Meet the Team

Gabi Morey – Coalition Director

Gabi Morey grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her early outdoor experiences took her to the creek down the street where she enjoyed quietly sitting and watching garter snakes pop out of the stream bank, as well as visits to natural areas all along the east coast. She received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the College of Wooster in Ohio, and a master’s in Wildlife Biology from Michigan State University where she completed a biodiversity study in northern Minnesota. Since then, she has worked in the field of conservation education for more than 20 years, working within both non-profits and government organizations all over the country. In Colorado she worked for San Juan Mountains Association for 15 years before exploring the landscapes of Montana, working there as the Director of the Montana Audubon Center in Billings. While Montana was beautiful, she and her family missed the spectacular deserts, mountains and people of southwest Colorado, which brought them back to Montezuma County in March, 2022. When she’s not working as the Director of the Montezuma Inspire Coalition, she enjoys hiking, skiing, rafting, mountain biking, and being outside as much as possible with her family.

About MIC

Montezuma Inspire Coalition (MIC) is currently made up of ten diverse non-profit organizations, agencies, and municipalities that all have a great passion for youth and the outdoors. It was formed in response to the Great Outdoors Colorado Inspire Initiative, which brought the members of the coalition together around the common goal of getting youth and families into the outdoors through partner programming in Montezuma County, CO. Our Coalition aims to serve “every kid in every zip” and to increase opportunities for all youth in our county to experience the outdoors through the coordination and scaffolding of existing and new programming. We empower the next generation to respect, care for, and steward themselves, their community and the natural world around them. We offer lifelong skills that will be passed on from generation to generation.

Through our partners we provide standards-aligned outdoor curriculum programs, for all county school districts. Our partners provide afterschool, out-of-school, and summer programs, including field trips and family activities. Montezuma School to Farm Project provides Garden Education programs that align with school standards. San Juan Mountains Association has provided Forest Fridays programming when Mancos schools were out of school, as well as Spring Break camps in the backcountry when students were out of school. Medicine Horse Center believes horses are essential to helping students discover themselves and works closely with local schools to provide social emotional learning skills. We provide experiences for youth from the backyard to the backcountry.

MIC aims to help youth to develop leadership skills and increase protective factors, via outdoor and nature programming, to improve the overall well-being, physical health and self-esteem for young people. To accomplish this we will incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) training for program providers and MIC activities where appropriate. We will also support and collaborate with youth to maintain and strengthen the Youth Advisory Council over time as they continue to help guide the work of MIC. Most programming is provided at no-cost to participants. MIC currently has a Gear Lending Library which is provided at no cost to members of the community. This Gear Library has gear that you can use in your backyard (or front yard) and the backcountry. Check out our Gear Lending Library for more information.

MIC’s decisions and work are guided by a Steering Committee. This committee was created early in the process to oversee and guide the process of the coalition’s work and direct contract staff. MIC currently provides funding to: the City of Cortez, Dolores River Boating Advocates, Fozzie’s Farm (MLC), High Desert Devo, Wildfire Adaptive Partnership, Lily Russo Yoga, Mancos Creative District, Medicine Horse Center, Montezuma Land Conservancy, Montezuma School to Farm Project. San Juan Mountains Association, School Community Youth Collaborative, and Southwest Conservation Corps. MIC also partners with Celebrating Healthy Communities, Evolution Gym and Team Up, and these partners do not currently receive funding from MIC.

Faces of MIC

Melanie Begay

Melanie Begay

Communities That Care

Melanie Begay is the Communities That Care Community Mobilizer at the Montezuma County Public Health Department, where she’s worked for the last 4 ½ years. She participates in the Montezuma Inspire Coalition because she because know what they are doing is helping prevent youth substance use and she wants to continue building connections with community members and local organizations.

Alana Bond

Alana Bond

Dolores River Boating Advocates

Alana is the Program and Outreach Director for the Dolores River Boating Advocates (DRBA). She loves to spend time paddleboarding, boating, hiking, and playing with her dog. She feels lucky to be able to share these passions with Montezuma County youth and support them in getting outside and on the river! Montezuma Inspire Coalition allows DRBA to offer educational programs to schools around the Dolores River and they focus on the complex issues of water in the west. DRBA also offers spring boating trips to youth and families in our area! Alana believes that the work of the Montezuma Inspire Coalition allows the people in our community to have access to fun, educational, life-changing outdoor programming!

