Staff and Board of Directors

Currently Seeking Board Members

Are you interested in giving back to the community by serving on the Board of Directors for The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado? We encourage you to apply!

The Garden Project's Board of Directors sets healthy term limits for membership cycles of 2-3 years. As a result, we are often searching for new members. Start dates are typically in the Spring and Fall.

Please complete the application form and send it along with your Resume and/or Cover Letter to our Executive Director.

If you would like to talk before applying, please call us! Nine Seven Zero-259-3123
Thank you for your interest!

Past Documents for Prospective Board Members:

2018 Board Application
2018 Board Position Description
2017 Annual Report
2018 TGP Workplace Culture Principals

Current Staff


Keith Thomson 
Education Director

Keith assists Americorps members in creating and teaching content, as well as fostering new and old relations within the community. 

Growing food and education has been and continues to be a big part of my life. I taught middle school science for 20 years and operated an organic produce farm for 10 years in upstate New York. For the last five seasons, I have been growing food in Arizona and Colorado and look forward to helping people of all ages better understand how to have a productive garden here in Southwest Colorado.




Renée Cornue
Garden Educator

Pursuing a BS in Environmental Science & Policy as well as a BA in Photocommunications allowed Renée to explore education and sustainability through an artistic medium, as well as a scientific approach. She's studied environmental leadership in Costa Rica, literature in Northern Ireland and is constantly looking forward to her next excuse to see and meet more of the world. Since graduating, she's enjoyed working for smaller nonprofits. She's been a zoo educator, camp counselor, study-abroad ambassador, and photo collection administrator but always come back to supporting others (of all ages!) in using their imagination and playing outdoors. If not at home cuddled up with a book, Renée can be found in or around any kind of waterbody, petting as many dogs as possible, or enjoying the weather with good company. 



Kristin Dicus
Garden Educator

Kristin moved here from Atlanta, GA. She studied nutrition in college, and has been practicing as a Registered Nurse for the past two years. Food and nutrition education is a subject close to her heart, and she is excited to share her love for gardens and good food with the community. She has traveled to countries in Asia and Africa teaching elementary aged children, and helping remote communities become more self sustainable. While in Africa, she even climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,341ft! When Kristin is not working, she loves to do anything and everything outside, from hiking to playing on the water with her dog, River.




Sarah Marcus
Food Security Program Coordinator

Sarah Marcus was born in South Korea and raised in Maryland where she received a BS in Biology at Salisbury University. After graduating college, she craved to live somewhere that let her enjoy more outdoor recreation. Durango then became her home in 2016 and she has lived here since. She worked full time for a botanical extraction company and became a “Big Sister” in 2017. However, she still wished she could do more for her community. After chatting with a friend about her desire to work for a non-profit centered around community gardening, outreach, and education, she was pointed into the direction of The Garden Project. It ended up being quite a serendipitous conversation! She is so gracious for the amazing opportunity to do impactful work with incredibly inspiring like-minded people that serve so much of the community. 





Board of Directors



Nora Stafford
Board President

Nora was an elementary school teacher for 34 years. She has lived in the Durango area since 1981. Nora has been involved with the Needham Garden since its inception. Noraʼs goal is to inspire and motivate students to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful students who are stewards of the Earth. She believes that the Needham garden is the perfect place to incorporate science, language arts, math, health and social studies standards. Nora is an avid bicycle commuter and Durango community ambassador.








Brittany Cupp
Vice President

Brittany moved to Durango in 2003 to attend Fort Lewis College, she fell in love the community and hasn't left. She's a Hoosier at heart and is the daughter of an incredible Master Gardener who taught Brittany the importance of nature and the healing powers of gardening. Because of this, Brittany is also a Master Gardener and has made gardening a big part of her life. Professionally she brings her marketing and design skills to TGP in addition to her passion of connecting people back to the land. She has participated in various volunteer and community projects like the Snowboard Outreach Society and she is also currently an Ambassador for Venture Snowboards.




