Staff

SENIOR STAFF

Chris R. Lane
Chief Executive Officer
Chris joined ACES as Chief Executive Officer in 2012 and is responsible for all ACES’ operations. Chris has 25 years of environmental management and corporate sustainability experience across varying sectors: as Vice President of Sustainability for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, as the first Director of Environmental Affairs at Aspen Skiing Company, as Program Director for a regional land conservation project; Regional Director for the Sierra Club; an environmental consultant at a spinoff of Rocky Mountain Institute, and as Executive Director of the Environmental Foundation. 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. Chris spends his free time outdoors as much as possible with his wife, Diana, and two children, Ava and Zealand. Chris enjoys ski mountaineering, competitive cycling, climbing, and birding.
  
Jim Kravitz
Naturalist Programs Director
Jim has been Director of Naturalist Programs since 1996. Jim joined the ACES staff as a Summer Naturalist in 1995 and as a Winter Naturalist in 1995/96. 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.
  
Christy Mahon
Development Director
Christy joined ACES in 2011 as the Development Director. For the previous 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.
  
Katie Schwoerer
Finance and Operations Director
Katie joined ACES in the summer of 2011.  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.
  
Eliza Burlingame
Marketing Director
Eliza first came to ACES as a Summer Naturalist in 2009 and re-joined the ACES staff as Marketing Coordinator in 2011. Eliza graduated from Connecticut College in 2008 with a degree in English Literature and an interdisciplinary certificate from the Goodwin Neiring Center for the Environment. Eliza's love for the natural world stems from an adventurous childhood in her seaside hometown of Middletown, RI. Eliza loves cooking, traveling, live music, sports, reading and exploring the great outdoors.
  
Jason Smith
Rock Bottom Ranch
Director
Jason joined ACES in 2013 as the Site Director for Rock Bottom Ranch.  Growing up in the restaurant industry, Jason has been involved with food his whole life.  Progressing through restaurants in North Carolina and New York, Jason accepted a position at The Little Nell in 2004.  After working under Chef Ryan Hardy, Jason became passionate about sourcing local food and especially interested in sustainable agriculture.  In 2010, he returned to North Carolina where he enrolled in a sustainable agriculture program and started a farm with his wife, Sarah.  In 2012, their farm produced over 100 varieties of vegetables, 35 varieties of cut flowers, as well as raised heritage breed pigs, chickens, goats and turkeys.  During his free time, Jason enjoys cooking, snowboarding and photography.
  
Arin Trook
Education Director
Arin took over as Education Director in the fall of 2013. He has been a professional educator for the past 20 years, including a stint as a Naturalist and Educator at ACES from 1996 - 2000. He holds a BA from Stanford, a Masters in Education from UC Berkeley and a classroom teaching credential from the State of California. Arin is the former Education Manager of NatureBridge and Program Director of Balanced Rock in Yosemite National Park. Arin served on the faculty of Lesley University’s Audubon Expedition Institute leading graduate-level expeditions across North America and has worked as a guide, instructor, and speaker with Stanford University, the National Park Service, and The Institute of Cultural Ecology and the Outward Bound School. Arin is also an accomplished yoga teacher, developing and teaching the country's first registered outdoor/nature-based yoga teaching training program (WildYoga Teacher Training, RYS 200.) He is also a musician and storyteller, weaving performance into the educational experience. He is a California native, now living at Hallam Lake with his wife Liesa, their son Kosma and daughter Ria.
  
Adam McCurdy
Forest Programs Director
Adam first came to ACES in 2008 as a Summer Naturalist and re-joined the ACES staff in 2017 as the Forest Programs Director. He received his B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts and his M.A. in Geography from the University of Colorado. Adam discovered the beauties and intricacies of the natural world while exploring the rich forest of New England. As the Forest Programs director he’s thrilled to be spending his time working for the forest of the Rocky Mountains. Adam spends his free time hiking, biking, skiing and whenever possible exploring new places. 

 

HALLAM LAKE STAFF

Emily Chase
Hallam Lake Programs
Manager

Emily is a lifelong nature lover and outdoors enthusiast who grew up just north of New York City. Her younger years were spent running around in the woods, skiing, playing ice hockey and guitar, and enjoying time with her family and numerous pets. Growing up, Emily's family vacationed in Snowmass every winter, igniting her love for Colorado. Her parents' embrace of traveling and conservation initiatives allowed her to visit many amazing places including the Amazon rainforest, the Galapagos Islands, and South Africa. At age sixteen, Emily volunteered in Tanzania, East Africa, which served as further motivation to devote her life to bettering the world. She went on to work as an intern at NRDC and Rolling Stone Magazine while pursuing a bachelor's degree in Political Science and English at Barnard College of Columbia University in NYC. Emily also worked as an Assistant to Auction Specialists at Charitybuzz. In the summer of 2014, she joined the ACES team as a Naturalist and Events Coordinator, and was very excited to take on the role of Hallam Lake Programs Coordinator for ACES in the fall of 2014.
  