Lindsay Buchanan

Lindsay Buchanan

Montezuma Land Conservancy

Lindsay was born and raised in McElmo Canyon on her family farm. She spent her childhood days playing and exploring outside. It was this time when she formed a lifelong bond with the dirt beneath her feet. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Fort Lewis College majoring in sociology and continued to live and work in Durango for four more years before moving home. Lindsay’s interest in food production grew as her own family grew. She and her three children live on the family farm she grew up on. Lindsay is the Operations Manager at MLC. Lindsay operates much of the behind the scenes work for MIC and handles many of the fiscal agent components (fiscal responsibility, grant reporting etc) with the help of her team. Her deep connection to and care for the land is a part of everything she does from the way they farm at Battle Rock Farm to the way she spends her free time. Lindsay loves playing the in dirt, playing with flowers, exploring the wild and spending time with her family. Lindsay chooses this as her work because she deeply values the importance of human connection to land and to others. She hopes to work towards strengthening this connection for the community she lives in and with.

Amber Clark

Amber Clark

Dolores River Boating Advocates

Amber Clark is the Executive Director of Dolores River Boating Advocates (DRBA). She joined the organization in 2016 with a wealth of experience related to the Dolores River after working for many years on local public lands and river issues, specifically on local efforts to gain permanent protection for the Dolores River. Amber was born in Southwest Colorado and grew up on a farm west of Cortez in McElmo Canyon where she developed a deep sense of connection to the landscapes and waterways of the region. While studying Sociology at Fort Lewis College, Amber became increasingly interested in the relationship of humans to the landscapes with which they interact. In her spare time Amber can be found spending time with her son Orrin, on the river, hiking in her favorite canyons, gardening, and making pottery. Amber has been engaged with the Montezuma Inspire Coalition in various capacities since its inception. She wrote the original implementation grant and she currently sits on the Steering Committee. DRBA does youth programming through the Montezuma Inspire Coalition including youth and family river trips on the Dolores River, as well as in-class and riverside educational programs.

Zoe Coleman

Zoe Coleman

Medicine Horse Center

Zoe moved to Mancos as an AmeriCorps in 2017, and quickly fell in love with the diverse landscape and community. After teaching in elementary schools, Zoe joined the Medicine Horse team as a facilitator and equine specialist in order to support a more holistic sense of wellness between individuals, nature, and one another in our community. Zoe is deeply inspired by the work of Medicine Horse that helps individuals find deeper awareness, build healthy relationships, and learn to respect and trust themselves in life. Having loved horses since childhood, Zoe is grateful for the opportunity to work with and ride the 6 beautiful horses in the herd every day. In her free time, Zoe loves adventuring in the wilderness, working with clay, dancing, and spending time in the sunshine.

Travis Custer

Travis Custer

Montezuma Land Conservancy

Travis was born outside Colorado Springs. After living in North Carolina for a short time as a child, Travis returned to Colorado. He has lived in the Southwest corner of the state for 12 years, spending the last nine living in Mancos where he raises his son, grows food, and enjoys the beauty of the landscape. Land has always been an important part of Travis’ life; camping, fishing, climbing, and hunting. Over the past ten years agriculture, social justice, water policy, soil health, and natural resource conservation have become his primary focuses and passions. Travis was a former board member of the Mancos Conservation District and worked for the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and High Desert Conservation District where he spent his time working closely with farmers and ranchers, as well as local and state agencies, and land conservation organizations. In 2016, Travis was the recipient of the John Stencel Leadership Award from the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union for dedication and leadership in agriculture. He is a board member for Keep It Colorado, a statewide coalition of conservation organizations where he hopes to help drive forward innovation of the statewide land protection community. Travis enjoys bringing his passion and creativity to the Montezuma Land Conservancy and dedicating his time to continuing to serve his community, exploring the intersection of people and place, and working for a better world for future generations.

Lorena Dawson

Lorena Dawson

High Desert Devo

Lorena Dawson is the Executive Director of High Desert DEVO. Her own experience learning outdoor recreation skills as an adult inspired her to support youth in the community, ensuring their ability to have outdoor adventures that foster health and empowerment. Lorena received her Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering, but found her passion in her learnings of Health Equity and transitioned into Public Health and Service. She currently volunteers as an Event Coordinator for SheJumps increasing outdoor access for womxn, Senior Director for Colorado Public health Association’s Health Equity Coalition advocating work in Health Equity, and as a Big for the best Little! She has experience in building compassionate spaces that are focused on creating collaborative relationships and is excited to be a part of this space with like-minded people. Lorena’s favorite outdoor activities include mountain biking, backcountry skiing, and most especially rock climbing.

