Our Board

Valley Settlement’s board is deeply committed to the long-term sustainability and growth of the organization. All board members contribute to the organization’s success and dedicate their time and knowledge to ensuring we are advancing our mission effectively. 

 

 

Paula Losada Nickell, President

Paula joined the Valley Settlement board of directors after having volunteered her time in Valley Settlement’s Learning with Love program for families with infants and toddlers. Paula has volunteered in the communities she’s lived in both in the US and Colombia, including her family’s Foundation in Cali, Colombia. Paula earned a BS in Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She then returned to Bogota, Colombia, to start her engineering career. Paula left the workforce once she became a parent and returned to the US with her husband while he earned an MBA.  Paula and her husband Jonathan moved with their three children to Aspen in 2013.

Rob Stein, Treasurer

Rob is a career educator, most recently the Superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District. In his 40 years in education, he has served as a teacher, administrator, university professor, and educational consultant. Rob has published, presented, and consulted locally and nationally on organizational development, school leadership, research-based practice, and school improvement. He holds a BA from Middlebury College, an MA from Stanford University, and an EdD from Harvard University. Rob lives in Carbondale, CO.

Claire Noone, Secretary

Claire is an attorney who balances a bilingual general practice in Glenwood Springs with pro bono human rights work. Her work has taken the form of being a Peace Fellow for the Advocacy Project working in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the last 10 years running a nonprofit for genocide survivors in Srebrenica, later working at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague on the Ratko Mladic case, working on the Bears Ears defense at the Native American Rights Fund, and over the last three years taking monthly trips to the US/Mexico border to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers living in tent camps and US immigration detention centers. Whatever form suffering and human rights abuses take, Claire is constantly seeking to be a better advocate and a more effective tool for peacebuilding and community development. Claire was born and raised in Glenwood Springs, attending local public schools and the Colorado Rocky Mountain School. She received her BA in International Politics from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law with certificates in International Law and Natural Resource Law, a certificate from the Inter-American Law Program in Guatemala, and is licensed to practice law in Colorado and New Mexico as well as in Federal Immigration Court.

Tina Alvarez

Tina Alvarez is a mother of two who moved into the Roaring Fork Valley in early 2010. Since then, she has been involved with various nonprofit organizations dedicated to better mental health. Tina comes from a traditional Latin family from Mexico and got involved with Valley Settlement in 2017. She has participated in Valley Settlement’s Lifelong Learning program, and both of her children attended El Busesito Preschool. Tina currently helps manage her family business and attends school. Tina loves to exercise and spend time outside hiking and walking around Glenwood Springs, where she currently lives.

Jon-Paul Bianchi

Jon-Paul Bianchi is a senior program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. In this role, he supports foundation efforts to promote thriving children, working families, and equitable communities.

Bianchi co-leads the WKKF national grantmaking team focused on early childhood, employment equity, health, and food systems. His work centers young children and their families in the context of community, early care, and school. His individual grantmaking focuses on early childhood systems and policy.

Prior to joining the foundation in 2010, Bianchi was the early childhood initiatives director at the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a statewide nonpartisan advocacy and research organization. He served as staff advisor to the Early Childhood & School Readiness Legislative Commission where he authored several laws aimed at improving early childhood and creating systemic alignment between various early care and education programs in Colorado.

Other earlier positions include project assistant at the Infant-Parent Interaction Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin Waisman Center for Development Disabilities (2004-2008) and policy research assistant at the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (2002-2003). Bianchi began his career working in child care and teaching elementary school.

Bianchi holds a Doctorate of Education from the Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education and Human Development, a Master of Science in Child Development, and a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he conducted research on medically fragile infants and their parents as part of a National Institute of Mental Health grant.

Zulema Gomez

Zulema Gomez is from Mexico and has been living in the Roaring Fork Valley since the early 2000s. She has a deep love of this valley and the community here.

Zulema first became involved with Valley Settlement in 2014 when her son attended El Busesito Preschool. “What a great experience and memories for both of us!” she says. She has also enjoyed participating in Valley Settlement’s Parent Mentor program as a volunteer at Basalt Elementary School. Zulema loves helping classroom teachers and wishes to continue supporting immigrant communities and children in any way possible.

