Member Spotlights

April 17 - Chris Carney

“My journey began on April 17, 1965 at 5:28 AM in Denver, Colorado; six minutes after my twin brother James and exactly two years after his sister Susan. In the early 1970's, I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico while my mother finished her degree. In 1972, we moved back to Colorado.

I graduated from Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, Colorado in 1983 where I wrestled, played football and baseball. I coached the freshman wrestling team in 1985 and 1986 and started officiating wrestling in the fall of 1986 and have been on the mat every wrestling season since.

After high school, I attended the now defunct Denver Institute of Technology and received an Associate’s Degree in Architectural Drafting in 1985. After graduation, I went to work for two engineering consulting firms in the Denver area until 1994.

In December of 1991, I met my wonderful wife of almost 25 years, Denna Kendrick. We were married on May 29, 1993 and moved to Durango in March of 1994. One of the plans for moving to Durango, was to go back to school and work on a teaching degree. I took a drafting job with Holt Sheet Metal, Inc. and was there for 9 ½ years.

On July 11, 1996, our lives changed for the greater when the world welcomed my amazing daughter, Harley Carney. The incredibly creative and talented young lady is a certified cosmetologists and works at Hair Fusion in Durango with unlimited potential for the future.

Denna teaches after-school art through the Durango Art Center at the Durango area elementary schools. Along with her own art projects that have been on display at the Durango Art Center, she spends her time working the family ranch and hiking around with our four Pembroke Welsh Corgis. She was named the Outstanding High School Art Student in 1982. The winning drawing is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

In 2003, the Carney family took a huge leap of faith when I left Holt Sheet Metal and went back to school, full-time to pursue an accounting degree. I graduated in 2006 and took a job with Tafoya Barrett and Associates PC (then Brown, Wheeldon, Tafoya and Barrett PC) as a staff accountant. After twelve years with the company, I am still going strong.

I joined the Kiwanis Club of Durango in July 2015. I have been the Treasurer since September 2015. My other volunteer has included organizing the United Way campaign at BRW, Inc., one year as the Accounting Chairperson for the local Relay For Life, and organizing Tafoya Barrett’s participation in past Relay For Life events and the annual local Stan the Marathon Man Alzheimer’s run/walk.

When not working, I have had a number of hobbies and “side jobs.” Besides officiating wrestling for 31 years, I spent three seasons in Denver with the Empire Lyric Players; an amateur theater group that performed Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. I played hundreds of fast and slow pitch softball games. I enjoy bird and big game hunting. I have ridden hundreds of miles horseback on Missionary Ridge and in the Utah desert working cattle. I also spent over 20 years with the American Taekwondo Association where I achieved the rank of 4th Degree Black Belt, became a certified instructor, and operated my own taekwondo club for over 15 years.”

April 10 - Tyson Brimhall

Tyson Brimhall has extensive financial services and consulting experience in both public and private accounting. During his years working in various divisions of Big Four accounting firms in Arizona and Northern California, he teamed with clients from multiple industries to meet their assurance and tax needs, as well as consulted in the areas of technology and accounting system design, implementation and operation. He is currently the owner of Animas Tax Solutions, LLC, a financial services firm focused on helping taxpayers with IRS tax problems through representation, planning and compliance, in addition to general business consulting.

Tyson is passionate about education and is often found running the trails around Durango, Colorado. He enjoys funky and weird music and being outdoors doing activities such as skiing, camping, and golf.

Tyson holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Anderson School of Management at The University of New Mexico and a Bachelor of Accountancy degree from the College of Business at New Mexico State University. He is licensed as a certified public accountant (CPA) in the state of Colorado.

April 3 - Ken Marshall

Ken Marshall grew up in East Lansing, Michigan; four years at Michigan State; married Sue Giles while in the U S Navy; raised two sons and a daughter in Toledo, Ohio while making a living as a Grain Trader. Moved to Durango in 1979 and built a house and guesthouse in Falls Creek Ranch; became a active volunteer with The Durango Art Center, the Methodist Church, The Colorado Mountain Club, and The Colorado Trail. In 1983 began "bare boat” sailing with friends for short sails in the Caribbean. Became "snowbirds" spending winters in Ponce Inlet, Florida near Daytona Beach in 2004. Lost "My Girl Sue" in 2014 and now spend much of the year in Ponce Inlet. At 89, still ride a fat tire bike on the beach there where Nascar started in the 1950's!

March 20 - Don Baker

Captain Donald "Saber" Baker, USN (RET) is currently living in Williamsburg, VA, and, previously, Durango, CO. He served over 30 years in the United States Navy. He graduated from Durango High School in 1953 and joined the US Navy’s Midshipman (NROTC) program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. During the Summer of 1954 he made a Midshipman cruise in the battleship USS New Jersey, visiting ports in the Mediterranean Sea. Majoring in Aeronautical Engineering he accumulated the requisite number of classes to join the U. S. Navy’s flight training program as a Naval Aviation Cadet. He received his commission as an Ensign and Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator in March 1957. 

