WSCC Board of Directors

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Jay Simon, Co-Chair

Jay has always been drawn to the beauty of our wilderness areas since he was a child in the Pacific Northwest. He moved to the North Fork Valley with the goal of living a more sustainable lifestyle. He and his partners own 24 acres of land adjacent to the Smith Fork of the Gunnison, where they have a large veggie market garden and about 5 acres of hemp production. Jay’s major areas of interest are in watershed protection, water conservation, and the restoration of wetland and riparian areas.

Term end date: 2024

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Julie Sapena, Co-Chair

I have called the North Fork Valley home since the fall of 2016. Gratitude and appreciation for this valley grows each day. Enjoying the outdoors and public lands has always been an integral part of my life through hiking, camping, backpacking, rock climbing, rafting, biking and strolling through forests and meadows. Protecting land, water and wildlife has always been an important issue for me and I enjoy working on the restoration projects WSCC promotes. The land gives so much to me. I want to give back and make sure future generations have the same opportunities I have had. In my past life (before retirement), I was an elementary educator for 30 years. Educating people about the environment and the importance of conservation continues to be a passion for me.
Term end date: 2025
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Megan Randall, Board Member

Megan has called the North Fork home for the last seven years and teaches in the Delta County School District. She has designed curriculum and after school programming that promotes science education and environmental stewardship on school and district-wide levels. In 2017 Megan received the National Citizenship Education Award for inspiring youth to be engaged citizens in their classroom community and beyond.

Megan received her MS in Environmental Studies in 2019 from Green Mountain College, where she was afforded the opportunity to study the North Fork watershed through a conservation lens. Her passion for protecting life on our “pale blue dot” fuels her energy for advocacy work. In her spare time Megan enjoys gardening, hiking, singing, and hoop dance.

Term end date: 2025


Kathy Swartz, Treasurer

Originally from Ohio, Kathy moved to Colorado almost 20 years ago and has made Paonia her homebase to pursue her passions of clean energy, locally grown food, and healthy watersheds. After serving nine years as the Executive Director of Solar Energy International, she left to dive into food, including working at a local organic farm and starting her own catering company that uses food as a catalyst for connection and play. She emerged from her sabbatical to serve as interim Executive Director at WSCC before joining the board. “I joined the WSCC Board because this organization and the passionate people connected to it stole my heart. It may be small but WSCC’s impact is profound.” When not working for a solar engineering company or cooking for others, Kathy can be found hiking with her dogs, biking, and savoring a decadently simple life.

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Cobun Zweifel-Keegan, Secretary

Cobun grew up in between Hotchkiss and Paonia and spent many weekends of his younger years volunteering with North Fork River Improvement Association. He is currently a lawyer in Washington, DC, but hopes to eventually return to the place he considers his true home. In between now and then he has joined the Western Slope Conservation Center Board to ensure that all the things he values about the lands and waters that formed him will be there whenever he comes home again.

Term end date: 2025

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Juanita Hull-Carlson, Board Member

I have been a teaching artist my whole adult life, always with a focus on preserving our planet. The last couple of decades I was a “visiting artist” whereby I would work at a school for a matter of weeks or months to create a monument, mural or creative construction.  We did cement sculpture and mosaic from broken or discarded items.  Always the emphasis was on “re-using/recycling/and reducing waste” and the science surrounding these issues.

After living in 5 different countries and traveling a fair bit around this beautiful orb I have determined that the North Fork Valley is pretty nearly perfect. The natural wonder surrounding us feeds my soul. This concerned and creative community has been wonderfully welcoming to my husband and I. I hope to work with schools and community groups to raise awareness of local and global environmental issues through creative activities and projects.

Allison Elliot, Board Member

The beauty of this planet is what makes life possible. For me, science and beauty cannot be separated. My appreciation and understanding of natural systems deepens as I learn more about this place we call home. I am fascinated by the human and “natural world” interface. It is a relationship we too easily take for granted. I believe that the more we closely observe and learn, the better we can take care of our home, so that it can take care of us.

My degree in Environmental Planning and Design permeates my life. From rafting guide, leading Sierra Club backpacking trips, landscaping, and park and home design. For many years I worked in the world-renowned science museum, The Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. It is dedicated to being a hands on museum designed to encourage self directed exploration and experimentation as a way of learning. That really sums up the way I like to engage with this wild and wonderful world.

Term end date: Shortly

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Russ Zick, Board Member

I have been living NW of Paonia over 5 years after completing an engineering career on the Front Range. To get to know more about this community, I started participating in the Mike’s Hikes program. I also wanted to learn more about the local irrigation industry so I began to participate on the Watershed Committee. The openness, variety, and beauty of the mountains attracted me here to Colorado after high school in NJ where I grew up. Volunteering has broadened my life experiences from Peace Corps, to AFS and recently with EWB. As a new resident in the North Fork community, I decided to volunteer with WSCC. They have been teaching me about conservation and public lands stewardship, areas where I have no previous experience. I found it especially inspiring that the Paonia River Park was created by the group for the benefit of the whole community. I like to think that our current WSCC projects are expanding on that noteworthy community contribution.

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James Schott, Board Member

James lives on a small farm on Lamborn Mesa with his wife Carol, some chickens, and a barn cat. They moved to their farm sixteen years ago from Boulder County where James was the founder, owner and operator of Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy. His wife, Carol, led a science education program at the University of Colorado.