Dr. Doug Jones

Doug is a Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and former Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Previously he was Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at The Children’s Hospital from 1990–2005. Prior to that, Doug was at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital, serving multiple leadership roles from 1977–1990. Doug has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited over 150 scholarly publications, two print books, and an online clinical decision support resource. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education. Doug was Chair of the board of the American Board of Pediatrics. He served on the board of the Denver Health and Hospitals Authority. Doug has received the Kempe Professional Service Award, the High Hopes Award from the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, and the Joseph W. St. Geme, Jr. Leadership Award from the Federation of Pediatric Organizations. Doug received his BA from Rice University and his MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. Doug lives with his wife, Ann Jones, in Denver, CO, and frequently travels to the Roaring Fork Valley.

Susie Meraz

Susie Meraz, a Senior Loan Officer at Bay Equity Home Loans, brings over 23 years of mortgage industry experience to the board. As a dedicated advocate for the Hispanic community, Susie has contributed significantly to education and service initiatives, helping countless families become homeowners. Recognized in the top 1% of mortgage originators nationally, she is also among the top 1% of women originators by the Scotsman Guide and holds a place in the top 250 Latino Mortgage Originators for NAHREP. Born in Colorado and raised in the Roaring Fork Valley, Susie’s work ethic stems from her immigrant parents. Fluent in both English and Spanish, she leverages her bilingual and bicultural background to connect with our diverse community. Joining the board underscores Susie’s commitment to early childhood education and her dedication to making a positive impact.

Jamie Montgomery Helzberg

Jamie is a community volunteer and mother of five children. Her previous business career was in marketing and business development at publishing and Internet companies. She is a trained guidance counselor and is passionate about education and opportunities for children. Jamie currently serves as the chair of community engagement for Aspen Country Day School. Jamie previously served on the boards of the Kansas City Symphony and Rose Brooks Center, a domestic violence shelter. She also served on the board of University Academy, a K–12 college preparatory charter public school in Kansas City, MO. Jamie’s educational background includes a B.A. in psychology from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in Counseling from New York University. Jamie lives in Aspen, CO with her children.

Ana Soler

Ana brings more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and government arenas, and the unifying factor over her career has been to bring the voice of those who are marginalized in society to the conversations where decisions are being made. Ana is currently a senior program officer at the Gates Family Foundation. Her focus is on education and engaging with communities in Colorado’s rural and urban areas to increase equity and achievement, especially for low-income students and students of color. She has had the honor of being a middle school teacher as well as launching a charter school in Denver. Prior to joining the foundation, Ana was a facilitator at The Civic Canopy, where she convened groups of stakeholders, including the people impacted by the decisions made by systems. Before working at the Canopy, Ana was the director of the Victim Services Network at the Denver District Attorney’s Office, where she led a collaborative aimed at improving services for underserved victims in the city and county of Denver. She was also a case manager at the Denver District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Diversion program and the founder of the Acquiring Talent Through Art (A.R.T.T.) program. Prior to the District Attorney’s office, Ana worked with runaway and homeless youth and homeless families. Ana brings the experience of working with complex projects in education, health, and community building in a variety of cultures and contexts.

Patti Stranahan

Patti joined the Valley Settlement board after years of close engagement with the organization. She is a member of the Community Steward Grantmaking Committee of the Stranahan Foundation. Patti also serves on the boards of the Aspen Thrift Shop and the Forest Conservancy. Previously she served on a number of other boards, including the Needmor Fund, the Aspen Community School, the Aspen Historical Society & the Aspen Youth Center. Patti has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for over fifty years, where she co-founded and ran the iconic Woody Creek Tavern with her husband, George Stranahan, the late visionary founder of The Manaus Fund, parent of Valley Settlement. Patti volunteers at the Aspen Thrift Shop, one of the region’s quiet yet powerful philanthropies, and for the Forest Conservancy as a Wilderness Ranger. Patti lives in Carbondale, CO, and loves when her family circles back to visit.