Cindy L. Williams – Board President
(Chaffee County) Cindy is a western Colorado native, an avid outdoors-woman, a geologist and a former mining executive. She has a desire to give back to her community, tapping her experience and broad perspective to help Chaffee County maintain its identity, rural landscapes and natural resources as the county and the state grow.
Cindy grew up in Basalt, Colorado. She went on to earn BSc and MSc degrees in Economic Geology from Colorado State University. Cindy has worked in the international mining industry for the past 30 years, including executive roles leading global exploration, innovation and technical services for Newmont Mining Company. She and her husband, Brad, now own and operate GeoInsights Inc. a Salida-based mining consulting firm. In their spare time Cindy, Brad and their doggie Maddie are working on a goal to catch fish in 100 Colorado mountain lakes.
Michael Fischer – Vice President I
(Chaffee County) A native son of Wyoming, Michael Fischer has loved the Rockies and being in wilderness his entire life. He and his wife, Marsha Brown, moved to the Arkansas Valley in the fall of 2014 after spending 23 years living and practicing medicine in Alaska.
Michael completed his undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and spent the next 10 years working in a variety of mental health positions. He returned to school to complete his degree of Doctor of Medicine at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and his residency in Family Practice at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He then began his Alaska adventures working first in Kotzebue for a year, an Eskimo village above the Arctic Circle, then lived in Fairbanks for 2 years working at a multispecialty clinic and finally landed in Anchorage where he and his wife built and ran a prevention and wellness oriented family practice for 18 years.
Michael brings to the Conservancy his desire to explore opportunities to provide service to others combined with his love of the outdoors and commitment to supporting and maintaining the lifestyle and values that make the Upper Arkansas such a wonderful place to live.
Jeanne Herrick-Stare – Vice President II
(Chaffee County) Jeanne Herrick-Stare is an attorney who practiced commercial real property law in Denver, and then worked for the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals as an attorney on staff, and as Counsel to the Clerk. She and her husband raised their family in Denver, exploring the Colorado Rockies from their home base in the heart of town. In 2003, she and her husband moved to Washington, D.C. for ten years, where she participated in human rights advocacy on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies. In D.C., she worked for non-profit organizations, and in that capacity, worked in coalition with numerous groups from the left and the right, local groups from across the country and national organizations, and with groups and individuals operating from academic, religious, and policy analysis groups. She brings a wealth of non-profit experience to inform her work with the Conservancy, from her work as a board member, board chair, developer of organizational structural documents, staffing and policy development.
Jeanne comes from generations of Minnesotans who were active birders, canoeists, campers, and hikers. Jeanne’s husband has been into the Colorado mountains all their married life, climbing all the “14ers”, hiking a good portion of the Colorado trail, skiing and camping – so their family focus has been mountain-oriented for 48+ years. Their daughter moved to Salida several years ago, and when the time was right to come back to Colorado from D.C., Jeanne and her husband followed, feeling as though they had truly returned home.
The first summer of their marriage, Jeanne and her husband worked for the U.S. Forest Service in the Teton National Wilderness Area, horse-packing into a cabin in the back country 13 miles from the nearest road. It was a powerful beginning to a lifetime of rich outdoor experiences, profiting from the wisdom and work of those who had gone before us. Jeanne is thankful for the opportunity, through working with Central Colorado Conservancy and its remarkable group of staff, members, and volunteers, to pass along that legacy of appropriate land use, conservation, and restoration to her children and grandchildren, as well as the children and grandchildren of others for generations to come.
Jim Keil – Treasurer
(Fremont County), now semi-retired after 31 years in Software Development with IBM in Storage, Printing, and Global Services.
Additionally, he worked for two years as an Information Technology consultant for Y2K readiness in the Insurance Industry.
He earned a BA from the University of Colorado. He brings years of management and business planning experience to the Conservancy. Jim and his wife Dianne, have lived in Fremont County for six years.
Hallie Mahowald – Secretary
(Chaffee County) Hallie moved with her husband and daughter to Salida from Santa Fe, N.M., in 2015. One of the main reasons for their move to this area was the immense open space and recreational opportunities – big mountains for hiking, a roaring river for paddling, and well-maintained trails for mountain biking, to name a few. Now that she is settled in Salida, she is excited to be involved with an organization that works to protect important values in the community and environment she calls home.
Hallie’s undergraduate degree is in environmental science from the University of Denver, and her graduate degree is in international environmental policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She has worked on numerous sustainable development projects in the American West and Central and South America. Until 2014, she worked as an environmental professional at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she handled compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, collaborated on the site-wide sustainability plan, and banded birds for biological resources monitoring. She currently works as the stewardship services director for the Western Landowners Alliance (WLA), a non-profit organization led by private landowners and managers of working lands West-wide who share a commitment to conservation-based stewardship of land and natural resources.