Don’s many assignments included duties in various Fighter Squadrons flying the “Skyray” (F4D later F6), “Crusader” (F8) and “Phantom” (F4H). He served at the Commanding Officer, “Skipper,” of Fighter Squadron Forty-One flying “Phantoms”. He attended the U.S. Naval War College remaining on the staff teaching war gamming. He was involved in developing the computer design specification for the War Gaming system. Other assignments included serving as a Combat Flight Instructor attached to Fighter Squadron One-Twenty-Four at U.S Naval Air Station Miramar, CA; Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66); Commodore of Service Squadron 4, composed of eleven replenishment ships; and, finally, his last duties were as Operations Officer (J-3), simultaneously, for Commander in Chief Atlantic (CINCLANT) and Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT).

In June 1962, Don married Kay Holt of Durango, CO. Together they raised three sons, Todd, Brett and Grant, and have five grandchildren. Kay carried a heavy burden exceptionally well while being responsible for the home and sons, often for six to seven months, while Don was aboard aircraft carriers in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and, when Don was the Commanding Officer of USS Milwaukee (AOR-2), a replenishment oiler, operating in the North and Baltic Seas. After his retirement from the U.S. Navy in July 1985, Don was a Realtor serving Northern Virginia and back in Durango. He soon started his own business, breathing life into his father’s previous business, Baker Distributing Company, wholesaling locally produced gourmet, gift and specialty foods to grocery stores and gift shops in Southwest Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

Don accumulated 707 carrier landings during his flying career. Among his many awards and decorations, he includes the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Nine Air Medals, Vietnam Campaign Medal w/five stars, Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Unit Commendation (Gallantry Cross), and others.

Don is a Kiwanis International Hixson Fellow and Ruby-K 30 holder. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Durango, The Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg, The Association of Naval Aviation, The US Navy Tail Hook Association (carrier aviators), The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The United States Navy Memorial and Colonial Williamsburg Burgesses.

March 13 - Uta Carleno

"I was born in 1948 in Kennenburg Esslingen, Germany and my mother named me after the princess Uta from Naumburg. I grew up in the industrial town of Nuertingen in Southern Germany. My mother had fled from the eastern part of Germany and left a large family behind. For years as I grew up we could only write letters to the East and then we had to apply for visas to see our relatives. Visas were often denied. My grandmother was allowed to come and visit us when she was 65. That was a big celebration for us. The dividing wall between East and West has left deep impressions on me growing up.

After I was 14 again my parents said it was enough and I had to quit and go to work in a knitting factory across the river behind our house. I lasted a year and during that time I decided that I wanted to run a factory. I started an apprenticeship and went to a school two days a week and worked for various places three days a week as an apprentice. To this day I love to learn how things work and how they are made and think about how something can be improved. I was 22 years old when I finished and had met a very nice GI who’s parents offered to sponsor me coming to the US.

I came to the US in 1971 and two days later I celebrated my 23rd birthday and a few days later I married my first husband Bruce. I was so ill prepared and had no clue how things work in the US. We lived with his parents in Bayfield towards Vallecito Lake. During that time I worked for Cessna Aircraft in Kansas in the engineering department doing time and motion studies for them and reorganized assembly lines for more efficient output.

Back in Durango, I was working for Kroeger’s True Value Hardware as a cashier and worked my way up to be Fred’s secretary. In 1977 I married Richard Carleno who passed away in 2011. In 1980 we moved to Albuquerque where Richard finished degrees in geology and history at UNM while working for PNM. I worked for Levi Strauss overseeing their jeans production there. I also worked for First Interstate Bank in ABQ and then for DeVore Aviation where I got to do all the things I learned in Germany, it was one of my favorite jobs.

I had been a caregiver now for some time and started to take classes in nursing and got a LPN and right after that an RN license. I worked for San Juan Basin Health, Four Corners Healthcare Center and various agencies. I also was the La Plata County Jail nurse for a few years. Fred became like a member of my family and circle of my friends. My goal is to help people to be able to stay in their homes and not have to go into a facility.

There are many more layers in my life since many things took place simultaneously. I am thankful to everyone that has positively influenced my life and helped me to be the person I am today. Kiwanis plays a big part in this. Thank you my Kiwanis friends and all others that have crossed my path."

March 6 - Lucas Perlstein

Lucas Perlstein was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. After high school Lucas spent one year studying as a Youth Foreign Exchange Student with Rotary Club in Caruaru, a small rural city in the Northeastern state of Pernambuco, Brazil.

Fluent in Portuguese, he returned to study at Fort Lewis College graduating with his Bachelors in Business Administration in 2013. He spent his winters skiing, and his summers as a Camp Counselor and Rock Climbing Coordinator at Colvig Silver Camps in Durango, CO.

