Bronwen Barry

Bronwen Barry_web

Bronwen Barry retired to the North Fork Valley with her partner Bruce Woodside five years ago after a 40 year career in film, and 25 years on the executive board of her union, The Animation Guild IATSE LOCAL 839. Though her past experience may not have direct relation to the work of environmental nonprofits, she is a firm believer in the mission of CHC and feels honored to be part of an organization that has made such an undeniable difference in the future of this unique community.

Kaye Howe

Kay Howe_web

Kay Howe settled on the Western Slope of Colorado after a long hiatus. Her activist side emerged in Moab when she became a force behind the appeal of the Moab BLMʻs decision to approve the Lisbon Valley Copper Mine. An invitation to an environmental education conference introduced her to Dr. Manny Pinoʻs work with middle school students at the Laguna and Acoma Pueblos, examining the impacts of uranium mining in their communities. Inspired by this, she saw education as an avenue for change. In Kalimantan Indonesia, she connected UNIDOʻs Global Mercury Project with an environment-based NGO to mitigate the release of mercury from illegal artisanal gold mining activities near a national park. She finished a Master of Science degree from the University of Hawaii, participating in studies and developing educational materials on Angiostrongylus cantonensis the rat lungworm, a parasite that causes brain damage. She currently conducts professional training courses for teachers in the curricula that she wrote. Kay appreciates the richness of this valley, the wild beauty that surrounds us, and the need to protect it. An avid beekeeper, she is concerned about the warming of Delta and surrounding counties, and the potential impact of the expansion of oil and gas extraction to the North Fork Valley.

David Inouye


David is a retired biology professor from the University of Maryland, where he taught ecology and conservation biology. He still does field research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, near Crested Butte, where he has worked each summer since 1971. His long-term research there focuses on how the changing climate is affecting the timing and abundance of flowering by wildflowers, and how that is affecting animals like pollinating bumble bees and hummingbirds.  He has been a resident of the North Fork valley since 2015. David writes frequently about his research for newspapers and magazines, and works with organizations like the Ecological Society of America (recently as President), and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Jon Orlando

Jon Orlando

Jon has many passions, all stemming from his deep desire for human and environmental rights and connection. With a BA in photography, he fell in love using the lens of a camera to shed light on issues and inspirational stories. Now a documentary filmmaker and award-winning portrait photographer, Jon is inspired by issues of transformation, whether in nature or humans. He and his wife steward a 5-acre organic farm and product company, Rock ‘n Roots Farm, in Paonia, which uses regenerative practices to give more than what is taken from the land. Their vision is that the farm will become a place for people and activists to come, rejuvenate and heal before heading back into their communities to continue to create positive change in the world.


Jon also co-produced the award winning documentary,Arise (2012) about women in the global environmental movement and is working on a film as a videographer called, Still Here.

Jon has been involved with non-profit work since 2000 when he started volunteering with and eventually served as a volunteer ED with the Arizona No Fee Coalition, which worked to resist access fees and the privatization of public lands. He also volunteered with and served on the board of several other non-profits in Flagstaff that were focused on environmental justice, strengthening local economies and resisting war. In 2009, Jon became the secretary of the non-profit, UrbiCulture Community Farms in Denver which he co-founded with his wife, Candice. For 7 years he volunteered and served on the board for UCF which made locally grown produce accessible to all people. Jon currently serves on the board of the Sathi Fund which empowers grassroots social innovators in the developing world.

Jane Reed

Jane Reed_web

Jane grew up on a farm in Virginia riding horses and dreaming of being a cowgirl. She attended college in Denver and photography school in Aspen, which cemented her love of the West and she never left. Over the years, she lived in Denver, Aspen and Boulder taking on various jobs, including working for Celestial Seasonings in Boulder. She spent the 80’s and 90’s up Divide Creek south of Silt farming and training horses, during the beginning of the oil and gas boom in Garfield County. This is where she came face to face with the true horrors of the impacts of oil and gas development on kids, farmers, ranchers, people, and community. Her pastoral community turned industrial. With seven wells across from her, headaches were intolerable, her neighbor and best friend died of a leukemia caused by benzene exposure. The many fields that were once irrigated became bare and crossed with roads and there were trucks daily going to and from the wells. Forced to flee Silt she found home in the North Fork Valley. She is a student of Allan Savory’s Holistic Resource Management program, and advocates for holistic land management based on sound decisions, which include understanding the ecosystem being affected. She is currently a landscape painter, photographer, avid gardener, and proud owner of 3 wild dogs and 6 big cats. Jane brings to the CHC Board a diverse background and experience in land management, conflicts between farmers/ranchers and industry, commitment to protecting our air and water and ability to be self-sufficient, and pure love of life, our beautiful and unique lands, and most importantly, respect for the ecosystem upon which we depend.

