ACES' year-round staff and 2011 Summer Naturalists


Chief Executive Officer

Chris Lane began work at ACES in May of 2012 as the new Chief Executive Officer where he is responsible for all ACES’ operations. Prior to ACES, Chris was Vice President of Sustainability for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the country’s largest national park and resort management company. Chris has 20 years of environmental management and corporate sustainability experience across varying sectors. At Xanterra, Chris was responsible for developing company-wide environmental management systems and managing all aspects of company environmental affairs including sustainable design, energy and water efficiency, carbon emission reduction, renewable energy development, pollution prevention, environmental education, and federal and state regulatory compliance.
Prior to Xanterra, Chris was the first Director of Environmental Affairs in the ski industry at Aspen Skiing Company. Before that, he was Program Director for a regional land conservation project; Regional Director for the Sierra Club; and an environmental consultant at IRT Environment Inc., a spinoff of Rocky Mountain Institute. He also served as Executive Director of the Environmental Foundation, a non-profit organization providing assistance to initiatives that protect and enhance environmental quality in Colorado. Chris also served as an elected official for the Town of Basalt and on the Governor’s Pollution Prevention Board.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering from the University of Florida and is a LEED Accredited Professional and Certified Environmental Systems Manager.
Lane spends his free time outdoors as much as possible with his wife, Diana, and two children, Ava and Zealand. He enjoys ski mountaineering, competitive cycling, climbing, and birding.

President and Chief Ecologist

Tom Cardamone has shifted from Executive Director position to ACES Chief Ecologist in the Spring of 2012. Tom's beginnings at ACES go back to 1975 when he joined his wife Jody (ACES' first Director) as Co-Director then became ACES' Executive Director in 1982. He holds a Masters Degree from the College of Forestry and Natural Resources at Colorado State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Hamilton College. Tom has served on several Boards including The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board, The Pitkin County Park Association (now the Aspen Valley Land Trust), The Pitkin County Wildlife Task Force, and The Colorado Wildlife Federation. After living 30 years at Hallam Lake, Tom and Jody now live in Emma and he divides his time among ACES' three sites: Hallam Lake, Toklat, Rock Bottom Ranch, and a fourth project, the Spring Creek Hatchery property. Tom finds inspiration in pristine wilderness and the eloquent writers who capture their wild essence along with the details of biology.

HALLAM LAKE - Administrative Staff

Christy Mahon joined ACES in the fall of 2011 as the Development Director. For the past eleven years, Christy pursued a rewarding career fundraising for the Aspen Art Museum.  She moved to Aspen after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Denver University with a double major in Cultural and Critical Studies and Communications, and a minor in Art History.  A Colorado native, Christy spends a lot of time in the mountainous backcountry, skiing, mountaineering, and running with her husband Ted. A chance to give back to the environment and participate in protecting our nature resources made working at ACES the perfect fit.  When she's not out exploring, she tends to her community garden, plays tennis, bikes, sews, and loves to look at art.

Jim Kravitz has been ACES' Director of Naturalist Programs since the summer of 1996. Jim joined the ACES staff as a Summer Intern in 1995 and as a Winter Naturalist in 95/96. He received his B.A. in Environmental Conservation at the University of Colorado and spent several years guiding backcountry trips throughout the northwestern United States and Alaska. Jim hires for and manages ACES' Summer and Winter Naturalist Programs. He has completed the American Leadership Forum program as well as graduate work with the Union Institute relating to the importance nature centers play in building social capital within their communities. When not teaching his sons, Jack and Jesse, about the place he lives, Jim likes to hike, ski, and see live music with his wife, Jamie.

Anda Rojs Smalls joined ACES in the winter of 2004. Having been involved with ACES at various levels, she is currently ACES' Naturalist Field School Coordinator in charge of organizing kids and adult workshops and classes. She is an ex-ACES Trustee, is still learning to become a Naturalist, and takes many photographs for ACES' publications and website. Anda was on the CU Varsity Ski Team while earning a B.A. in Journalism and a B.S. in Spanish at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She was born and raised in Maribor, Slovenia and made her livelihood as a ski racer for many years. In addition to enjoying the great outdoors with her family - husband Ryan, daughter Zala, son Luka - Anda loves to ski (or do anything that has to do with snow, really), bike, explore, do new things, and visit the home country of Slovenia each year.

