Northwest Region

Counties:  Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt

Cities:  Craig, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Steamboat Springs


The Northwest Regional Council is leading an effort to provide a more effective educational pipeline to students who would otherwise not pursue higher education through a collaboration of the four institutions of higher education in the region: Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, and Western Colorado Community College. The Reach Your Peak pipeline begins with middle school summer camps, designed to provide students an opportunity to learn new skills and expand their perceptions of higher education.  Participants are exposed to hands-on training in focus areas such as culinary arts, auto mechanics, science and energy, and 3d printing and design. In 2017, more than 700 students participated in summer camps hosted by the four colleges and universities. The pipeline continues with concurrent enrollment in high school, and culminates with scholarships to any of the four partner institutions.

Learn more about the Reach Your Peak pipeline.

Grant Highlight In 2017, the Northwest Regional Council furthered its support of higher education institutions in the region with $75,000 grants in support of apprenticeship programs at Colorado Northwestern Community College, the Mountain Futures Fund at Colorado Mountain College, and the work Colorado Mesa University is doing to place career counselors in local high schools. The Council looks forward to continuing to work in support of workforce development and post-secondary readiness throughout the region.

Meet Our Regional Council Members

Dave Palenchar was raised in southern California and first came to Colorado to attend the United States Air Force Academy. After a career in the Air Force, he returned to Colorado and joined the El Pomar program staff. In 2007, Dave was recognized as the Colorado Springs Business Citizen of the Year by the (then) Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He retired as El Pomar’s chief operating officer in 2013.

He currently serves as president and chief executive officer of the Broadmoor World Arena and the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts, chairman of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, president of the Air Force Academy Foundation, and is a board member for the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Hall of Fame.

Dave Palenchar

Trustee, El Pomar Foundation

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is President and CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She has been a senior executive at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the Daniels Fund. Carrie has held gubernatorial appointments to Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and currently serves on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission and Great Outdoors Colorado. She is also a member of the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce and the American Rivers Boards of Directors.

Carrie earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, master’s and doctorate degrees from UCLA, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Wharton School of Business. An avid outdoorswoman, she has trekked to the Mt. Everest Basecamp, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, and is nearing completion of Colorado’s “14ers.”

Carrie Besnette Hauser, Ph.D.

President and CEO, Colorado Mountain College

Tilman “Tillie” Bishop, a Colorado Springs native, is a former Regent for the University of Colorado for the 3rd Congressional District. A former Mesa County commissioner, Tillie was elected to the Colorado General Assembly in 1970 and served two terms in the House of Representatives, and served six, four-year terms as Colorado State Senator. Tillie was appointed by the governor of Colorado to serve on the Colorado Mesa University board of trustees and remains an active participant in numerous community, state, and national organizations.

Tillie was an El Pomar Foundation scholarship recipient while earning his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education at the University of Northern Colorado. UNC conferred an honorary doctorate upon Tillie in 1999.

The Honorable Tilman M. Bishop

Trustee, Colorado Mesa University

Dana Duran is Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado, serving Craig and Steamboat Springs. Dana’s background includes working with underrepresented populations, decreasing barriers to access in afterschool and summer programming and previously in college admissions. Dana sits on the Board for Rise Above Colorado and the State Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs and previously served as on the State Judicial Nomination Commission. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Regis University, and is a graduate of the advanced leadership program through Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Dana Duran

CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado

Tim Foster has served as the 10th President of Colorado Mesa University since March 2004, when he was appointed by the Colorado Mesa University board of trustees. A former member of Colorado Governor Bill Owens's cabinet, Tim has served as the Executive Director for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. He was initially appointed to the position by Governor Owens in 1999 and reappointed in 2003. Mr. Foster also served as head of the Department of Higher Education, which includes the Colorado Historical Society and the Colorado Council on the Arts, and served on the boards of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the Denver Chamber of Commerce and its Committee on Science and Technology. Tim was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1988 and served as the majority leader from 1993 to 1996. A Grand Junction native, his numerous community activities include service on the Board of Governors of the Colorado Bar Association, the Board of Powderhorn Ski Area, as chairman of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Tim earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with Honors from Kenyon College, a Master’s Degree in Mineral Economics from the Colorado School of Mines and a juris doctorate from the University of Denver College Of Law.

Tim Foster

President, Colorado Mesa University

Tom Kenning is the Chief Administration Officer of Alpine Bank. He is currently the chairman of Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley, sits on the Investment Committee of Rocky Mountain PBS, was appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to the State Securities Board and is a Director of YouthEntity. Tom has been involved in many other public service organizations including: Ouray Board of Education, Ouray Regional Service Authority, Ouray Performing Arts Guild, and the Imogene Pass Run.

Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Colorado State University and graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Washington.

Tom Kenning

Chief Administrative Officer, Alpine Bank

Bob Rankin was elected in 2012 to serve in the Colorado House of Representatives. After serving as an officer in the U.S. Army Security Agency, Bob worked for Ford Aerospace Corporation, the defense and aerospace subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, for 22 years where he served as vice president and general manager of the division. Bob has also lived in Colorado Springs and served as vice president of development for the Colorado Springs Symphony and chairman of the Engineering Advisory Committee for the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. During his first term in office, Bob served on the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, the House Local Government Committee, the Joint Technology Committee and as a member of the Board of the Colorado Tourism Office and the Board of the State Internet Portal Authority.

Bob graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in electrical engineering.

The Honorable Bob Rankin

Colorado State Representative, District #57

Gregg Rippy is President of Grand River Construction in Glenwood Springs. Gregg also served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2000-2004, the Executive Director of the Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority from 2004-2009, and is the founder and managing director of Rocky Mountain Ready Mix. Gregg is a former member of the Western State Colorado University board of trustees, and is currently chairman of the Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District.

Gregg graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Gregg Rippy

President, Grand River Construction

Senior Staff, Northwest Regional Council

Contact Cathy:

Cathy Robbins

Senior Vice President and Director of Regional Partnerships, El Pomar Foundation

Contact Corey:

Corey Baron

Program Associate, El Pomar Foundation

Contact Jack:

Jack Gurr

Program Associate, El Pomar Foundation