Southwest Region

Counties:  Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan

Cities:  Cortez, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Silverton

In May 2014, Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) came to southwest Colorado, exactly when the Council wanted to explore potential focus areas. After conversations, connections, and workshops during the three-day meeting, the Council narrowed its focus to early childhood care and education. RPD’s role in the decision was not only serendipitous, but a testament to the value of RPD in generating momentum and awareness for rural Colorado’s needs.

In August that same year, the Council convened eight leaders in early childhood care to discuss challenges and opportunities in the region. The group identified a lack of affordable spaces at licensed childcare providers for toddlers and infants and a shortage of qualified caregivers as primary concerns. Every county, with the exception of San Juan, has long waitlists at licensed childcare sites and experiences a shortage of qualified caregivers. Though access to spaces is the main challenge within early childhood care and education, expanding the pool of quality certified caregivers in the region could create more spaces in the future.  The region has two Early Childhood Councils, which provide training, resources, and partnerships for certified caregivers.

Grant Highlight Following these discussions, the Southwest Regional Council was pleased to recommend a multi-year grant to form the Southwest Colorado Regional Early Childhood Collaborative. Now in the second year of funding, the collaborative works to expand the early childhood system, strengthen existing relationships between providers, and increase the quality and accessibility of early childhood programs in all five counties. In 2015, the Southwest Colorado Early Childhood Regional Collaborative distributed $55,295.79 creating 69 infant and toddler slots in the region: four slots were created in Archuleta County, 36 slots were created in La Plata County, and 29 slots were created in Montezuma County. The Southwest Colorado Early Childhood Regional Collaborative also distributed $5,000 in travel stipends for professional development. Furthermore, 130 hours of content specific coaching was received by Child Care Directors in the five-county region. In December, the Trustees approved the Southwest Council’s recommendation to fund the collaborative at $80,000 for 2016.
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Meet Our Regional Council Members

R. Thayer Tutt, Jr. is President and Chief Investment Officer of El Pomar Foundation. He is the chair of the investment committee for the United States Olympic Foundation, and also serves on the investment committees for Colorado College and the Geological Society of America. Tutt is treasurer for the Air Force Academy Foundation, and treasurer and past president for the National Recreation Foundation Board in New York City. He is on the board of directors and treasurer for the Colorado Springs Health Foundation. He sits on the boards of trustees for Colorado College, Broadmoor World Arena and The Hundred Club of Colorado Springs.
In addition, Tutt is the president of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation, president of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Endowment Fund and past president of Penrose St. Francis board of trustees. In 2009, he received the Business Citizen of the Year Award from the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Tutt is a graduate of Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in geological and geophysical sciences, and earned his masters from Duke University in business administration.

R. Thayer Tutt Jr.

Vice Chairman and Chief Investment Officer, El Pomar Foundation

Dean Brookie established his architecture and planning firm based in Durango in 1980. Dean was mayor during the Gold King mine spill and represented Durango with testimony to Congress regarding the history of acid mine waste in the Animas River. He has served on the city’s board of appeals and on numerous not-for-profit boards including High Noon Rotary Club, Habitat for Humanity, and the Durango Adult Education Center. He is a founding member of the Boys & Girls Club and is currently serving as President of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns. In 2007, he was honored as Volunteer of the Year for Habitat for Humanity in Colorado for his design assistance for family housing, and in 2009 received the Colorado’s Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence for the Best Building Rehabilitation of the former Wallace Furniture Building.

Dean completed a bachelor’s degree in environmental design and a Master of Architecture at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Dean Brookie

Architect and Durango City Councilor

Mary Jo Coulehan is the Executive Director for the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. She's been with the Chamber for nine and a half years. Previously, she spent two years as a manager with Pagosa Verde, LLC, a renewable resource development company focusing on sustainable solutions for economic development in rural communities. Mary Jo has held numerous board positions regionally and in the state including Region 9 Economic Development, Club 20, Colorado Chamber of Commerce Executives, United Way of Southwest Colorado, and 2014 Rural Philanthropy Days co-chair.