Lucas has worked with Children in a professional setting for years and enjoys being a part of community through volunteering and giving back. Referred by Robert Whitson, Lucas Joined Kiwanis in 2016 and was on the Board of Directors, which added tremendous value to Lucas' life.

Lucas currently works in sales with Vivint Smart Home, an alarm and smart home company based out of Salt Lake City, UT. He travels the country representing the company growing its customer base.

Lucas is close with his family, still enjoys skiing, rock climbing, camping and playing golf. Helping educate and improve the lives of children will always be very important to Lucas.

February 20 - Charlotte Pirnat

Charlotte Pirnat moved around a bit as a child before returning to her native Colorado. Her father was in civil service with Bureau of Land Management and the Air Force. The only way to get ahead was to move to one or another government opening for which he was qualified. The most interesting change was the move to Juneau, Alaska when Charlotte was 5-7 years old. Alaska was still a territory then - not yet a state. There was an 18 month stop-over near Seattle, Washington before returning to Colorado where the family settled in Colorado Springs. As a civil engineer, her father worked on the development of the Air Force Academy and NORAD.

Charlotte comes from a family of teachers, so her decision to become a teacher was no surprise. Her aunt later told her that she had observed Charlotte as a child teaching her younger siblings. Charlotte was active in Girl Scouts, often assisting younger troops, and often in leadership positions.

Charlotte graduated from Colorado State College (Greeley) in December, 1969 with a double major in Elementary Education and Art Education (K-12). She and Martin were married a few weeks later, and they lived in Boulder while he finished his undergraduate degree. Then it was on to Denver, where Charlotte commuted to a teaching job in Bennett, Colorado (out near DIA today), and Martin earned his medical degree. Three years in San Bernardino, CA resulted in the completion of his residency in Family Medicine and an infant son.

Everything seemed to align to bring the young family to Durango - a desire to return to Colorado, an opening for a doctor in Durango Medical & Surgical Assoc. (Drs. Lloyd, Halley, and Pivonka), and word of mouth on a house for sale but not yet on the market.

While Martin worked long hours in medicine, Charlotte kept busy with civic organizations and teaching (surprise?). She was a founding member and first president of the Friends of the Durango Public Library, a founding member of the La Plata Quilters Guild, a member of the library Board of Trustees, and later as a member of Kiwanis. She started directing and teaching at the private preschool where their son attended which led to working for Head Start - for 26 years - and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Charlotte retired in 2013 as the Executive Director of the non-profit operating Head Start.

Since retiring, Charlotte has been more active in Kiwanis both locally and at the District level. She has been chair of the local Young Children Committee, President, and District 18 Lt. Governor. She has returned to active membership in the Quilt Guild. Together, she and Martin enjoy traveling, reading, and visiting the younger family who live in Cleveland.

February 13 - Donna Baur

Donna Lipcan Baur was born and grew up in Connecticut. She attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where she received her B.A. in History. During her career, she spent 18 years in various HR management roles in the reinsurance industry. While working for Life Re in Stamford, CT, her company was acquired by the global reinsurer, Swiss Re. This gave her the opportunity to broaden her HR experience and travel throughout North America. In her leadership role, she frequently visited Zurich, as well as traveled to many countries including numerous trips to London.

After her three step-children were all in college, Donna and her husband, James, decided it was a perfect time to start anew in Durango. So in June of 2017, they moved to Durango with their daughter Nicole and dog Nika. James grew up in Albuquerque, where his family still resides. During their many trips over the years to visit family in Albuquerque, Donna and James often vacationed in Durango—skiing one winter and enjoying hiking, rafting, and outdoor activities in Durango during the summer. They fell in love with the beauty of Durango, the local community and the warmth and friendliness of the people they met, and are happy now to be closer to family.

In addition to a big relocation from Connecticut to Durango and settling into a new home, Donna and her husband started a locally owned and operated business, CMIT Solutions of Durango and Farmington. Their company partners with small businesses to help their technology run smoothly so the businesses can focus on customers—having peace of mind that their systems are working effectively. They are part of the North American CMIT network of over 160 offices, and bring the buying power of a national network to clients so that they may take advantage of cost efficiencies and state-of-the art technology not previously available to them. “We manage IT, so local businesses don’t have to!”

Their daughter, Nicole, is in the 3rd grade at Animas Valley Elementary School. Nicole loves to ski at Purgatory in the Snowburners program, and also took up karate and playing the violin since living in Durango. They all have been looking forward to their first winter living in Durango (wishing for lots of snow), being closer to family and spending time with the many new friends they have made. In the warmer months, Donna and her family also enjoy hiking, taking walks, swimming, canoeing, biking, and watching movies together.