Sarah Schmidt joined the ACES’ team in 2006 as an educator, two years before becoming ACES’ Education Director.  She earned her B.F.A. in Art Education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and her Masters in Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University. She holds a Colorado professional teaching license in Secondary Science, Elementary Education, and Art. Sarah is happy to have found her home in this community surrounded by three Wilderness areas. If she is not in the office, she is probably out teaching, learning, and playing outside. 

Olivia Siegel started as an ACES naturalist in 2007 and is now part of the administrative staff as Community Outreach Director. She has a degree in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. She had a public horticulture internship at the Morton Arboretum outside of Chicago, and a botanical research internship with The Nature Conservancy in Northern California. Olivia is inspired by the beautiful landscapes in this area and loves climbing, cooking, traveling, and hiking.

Eliza Greenman came to ACES first as a Naturalist in the summer of 2009. She re-joined the ACES staff at the Marketing Coordinator in the summer of 2011. Eliza graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in English Literature and a certificate from the Goodwin Neiring Center for the Environment. Eliza's love for the natural world stems from a close connection to her seaside hometown of Middletown, RI. Eliza loves cooking, travelling, live music, reading and exploring the great outdoors with her boyfriend, Andrew.

Katie Schwoerer joined ACES in the summer of 2011 as the Business Manager.  She earned her B.A. in Economics from Wake Forest University and her Masters in International Administration from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.  After several years immersed in the political world of Washington DC, she moved to Aspen for one ski season.  Ten years later she is still here enjoying the natural beauty, recreation and calm of Colorado with her husband Anders.

HALLAM LAKE - Educators

Ellen Burns first came to ACES as a summer naturalist in 2006. As a Colorado Native, she earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, Missoula. She has spent the past several years as a naturalist/educator in Glacier National Park and with the Gore Range Natural Science School. Ellen is thrilled to be returning to ACES as an Educator, so she can combine her love of the natural world with her passion for inspiring a sense of place in children. When not at ACES, Ellen enjoys spending her time in the mountains, hiking, skiing, and exploring.

Chris Cohen joined the ACES team in Fall 2011 after completing an educator fellowship at Walking Mountains (formerly Gore Range Natural Science School) and a Masters in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Colorado State University. Before venturing to the mountains of Colorado, Chris taught at a variety of nature centers and adventure programs across the country. She loves to teach about the natural world and hopes to inspire students of all ages to become stewards of their own backyards. Chris is excited to explore and learn about the Roaring Fork Valley while hiking, climbing, snowboarding and learning to tele-ski!

Jamie Cundiff established a love for the outdoors in her mountain hometown of Sisters, Oregon, and graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences in 2006. While in college, she was a docent at Stanford’s biological research preserve, conducted geological fieldwork in the Cascades, the Rockies, and Alaska, and spent a summer fighting forest fires in Oregon. After college, she interned in Resource Management for the local Open Space District before becoming a Naturalist/ Volunteer Coordinator with Hidden Villa, a 1600-acre Farm and Wilderness Preserve in the hills west of Palo Alto. She is thrilled to share her passion for the natural world at ACES and get to know this gorgeous area! When not traipsing through the mountains, Jamie enjoys cooking and listening to rock and roll on vinyl.

Betsy DeFries first came to ACES as an educator and ranch hand at Rock Bottom Ranch in the summer of 2010. Her love of western landscapes has taken Betsy many places including the University of Montana for a degree in Environmental Studies, Glacier National Park as a naturalist, farming throughout western Montana, the Vail Valley as a winter naturalist, and most recently maintaining hiking trails with the Student Conservation Association. Betsy is excited to be spending her days with kids at ACES and in the classroom! When she isn't teaching, Betsy loves to cook, explore the mountains, ski, and write.

Adam McCurdy joined the ACES team in the summer of 2008 following the completion of his degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After a brief hiatus to travel in Asia and hike the Pacific Crest Trail he came back as a Winter Naturalist during the 2009-2010 winter season. This will be Adam's second year as a part of the Education program at ACES, he looks forward to helping students all over the valley better understand and appreciate the natural world.