Hallie is enthusiastic about environmental conservation, land stewardship, and planning development so as to protect threatened flora and fauna. She is very interested in supporting land conservation in her new backyard, the Arkansas River Valley and sees Central Colorado Conservancy as an organization working on the issues about which she is passionate and as a place where her background and experience can be a valuable addition.
Hayden Mellsop – Past President
(Chaffee County) Hayden has been a resident of Chaffee County for over twelve years. He first came to the Arkansas Valley from his native New Zealand in 1990, and spent many years working as a whitewater and fly fishing guide on rivers and streams throughout the West. In 1996, he married Kym after they met in Salida in 1994, Kym grew up in San Francisco.
Hayden currently works as a realtor with Pinon Real Estate Group (see home-waters.com). He is a keen fly fisherman, father of two young daughters and joined the Conservancy board in late 2006. Hayden regards the upper Arkansas Valley as a very special community, and is committed to help preserve its character and charm for the benefit of future generations.
(Chaffee County) has served as Park Manager of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, jointly managed by Colorado State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management, since 2000. His career in State Parks includes over 15 years experience as a ranger, naturalist, and manager throughout Colorado. Rob received his BS in Park & Recreation Administration/Biology with a Secondary Teaching Certificate from Central Michigan University, and his MS in Park Administration/Fisheries & Wildlife Management from Michigan State University. Rob brings his resource management experience to the Conservancy, along with a deep knowledge of public process and an ability to facilitate communication between multiple parties. He enjoys exploring the beauty of the Arkansas River Valley and other special places in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.
(Chaffee County) Jim moved to the Upper Arkansas Valley in January of 1992. Since that time, he has been employed as the caretaker of a 292-acre privately owned property on Trout Creek Pass centered at the “Castles.” Jim was one of the founders of the Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity. He served as the president, vice-president, and construction supervisor of this organization. He is an avid conservationist believing that “green” is the color of forests and fields and the heritage left to us and to be left to those who follow, not an ideology or political football.
(Chaffee County) After many years of coming to central Colorado as an escape from the Front Range, Drew and his wife moved to Salida in 2014. As a director on the Conservancy board, Drew is enthusiastic about helping to conserve the place that he and his family are proud to call home.
Drew is the director of the water program in Colorado for Trout Unlimited, a national nonprofit fisheries conservation organization. In this role, Drew works to protect and restore Colorado’s rivers and creeks, and the focus of his program is on partnering with farmers and ranchers on projects that create mutual benefit for trout populations and agricultural operations. As an attorney for TU, Drew handled a series of cases that established stream flow water rights for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and several cases that prohibit unneeded municipal water diversions that could be damaging to river health.
Drew holds a B.A. in political science from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. and Certificate of Specialization in Environmental Law from the University of California, Berkeley. He spends his free time with his family and dogs exploring central Colorado.
Svata M. Louda
(Chaffee County) Svata was born in Prague CZ, but raised in La Cañada CA. Svata, and her husband Rod Otley, discovered Monarch Mountain more than 30 years ago. In addition, Svata spent 10 summers doing research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory outside Crested Butte. They finally moved to Salida from their farm in Lincoln NE in 2009.
Svata is a population ecologist whose research on insect-plant interactions has been continuously supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the USDA. She retired as George Holmes University Professor of Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Svata holds a B.A. in Economics from Pomona College, a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, a M.S. in Marine Ecology from the University of California – Santa Barbara, a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California – Riverside and San Diego State University. She also worked as the G. H. Brown Post-Doctoral Fellow in Botany at Yale University and as a Research Scientist in Botany at Duke University prior to moving to the University of Nebraska.
Since coming to Salida, Svata has been involved with the CSU Master Gardener program, coordinating the group of volunteers that designed and implemented the Healing Garden at new HRRMC hospital; the Boys and Girls Club of Chaffee County, coaching in the Khan Academy Program; and the Alliance Against Domestic Abuse, as a board member. Svata and Rod enjoy the local community and appreciate all the opportunities to experience nature, art and music in the upper Arkansas River basin. Svata’s goal as a Conservancy board member is to help maintain the natural resources in this valley in perpetuity.
(Lake County) Donna moved to Leadville from Virginia in 2016 after vacationing in Colorado for years and spending many happy hours in the mountains surrounding the Arkansas River Valley.
She is drawn to the area’s peaks, natural beauty, mining and agricultural history, and wide open spaces. She is intrigued with the Arkansas River’s story and restoration and hopes to help preserve the valley’s wild spaces.
Donna founded Childress Communications LLC in 2001 to spark change for people and planet. As a consultant, she provides strategic advice, shapes messages, and writes websites and other communications to help nonprofits, governments, and agencies reach audiences nationwide. Her work has advanced healthy aging and technology in aging, volunteerism among older adults, energy conservation, sustainable land stewardship, civil rights, and other social justice causes. Currently, she handles marketing for the Lake County Tourism Panel.
Donna graduated from James Madison University with a degree in English. In her spare time, she runs, hikes, climbs 14ers, and explores and photographs the great outdoors. She is also a lover of mountains and rivers.