Donna became a member of the Kiwanis Club in 2017 and is part of a committee that coordinates speakers for the Club’s weekly meetings. She also is a Board Member for her daughter’s PTO, where she has met so many wonderful people willing to support Durango’s students.

February 6 - Dave Schank

"I was born in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 8, 1946. I graduated from Penn Manor HS Millersville, Pa., in 1964 where I wrestled, played shortstop, and 3 years of varsity baseball. I attended Robert Morris JC, then graduated from Clarion State College in 1969 with a BS ED. in Social Studies. I went to work for the then major corporation National Cash Register in York, Pa., until May of 1970, when the shooting at Kent State University in Ohio had a profound effect on my life. I quit corporate America, grew my hair long, protested the war in Vietnam, and got a job painting houses. Soon (after being teargassed in Washington DC protesting the war) I left Pa. via my thumb and had quite an adventure hitch hiking through the US and Canada. It was during this time I found and fell in love with Tucson, Az. It was here I worked painting and later became a journeyman drywall finisher to make a living. In Nov. of 1977 I met Marty Beckstrand, marrying her in October of 1978. I then had a nasty back injury which got me to thinking about my current career. I figured I shouldn't be doing dryall when I'm 55. I was playing a lot of fastpitch softball at the time and one of my teamates was a physical therapist. After a lot of research and talks with Jim (the PT) and Marty, we decided to pursue that avenue. In 1983 I found out I was accepted to PT school on a Wednesday & the next day Marty informed me she was pregnant with our first child. I graduated and passed my boards in 1985, then practiced in Tucson until 1989. We moved to Virginia to be near my family so my now two children (ages 6 &3) could get to know them. Virginia worked fine except I really missed the west. In 1992, through a series of circumstances where the stars were aligned in our favor, we bought a private PT practice in Durango, Co. We arrived here in September of 1992- the year the roof collapsed due to snow at the Fine Arts Center at FLC.

I am now 7 years retired and Marty is also retired from teaching elementary school.This October will be our 40th wedding anniversary and if you know me, you know that Marty has put up with a lot! Our children, Amanda and Kevin, are doing well in life and off the payroll. Life has been very good to us and we are truly blessed to have the lifestyle we have living in the paradise that is Durango, Co. Skiing, hiking, biking, and camping make up a large part of what we do."

January 30 - Carrie Woodson

Carrie Woodson was born and raised in Tulsa Oklahoma. On a visit with a friend who was attending Fort Lewis College, she found her true home town and moved to Durango at the age of 17. “I just knew this was the place I needed to be”. She met her husband Larry on the top of Molas Pass through mutual friends and they were married April 1st 1978. They have 2 wonderful children, Rusty and Pepper, who were both raised in Durango. Both left Durango after high school, Pepper for college and Rusty to peruse his dreams, but both realized that Durango was the best place to live and thankfully, returned to raise their families. Carrie and Larry are now the proud grandparents of 3 wonderful boys: Tye, Keaton and Bodhi. Time not spent at work is happily taken up with the boys. Carrie and Larry have been part of the Big Brothers and Big Sister program of La Plata County. Their last “Little” sister is now in college and they still spend time together (usually doing difficult college level homework) and just enjoying each-others company. They have a boat, “Mellow Yellow”, and enjoy spending time together on the lake. They also have a large group of friends who met in Durango in the late 70’s; many who have moved away and a few who still live here. Every few years they have a clan reunion of around 100 “Grateful Friends”; it is such a joy to have so many long-time friends. 

Carrie is a graduate of the Leadership La Plata class of 2007-2008, the best class ever! Her commitment to community service started early as the organizer of the Durango Area Association of Realtors’ “Paint-a-thon”. This program helped the elderly of our community by providing paint and up-keep of their homes. Carrie and Larry raised their kids here, their grandsons are being raised here, and they know how tough it can be to make ends meet in the area; families need all the support they can get! Carrie currently is showing her community involvement by being a member of the Durango Area Kiwanis, she feels giving back to the community is a very important part of living in Durango.

Carrie began her career doing a variety of jobs in Durango, including day care while working nights at The Huck Finn Store when the kids were small. Working as a property manager got her involved in various aspects of real estate, including being a Realtor from 1989 to 1996. In 1996 she joined the La Plata County Assessor’s Office as a staff appraiser. In the first 5 years she went from a new Appraiser to Chief Appraiser, her current position, and earned a Certified General Appraisal License. “It has been my honor to serve the citizens of La Plata County. It is a wonderful thing when I can help a tax payer through a difficult process or explain what we do, how we do it and why, so that the public understands fully how their property taxes are assessed.” “I am fortunate to have gotten to meet some of the nicest people and visited some of the most beautiful areas of our County in my position as an Appraiser for La Plata County.” 

Watch for big things from Carrie, she still has big things to accomplish for this community. She is running for La Plata County Assessor in 2018!