Born in El Paso, Texas, Mary Jo graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Science in biology. She then embarked on a 16-year career with Marriott Hotels. She has been a resident of Pagosa Springs for more than 20 years.

Mary Jo Coulehan

Executive Director, Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

Beth Drum currently serves as Senior Vice President for Alpine Bank Durango. She has worked with Alpine Bank for 20 years. During her tenure, she has held numerous positions, though her primary focus has been business and community development as well as bank marketing. She is a Colorado native, and grew up in Denver. Since moving to Durango in 2005, she has volunteered and consulted with many local nonprofits. She is past chairwoman of the Mercy Health Foundation board, and past board member of the Mercy Regional Medical Center. She served as president of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, and as a board member for the Women’s Resource Center. She is currently active with the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2014, she was honored with the Morley Ballantine Award, for her commitment to the community and exhibiting excellence in business.

Beth Drum

Senior Vice President, Alpine Bank

Joe Keck retired in 2015 from the position of Director of the Small Business Development Center at Fort Lewis College in Durango, serving the five-county area of Region 9 in southwestern Colorado. Joe has been a small-business owner since 1993 and worked in planning and economic development capacities with the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Indian Tribes. Joe and his wife Susan were owners of Susie’s Gifts on Main (formerly Susie’s Hallmark Shop) and Cortez Catalog Sales (a JC Penney Catalog Merchant). Joe has served in a number of public capacities including eight years of service on the Cortez City council as mayor, with the Cortez Downtown Association, and the Colorado Aeronautical Board. Joe has served as a trustee on the Ballantine Family Fund since 2001. In 2013, Joe was recognized as the Southwest Colorado Economic Development Leader of the Year by the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest. He was recognized as the Colorado State Star by the Colorado Small Business Development Network in 2004 at the National Association of Small Business Development Centers Conference in New Orleans, and received the SBA Excellence in Innovation Award in 2015.

Joe completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and English at Fort Lewis College in Durango, and master’s work in Planning and Community Development through the University of Colorado Denver.

Joe Keck


Rebecca Larson is a Senior TA Manager at OMNI Institute and has been with the organization since 2006. Rebecca serves in a senior leadership role as a regional consultant on the learning and development team. She provides services to three counties located in the southwest corner of the state and is based out of Dolores. The TA & Training Project includes a statewide system of regionally based OMNI staff that provides customized technical assistance, facilitation and training services for people working in the field of prevention. Rebecca is a Colorado certified prevention specialist II. She is a trained facilitator and a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator practitioner and certified Bridges Out of Poverty Trainer. Prior to joining OMNI, Rebecca worked with youth as a direct service provider and as community coalition director working on systems-level change.

Rebecca received her master’s degree in community leadership through Duquesne University.

Rebecca Larson

Senior TA Manager, OMNI Institute

Lisa Scott is a community volunteer in Pagosa Springs and has been a resident since 1998. She has been involved with a variety of nonprofit organizations and has held numerous leadership positions with the United Way of Southwest Colorado, Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Foundation, and Archuleta County Education Center. Prior to moving to Pagosa Springs, she lived in San Francisco and Denver, and her volunteer affiliations were with the Junior League, Women’s Foundation of Colorado, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Lisa has a Bachelor of Science in business from the University of Colorado and had a career in investment banking in San Francisco.

Lisa Scott

Community Leader

Kim White has been the Superintendent of the Silverton School District for the past 15 years. She has overseen and administered a number of initiatives including the recent rehabilitation and historical restoration of the Silverton School building, the successful implementation of multiple 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, and the Comprehensive School Reform efforts to implement the Expeditionary Learning Educational Model in a rural school district. As a longtime resident of Silverton, she has been involved with the San Juan County Economic Development Board, affordable housing efforts in San Juan County, and efforts to bring reliable health care to San Juan County. In addition, she currently sits on the Silverton Family Learning Center and Preschool Board as well as on the Silverton Youth Center Board.

Kim White

Superintendent, Silverton School District

Senior Staff, Southwest Region

Contact Cathy:

Cathy Robbins

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

Contact Morgan:

Morgan Harrison

Program Associate, El Pomar Foundation

Contact Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Hoffner

Program Associate, El Pomar Foundation