Rosa Dimon

Rosa Dimon

City of Cortez

Rosa Dimon is a Recreation Supervisor with the City of Cortez. She has worked with the City of Cortez for over 5 years, the past 3 years in partnership with the Montezuma Inspire Coalition. Rosa oversees the planning of the youth and family trips hosted through the city. Her favorite part is actually attending the trips with participants. She feels that the Montezuma Inspire Coalition is important to Montezuma County as it offers some new and different learning opportunities for youth in this area. She grew up in Cortez doing the normal outdoor activities, hunting, fishing, and hiking. One thing she didn’t realize until she started to partner with MIC was how much access we really had to outdoor space in this area. She had never been to Sand Canyon and is still looking forward to hiking Bear Creek with her family. As a mom of two children, she hopes to continue taking outdoor adventures with her family in the great outdoors that Montezuma County has to offer.

Teresa DiTore

Teresa DiTore

Southwest Conservation Corps

Teresa DiTore is the Youth Programs Manager with the Southwest Conservation Corps. She has been in the Conservation Corps world for her entire post-collegiate career—she has built fences on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, completed GIS inventory work in the Green Mountains of Vermont, and rafted down rivers with chainsaws to remove invasive species in Utah. She has now been working at SCC for five years now and has been lucky enough to watch the local youth program grow tremendously over that time. She is constantly inspired by the youth in Montezuma County that have worked with SCC and the incredible amount of time they have dedicated to improving their communities. These opportunities would not be possible without MIC and the commitment of all the folks involved!

Lauren Glass

Lauren Glass

Medicine Horse Center

Lauren (she/her) is originally from the soggy Pacific Northwest, spending her first few decades in Seattle, WA. She got her start working outdoors with youth at her University’s student farm while she obtained her undergraduate degree. Since that time, she has worked in conservation, education, and youth development with a variety of non-profits, including the Washington Trails Association, Student Conservation Association, and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. After spending years working seasonally, Lauren returned to school to continue building her skills and will be graduating in June 2021 with a Masters in Counseling. Lauren is inspired by the MIC collaborative that encourages youth to discover themselves and grow their capacity to contribute to community and the environment.

Ben Goodrich

Ben Goodrich

Montezuma School to Farm Project

Ben has been with MSTFP since 2018. With over 10 years of professional growing experience, he also serves as our Agriculture Director. Ben is passionate about all aspects of our food systems, soil conservation, and supporting the next generation of food producers. He enjoys the yearly crop of cut flowers, pumpkins and watching the seasonal change in the gardens. As Executive Director, Ben is looking forward to working closely with staff and community partners to maintain a high level of programs, distributing exceptional fruits and vegetables, teaching the importance of soil health and water conservation, as well as providing enjoyable hands-on opportunities to students, teachers, and our community.

Alex Graf

Alex Graf

Wildfire Adaptive Partnership

Alex joined Wildfire Adaptive Partnership as the Montezuma County Coordinator in April of 2019. He grew up in the foothills of the Catskill mountains in New York State and attended Bard College in the Hudson Valley where he graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies. He has lived in Southwest Colorado for the past four years and is deeply invested in helping others learn to live with wildfire.

Lynne Howarth

Lynne Howarth

Medicine Horse Center

Lynne Howarth is the Executive Director of Medicine Horse, an equine assisted learning and therapy center in Mancos. She has been involved in experiential learning with horses as her daily work with partners for 20+ years. She has served on the Steering Committee of the Montezuma Inspire Coalition since its inception in 2015. She has a passion for helping youth build healthy relationships as they navigate their young lives.

Jay Loschert

Jay Loschert

Fozzie's Farm

Jay Loschert works for Montezuma Land Conservancy as the Outreach and Education Coordinator. He manages Fozzie’s Farm, an 83 acre irrigated research and education farm in Lewis, Colorado. One of his greatest joys is hosting field trips to the farm for local school students and their teachers. Jay finds that it is so rewarding to be part of building a connection to the natural world with young people (of all ages) and to others in our community. Jay believes that we are so fortunate to have the Montezuma Inspire Coalition support and coordinate efforts to strengthen those life-long connections, and he is proud to be part of such important work.

Lesya Krasnikova

Lesya Krasnikova

Medicine Horse Center

Lesya was brought to Medicine Horse Center through an AmeriCorps service term in 2019. During this term Lesya built a therapy garden. Today Lesya shares capacity building, grant writing and reporting responsibilities with the Executive Director, Lynne. Having an academic background in sustainable development, Lesya is thrilled that the Montezuma County community has such a diverse non-profit collaborative like MIC.

Jacob Mandell

Jacob Mandell

Southwest Conservation Corps

Jacob Mandell is the Youth Programs Coordinator for the Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC). He recently moved to the area from Bend Oregon after working at various jobs working with youth in both the classroom and the outdoors. He helps run and manage Southwest Conservation Corp's youth programming throughout La Plata and Montezuma County. SCC runs youth crews throughout Montezuma County hiring local youth to work on a variety of conservation based projects throughout the summer. His favorite part of the work is getting outside with youth and getting his hands dirty. Jacob is excited to work with the Montezuma Inspire Coalition to connect community serving organizations throughout Montezuma County and serve the community's needs. He is especially excited to continue and strengthen the focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with the coalition.