January 16 - Judy Michalski

Judy Michalski was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota and grew up on a small family farm with 7 brothers and sisters. She attended a Catholic school until fourth grade then finished her elementary, junior high and high school at Annandale, Minnesota. After graduation, at the town’s annual 4th of July celebration, she was selected to represent the town for a year with thetitle of Miss Annandale.

She received her B.S. degree, comprehensive Social Studies with a history emphasis, from St. Cloud State University. During her undergraduate years she was chosen to participate in a University of Minnesota program, Student Project for Amity among Nations (SPAN). That program sent her to Quito, Ecuador, South America for a summer to write thesis on the Role of the Woman in Ecuador. During that summer there was a government overthrow and the university in Ecuador was forcefully closed by the military. 

In 1970, she moved to Austin, Texas to teach history at Burnett Jr. High. During the summer Judy attended the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction. 

In 1975, Judy returned to Minnesota to work at the Education Cooperative Service Units in Mankato then Fergus Falls, Minnesota as a curriculum consultant for 50+ school districts in southern & west central Minnesota. During that time she started work on her Ph.D. in Educational Administration at the University of Minnesota. She was awarded her Ph.D. in 1986 upon finishing her thesis on The Future of Educational Regional Service Agencies.

From 1980-82, she worked at the Colorado Department of Education in Denver as the curriculum/technology consultant to the 176 districts in the state. In 1982 until her retirement she worked at Durango 9-R School District in various roles – K-12 Curriculum, Secondary Curriculum, Grant Writer, Federal Program Coordinator, Assistant Superintendent.

Judy joined Kiwanis in 2008. After attending a Kiwanis Convention explaining the Dollywood Imagination Library Program, she asked the Board to initiate the program in Durango. With the financial support of The Kiwanis Club of Durango, every child age 0-5 whose parents signs up for the program and live in the Florida Mesa Elementary School area boundaries, receives a book sent to their home each month. The program is currently being expanded to the Park Elementary & Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School areas.

Judy has been active supporting our annual Pancake Day, bell ringing with the Salvation Army at Christmas, served as club president & secretary. She is married to Claude E. “Bud” Deering; they live in Hermosa with the bears & lots of fruit trees.

January 9, 2018 - Jim Bolen

Jim Bolen was born in Chicago in 1945. He grew up in Glenview, Illinois and he went to Glenbrook High School, where he played football and was on the wrestling team. Jim went to University of Wisconsin, Northern Illinois University and Metro State in Denver. He received a Business degree and Economic minor from Northern and an Accounting minor at Metro State. He was in the Navy from 1965 to 1967 and he moved to Denver in 1974 with his first wife, Linda. They moved to Durango in 1987 and he joined the Kiwanis club in March of 1987. He has been in banking most of his working career and Linda was in Accounting at Mercy Hospital. Unfortunately, Linda passed away in 2005.

Jim met his current wife Judy in 2007 and they were married in 2011. He has two step children, Jeff and Kelly. Currently, Jim’s household consists of Judy and their dog Sadie. In his spare time, he loves hiking, mountain biking, skiing, traveling, and going to musical events.

Jim is retired, but he serves on several organizations – including the Board of Directors for Salvation Army, Housing Solutions, and Soccoro Senior Housing. He just left the Kiwanis Board of Directors. Jim is very active with the Kiwanis Club of Durango. He is the Pancake Day chairperson and he is also the co-chairperson for the Program committee. In the fall of 2016, Jim received the Lusche award. Bolen was recognized for his efforts and unwavering support of Pancake Day, Salvation Army bell ringing, club director, assisting with the Bill Mashaw Golf Tournament, and starting the Kiwanis team for the Adaptive Sports Association’s annual Dave Spencer Classic.

December 19 - Steve Schlageter

Steve Schlageter is a native to Durango, Colorado and has been involved with the Kiwanis of Durango for 28 years. He worked in law enforcement after leaving the military. He was with the Sheriff’s office, private security, and he was also a correctional officer. He has 1 daughter, who is now a state patrol officer in the front range of Colorado. Steve plans to move to Denver to be closer to his daughter and son-in-law. 

Steve joined the Kiwanis of Durango joined May of 1988 and he was sworn in by the Kiwanis International President Norris Tucker. He was in a negative environment, so he wanted something positive and fun in his life. He went to a bible study event and he ran into 3 Kiwanis members. Right away, he became active in the club. He’s been on the Board of Directors for several years, he’s attended the National Kiwanis Convention at the Kiwanis headquarters. Steve was President of the club and then he became Lt. Governor. The Durango club used to be a part of Division 5 (Denver) and when people got tired of traveling to Denver from Durango or vice versa, Division 18 was created. Steve was the first Lt. Governor of Division 18. Steve was also honored to become a Lusche fellow. 

