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.
  
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 is 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

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.
  

Bowman Leigh
Marketing Manager

 

Bowman first came to ACES in 2010 as a Summer Naturalist. In 2013, Bowman returned to work as an ACES Educator, and most recently stepped into the role of Marketing Manager in 2017. Bowman grew up climbing trees and wandering the woods in her hometown of Portland, OR and exploring the mountains & waters of western Montana. Bowman graduated from the University of Puget Sound, where she designed a special interdisciplinary major focusing on Human Ecology & Communication: a degree built around articulating human connections to the natural world. A lover of words & stories, and a firm believer in the value of a sense of place, Bowman has worked in the communications and education fields for a number of non-profits in the West, including the Environmental Resource Center in Ketchum, Idaho Conservation League in Boise, Columbia Land Trust in Vancouver, and Ecotrust in Portland. 

  

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. 
  

Emily Taylor
Development Manager

Emily joined ACES in 2017 as Development Manager. Emily grew up in Atlanta, GA, Jacksonville, FL, and went to school at Pomona College in CA, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art. After having experienced living in large cities and near the beach for most of her life, Emily realized that she wanted to try out a small town in the mountains. In the summer of 2012, Emily moved to Woody Creek where she worked in various roles at the Woody Creek Community Center, including Cafe Manager, Program Director, and Executive Director until 2016. Emily has worked at other community-based non-profits, including Machine Project based in Los Angeles. She is excited to see ACES connecting adults and children to nature, and enjoys witnessing the positive effect this can have on future generations. Outside of work, Emily loves to ski, cook, explore art, drink fantastic coffee, and listen to live music. 

 

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 B.S. 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.
  

Matt Sherman
Agriculture Assistant

Matt grew up in the heart of Denver and moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in the Fall of 2015. He recently earned a B.A. in Political Science, where much of his research focused on environmental policy. However, his early studies included a passion for construction and architecture, where he gained practical experience building custom homes before applying those skills as a draftsman at a Denver architecture firm. Growing up in Colorado has allowed him to develop a great appreciation for the outdoors and the natural environment. Summer fruit and vegetable production has been a part of his life since an early age and he was surprised to find such a large local food movement in the valley. Volunteering at Rock Bottom Ranch last summer provided a glimpse into larger scale sustainable agriculture production, which reassured his love for working outside and playing in the dirt. Outside of the ranch, Matt tends to his own garden, maintains a few properties, relishes in the outdoors, and loves all things Colorado. 

 

EDUCATORS

Denali Barron
Hallam Lake Educator
Denali grew up in Colorado with four siblings who are all named after mountains, too. She is inspired by the natural world and deeply interested in how humans interact with it. While pursuing a B.A. in Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Princeton University, Denali wrote her senior thesis on American public lands and national identity. After graduation, she moved to northern Thailand, where she worked for three years as a program manager and facilitator at an experiential education and team building company that also ran a world-class rock climbing crag. Denali returned to Colorado in 2012 and became an ACES Naturalist, which was the perfect antidote to reverse culture shock. Now that she has a year of naturalist guiding and a year of teaching under her belt, she is looking forward to another outstanding trip around the calendar with the ACES Education team.
  
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 B.S. in Outdoor Recreation and Education, a B.S. 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.
  
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.  
  

Mandy Noel
Hallam Lake Educator
 

Mandy began her career in environmental education volunteering to lead cave tours and wildflower walks at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and interning at Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in her home state of Missouri. After graduating from Columbia College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, she continued to intern with the National Wildlife Refuge System in Minnesota and Maryland. Her graduate program brought her to southwestern Oregon, where she earned a M.S. in Environmental Education and worked as an environmental educator for the Bureau of Land Management. While in grad school, she led field trips for K-12 students in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and residential programs at Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma, Oregon. She also spent a summer interning at Crater Lake National Park Science and Learning Center. Looking to connect to her Midwest roots, Mandy stepped into the non-profit world after grad school as a Membership Services Associate for the Aldo Leopold Foundation based near “the shack” in Baraboo, Wisconsin. After a long, cold winter, her love for the Pacific Northwest sent her hurtling back to Oregon where she took on the role of Youth Education Programs Coordinator for a small non-profit called Siskiyou Field Institute. She has discovered that the Western Slope of Colorado is her happy place, closer to her Midwestern family and still surrounded by mountains, rivers, and forests where she can be found hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, and backpacking in the Rocky Mountain high country.   
  