Kori Stanton


Kori is a Paonia native and grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado. A strong sense of ‘Community’ was instilled from the very beginning with her father starting the local community radio station, KVNF. When Kori was 11 years old she was awarded the opportunity to attend a Summer Enrichment Program at the University of Northern Colorado.

It was at UNC that she learned how to shoot film on her mother’s 35mm camera and darkroom photography. Little did she know that these were the very beginnings of her love and passion for photography and storytelling. By the time she was 16 she was working at the local photography studio where she was trained specifically in portraiture. After high school Kori moved to Denver where she continued her photography career freelancing and shooting for local photography studios. In 2006, Kori was ready for a bigger challenge so she packed up and moved to Los Angeles. She spent a decade in LA working in the film and photography industries and began shooting fashion photography as well as behind the scenes videos for well known fashion brands. In late 2016, Kori answered the tug on her heartstrings and moved back to CO to be closer to her family, eat farm fresh foods and breathe in clean mountain air. Nowadays you can find Kori working on her family’s lavender farm in Paonia and you might hear her on KVNF DJing her Thursday morning music show “The Sweet Sound.” As a farmer and active community member, Kori is committed to helping protect and preserve our beautiful North Fork Valley for our lifetime and for future generations.

Brent Helleckson–Associate Board Member*


Hailing from a Minnesota farming community, Brent has made Colorado his home for nearly 30 years.  Upon completing Bachelors and Masters degrees in Business Administration and Economics from North Dakota State University, Brent and his wife, Karen, relocated to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.  While employed as a consultant with the Department of Commerce, and in commercial business, Brent earned a Masters and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  With a yearning to return to the land, Brent and his family resettled in the North Fork Valley to establish a vineyard and winery.  While building Stone Cottage Cellars, and raising children, Brent has remained active in the community, serving on water company and community library boards, in religious and service organizations, in local musical productions, and as a member of local and regional agricultural cooperatives.  A lifelong love of hiking, rafting, canoeing, skiing, fishing and camping, and a commitment to sustainable living and sustainable agriculture have fostered a deep appreciation of the land that is farmed, the land that is managed for multiple use, and the land that is set aside for future generations.  Brent believes that each must be done well for any to succeed.

Kari Schoonhoven–Associate Board Member*


Kari and her husband moved to a small irrigated acreage near Paonia in 2000. Kari served as Director of Customer Contracts for the global satellite communications company COMSAT. Upon relocating to Paonia, Kari’s interest in the health impacts of oil and gas chemicals started when she became employed with The Endocrine Disruption Exchange in 2004.

*The CHC Board created an Associate Board Member position for former board members, whose term expired, but still wanted to serve CHC without all the responsibilities of a Board Member.



Kelly grew up in Grand Junction, CO, and now calls the North Fork Valley home.  He has a Bachelor’s of Biological Science degree from Mesa State.  He worked in retail management for 15 years before going into the energy industry.  His 8 years in the industry has gained him valuable knowledge and experience from the front lines. He is devoted to protecting the North Fork Valley from irresponsible resource extraction. He and his wife, Jen, are rehabilitating their land for wildlife and a few goats.

Elaine Brett

Elaine Brett pic

Elaine’s experience spans clinical chemistry, corporate management and organizational development consulting. She has over thirty years experience in facilitation, strategic planning and management in commercial, non-profit and governmental sectors.  Elaine came to the North Fork Valley in 2004 and has been involved in many different businesses and organizations.  Currently, she is on the boards of The Friends of the Paradise Theatre and the Western Colorado Community Foundation.  She has a passion for local food and enjoys cycling and hiking. She wants to see our local economy thrive and survive and is committed to conserving the beautiful lands of Western Colorado.

Bill Day

Bill Day_rockhouse river nov 15 032

Bill has lived on the North Fork, west of Hotchkiss, since 1994. After retiring from a career as a Land Surveyor, he spent 13 seasons working for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas II. His favorite RMBO projects included searching for and monitoring Western Purple Martins, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Greater Sage-grouse, and Burrowing Owls. Bill is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and is a former board president of Black Canyon Audubon Society and Black Canyon Land Trust. He is currently a member of the Crawford Gunnison Sage-grouse Working Group, Western Colorado Congress Public Lands Committee and the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office RMP planning committee.

Bill Fritsche_web

Bill Fritsche

Bill is a long-time Colorado nomad having moved around the state on a self-defined career journey and personal quest to experience different places. He has lived in Denver, Basalt, Steamboat Springs, Idaho Springs, and Fort Collins. He and his life-partner Barbara moved to Paonia in 2015 in search of a quieter lifestyle than available on the Front Range, with less snow than Steamboat or Basalt. Bill has been practicing law for over thirty years, specializing in civil and criminal litigation.

Mitch Gershten

Mitch Gershten

Dr. Gershten holds a B.S. Degree in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology; a Master’s Degree in Pharmacology; and a Medical Degree. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and for 12 years was the owner and a practicing physician for HealthMark Center for Integrated Healing Arts. Mitch currently works as a staff physician/hospitalist, at St. Mary’s Hospital, in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he has been since 2008.