One of Steve’s big achievements is the Child ID program. Child ID is a free of charge program where Durango and Bayfield elementary schools can get a packet of information in case something were to happen to them. The packet of information consists of fingerprints, swabs of DNA, dental records, body identifiers, and a current photo. Steve worked hard to get this program started and he received the first sponsorship of $1,000 from the LPEA Roundup program. Steve would like to see this program to become a legacy to the Kiwanis Club of Durango. 

Another program that Steve was involved with is Safety Day. This is an event where 2nd graders learn about different items in their community and how to stay safe – how to call for help, staying away from strangers, how to approach dogs, etc.

Steve enjoys being a part of the Kiwanis and he hopes he’s made an improvement on local children’s lives.

December 12 - Drea Pressley

Drea Pressley is a financial advisor, serving individuals, families, and small businesses in the Durango area. She was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. During her childhood her parents took her and her brothers to just about every national monument in the state and they took every opportunity they could to go hiking. Drea spent time as she was growing up deciding she was going to be an astronaut and then a paleontologist and then an animator and then finally, as college approached, she decided upon pursuing a career in music. She attended Loyola University New Orleans where she studied vocal performance and performed with the New Orleans Opera Association and with the Operafestival di Roma. 

She then moved to Los Angeles where she continued her professional career as a musician. She performed with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and is still a film studio musician. Her voice can be heard as part of the choir on soundtracks to films that include Avatar, X-Men: Apocalypse, Transformers: the Last Knight, and many others.

During those years in California, she also appeared as a guest artist with Santa Fe Pro Musica and performed with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale and the Santa Fe Opera, enjoying the opportunities to be close to family. As time went by, Drea decided she wanted a more stable future for her family than that of a musician and she entered the financial industry, becoming a financial advisor.

Her husband, Andreas had lived in Durango for a decade and left for a job opportunity, wanting to come back almost as soon as he left. They kept their eyes and ears open for several years for an opportunity to return to beautiful Durango and it finally arrived! They spend their free time hiking, snowshoeing, and watching or riding the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad with their six year old son, who happens to be a train fanatic. Drea enjoys being a member of Kiwanis and is also very active with the Durango Choral Society, serving on their board and performing with them as often as she can.

December 5 - Robert Whitson

Robert Whitson graduated from Metro State in Denver, CO with studies in business administration, and also received his accounting certificate from Barnes Business School in Denver.

July 1993 to May 2014 - Chief Financial Officer for Ballantine Communications, Inc., General Manager of Directory Plus, the company’s phone directory unit, and general manager of the Four Corners printing, which printed the company’s four newspapers and outside commercial printing jobs from. Also oversaw Durango Herald Small Press, which published niche books covering the Southwest. Human Resources Department reported to me also.

I had been involved with all aspects of the company’s accounting and finances, including annual budgeting, quarterly budget and P&L reporting to the board and business unit forecasting for the long- and short-term. Robert has initiated and led efforts to streamline operations, along with initiating financial efficiencies and cost containment.

Under my leadership, Directory Plus revenues grew from $890,000 to $7.8 million by 2012 while maintaining competitive market positioning. I also led the transitioning of the phone directories into the digital space.

I assumed responsibility for Four Corners Printing in 2011 and has successfully increased revenues which cutting expenditures. He reorganized the production staff and recruited qualified individuals, thereby improving productivity and print quality. He also instituted an ongoing training program and supervised revitalizing the Goss Urbanite printing press from poor condition to very good.

In June of 2014 my wife Nancy and I decided to make a career change and we opened Express Employment Professionals on September 8, 2014. In the short time we have been open, we have exceeded our original expectations, and the company continues to grow.

“Our customer service is what really sets us apart. We take a very specific profile of all our associates and do a full vetting. We know their skills, education, prior employment history and pay - our staffing consultants review all applicants and conduct full-fledged interviews. Then we put them to work.”

“There are challenges every day - but we like to meet those challenges. The most rewarding thing is putting people to work. We get ‘thank you’s from both clients and associates."

I am active in several organizations, including Vice Chair of the Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County; Kiwanis.

November 28 - Ken LeRoy

"A very long time ago (prior to WW2) I was born in Long Beach California. I grew up in the town of Compton, which in those days, was rural. I was a good student until I got to high school and junior college, when I became more interested in cars, and "socializing". I married my wife Pat, in 1958, and with specter of Universal Military Training looming, I joined the US Army...spending a year of a three year hitch in the exotic Aleutians Islands. 

After discharge, I went to work for State Farm Insurance where I worked for 38 years in five different offices in four different states. While employed full time, I went back to college (University on Northern Colorado) using the GI Bill, getting a B.S. In finance. Along the way, we had three children, Kate, Greg, and David. Sadly, David was killed accidentally at age 15; a very difficult time for all of us. Kate and Greg have given us two grandchildren, boys ages 22 and 19. 

