We are the community we serve
Valley Settlement employs a “grow your own” strategy to cultivate leaders from within our programs. Many of our current program managers began as participants, and have now taken on the mantle of leadership. Over the years, the Valley Settlement team has cultivated a deep trust within the community we serve. This trust is due in large part to our staff on the ground who practice active listening and respond to families with thought, care, and compassion.
Meet some of our key leaders below, and hear from them what they love about their jobs.
We cultivate leaders from within and invest in our team’s professional development
Maria Tarajano Rodman
The commitment, passion and level of excellence the staff, board, volunteers, donors and partners bring to the work every day. Being in and of the community. Embracing and honoring leadership within our community. Our shared value for a more equitable and inclusive valley. For me, this is personal. I am home.
Director of Finance and Operations
I love our staff and our participants! Every day I get to see growth in those we provide services to and in those I work with. Valley Settlement is truly making a difference in our community and I love that I get to be a small part of that.
Director of Development and Communications
I feel fortunate that I get to work with our amazing staff and supporters, a team of passionate people from widely diverse backgrounds who are all committed to building a more equitable valley.
Director of Programs and Innovation
My job is unique in so many ways. I love coming to work every morning because I get to listen to the brave and courageous stories of those in our community. I have the opportunity of working with my community of color, engaging with language and culture for a better sense of belonging in this new world.
Manager of Learning with Love
What I love most about working for Valley Settlement is that we value and see each other as family. Even though we all come from different backgrounds, we have one common thread: A deep love for our Latina community. I joined Valley Settlement because I have personally benefited from the investment of Latino leaders who saw potential in me as a kid from Los Angeles. My commitment to Valley Settlement is to work with my team to continue supporting families in this valley so they can achieve their fullest potential.
Manager of The Little Bus Preschool
To work with and serve the community that I identify with is such an honor. I admire the strength of our participants; their ability to continue to have hope, perseverance and resilience is a daily motivator to continue the fight for equity throughout our community.
Manager of Adult-focused Programs
I love working with Valley Settlement because we are offering the most powerful weapon in the world, education. Education is the key to improve the quality of life of our participants, be more inclusive, and have a strong community. I appreciate the diversity of my colleagues, participants, and our background experiences. This makes us really special.
Valley Settlement’s eleven-member board is deeply committed to the long-term sustainability and growth of the organization. All board members contribute financially to the organization, and dedicate their time to ensuring the organization is advancing its mission effectively.
Jamie Montgomery, President
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. She also serves as Spouse/Partner Officer for the Aspen chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization. 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.
Rob Stein, Treasurer
Rob is Superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District. He also serves as Secretary of the board of Mountain Family Health Centers. He has worked on the front lines of education reform for over 30 years, as a teacher, administrator, university professor and educational consultant. Rob led one of the nation’s most high-profile turnaround efforts at Manual High School, and also served as Head of School at Graland Country Day School and Executive Director at Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and has also taught at Denver University and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Rob has published, presented and consulted locally and nationally on organizational development, school leadership, research-based practice and school change. He holds a BA from Middlebury College, an MA from Stanford University and an EdD from Harvard University. Stein is also fluent in Spanish, which helps given the majority of the school district’s students are Latinos. Rob lives in Carbondale, CO with his wife Mariah Dickson & son who is in high school, while his daughter is attending college.
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. 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.
Elaine Gantz Berman
Elaine also serves as a Trustee of Metro State University of Denver. Elaine’s life and work has been strongly influenced by her Cuban-born mother and her extensive experiences in Latin America including a two-year stint in Cali, Colombia with her husband, Steve, where they both worked in community health centers. A longtime advocate of education reform, she served for eight years on the Denver Board of Education, including four years as president prior to serving on the Colorado State Board of Education from 2008–2015 representing Colorado Congressional District 1. Prior to serving in elected office Elaine worked for 18 years as a program officer at the Denver-based Piton Foundation. She has served on numerous not-for-profit boards and commissions and helped to found the Colorado Children’s Campaign, the Adoption Exchange, the Colorado Education Initiative and the Colorado Non Profit Development Center. She currently lives in Denver, CO and works with DeBoskey Group, a philanthropic advisory group as Senior Strategist and continues to serve on numerous state and national education boards and commissions. She is fluent in Spanish and holds a MSPH from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Jon-Paul is a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. Jon-Paul’s work focuses on young children and their families and local, state and national early care and education systems. Jon-Paul also co-directs the national team focused on early childhood education, employment equity, health equity and food systems. Prior to joining the foundation in 2010, Jon-Paul was the Early Childhood Initiatives Director at the Colorado Children’s Campaign focusing on statewide early childhood policy and systems and a project assistant at the Infant-Parent Interaction Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Waisman Center. Jon-Paul began his career teaching in child care and elementary school. Jon-Paul holds an EdD in education leadership and policy from the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University and a MS and BS in human development and family studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Paula Losada Nickell
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. Prior to that, she attended a bilingual high school in Bogota, Colombia. Paula and her husband Jonathan moved with their three children to Aspen in 2013 as their oldest daughter wanted to attend High School in the US.
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.
Ana is the daughter of Cuban parents who fled Cuba after the revolution and believes that education is critical to reaching your full potential. She brings more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and government arenas and the unifying factor over her career has been to be or 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 primary focus is on education and engaging with communities in Colorado’s rural and urban areas to increase equity and achievement for low-income students. She has had the honor of being a middle school teacher as well as helping to launch 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 Victim Services Network at the Denver District Attorney’s Office where she led a collaborative aimed at improving services for unserved and 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 joined the Valley Settlement board after years of close engagement with the organization. She also serves on the board and is Chair of the board development committee at the Needmor Fund. Patti also serves on the board of the Thrift Shop of Aspen and the Forest Conservancy. Previously she served on a number of boards including the Aspen Community School, the Aspen Historical Society & the Aspen Youth Center. Patti has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for over forty 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 Thrift Shop of Aspen, one of the region’s quiet yet powerful philanthropies, and for the Forest Conservancy as a Wilderness Ranger. Patti lives in Carbondale, CO with her two cats, where her six children & nine grandchildren circle back periodically.
Carlos Ulloa Jaquez
Carlos Ulloa Jaquez was born in Mexico and was brought by his parents to the Roaring Fork Valley, where he has lived most of his life. Having lived a few decades in the valley, he has seen this valley grow and the Latino community grow with it. He has gained appreciation for how our communities have grown to be inclusive of the Latino community, and yet acknowledges the work that can still be done in this matter. This is why when Carlos learned about Valley Settlement, he felt a connection with our organization and the need to participate with us in any way possible. As a result, Carlos has volunteered his time in several of our programs including Lifelong Learning, Parent Mentor & El Busesito.
The love for his community has also compelled him to serve with other nonprofit organizations like Colorado Animal Rescue as a board member, or in committees for special projects like Carbondale Arts-Latino Folk Art Garden, Aspen CORE-Stories of Climate Change, among many others.
His professional education began at Colorado Mountain College, culminating at Westwood College where he earned a B.S. in Visual Communications. His more than 20 years of experience in the Visual Communications field has helped him be part of Alpine Bank’s Marketing Department where he currently works.
Having lived in both Mexico and the Roaring Fork Valley, as a bilingual and bicultural person, has helped him become passionate about education as a path for immigrants to succeed.