Ali Hager
Events and Development Coordinator
Ali graduated from the University of Southern California as a Narrative Studies major with minors in Environmental Studies and Consumer Behavior. While at USC, she designed hands-on geology lessons for 5th graders in Los Angeles as a member of the Joint Educational Project, and worked as a Brand Ambassador for several organizations. After graduating, she worked on a raspberry farm in California through the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program followed by a position at the Wish We Had Acres farm in North Carolina, where she focused on sustainable farming, dairy goat husbandry, and medicinal plants. Ali worked as an account manager for American City Business Journals in Charlotte before coming to ACES as a Summer Naturalist in 2016.
  

Phebe Meyers
Naturalist Field School Manager

Phebe joined ACES as a Winter Naturalist for the 2013-2014 season and worked as an ACES Educator until 2017 when she was hired in her current role. A Vermont native, her passion for the outdoors and the environment developed at a very early age. She is the co-founder of a teen-run non profit Change the World Kids. She graduated from Middlebury College with a Geography and Environmental Studies degree, exploring the landscapes of the Green Mountains and Adirondacks, as well as the east coast of Australia. After college, she spent a year in VT working on place-based education programs and renewable energy, then headed south to the rainforest and west to the big mountains of Colorado. Phebe loves adventures that involve exploring new places, laughing, and eating yummy food. 

 

ROCK BOTTOM RANCH STAFF

Alyssa Barsanti
Agriculture Supervisor
Alyssa grew up in the South Bay Area of California in a town full of strawberry fields, mushroom farms and cows. She graduated from Boston University in 2014 with a BS in Nutritional Sciences. Before moving to Aspen, Alyssa lived in rural Vermont where she was an intern at Green Mountain Farm-to-School and worked at a small family farm. Alyssa is passionate about growing food and teaching others where their food comes from. When Alyssa is not hanging with the lambs or piglets at Rock Bottom Ranch, she can be found in the mountains hiking, biking and climbing. 
  
Chris Cohen 
Rock Bottom Ranch 
Programs Manager
Chris started as an Educator in 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. Her tenure at Rock Bottom Ranch began in the spring of 2013 after two years as a Hallam Lake Educator. 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 enjoys exploring the Roaring Fork Valley while hiking, climbing, and snowboarding.
  
Kevin Newland
Agriculture Supervisor
Kevin grew up in Basalt, Colorado a stones throw away from Rock Bottom Ranch. He acquired his BA in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. After six years of fully immersing himself in the city working for print and furniture design companies including The Loftmen, he packed up his bags and headed to the mountains. When Kevin is not building or fixing something on the Ranch, he can be found working on his own projects or in the mountains. 

 

EDUCATORS

Rachel Barfield
Rock Bottom Ranch Educator
Rachel grew up in a military family, moving frequently around the world.  Her fascination with nature was sparked in recognizing the different ecosystems of her own backyard. She is so thrilled to get to share her love of the outdoors with people as a living.  After graduating with her degree in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014, Rachel was excited to make the move to Colorado.  She began her career in Environmental Education with the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, furthering her bird nerd skills.  She then spent a year as a Naturalist with Walking Mountains Science Center.  She has loved exploring the incredible outdoor space that the Rockies provide, and learning how to fall (with style) while skiing. After spending the summer on the Oregon Coast as “Ranger Rachel” she is very excited to return to the mountains and join the ACES team. 
Katie Bird
Hallam Lake Educator
Katie is an Aspen native with very fond memories of visiting Hallam Lake with her parents and brother during her childhood. Katie attended the University of Denver, where she pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Her painting series from her senior year is one of her proudest accomplishments! After graduation, Katie returned to her favorite place- Aspen CO- and worked as Summer Educator for ACES in 2014. She also spent two autumns working on an agro-tourism vineyard in Tuscany, near Siena. When she wasn’t washing dishes or making cappuccinos for guests, Katie was learning about wine varietals, visiting medieval hilltop towns, and navigating the train systems. Back in the states in November, 2015, she was thrilled to rejoin the ACES team as a full time Educator. Katie loves shredding the slopes, attending summer concerts in Snowmass, hiking new trails, chilling with her family, and camping/adventuring with her friends!
  