Ben Seipel
Rock Bottom Ranch Educator
 

Ben grew up in Utah where he earned his B.S. in Conservation Biology from Brigham Young University. He also has a M.S. and teaching certificate from the University of Idaho in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Environmental Education. He has had some great experiences teaching at the McCall Outdoor Science School in McCall, Idaho and the L.A. Outdoor Science School where he worked teaching elementary students about their natural environment. Ben has also taught at the college level as a TA for both the wildlife ecology and wildlife conservation classes. Ben has a great deal of experience working on wildlife research projects in the field. He worked for three summers as a biologist for the Forest Service, one year on a mule deer research project for BYU, and one summer working for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center studying wood thrush. He also has worked in Costa Rica studying toucan behavior and their influence on seed dispersal. This past summer Ben was hired as the lead raptor / wilderness survival instructor at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.   Ben’s hobbies include camping, hiking, and backpacking and other similar outdoor activities. He also enjoys swimming, running, reading, nature photography, and playing music.

  
Maria Starceski
Rock Bottom Ranch Educator
 
Maria grew up in the Great Lakes State of Michigan. Her love of the outdoors began with summers spent camping on Lake Huron with her family, and working on her aunt and uncle's dairy farm in New York. Now, maintains her relationship with the natural world by hiking, backpacking, paddling, and growing her own food. She strives to share her connection to the Earth with others by encouraging folks to get outside and discover where their food comes from. After graduating from Michigan State University with a BA in Environmental Studies and Agriscience, Maria has spent time traveling and teaching in Michigan, Idaho, Arizona, West Virginia, and now Colorado. She is excited to be back exploring the in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and is looking forward to becoming a part of the ACES team and a member of the Roaring Fork Valley community!
  
Maegan Ward
Rock Bottom Ranch Educator
 
Maegan grew up in Northern Idaho, where her love of the outdoors stemmed from exploring the beautiful mountains and lakes of the Pacific Northwest. She graduated from Boise State University with a degree in Environmental Studies, where she was active in all of the environmental programs the university had to offer, as well as studying the rich wilderness of Australia at the University of Tasmania. Since graduation, she has taught environmental education and adventure programs in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho and Alaska. In Maegan’s free time, she likes to climb rocks big and small, play in the snow, go mushrooming, identify wildflowers and explore all of the wilderness she can find! Maegan is extremely excited to bring her passion for the environment to ACES as an educator and cannot wait to see what the year will hold. 
  
Emily Williams
Hallam Lake Educator
 
Emily graduated from Stanford University with a Masters degree in Environmental Communication and a Bachelor's degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences. During her time at Stanford, she researched mid-Miocene volcanoes in southeastern Oregon. She was also the summer coordinator for Stanford's pre-orientation trip program and taught outdoor skills and leadership to other student leaders. During her graduate program, she volunteered as a teaching docent at Hidden Villa and was a teaching assistant for graduate classes. Despite growing up in flat eastern England, five years in California instilled a deep love of the mountains and of mountain sports such as rock climbing, skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. 
  

Katrina 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   

  

Ben Sherman
Naturalist


Ben graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies. While in school, he spent a summer at the Voyageur Outward Bound School in northern Minnesota, leading student in community service projects and supporting canoe trips into the Boundary Waters. After graduating, Ben traveled to California, joining a small research team conducting a state-wide survey of a threatened bat species. Then, returning to his home state of Minnesota, he spent 2016 as the Intern Naturalist at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, where he led programs on bat conservation, taught courses like maple syrup-making and Great Plains history, and developed exhibits for the new interpretive center.