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 Henderson

Brett Henderson

Executive Director

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 brett@hccacb.org.

Why are you an advocate? “I am an advocate because the beauty of our landscapes inspires me.”

Matt Reed

Matt Reed

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 matt@hccacb.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.”

Julie Nania

Julie Nania

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 julie@hccacb.org.

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 Yemma

Mel Yemma

Outreach Director

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 mel@hccacb.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 Shea

Sandy Shea

President

Sandy has been active in the conservation movement in Colorado for more than 20 years, and has been involved in the creation of several conservation groups, as well as serving on staff as HCCA’s Public Lands Director. When not in Crested Butte, Sandy is likely to be in India, climbing a peak or visiting with local nomad peoples. He’s currently pursuing 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.”

Rob Burnett

Rob Burnett

Board Member

Rob fulfilled a long-standing dream in 2011 when he and his wife, Charla, moved to Crested Butte from a small village near Chamonix, France. However, the siren call of Crested Butte began in the late 70s thanks to the U.S. Forest Service. Rob was working in Oregon as a Wilderness and Snow Ranger when he was offered a job running the Wilderness and Trails program in Aspen. After hiking and skiing across the Elk Mountains to spend time here, Rob realized that the Upper Gunnison Valley was unique for its natural treasures and the community it supports. Rob joined the board in June 2013 and is pleased to be working with HCCA to ensure that this is a place we can all be proud to call home.

Why are you an advocate? “I am an advocate because the environment of the upper Gunnison country is my home and it needs to be protected.”

Arvin Ramgoolam

Arvin Ramgoolam

Vice President

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 Mosher

Larry Mosher

Board Member

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 Witherell

Deidre Witherell

Secretary/Treasurer

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.”

Sue Navy

Sue Navy

Board Member

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. “

Liberty Godshall

Liberty Godshall

Board Member

Liberty Godshall lives in Crested Butte Colorado and Santa Monica California. She is a writer and has been involved in environmental causes for over 25 years.  In 1993 she was Press Secretary for California’s Big Green Initiative which was crafted by the Sierra Club. In 1999 she co founded Americans For A Safe Future, a grassroots organization that successfully stopped the construction of a nuclear waste dump in Ward Valley California.  She has written and produced three television shows for ABC – “thirtysomething,” My So Called Life,” and “Once and Again.” As a journalist she has written for the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Sinapu Magazine and People Magazine.  She is also currently on the board of Defenders of Wildlife, Vital Ground and the council of Earthjustice. She joined the HCCA board in January, 2014.

Why are you an advocate? “I am an advocate because, to quote Edward Abbey, ‘the idea of wilderness needs no defense, only more defenders.'”

Mary H. Cooper Ellis

Mary H. Cooper Ellis

Board Member

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.”