AO Forbes
Tomorrow's Voices Educator
AO works at Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) in Carbondale teaching high school geography. He has served on numerous committees at CRMS, coached soccer, led trips, been a dorm parent, served as liaison between staff and school trustees and chaired the history department. He was awarded the Governor's Award for Excellence, and earned Teacher of the Year from Phi Delta Kappa in 1985. Since 2000, Tomorrow's Voices has been Forbes most driving extracurricular purpose.
  

Dustin Hall
Rock Bottom Ranch Educator

Dustin is a recent graduate from Slippery Rock University where he just completed his Masters of Science Degree in Park and Resource Management and his Masters of Education in Environmental Education. Prior to attending Slippery Rock University, Dustin graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Outdoor Recreation and Education, a Bachelors of Science Degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and a Certificate in Environmental Studies. Professionally, Dustin has served as an Environmental Educator at Camp Oty’Okwa in the Hocking Hills Region of Ohio, an Ecology/Conservation Counselor at a local Boy Scout Camp, and most recently, a Sustainability Education Graduate Assistant. Over the past few winters, he has also spent time as a Children’s Ski Instructor at Mad River Mountain in Ohio. Most recently Dustin finished his third summer as an Interpretation Park Ranger for the Youth Program Division at Zion National Park. While at Zion, Dustin was responsible for creating and presenting a plethora of programs for the Junior Rangers at the park. In essence, he has quickly become known as the Junior Ranger Ranger. In his free time, Dustin enjoys participating in a variety of outdoor activities including camping, kayaking, hiking, bicycling, and skiing.
  

Andrea Klaphake
Rock Bottom Ranch Educator

 

 

Andrea began working at ACES as a summer Educator in 2014. She graduated in 2011 from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, studying International Relations and Environmental Science. She did trail work on the Pacific Crest Trail and did trail work in various parts of Arizona and New Mexico for two years. Then she was a naturalist in Franconia Notch and a bike tour guide at the Grand Canyon. In addition, she has five years of experience in the environmental education field. In this bountiful valley, Andrea can be spotted biking, hiking, seeing live music or birding like there is no tomorrow. 

 

  
Matt Thomas
Hallam Lake Educator 
Matt is a Colorado native with a passion for education, wildlife, and public lands. Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Matt attended college at Colorado State University where he graduated with a degree in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology. During and after college, Matt worked as a biologist for a number of federal entities such as the US Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. After getting his fill of field work, Matt started working for ACES as a Summer/Winter Naturalist in the summer of 2014 and quickly fell in love with the organization and the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley. After spending the 2015 summer as an instructor for an environmental education camp in Kodiak, Alaska, Matt returned to ACES to continue his career as an educator. One of Matts largest passions is tracking animals via wildlife trail cameras, so keep an eye on the ACES YouTube page to see the latest animal activity spotted around Hallam Lake!
  
Kitty Winograd
Rock Bottom Ranch Educator
Kitty is a Colorado native who grew up in Littleton, Colorado. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where she majored in English Literature and minored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her senior year was spent crafting an honors thesis tying her passion for literature and her love for and curiosity of the natural world together at last. The thesis explored the often tense relationship that exists between the natural and man-made worlds, as represented in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, and Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms. Though varied in theme and symbol, the thesis ultimately spoke of the need for environmental literature as an effective tool for introducing environmental issues to non-scientific communities in lyrical and powerful ways. After graduation, Kitty spent a summer interning at Thorne Nature Experience in Boulder, CO where she got her feet wet (at times literally!) teaching wetland ecology and environmental education to fourth grade field trip classes. Kitty joined the ACES staff in the summer of 2014 as a Summer Naturalist. She returned again in the summer of 2015 as a Summer Educator at Hallam Lake, and is back representing ACES in her split time at Basalt Elementary School and Rock Bottom Ranch. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the biggest backyard she has ever had – The Roaring Fork Valley. Recently though, her explorations have turned to the page once again, where she spends her nights working on her master’s degree in Public Administration and Environmental Management through CU Denver. Most of all, Kitty is excited and grateful for the continued opportunity to get to know all of ACES and the many programs and sites it has to offer, as well as her fortune in having a full, varied life.

