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.
Assistant Director of Finance and Operations
Having grown up in the Roaring Fork Valley, I am so honored to be part of an organization that is giving back to a community that gave so much to me! I love being part of such a passionate and talented team where we all work together in different facets to bring equitable change to our dynamic community.
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.
Manager, El Busesito Preschool
I love working with the kids! They are so excited about learning and school, they have the best energy and make every day fun and different. I love being a part of something that is so unique and special like El Busesito. We are preparing students for their future and making a difference in their whole families’ lives.
Manager, Learning with Love
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, Community Based Care
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, 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 twelve-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 Helzberg, 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 husband and children.
Rob Stein, Vice President
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.
Paula Losada Nickell, Treasurer
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.
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.
Ellen, a native of New York City, began her career in Boston and moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1994 as the program coordinator for the Advocate Safehouse Project, an organization aiding victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Glenwood Springs. Ellen was part of the Aspen Community Foundation team beginning in 1997 and served as executive director from 2001 to 2005. Ellen has served on the boards of English in Action and the Schuss Charitable Trust. After a break to spend more time with her two small children, Freedman served as executive director of The Manaus Fund from 2012 to 2014. Ellen is a member of the Basalt Elementary School’s Accountability Committee and chairs Basalt’s “Our Children Our Schools” parent engagement group. A graduate of Bowdoin College, Ellen lives in Basalt, CO, with her husband, Auden Schendler, and their children.
Dr. Doug Jones
Doug is Professor 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, 2 print books and an on-line 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 also serves 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. 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 travels frequently to the Roaring Fork Valley, where they also have a residence.
Diana Delasala Lane
Diana is the daughter of immigrants from a small village in rural Colombia. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college and moved to Aspen in 1992. She worked for Aspen Skiing Company as Public Relations Manager, specializing in emerging skier markets from Central and South America, then as Executive Producer of Channel 16. Diana then moved to Denver and worked for KWGN (WB 2) as news writer and segment producer. During that time, she freelanced for CNN, Fox Sports, Outdoor Life Network, and RSN, which took her all over the world. In 2005, Diana returned to Basalt with her husband and one-year old and worked as on-air correspondent for Plum TV & Aspen 82 TV. Since 2013, Diana has worked as Executive Assistant to a part-time Aspen couple with strong local ties. Diana served on the board of Basalt Education Foundation from 2013–2017 and is on the accountability committee at Basalt Middle School. She has a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Florida and is a 2001 graduate of Roaring Fork Leadership. Spanish is her first language. Diana lives in Basalt with her husband Chris, and their two children.
Don and his wife Barbara live in Snowmass Village. Originally from Boston, Don has extensive business experience in both corporate and as an entrepreneur. Don and his family founded Dunkin Donuts/Dunkin Brands and had involvement in multiple ventures such as Chilli’s Restaurant, Empire Video Stores, and Discovery Zone Funcenters. He also owned and managed Aesops Bagels and Lexx Restaurant in the Boston area. Don serves as director and treasure of the Wm. Rosenberg Family Foundation and has been on the boards of several community organizations, including the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly and Cheshire Academy in CT, and JAS Aspen. His wife Barbara currently serves on the ACES board of directors in Aspen. He has been involved with Valley Settlement since 2015 as a donor and later as a key member of the finance committee. Don enjoys pilates, skiing, golf, hiking, swimming and raising their 3-year-old sheep doodle, Cody.
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 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 husband George, two cats—their six children having left the nest & nine grandchildren who circle back periodically.