Chuck McAfee

Chuck McAfee

Chuck was born in Cortez, grew up on a farm in Lewis and graduated from M-CHS. He studied electrical engineering at the University of Colorado and then at Stanford University. His professional career was with Hewlett-Packard (HP). Chuck and his wife MB returned to Southwest Colorado to become re-engaged in their home community. They are living on and restoring dryland farm land that Chuck's grandfather homesteaded more than 100 years ago. He is involved in the local and regional nonprofit sector where he serves on a number of boards of directors. His favorite pastimes are conversations, laughing, watching grass grow, and attempting to keep up with friends on local mountain bike trails. Chuck is an at-large member of the MIC Steering Committee. He believes strongly in Collective Impact as a way for various entities to work together within a structured format toward common goals to serve and improve the community. MIC’s core values and processes are completely in line with that model. Along with getting things done, this mode of organizations working together while serving as a role model for others is what makes MIC so important to our families, to our communities, and to Montezuma County. Chuck is proud to serve on the MIC Steering Committee.

Mary Jo Standard

Mary Jo Standard

Mary Jo is the Director at School Community Youth Collaborative. She came to Durango in 2012 after her four friends and herself pointed to the map and decided Durango had a great folk and bluegrass scene. After one fun winter in Durango, Mary Jo and her husband moved to Cortez when her husband got a job with Osprey. After growing up outside D.C., and going to school in Pittsburgh, the wide open spaces of southwest Colorado have been the perfect change! Mary Jo started working with youth while in college through Girls on the Run, and teaching youth outdoor skills at Philmont Scout Ranch. After moving to Durango, she started working in the school districts and Osprey, until she very happily landed at SCYC. She became involved in the Montezuma Inspire Coalition through my love for the outdoors and SCYC's reputation for bringing youth voices to the table in an equitable fashion. Her favorite activities include: running, backpacking, climbing, reading, and spending time with my husband, three little ones, and two crazy dogs while we explore our little corner of the world.

Adriana Stimax

Adriana Stimax

San Juan Mountains Association

Adriana Stimax is the Education Program Director for San Juan Mountains Association. She has been based in Montezuma County for a number of years, previously teaching at Cortez High School. SJMA partners with Montezuma Inspire Coalition to run programs for youth in Montezuma county. These programs center around outdoor education and recreation on public lands. Adriana believes that our coalition of nonprofit partners has enriched the county and shown that access to the outdoors can and should be available to all.

Kristen Tworek

Kristen Tworek

School Community Youth Collaborative

Kristen Tworek moved to Cortez in 2012 to serve as an AmeriCorps member at the Bridge Emergency Shelter. Since moving to Cortez she has become involved in the community by working and volunteering for few non-profits. Kristen currently works for SCYC and manages the Gear Lending Library for MIC. Kristen jumped on the opportunity to become the program manager of the Gear Lending Library to combine her love of the outdoors, community involvement and organizational logistics. The GLL is here for families and children enjoy the outdoors by providing outdoor gear that might not otherwise be available.

Sorrell Redford

Sorrell Redford

Montezuma School to Farm

Sorrell started at MSTFP in August 2021 and is excited to begin her journey as the Education Director. Sorrell has over ten years of teaching experience in private schools, public schools, preschools, and environmental education centers. Sorrell has always been passionate about nature and studied Natural Resources Management with a concentration in Environmental Communication at Colorado State University. She returned to graduate school and gained a Masters in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver. The combination of education and environmental stewardship is what first drew her to MSTFP. She believes the school gardens are an asset to the school communities and she hopes to use her skills to inspire and educate the Americorps service members and garden coordinators while strengthening relationships amongst all stakeholders in the community. Sorrell was born and raised in Norwich, England. She moved to Colorado in 2007 and it has become home. She lives in Mancos with her husband and two dogs. In spring and fall, she enjoys rock climbing and gardening. In summer she enjoys paddle boarding and hiking in the La Platas and in winter she skis at Purgatory and beyond.

Emily Huminski

Emily Huminski

Team Up - United Way of Southwest Colorado

Emily is the Team UP Coordinator for United Way of Southwest Colorado. Team UP is a Collective Impact Initiative which brings together individuals and organizations to work towards common goals to ensure that children thrive from cradle to career. A highlight of her work is being able to facilitate connections between people and organizations to work collaboratively in making change. She recently moved to the area from Minnesota where she gained experience working with the government and nonprofits both domestically and abroad. She enjoys any activity that gets her outside and is excited to support MIC in helping youth discover themselves and a connection with the outdoors.