

Glacia is the Foundation Director for Family Health West Foundation. She is married to her high school sweetheart with 3 (now 4) amazing kids and 26 extra blessings that call her Mom. With more than 15 years of experience in non-profit management, accounting, human resources, and leadership, she has a passion for serving others. She also serves on the board of the Dyslexia Foundation of Western Colorado.

Deborah moved to Cedaredge in 2005 after spending thirty years in California working in the Clinical Laboratory industry. She grew up in Connecticut and Colorado is her last move (no more “C” states)! Here she met her husband Ken, and they enjoy gardening on the nine acres they share with numerous animals, fly fishing, skiing and camping.

Deborah’s career as a highly successful Operations Management and Customer Relations professional allowed her to acquire a diverse skill set; budgeting, customer service, personnel management, networking, conflict resolution, project management, process implementation, training, leadership, team building and facilitation. Her positive experiences with employee development and mentoring led her to pursue a coaching certification and shift her professional emphasis to coaching individuals and consulting with small business.

Deborah has been involved with the Grand Mesa Arts & Events Center since its inception. She facilitated the planning and implementation team, served as the first Board President, and assumed the Executive Director position in 2018. Deborah retired in November 2022 to return to her coaching and consulting business, garden, manage a pack of dogs and write a book or two. She continues her commitment to GMAEC on the Board, manages the Starr Family Gallery, and is a member of several committees. The Grand Mesa Arts & Events Center fulfills a lifelong dream of applying her art history education to enrich the community she loves.

Layla is a grant writer for Family Health West. She has a degree in Organizational Management from Colorado Christian University and over 20 years of experience working/volunteering in the non-profit sector with a variety of organizations. Prior to her new position as a grant writer, she taught preschool and computer education to Kindergarten through 8th grade for 9 years. She is married, has two teenage children, and a very needy doberman.

Hospitality Sub-Committee

Darnell Place-Wise is the Executive Director of Delta Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization who supports Delta Health, its clinics, and patients. Darnell also serves as the Tourism Coordinator for Delta County. Darnell is a native of Delta; she and her husband moved back to the area 21 years ago. Darnell has served on many boards such as Delta Area Chamber of Commerce, HopeWest and All Points Transit; she also volunteers at the Abraham Connection Homeless Shelter and at multiple community events. Darnell is passionate about the Delta County communities, and everything they have to offer!

Sheryl Thompson worked at Two Rivers Convention Center for 24 years before retiring. She started as waitstaff and worked her way up to Director of Operations. After her retirement, she went to work at Absolute Prestige Ranch as the Event Manager. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 51 years. They have 4 married children, 10 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. She is a western Colorado native. Born in Grand Junction and raised in Loma.

For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Allen, Event Coordinator
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