The day after I retired in 2000, I started hiking the Appalachian Trail. Because of several falls in Maine, I had take time off, but ultimately completed the almost 2,200 miles in 2001. It was an experience that I savor almost every day since.

We moved to our little two and a half acre of Paradise on the Pine River in 2003. We travel (I think we have been in almost 30 foreign countries and every state except North Dakota. Now we share ownership of a small self-contained R. with Kate and her husband Fred who live in Three Springs (yea!) I still hike fairly regularly, play golf, and ride a road bike. 

I have been a Kiwanian for 40 years, going through chairs to presidency. I also volunteer at the Wildlife museum and fish hatchery. I am on the Salvation Army Board, and help organize Christmas bell ringing efforts here in Bayfield. I was on the VOA Advisory council, which is an organization which I continue to support."

November 14 - Sarah Doane

Sarah Doane was born and raised in south Denver. From the age of 4, Sarah has gone on several summer road trips. Her grandparents have an RV and every summer, they’d take her on a two week road trip. Sarah has explored the west and has been to 15+ National Parks. 

Sarah’s family nicknamed her the “animal whisperer.” Sarah has a passion to give every animal a chance. She volunteered for Denver’s Dumb Friends League for 1 year and learned how to approach animals in need. To this day, she has a way with animals – she’s a dog/cat magnet.

Sarah made the long haul to Durango to attend classes at Fort Lewis College. She graduated in 2011 with her Bachelor’s degree in Art with a Business Option (perfect for Marketing!) Shortly after she graduated Fort Lewis College, she worked for the Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado. She was involved in the planning process of two Parade of Homes. Sarah is presently employed by Buena Vista Builders, Inc. – who saw her dedication to the HBA.

Sarah is involved with the Kiwanis Club of Durango, along with the Durango Elks Lodge. Sarah updated the Kiwanis website and continues to post on the Kiwanis Facebook page.

When Sarah isn't working or volunteering her time, you can find her spending time with friends. One of her hobbies is photography.

November 7 - Pat Barrett

Patrick Barrett has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Durango since September 7, 2006. Pat grew up in the Scranton Pennsylvania area and moved to Greeley, Colorado, (for the skiing – but that’s another story in and of itself), in 1981 to pursue an accounting degree, after realizing he didn’t have the charisma to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an Undertaker. He obtained his accounting degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1985 and was awarded a CPA certificate in the fall of 1987. He spent the first five years of his career working for two local CPA firms in Greeley and Denver, CO servicing the accounting and tax compliance needs of individuals and small business owners.

In the summer of 1985 he met his beautiful wife of 31 years, fellow Kiwanian, Lisa Mahan Barrett, at a wedding of all places. They were married in the fall of 1986. Together they have raised two beautiful daughters who are both young adults with college degrees and gainfully employed in their chosen fields. Their eldest daughter was recently married to, as Pat likes to say – “a fine young man”!!! Lisa and Pat couldn’t be prouder of their daughters and count their blessing every day.

Building on the experience he gained in public accounting, he spent seven years working as a tax accountant and then tax manager for a closely held oil and gas company in Denver, CO. When the family he worked for sold their investments in the oil and gas industry, he was given an opportunity to serve as Controller/Tax Manager in the Family Office and oversaw the accounting and treasury functions of the family’s investments.

Then in July of 2001 he relocated along with his family from the Bailey/Conifer area in the foothills outside of Denver to Durango, CO to join the accounting firm of Brown Wheeldon and Associates PC. In February of 2002 he was given the opportunity to become a partner in the firm. Over the course of the next several years along with his current business partner Brad Tafoya, he bought out two retiring CPAs. Since January of 2005 he has been a 50% owner of the Durango, CO local CPA firm, Tafoya Barrett and Associates PC, focusing on providing quality accounting, tax and financial planning services to small business owners and individuals.

Pat has strived over the years to be an active member of his community and tries to do what he can to make a positive impact on his little corner of the world. He is currently an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Durango, serving on its Board of Directors and has previously served as, you guessed it, - Treasurer. He is also one of the founding members of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County where he served on the Board for 10 years and continues to serve on its Finance, Investment, and Audit Committees. He is a member of the 2003-04 Leadership La Plata class, (best class EVER). Pat is also a member of the Durango, CO local council of the Knights of Columbus, serving previously as Grand Knight for a 2-year term.

In his pastime Pat enjoys spending time with his wife Lisa, camping, hiking, mountain biking and downhill and backcountry skiing whenever he can.

October 31 - Mark Simon

They tell me I was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Since most of my early memories are from there I must assume this fact is true. My parents owned a small grocery store across the street from the projects. I had two (much) older brothers. They had both left home by the time I was six, leaving me to fend for myself in the mystical ways of growing up.

