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More effective leadership means healthier nonprofits

Paulette Church, left, new director of the Professional Nonprofit Management Certificate Program at Fort Lewis College, and Dene Kay Thomas, FLC president, celebrate the first class of graduates at the Rochester Hotel.

Nonprofits are in a vulnerable place right now, between the economic downturn and a higher need than ever for services, so skilled leadership from staff members, boards and volunteers has never been more essential.

In 2008, Bob Over approached then Fort Lewis College President Brad Bartel about creating educational opportunities for people working in the significant nonprofit sector here who couldn’t always afford the money or time to go to Denver to learn. Over, who had worked with several major nonprofits on the Front Range, knew whereof he spoke. After working with FLC deans and Gigi Baty, the director of Continuing Education, the first class launched in January 2010.

Over left Durango last year to help the University of Idaho at Coeur d’Alene create a similar offering, but the original class he started has grown, expanded and flourished, with FLC now offering a Professional Nonprofit Management Certificate for students who have completed 50 hours or more of classwork.

The classwork is certainly valuable in and of itself – accountants, management professionals and leaders from the most successful nonprofits in town are the teachers – but the networking that happens among class members and presenters is also invaluable.

On May 7, the first official graduation ceremony was held at the Rochester Hotel. FLC President Dene Kay Thomas kicked things off with some thoughts about the importance of nonprofits to the community and the generous hearts of people who keep our nonprofits humming.

The FLC Foundation offered two scholarships to students who completed both the nonprofit certificate program and their regular degree coursework. Those students, Jessica Voss and Conrad Wright, were members of this first graduating class. Foundation Executive Director Margie Deane Gray talked about the doors the program opens to FLC students.

Then it was time for the official transition from Baty, who handled the program this past year while she waited for Over’s official successor, Paulette Church, to finish her responsibilities at the Durango Adult Education Center. Church encouraged the graduates to dream, work, collaborate and celebrate, both in their work and in their lives.

The other graduates were Baty; Tanya Boyce, executive director of the adult day care center Our Place; Danielle Brafford of the Southwest Youth Coalition; Christine Morales, executive director of Sky Vision Art & Music Camp; Annie Satariano, formerly of United Way of Southwest Colorado and now with Axis Health; Fred Schneider, executive director of the newly formed Kaleidoscope Family Services; Cindy Smart, president of the Durango Botanical Society; Kristi Streiffert, a board member and supporter of numerous nonprofits including Locals First; and Sarah Tescher, executive director of Durango Devo.

And kudos also go to the Nonprofit Leadership Committee, whose members have helped guide the certificate program through its fragile early years and its almost 700 students to date. They are Baty, Church, Lon Irwin, Kirk Komick, Tim Kroes, Vaughn Morris, Tim Walsworth, Over and Eileen Wasserbach.


Warm weather is upon us for the birthdays of Vern Swanson, Lucille Ball, Merlwyn Clausen, Sari Ross, Alison Asselstine, Hannah Miller, Eileen Wasserbach, Brandie Boyd, Missy Rodey, Rebecca Eggleston, Lucy Flores, John Krispin, Eric Strength, Gary Trotter, Calla Mae Tyner, Risa Ontiveros, Marisa Smith, Delmar Beard, Garrett Cobb, Bill Russell, Chase Shelton, Beth Stelz, Chris Chambers, Susanne Loucks and the Rev. Bob Seney.

Special greetings go to Arlo Unterreiner, who celebrates his first birthday Friday.


There are concerts and then there are resonating-in-your-bones experiences, and the latter was what attendees were treated to at Soli Deo Gloria, a performance by the Durango Choral Society and the Durango Women’s Choir in the magnificent surroundings of St. Columba Catholic Church on April 28.

The society kicked it off with three movements from Zoltán Kodály’s Missa Brevis – only sacred music for this concert – with a chorus of angels (OK, some of the sopranos and mezzos) in the balcony above and behind the audience.

I swear, every time I hear the women’s choir, they’re better than ever, and the intricacies of “Panis Angelicus” by César Franck, “The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee” by Robert Edward Smith and “Alleluia, Amen” by Randall Thompson showed that was the case yet again. Wow.

And because when you have a talented organist and an incredible organ, you have to take advantage, Scott Hagler performed “Voluntary” by John Stanley to finish off the first half.

But the Gabriel Fauré Requiem, complete with a chamber group including Hagler, John Ninnemann on violin, Kristina Lambert and Assunda Phillips on viola, Steve White and Hans Freuden on cello and Debi Marti on harp, was, in a word, exquisite. Soloists Curtis Storm and Sarah Choszczyk were just plain lovely.

The DCS will close out its season at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Durango Arts Center with its biggest fundraiser of the year, “Cabaret.”

Michelle Hegenwald is running the food part of the evening, which means a smashing buffet, and Artistic Director Linda Mack Berven sent me a tantalizing peak at the program, which includes our Irish songbird, Gemma Kavanagh, on her fabulous rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” (worth the price of admission alone) along with a broad sampling of Broadway favorites.

Tickets are $40, and are available by visiting www.DurangoChoralSociety.org.


The trees are abloom for the anniversaries of Field and Priscilla Blevins and Dan and Lilian Tucker.

Jun 19, 2016
Tim Kroes retires after 25 years at Adaptive Sports Association

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