Gabrielle Grunkemeyer

Gabby profile

Gabrielle Grunkemeyer is pleased to offer her background and knowledge in development, philanthropy, and nonprofit management to CHC. She has a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries from Texas A&M University and an M.S. in Environmental Science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Gabrielle began her career in water quality and management while working in Texas. She then moved to Maine where she has fine-tuned her project management and development skills for environmental advocacy and education, namely in grant research, writing, and administration.  In March of 2017, Gabrielle earned a Nonprofit Management Certification from Duke University. While not a native Coloradan, her family has deep roots in Western Colorado, particularly in Delta County. One day she hopes to return to Colorado to live but in the meantime she visits as often as she can to help her folks on their farm and bask in the beauty of the Rockies.

Jen Sanborn


Jen has called the North Fork Valley home for the last 4 years.  She previously lived in Rifle, CO, where she served two terms on Rifle’s City Council.  Her time on council was during the energy boom of 2001 and bust of 2008.  While on council, she experienced the challenges that face communities surrounded by the Oil & Gas industries.  While the North Fork Valley is very different from Rifle, she hopes to use her experiences as a way of protecting this valley.  She’s thrilled to be living in a rural environment where clean water and air are still a priority.

Paige Smith

Paige photo_web

Paige has been a Wyoming resident for 35 years and she and her husband plan to retire in Paonia in the near future.  Paige has a B.S. in rangeland management and a M.S. in mine land reclamation. She spent 29 years with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) in the Land Quality, Air Quality, and Solid and Hazardous Waste Divisions dealing with coal mine permitting, effects of oil and gas drilling on air quality and the cleanup of contaminated industrial sites. She also served in a one-year temporary position as a Natural Resources Policy Analyst with Wyoming Governor Freudenthal’s administration where she was heavily involved in large-scale oil and gas developments. Paige retired from the WDEQ in 2013 and recently joined the Board of Wyoming’s only independent environmental organization, the Wyoming Outdoor Council. She is honored to participate in CHC’s efforts to protect and preserve our beautiful and unique North Fork Valley.

John VanDenBerg

Smiling John in blue shirt_crop

John is a widely published author and has lectured and trained in all 50 states and every province in Canada, and in other countries. He is a recently retired child psychologist and national consultant. Dr. VanDenBerg has spent his career working on de-institutionalization of children with severe emotional problems, and is one of the founders of the Wraparound Process, a method of supporting adults and children with complex needs.

Steve Wolcot

Steve Wolcott_crop_web

Steve has been farming and ranching on Stucker Mesa, outside Paonia, since 1972.  He and his wife, Linda Lindsey, have three grown children, and currently raise elk and alpacas and irrigate 70 acres of hay & pasture. Steve has been a partner in several small business ventures including installing solar hot water systems, welding & fabrication of elk handling systems, making umbrellas for river rafts and manufacturing items for model railroads. Steve was a founder and long-time board member of Western Slope Environmental Resource Council and Western Slope Conservation Center where he concentrated on issues with the coal mines.  He also serves on the Upper North Fork Area Planning Committee.

Robert Wright

Robert Wright

Robert was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, and lived in Los Angeles, Missoula and Anchorage, before moving to Colorado in 2001. He has had a career in Sales and Marketing, and is founder and principle at, where he is an Internet marketing strategist, SEO Expert/Instructor, and Trusted Advisor. Robert is a Rainforest Action Network trained activist; he provides support and direct action work to Earth First, Hundredth Monkey and Anti-War/Peace movements. Robert’s hobbies include Drums/Guitar/Songwriting, MMA, Disc Golf, Gaming, Magic and Dogs.

Natasha Léger

NL Headshot_5-2019_web

Executive Director

Natasha is the Executive Director of Citizens For A Healthy Community (CHC). Before stepping in as Executive Director, Natasha served on the CHC Board. She brings to CHC legal, location, ecosystem, and industry analysis experience. She is an international trade attorney, turned independent business consultant, turned editor of a location intelligence magazine, turned author of Travel Healthy: A Road Warrior’s Guide to Eating Healthy. She believes that clean air, water, soils, and nouri (the new word to describe what we should be eating for optimum health) are a basic human right.

Kyle Tisdel


Legal Counsel

Kyle has been representing CHC since 2012 in administrative and legal actions at the federal level. Kyle joined Western Environmental Law Center as a staff attorney in 2011 and is the Climate & Energy Program director. He focuses on protecting the West’s environment and communities from the harms of oil and gas development. He previously practiced law in Washington and Colorado where his work focused on environmental, land use, and real property issues. Kyle received a B.A. in international relations from Michigan State University and earned his law degree from Vermont Law School. Find out why we are so fortunate to have Kyle on our team and Learn why Kyle is dedicated to defending the West