Meet Our Staff
Our professional and passionate staff is committed to working with you to advocate for our local environment.
Please feel free to contact us at any time with questions, comments or ideas.
Brett joined the HCCA staff in September 2010. Growing up in a ranching community west of Fort Worth, Texas, combined with a family that put a strong emphasis on world travel and outdoor pursuits, gave him a deep connection to nature from a very young age. He holds a Bachelors in Financial Accounting from Western State Colorado University and a Bachelors of Fine Arts – Photography from Texas Christian University. Prior to returning to Western to complete his Financial Accounting degree, Brett was a freelance photographer and web designer. Brett’s an avid outdoorsman who spends his free time fly fishing, bow hunting, and exploring the desert. Brett can be reached at email@example.com.
Why are you an advocate? “I am an advocate because the beauty of our landscapes inspires me.”
Public Lands Program Director
Matt re-joined HCCA as Public Lands Director in January 2016, after previously holding this position from 2010-2013. He’s a 2000 graduate of Gunnison High School and a 2009 graduate of Pace Law School, where he focused on environmental law and policy. Matt’s a committed advocate for the public lands of the Gunnison Country, and is thrilled to be re-engaging with the community on sustainable energy development, recreation management, roadless and wilderness advocacy, wildlife, forest health, and other critical public lands issues. His favorite local public lands include the Cochetopa headwaters and West Elk Wilderness, and his interests include birding, hiking, the U.S. Civil War, growing vegetables, and home-roasting coffee. Matt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why are you an advocate? “I care deeply about and feel connected to the wild places and wildlife that make the Gunnison Country special.”
Water Program Director
Julie made the move to Crested Butte to join HCCA in 2014. Prior to relocating to the Western Slope, Julie spent three years as faculty at the University of Colorado through appointments with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and Colorado Law’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment. Her work at the University involved collaborating with a range of local communities to address natural resources and climate issues. She graduated from University of Colorado School of Law in 2011 and received her B.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. When she is not protecting the natural beauty of the rivers in Gunnison County, she spends her time exploring new trails, scrambling up crags, and carving up Colorado’s finest slopes. Julie can be reached at email@example.com.
Why are you an advocate? “I’ve been in love with nature since I was a child. It’s a privilege to spend my days working to protect the ecosystems and landscapes that have given me so much.”
Mel joined the HCCA staff in July 2015. After growing up on the east coast, Mel became an official Colorado transplant after falling in love with the mountains throughout her studies at Colorado College, where she majored in environmental science. At Colorado College, Mel gained outreach experience by co-managing the college’s student-run organic farm and working in the sustainability office. Prior to moving to Crested Butte, Mel’s travels led her to study the commodity chain of chocolate in Belize, as well as start a farm-to-table organic garden at a Hacienda in Nicaragua. By working with HCCA, Mel’s excited to share her passion for our beautiful valley by getting the community engaged and interested in environmental advocacy through HCCA’s communications and outreach initiatives. In her spare time, Mel spends most of her time skiing, mountain biking, cooking and volunteering at community gardens throughout the valley. Mel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why are you an advocate? “Gunnison County offers an incredible playground of unique landscapes and ecosystems to explore. I think that it’s critical for us all to give a voice to our lands to ensure that they can be protected and enjoyed for generations to come.”
Meet Our Board of Directors
Our Board is comprised of committed members of our community who are passionate about protecting our local environment in Gunnison County.
Sandy has been active in the public lands conservation movement in Colorado for more than 25 years, and has been involved in the creation of several conservation groups, as well as serving on staff as HCCA’s Public Lands Director. He recently completed a Master’s in Ecopsychology from Naropa University. Sandy joined the HCCA board in July 2013.
Why are you an advocate? “I am an advocate for wild nature, the land of the Gunnison Country and her many creatures, the flowing waters, and for the abundance of life that surrounds and supports us. I am Advocate for those living entities with no voice, but on whom we depend. Ultimately, I am an advocate for those who will come after me, to live in the world we have left to them.”
Mary H. Cooper Ellis
Mary is a retired journalist from Washington, DC, and holds master’s degrees in landscape architecture and urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech. After an initial visit to Crested Butte in 1990, Mary and her husband, John, returned each year until they made Crested Butte their permanent home in 2014. While a staffer at Congressional Quarterly, she covered environmental and energy policy and wrote on a number of topics vital to the West, including energy production, the environmental impacts of abandoned mines and other Superfund sites, as well as urban sprawl on Colorado’s Front Range. Mary joined the HCCA board in 2016.