Amy Hutton, Livestock and Wildlands Manager. Amy joined the Rock Bottom crew in May 2011. She grew up on the Front Range with a horse, several labradors, and many pocket pets who taught her to explore the natural world and cherish its inhabitants. She completed her undergrad at St Olaf College in MN where she studied biology, environmental science, and art, planning to work in animal health and behavior. After two years working at humane societies, a permaculture design course convinced Amy that farming was the natural evolution of her passions for animal welfare and sustainable living. She built and grew urban micro farms with Agriburbia for a year before earning a Masters of Ag at Colorado State in Integrated Resource Management. At Rock Bottom Ranch, she is dedicated to fostering partnerships between livestock and the local ecosystem that improve the land's resiliancy while fulfilling the animals' needs for companionship, stimulation, nutrition, and security. Amy loves the daily opportunities for creativity and innovation at RBR and is so grateful for wonderful support of our local agricultural community.

Caitlin Bourassa joined ACES in the spring of 2011 as an agriculturalist, then became RBR's Garden Manager in the fall of the same year. She majored in foreign language at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR. An avid traveler, Caitlin has taught English in Ecuador and Japan, studied abroad in Switzerland and Senegal and even the culture of tea in China for three months. Knowing nothing about gardening but extremely interested in sustainable food systems, Caitlin moved to the valley for an internship at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in Basalt. She discovered Rock Bottom Ranch during that time and has been expanding the gardens using permaculture techniques ever since! When not in the dirt, Caitlin enjoys trail running, mountain biking, drinking tea and watching storms role in.

Melanie Poole grew up in small-town Connecticut, with a big backyard. She first came to Colorado for the first time as an ACES summer naturalist, and absolutely fell in love with the mountains. While she was a student at Connecticut College,Melanie spent her time volunteering at the local nature center, tutoring Biology, and leading tours for local students of the Connecticut Arboretum. After graduating with a double major in Environmental Studies and Botany, she was an AmeriCorps Field Instructor for the Teton Science Schools, in Jackson, Wyoming. Melanie is thrilled
to have to opportunity to return to ACES and work as an educator at Rock Bottom Ranch. She enjoys running, hiking, biking, reading, and learning from those around her.

Dan Van Horn joined ACES in the summer of 2011 as one of ACES "Ghosts" living in the Ghost town of Ashcroft. After working as a Summer Naturalist Dan stayed with ACES as a Winter Naturalist and lived at Toklat in the Castle Creek Valley. Dan has now moved down the valley and is working at Rock Bottom Ranch as a Ranch Hand/Educator. He is originally from Northeast Ohio and received a degree in Biology from the University of Dayton. Before coming to ACES he worked as an Outdoor Education Instructor in central Ohio and spent time teaching at a camp in Southwest Florida. When Dan is not teaching kids he enjoys snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking, fishing and kayaking in the summer.

Kendall Reiley first came to ACES as a summer naturalist in 2010, and stayed as a winter naturalist the following season. After leaving ACES to teach residential outdoor education in California for a year, she is returning to the valley to be an educator and ranch hand at Rock Bottom. Although she grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Kendall has since lived in Silverton, CO, Newport Beach, CA, Mount Rainier National Park, WA, and Sonora, CA in addition to the Roaring Fork Valley. When not teaching, you can find her skiing, climbing, exploring, or at the summer Snowmass concerts.


Howie Kuhn came to ACES in 2010 as summer naturalist, living oas on of our "ghosts" in the ghost town of Ashcroft. After being a winter naturalist, he moved back up to Ashcroft as the Ghost Town Coordinator.  Howie grew up in Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee.  While in college he worked for the Gore Range Natural Science School (now Walking Mountains).  He was hooked on the mountains and moved to Colorado after he graduated.  You can find him exploring Castle Creek in the summers and skiing in the winters.


Jody Cardamone was the first Director of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. She currently serves as a Naturalist and works with the Naturalist Field School. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Education from Cornell University and has pursued graduate studies in Environmental Ethics.