I had the great fortune to attend one of the greatest high schools in the country—Omaha Central. Notable alumae include Henry Fonda, Gayle Sayers and Peter Buffett. I graduated in both the 100th graduating class, and the Bi-Centennial class. After high school I stayed home for two years attending Creighton University. Although there was a very good journalism program there, I realized that not being Catholic at a Jesuit University was not for me. So, I packed up my Chevy Vega (the second lemon car I owned), and headed for the coast. I spent two years surfing and finishing my degree at Cal State Long Beach. Then it was back to Nebraska and life.

I ended up working at a radio station in the central Nebraska city of Columbus. It was there I met my future bride. My radio career, before it abruptly died, took us to Lamar, Colorado, a place I wouldn’t suggest anyone move to as a career booster. But, moving there got us to Colorado. We eventually moved to Colorado Springs where I pursued my marketing career with little success, but eventually did get into radio again, selling advertising. After that went nowhere I hired on to sell newspaper advertising with a combination of four small weeklies that were distributed to the military bases in the area.

Opportunity tantalized me again when I was looking for a management job in media and found one at a radio station in Durango. Didn’t work out a planned, again. So, back to the newspaper business until I was offered a position as a Financial Advisor, which, in a round-about way, led me to working in banking. And here we are today.

I’ve been adventurous enough to have worked in many positions in many industries in my life, each giving me memories and life lessons. I’ve worked for the postal service, been a camp counselor, been in retail too many times to count, worked at newspapers, and once, for two days, sold Persian rugs. It’s been a ride, and I’m glad to have been on mine.

October 24 - Lisa Barrett

Lisa Mahan Barrett is a native of Colorado. She was born in La Junta. When she was 3 years old her family moved to Golden so her Dad could work for Coors. She grew up in the mountains west of Denver and graduated from Evergreen High School. She attend the University of Northern Colorado where she received her degree in Elementary Education. 

After meeting and marrying, Patrick Barrett, they settled in Arvada, and eventually moved to Bailey where she taught school at Deer Creek Elementary. 

In 2001, Lisa moved with her husband and 2 daughters to Durango. Lisa taught at Park Elementary for a short time and then took a job with the Early Childhood Council of La Plata County. During this time, she decided to go back to school and earn her Masters in Education from Lesley University. She then begin teaching at Southwest Colorado Community College where she was the Director of Student and Academic Services. Lisa left there in 2012 and began working at the local public health, San Juan Basin, where she was the Prevention and Population Health Director. Just last year, she decided to return to her roots and is currently working as the Assessment Specialist for Fort Lewis College.

Lisa’s hobbies include Jazzercise, hiking, fishing, camping and playing the piano. She spends her summers camping with her husband Pat in their pop-up camper. She also loves spending time with her daughter, Caitlin and son-in-law, Ryan in Denver and her daughter Megan in San Francisco.

Lisa has served as the membership chair, Pancake Day Chair and President of the Kiwanis Club. She received the Distinguished President Award in 2012 and also is a Lusche Fellow. 

Lisa is a Durango Diplomat for the Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Leadership and Curriculum Committees for Leadership La Plata, will be serving on the board of the Woman’s Resource Center, and is a member of the Catholic Daughters of America.

October 17 - Jack Llewellyn

Jack Llewellyn has a degree in English Communications from FLC, and has been a morning drive DJ, advertising sales rep and manager for local radio and television groups. In 2000, he was hired as the "fundraising guy" for FLC athletics. In 2007, his diverse background landed him the Executive Director position for the Durango Chamber of Commerce. 

Jack is married to Cherie Morris-Llewellyn owner of Durango Olive Oil Company. Jack was passionate about watching Avery, his son, play football (kicker and punter) at Colorado School of Mines, Avery is now working for Liberty and oil and gas company out of Denver. He has two step sons, Blake Morris, US Coast Guard helicopter pilot stationed in San Francisco, and John Morris graduate from Johnson and Wales culinary school and lives in Durango.

October 10 - Scott Shadid

Scott Shadid moved to Colorado in 2004 from Wichita, KS following his parents and 2 sisters...and has lived in Durango since 2007 along with wife Monica and three children, ages 8, 13 & 15.

Scott is a Financial Planner in Durango with a focus on business retirement plan management and individual goals based wealth planning. Previously, he was owner of Southwest Waste Solutions, a financial auditing and consulting business in waste and recycling. 

Scott’s hobbies include skiing, biking, running, golf, hunting & fishing. Family trips include the beaches of Mexico and California, and camping in Utah or the Rocky Mountains.

Volunteering includes youth baseball, football and basketball coaching. Many evenings and weekends are spent watching kids gymnastics, theatre, track or Lacrosse games around Durango.

Scott is serving as the newly elected President for Kiwanis club of Durango, a volunteer service organization benefiting Boys and Girls Club, Adaptive Sports, Women’s Resource Center and many, many others.