Ellen Smith

Ellen is a Colorado kid, raised in the Boulder/Estes Park areas, who has been living in Durango since 2013. After spending most of her adult life in Santa Barbara and Hawaii as a marine biologist and coral reef oceanographer, she relocated to the lovely small community of Durango to root her family and raise her children. A proponent of locally grown organic foods and healthy home-style cooking, she maintains her own garden and keeps bees to provide sustenance and knowledge for her family. Ellen joined The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado Board of Directors to utilize her skills and resources to promote its mission “to grow a healthier community through garden programs, education, and access to local produce”. Like many here in Durango, she can be found spending time outside in nature, quietly connecting through yoga and meditation, and enjoying time spent with friends and family.




Lauren Savage

Lauren Savage was born and raised on the dryside outside Durango. It wasn't until she left that rural slice of sagebrush heaven for college in Northern California that she saw how bountiful worked and watered land can be! The Chico area was a dynamic classroom for large-scale agriculture, food waste diversion, organic farms in place of lawns, and multigenerational growers. Lauren knew it was a special place, but always wondered how and when food access like that in Northern California could be possible in areas as rural as her home. Lauren is very happy to join the Garden Project Board and support local food security efforts. She has a bachelor's in Environmental Journalism, a degree with tracts in creative writing, environmental activism, and outdoor education. She specializes in nonprofit brand communications and experiential education. She loves riding bikes with her husband and is always trying to be the best dog mom she can be.



Elsa Jagniecki
Board Member

Elsa has lived in Durango for 14 years. Originally from Michigan, Elsa came to the southwest via Colorado State University to work for the USFS in the Weminuche Wilderness out of undergrad. Elsa has a Masters degree in Strategic Sustainable Development & Leadership from Blekinge Institute in Sweden and a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science at the University of Colorado Denver. As a creative entrepreneur, Elsa runs her business Heirlooms, a design company creating authentic events and designs for lifestyle, branding and interiors. Elsa grew up in gardens and always finds joy in connecting to soil, plants and all the interworking’s between the two. When not working or volunteering, Elsa is raising the next generation, playing with her two children Oland and Emilia and enjoying life with her family exploring the 4 Corners, their garden, a trail and hopefully the back country!




Patsy Ford
Board Member

Patsy is a retired public health nurse who is dedicated to promoting a healthy community through: equal access to fresh (local when possible) food, equal opportunity for all to experience and learn about the wonders of gardening, and a community that includes participation by a diverse population, so that we can learn from one another. She and her husband, Kevin, a retired public middle school teacher and coach for more than 30 years, raised a daughter who had the experience of pulling peas off the vine and eating them raw, picking and eating raspberries, and digging potatoes from the garden (an adventure full of fun and discovery!) Patsy is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to support our community as a board member of The Garden Project of SW Colorado.




Michael Kaiser
Board Member

Mike grew up in the Chicago area and studied Business-Agriculture and Accounting at Fort Lewis College. He has lived in Durango for 7 years and is a full-time real estate broker with Keller Williams. While studying at The Fort, Mike completed a program that required many hours of hands-on experience with small local farmers, many of whom he stays in touch with and coordinate efforts with today. As a teenager, Mike interned for a small urban-agriculture startup in the Chicago area called 312 Aquaponics and gained experience working in community gardens in an urban environment. These experiences advanced his understanding of how our food systems work and the processes involved in providing healthy food to our global community, driving his passion to learn more and make a positive difference in any way that he could. Mike says, "The constant improvement of our food systems is something I hold near and dear to my heart and always will."




John Floyd
Board Member

Having grown up in Atlanta, GA, John moved to Steamboat Springs in 2008 to ski bum for a couple years before finishing his education at CSU in Fort Collins. With undergraduate degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Human Development/Family Studies, and a master's in Social Work, John is passionate about the intersection of quality food, culture, and local community. After working as a mental health therapist on the Front Range, John is excited to serve on The Garden Project's Board to address social issues from a more macro approach. John firmly believes that local gardens bring out the very best in both individuals and communities, and he loves seeing friendships develop over working soil and sharing healthy meals. In his free time, John can be found skiing, riding bikes, and fly fishing.



Previous Board Members

Jennifer Boyer

Eric Ryba

Amy Arnold

Tara Frazer

Clint Kearns

Nora Stafford

Amber Johnson

Darrin Parmenter

Eileen Dawson

Charlie Love

Krista Garand

Becky Turner

Kelle Bruno

Chelsea Farley

Janet Fogel

Shari Fitzgerald (Co-Founder)

Kate Lauth

Beth Saren