NATURALISTS   

Josh Cohn
Naturalist

Josh graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Biochemistry. During college, he studied with the Semester at Sea program, and participated in the National Outdoor Leadership School in Palmer, AK. He had the opportunity to volunteer with Rocky Mountain Field Institute on their project in the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area, repairing 7 miles of trail built during the Gold Rush of the late 1850s. A Colorado native, he has a passion for travel, Mountain biking, hiking, and skiing. He looks forward exploring the Roaring Fork Valley.

  
Shira Ellenson
Naturalist

Shira graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Natural Resources. During school, she studied abroad in Northern Australia, focusing on rainforest, reef and cultural ecology. Upon graduating, she spent a summer as a crossover counselor at the Keystone Science School. She then worked at the Thorne Nature Experience in Boulder, CO, teaching wetland ecology, environmental stewardship and more at the Sombrero Marsh to 4th graders. She volunteered with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms on a farm in the Andes of Peru. Recently, she worked as a snowboard instructor at Breckenridge Ski and Ride School in Breckenridge, CO.

  
Audrey Howarth
Naturalist 

Audrey graduated from University of North Carolina-Asheville with a degree in Environmental Studies. In college, she was an Outdoor Leader for the UNC-Asheville Outdoors Program and led hiking, kayaking, and backpacking trips for students. She also prepared and organized trip itineraries for the Freshman Orientation Program. In Asheville, she also served as a kayak roll instructor and volunteered as a 3rd grade tutor for math, reading, writing, and English as a Second Language. She tutored in Asheville Middle School’s In Real Life program, where she assisted students and created writing lessons. Recently she worked as an Outreach Intern for the Dogwood Alliance in Asheville. 

  
Josh Johnson
Naturalist
Josh received his bachelor’s degree in geology from Middlebury College and went on to earn a master of science degree in geology from the University of Colorado.  At CU, Josh taught four sections of  introductory geology lab to CU freshmen. He developed the course syllabus and  did all of the grading for the course. After graduate school, Josh held a variety of National Park interpretive jobs. He spent a summer in  Capitol Reef National Park developing and presenting many programs and hikes to the public with geology of the park as the focus. For the past year and a half Josh was Interpretive Ranger and Interpretive Geologist at Grand Teton National Park. There he also gave program and hikes and served as resource on park geology for visitors and staff. Josh also has the hobby of skiing every month of the year. 
  
Holly Kistner
Naturalist

Holly graduated from the University at Buffalo with a degree in Environmental Geosciences. While in Buffalo, she was an intern at the Office of UB Sustainability, where she developed and managed programs to improve environmental literacy and served as a project coordinator for a team working to measure the University’s sustainability performance. She also worked as a horticulture intern at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens to draft plans for a future community garden and perform gardening duties. She studied abroad at the University at Georgia in San Luis, Costa Rica, where she worked as a resident naturalist, leading guided hikes and presenting natural history lectures. Recently, she worked as an environmental technician for an international construction materials company. 

  
Dayton Knutson
Naturalist
Dayton earned a degree in Natural resource Management from Colorado State University. At CSU Dayton worked in the Dendrology Lab where he was a Teacher’s Assistant, handling plant specimens and lecturing on plant physiology. Dayton interned with the Wilderness Society as an assistant to the Senior Science Director. There he used GIS and other modeling software to help create fuels treatment prescriptions on a number of restoration projects along the Front Range of Colorado. Dayton worked for the Wildlife 1 Foundation in Meungai Thailand on a number of conservation projects and served as Weed and Pest Technician for Jefferson County. A native Coloradan, Dayton is at home in the mountains.
  
Meghan Loury
Naturalist

Meghan graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and spent a full year studying abroad in Germany. While in college she volunteered at the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center as an Animal Care Volunteer, where she was responsible for feeding and taking care of baby squirrels, and as an Education and Outreach Volunteer, educating people of all ages about wildlife rehabilitation and how to coexist with wildlife. She was selected to participate in a highly selective Peer Counselor program, where she taught lessons about gender roles and sexual health in high schools. 

  
Claire Shope
Naturalist 

Claire graduated from Smith College with a double major in Theater and Environmental Science & Policy.  During college, she worked as the Eco-Rep Facilitator for Office of Campus Sustainability and as a researcher for the Water Management Resilience where she wrote a proposal to implement permeable pavement at Smith College. She had the opportunity to study abroad in Nepal focusing on development and social change.  She also spent time in Bhutan, studying Himalayan forest management as well as researching family relations and sleep patterns of locals. She has practiced falconry for the past five years, helping to train Red-tailed Hawks.