WSCC Board of Directors

Chris Caskey

Chris is a scientist and entrepreneur who is passionate about energy, sustainable business development, and innovation. He is currently a Research Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines, a title that is far too long. Until recently he managed a startup company founded with the mission to transform forestry and agriculture waste into useful materials. Previous posts include scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, mountaineering guide, and technical consultant.

Chris is scheming to move to the North Fork some day, and enjoys hiking, construction projects, and policy conversations. He once assisted a man who was being attacked by an octopus.

Term end date: Appointed, to be affirmed by Membership in 2018

Ralph D’Alessandro, Board Member

Ralph graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He served 5 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, and 15 years in the Army Reserve. Following release from active duty he attended Villanova University School of Law in Villanova, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1977.  He then practiced Intellectual Property Law for 30 years for 4 corporations across the U.S. serving in positions of increasing responsibility culminating in the position of Corporate Intellectual Property Counsel.

Ralph retired in 2007 in Western Colorado with his wife. Since retiring he has been an involved community member, being elected to the Delta Conservation District Board of Supervisors in 2010. He has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for neglected and abused children in the 7th Judicial District since 2008 and been a member of the board of directors of community based conservation organizations since 2010, currently serving with the WSCC.  With his wife, he enjoys the outdoors skiing, hiking, biking, rafting and fishing.

Term end date: 2018.

Allison Elliot, Board Member

Allison believes that the beauty of this planet is what makes life possible. Allison has a degree in Environmental Planning and Design. She has worked as a rafting guide, a backpacking guide, a landscaper and office manager. For many years she worked at The Exploratorium, which is dedicated to being a hands on museum designed to encourage self-directed exploration and experimentation as a way of learning.

Recently, Allison has been involved in a “green development” project designing the public parks and streetscapes in a solar-oriented neighborhood. Term end date: 2019.

Ben Graves, Board Member

Ben is excited to help develop citizen science and education programs in the North Fork and beyond as a board member of the Western Slope Conservation Center. He graduated with a BS and an MS in Earth Systems Science from Stanford University.

After moving to Western Colorado in 2011, Ben began teaching high school science at Paonia High School. Currently he teaches AP Environmental Science and freshman physical science at Delta High School. In 2012, Ben was awarded a Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship, which supports a small cohort of early-career teachers across the United States with intensive professional development. He and his wife live in Delta, the “nucleus of Western Colorado,” where in less than an hour, they can be riding bikes on Jumbo, rafting the Gunnison Gorge or skiing the Grand Mesa, West Elks or San Juans. Term end date: 2020.

Zach Krapfl, Treasurer

Zach Krapfl is an electrical engineer specializing in e-bike design. He has worked for Clean Slate Energy and lived in the North Fork Valley with his wife and daughter for six years. Term end date: 2020.

Tracy McCurdy, Board Member

Tracy is a Colorado native and has lived in the North Fork for the past 15 years. Tracy is a technical writer and specializes in developing user manuals, website content, user interface design and graphical elements for computer software programs. As time allows, she branches out into creative writing and editing endeavors. When not at her computer, she enjoys telemark skiing, mountain biking, gardening, dancing, drawing, and practicing Reiki healing touch. Term end date: 2018.

Dave Noe, Board Member

Dave is a fourth-generation Coloradan who hails from the Front Range. In 2006,he began mapping the geology of west-central Colorado for the Colorado Geological Survey and Colorado School of Mines. (The maps, which cover the area from Montrose to Delta to Paonia and Crawford, are available to the public via free download from the CGS web site.) His first career was as a seasonal ranger-naturalist with the National Park Service, at Rocky Mountain National Park. His second career was as a geologist, at first associated with oil and gas and minerals exploration issues, and later associated with geological engineering, geologic hazards issues, environmental geology, and geologic mapping.

Dave has degrees in geology and geological engineering from the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Texas at Austin, and Colorado School of Mines. He holds national awards for contributions in professional literature from the Geological Society of America and the Association of Engineering and Environmental Geology. His book, “A Guide to Swelling Soil for Colorado Homebuyers and Homeowners,” has sold more than 400,000 copies. Dave retired in 2015 and currently lives in Paonia. His interests include hiking, camping, photography, maps, snowshoeing, and musical performance. Appointed by board and to be voted by membership in 2016. Term end date: 2019.

Karen Ortiz, Board Chair

Karen is delighted to return to the North Fork Valley, after a 12 year hiatus. Karen watched the smog roll into the San Fernando Valley, California as a child. She decided to move to Colorado, home of her paternal ancestors, as soon as she received her BA at UCLA. A Masters Degree in Special Education from DU, and a lead from a good friend, led her to her first teaching job in Delta. As a public school educator in the Delta/Montrose districts during the era before standardized testing, Karen used her passion for the outdoors, recycling, and conservation as a rich context for teaching the 3 Rs, Social Studies and Science.

Karen enjoys a variety of activities – traveling, hiking, skiing, walking, cycling and river running. She is grateful to have an online job that affords her the opportunity to advocate for issues dear to her heart and serve the community as a member of the Conservation Center Board of Directors. Term end date: 2019.