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 in the midst of a project poised to have a lasting impact on the region. With a four-year funding commitment and a partnership among the four institutions of higher education in the region, the Northwest Regional Council is leading an effort to provide a more effective educational pipeline to students who would otherwise not pursue higher education. The pipeline, named Reach Your Peak, begins in middle school with summer camps, designed to provide both middle school and high school students an opportunity to learn new skills and expand their perceptions of education.  Participants are exposed to hands-on training in focus areas such as culinary arts, auto mechanics, and science and energy workshops. In 2015, more than 500 students participated in summer camps hosted by the four colleges and universities. The pipeline continues with concurrent enrollment in high school, and culminates with a transferable scholarship to any of the four partner institutions in the region. 

Check out this video for highlights from the 2015 summer camps at Colorado Mesa University, 

Grant Highlight In 2015, the Northwest Regional Council furthered its support of higher education institutions in the region with grants in support of the special collections and technology upgrades in Colorado Mesa University’s Tomlinson Library renovation project as well as Colorado Mountain College’s Mountain Futures Initiative, which focuses on eliminating the need for remediation courses. In 2016, the Council plans to support Colorado Northwestern Community College in their efforts to help students in the region.
Watch & learn more about Reach Your Peak

Meet Our Regional Council Members

Dave Palenchar is El Pomar’s trustee focusing on special projects. He retired as Chief Operating Officer at El Pomar in 2013. Dave formerly served as a pilot in the Air Force and a political science and international relations faculty member at the Air Force Academy. Dave is president and CEO of the Broadmoor World Arena and the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts. Dave serves as chairman of the board for the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, president of the Air Force Academy Foundation, and is on the boards of 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. Hauser’s teaching background includes assignments at UCLA, the University of Denver, and in Colorado State University’s executive M.B.A. program. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Wharton School of Business. Carrie is past president of the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA). She has held appointments to Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser

President and CEO, Colorado Mountain College

Tilman “Tillie” Bishop is a former regent for the University of Colorado for the Third 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 state senator. A Colorado Springs native, 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. Tillie was appointed by the Governor of Colorado to serve on the Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees. Tillie remains an active participant in numerous community, state, and national organizations

The Honorable Tilman M. Bishop

Trustee, Colorado Mesa University

Audrey Danner currently serves as the Executive Director of Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership and the Marianna Raftopoulos Business Incubator Center in Craig, CO. Previously she worked for Moffat County citizens as a County Commissioner for two terms. This experience built upon the 12 years at Yampa Valley Partners providing data and indicators for Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties as the basis of facilitated community discussions. Audrey serves on Mountain Connect Rural Broadband, a telecom nonprofit agency, and offers hope to families who have survived the death of a child through her work with Compassionate Friends. Audrey and her husband, Ron, live in Craig and enjoy all seasons out of doors in northwest Colorado.

Audrey Danner

Executive Director, Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership and the Marianna Raftopoulos Business Incubator Center

Tim is the tenth president of Colorado Mesa University. A former member of the House of Representatives and Colorado Governor Bill Owens' cabinet, Tim 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. Tim also served as head of the Department of Higher Education. Prior to directing the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, Tim was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1988 and served as the Majority Leader for four sessions, from 1993 to 1996. During that time, Tim was a partner in the general practice law firm of Foster, Larson, Laiche and Griff in Grand Junction.

Tim Foster

President, Colorado Mesa University

Tom Kenning is Chief Operations Officer of Alpine Bank. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Colorado State University and graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. He is currently the chairman for Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley and sits on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain PBS. He 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 Kenning

Chief Operations Officer, Alpine Bank

Bob Rankin was elected in 2012 to serve in the State House of Representatives. After graduating from Mississippi State with a degree in electrical engineering, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Security Agency. For twenty-two years, he worked for Ford Aerospace Corporation, the defense and aerospace subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, where he served as Vice President and General Manager of the division. Bob has also lived in Colorado Springs and served as vice president for the development of 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.

The Honorable Bob Rankin

Colorado State Representative, District #57

Gregg Rippy graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. He is the president of Grand River Construction in Glenwood Springs. Gregg also served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2000-2004. He currently serves as interim director of the Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority, where he also served as Executive Director from 2004-2009. He 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 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

Samantha Albert joined El Pomar Foundation as a member of the 2015 Fellowship class. As a second year Fellow, Samantha works with the Forum for Civic Advancement, Colorado College Scholars, Western Legislative Academy, Regional Partnerships, and American Council of Young Political Leaders, in addition to working in the Northwest region.

Contact Sam:

Samantha Albert

Program Associate, El Pomar Foundation

Abby Pearson

Program Associate, El Pomar Foundation