Why are you an advocate? “Covering federal policymaking that affects the quality of our environment made me yearn to do something concrete to protect it. Through HCCA, the Gunnison Valley’s preeminent champion of conservation, I now actively advocate for a mine-free home, clean water and pristine public lands.”
Arvin Ramgoolam is the owner of Rumors Coffee and Tea House and Townie Books with his wife Danica. He has lived in Crested Butte for over 10 years and joined the HCCA board in July, 2013. In addition to the HCCA board, he also serves on the KBUT and Public Policy Forum boards of trustees. When not volunteering or working, he can be found cross-country skiing in the winter with his dog or hiking and biking in the summer.
Larry is a retired journalist now living in Crested Butte. He worked as a reporter and editor in New York City, Washington D.C., Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Paonia, Colorado, where he edited The High Country News for one year. While covering the environment for the weekly magazine National Journal in Washington D.C., the National Wildlife Federation named him “Communicator of the Year” for his coverage of the Reagan Administration’s attempt to reduce the nation’s environmental protection. Larry looks forward to finding solutions to the challenges ahead and is convinced that learning to live within our resources will provide answers to our future. He has been on the HCCA board since October, 2003.
Deidre is a registered professional engineer with 28 years of experience in project, system and electrical design engineering and management for commercial, industrial, and institutional/government facilities. Deidre has a keen interest in ensuring responsible management of Gunnison County public lands. She believes that protecting and preserving our environment is vital to our way of life now and into the future. She feels grateful to be living in our beautiful community and has a deep emotional and spiritual bond with our environment and the wildness around us. “Crested Butte wouldn’t be what it is today without the hard work and stewardship of organizations like HCCA and the people who support them. Becoming a contributing member of HCCA will give me a chance to work with like-minded people to protect and preserve our way of life. It’s one way I can pay back the good fortune of being able to live here.”
Why are you an advocate? “Nature is my inspiration, my constant companion, my true love. I’m as much a part of the natural world as it is of me. I can’t let it down.”
Aaron Peterson is a chiropractor locally with Bliss Chiropractic and travels the state as an equine chiropractor and teacher. He and his wife, Paula, moved from Minnesota to Crested Butte in the summer of 2014 planning on a short stay. That fall they made CB their full-time home. Prior to chiropractic Aaron earned a BA in environmental policy and worked as a rock climbing and wilderness guide throughout the western US and Alaska. He is passionate about preserving our surrounding wild lands in a way that will be recognizable for countless generations to come.
Why are you an advocate? “In Crested Butte there is an understanding that we thrive because of our wild-ness. Our untamed surroundings provide a connection to our past and they are the very thing that keeps our community alive. I am an advocate because these wild places and wild creatures have provided so much to all of us. It is our responsibility to honor them in return.”
Sue has lived in Crested Butte since 1971 and is a founding member of HCCA. She has worked on a wide variety of issues since 1977. Her volunteer work focuses on public lands protection, open space, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse and other community issues. She serves on the Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Board, Gunnison Basin Sage-Grouse Strategic Committee, and Gunnison County Sage-Grouse Mitigation Committee. Sue leads HCCA’s summer hike program, as hiking in our inspirational public lands and wilderness areas is her passion, and also helps coordinate fundraising and outreach events for HCCA. Her longevity in our community brings a relevant perspective to our work.
Why are you an advocate? “Since coming to Crested Butte in 1971, advocating for the protection of our precious environment has become increasingly important to me, and I can’t imagine a better way to devote my time and energy. The natural world that I value is irreplaceable, and I’m honored to be able to help wherever I can. “
Rob is a former non-profit development associate and grant writer who had the good fortune to marry into a long-time Gunnison ranching family. He is now a member of the 5th generation to be given the honor and privilege of stewarding the landscapes and livestock that comprise the Allen ranches. He blissfully spends his days surrounded by horses, dogs and a whole lot of cows. In his spare time, Rob enjoys hiking, skiing, tennis, traveling and climbing on horseback just for fun. Rob also serves as a board member for the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley.
Why are you an advocate? “It was so easy to fall in love with this valley the first time I visited. I still remember being awestruck the first time I rode into Oh Be Joyful. Now as a rancher, my family and I depend on the health of our surrounding landscapes for our livelihood, as do so many others in our community. Recognizing how interconnected we are with nature, advocating for clear air, open space, and clean water becomes an obligation; one that I will gladly fulfill at every opportunity.”