When I arrived in the Gunnison Valley in 2009, I had one goal: live someplace for a whole calendar year. The previous five years I’d moved every six to ten months. Before that, college was a steady rotation of dorms and apartments, with stints studying in France and New Zealand. Moving seemed to be in my blood: as a child, my family moved me to four states, six schools, and eight houses. I was tired of moving and ready to find a home.
I’d spent 2008 and all of my savings looking for a “grown-up” job and visiting mountain towns to find a good fit. It turned out that getting any kind of professional job during an economic recession was next to impossible, and very few towns matched my criteria to be a ten-minute walk or less from the trails. In the latter regard, Crested Butte spoke to me. I also had a friend who could give me a landing pad, and I had no problem doing what I’d always done—find a job, any job, and work hard at it. If I was going to clean toilets or sling coffee, I might as well do it in the most beautiful place on earth.
Like so many in the Gunnison Valley, I worked three to four jobs a season to get by. I coached cross-country and track and field, landscaped, babysat, sold sunglasses, waited tables, and worked at hotels. On my one day off each week, I grabbed a burrito from Teo, threw my tent in my Subaru, and headed into the backcountry toward a new trail or peak. As a kid from the midwest, living in the mountains felt like a fairytale come true—even if it did require scraping by.
One year came and went. As my connections in the community grew, I worked my way into better jobs. I bought my first mountain bike and started exploring the valley rubber-side-down (and sometimes over the handlebars, but that’s a different story . . .). I loved everything about living in Crested Butte: skiing, hiking, and biking; the warm community and the funky parades; the joy of greeting friends on the Brick patio. When I met my now husband, Peter, a Crested Butte Marshal who’d lived here since 1994, it sealed the deal. Crested Butte wasn’t one more stop in a lifetime of moving. It was home.
Still looking to satisfy my desire for a career, I took my love of coaching to heart and attended Western Colorado University for my teacher’s license and a Master’s degree in education. I dove into teaching middle school and high school English at the Crested Butte Community School and served on the School Accountability Committee, led district professional development, and presented at a state-wide conference. By serving in and out of the classroom, I began to see that conversations take place across the county everyday that shape the lives of students, teachers and residents. From education to land use, hard-working people dedicate themselves to guiding Gunnison County into the future. As much as I loved my students, I knew I wanted to do that too.
It was bittersweet (and such an honor) to be selected by my students as their commencement speaker my last year of teaching. Yet I knew I needed to develop new skills to serve the way I wanted to. Working first for the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) and then Crested Butte Nordic, I learned about budgeting, land use, and building coalitions. I gained insight into how decisions are made in our County that impact our lands and lives. I also saw up close the power that Gunnison County residents have to make things happen when they come together, whether it’s a CBMBA trail work day or the way the Nordic community rallied to keep ski trails open during the pandemic.
That’s what I love most about now calling the entire Gunnison Valley home. From Gunnison to Mt. Crested Butte, and ski bum to second home owner, people show up and work for the things they love. Gunnison County is a place where no one sits idly by. We all understand that we live someplace special, and we’re willing to work to keep it that way.
First Elected: November 2022, to take office January 2023.
Current Term Expiration: January 2027.