All photos, with the exception of his own, were taken by Scott DW Smith.
Monique DiGiorgio, Managing Director
Monique moved to Durango in the late 90’s and immediately called it “home” because she was drawn to our small mountain town and its mix of desert and mountain ecosystems. Monique began her career as a field ornithologist and then moved into the non-profit world and found she had a proclivity for building small organizations from the ground up. Bringing individuals of differing perspectives together to find common ground has been at the heart of many of the conservation projects she has catalyzed across the West. Monique was instrumental in founding the Chama Peak Land Alliance, a non-profit organization of private land stewards in Durango’s backyard conserving open space, clean water, and abundant wildlife. She now serves on the Board.
Monique holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of Notre Dame and brings a science-based perspective to much of her work. She is elated to be the Managing Director of Local First and is dedicated to working with our community to build a strong economy that supports the planet and its people. She shares her love of the earth with her daughter, Sora, who was born in Durango and also calls it home. Monique loves to raft, ski, bike, do yoga, play bass, and spend time in the outdoors.
Kate Hallock, Community Coordinator
Kate is a Colorado native and graduate of Fort Lewis College with a BA in Business Management with minors in Environmental Policy and Economics. Since arriving in Durango over 11 years ago, Kate has valued the depth and diversity of Durango, and believes it’s essential to support what makes us locally resilient, and to foster continued innovation in the place of business. Kate’s passion and values around sustainable business has led her to work within local independent businesses for many years learning and growing, including the Spaaah Shop & Day Spa, Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, and a local motel called the Wapiti Lodge. This time has given her a deeper commitment to supporting locally owned independent business and entrepreneurship and the people that invest their time and energy using business as a tool for good in our community.
Kate sees the current economic climate at a turning point, actively being redirected towards localism, and she loves that Local First’s work is on the forefront of this movement! Kate loves getting to be with friends and family, spending time out in the woods, hiking, and playing a mad game of volleyball any chance she gets!
Kyrie “Kiki” Hooten, VISTA Volunteer
Kiki grew up in North Carolina and received her undergraduate degree at NC State University in Environmental Technology and Management and a minor in Toxicology. During this time she started a student organization to help small businesses make one change to be more sustainable and worked for a solar company on their sustainability plan. After realizing her passion to work with people and small businesses, she moved to Arizona to pursue her masters in Sustainability Solutions with a focus in communication. While completing her masters she worked for a sustainability consulting group and for the City of Tempe, while also volunteering with LocalFirstAZ. She is very excited to use her experiences in private business, consulting, government, and nonprofits to work with LocalFirst here in Durango! In her spare time She enjoys hiking with her golden retriever Dusty, snowboarding, and swimming.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ryan Lowe, Chair
Born and raised in Durango, Ryan feels incredibly lucky to call this beautiful place home. Ryan moved to a large city to pursue an engineering degree. It didn’t take long for him to realize what he had lost by moving away and he quickly packed his bags and headed back home. Protecting the unique charm and character of this town is at the forefront of Ryan’s personal goals and he hopes to see the community he grew up in support the lives of many others because they appreciate the quality of life Durango provides.
As the General Manager and co-owner of Durango’s longest standing restaurant, the Ore House, Ryan always seems to find himself gravitating towards the kitchen where his passion for cooking is fulfilled. Ryan has made it a priority for the Ore House’s team of chefs to procure food from local ranches and farms, not only because the food they produce tastes better, but because supporting local farmers is one of the most important things a restaurant can do for its community. Ryan feels very fortunate to share his passion for food, hospitality, and small business with his dedicated staff and loyal customers. On the rare occasion that Ryan is not at the restaurant he enjoys traveling the world with his wife, Aisylin. It is no secret that their trips are always guided around food and unique cultural experiences. He enjoys the abundant outdoors as much as possible and plans to utilize his business to keep Durango a special place for years to come!
Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chair
With 18 years experience in engineering and management positions in the high-technology industry, a former Director of Marketing with Apple Computer in Hong Kong, in 1994 Tim moved to Durango with his family. A serial entrepreneur Tim has owned a consulting firm, the Durango Coffee Company retail store, and the Durango Compost Company. Over his career Tim developed a passion for shaping the positive parts of our capitalist economy towards an environmentally and economically sustainable future.
Tim brings this perspective into his involvement in many Durango area activities. He is a Leadership La Plata Graduate (1996-97), served on the Board of Durango Natural Foods, the Durango Business Improvement District, Sunrise Credit Union, and the Durango Farmers Market. He is a founding Board member of the Southwest Colorado Renewable Energy Society, 4CORE, Local First, and participates in other economic development activities in La Plata County. He has an Advanced Management Certificate from the Wharton School of Business at U-Penn and an Electronics Diploma from DeVry Institute of Technology. Tim lives here with his wife of 34 years, Ann.
John Lopez, Treasurer
John is an owner and Tax Manager at FredrickZink & Associates. He handles tax preparation, audits, accounting, and consultation for the firm. John brings over twenty years of experience in public accounting, auditing nonprofit organizations and common interest realty associations, along with the preparation of business, nonprofit, and individual tax returns. John grew up and attended school in Texas. He entered the field of public accounting in the mid-90’s when he relocated to Southwest Florida, prior to his move to Durango in 2012.
John and his partner enjoy hiking, skiing, and biking with their three dogs. As a board member of Local First, John supports the growth and development of local Durango businesses. “It all adds up to people partnering with people to achieve results.”
Amber Davis, Secretary
Amber was born in Colorado Springs and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. At 19, she left Colorado to explore America with her husband Mark. After road tripping for months and stints of living in California & Arizona, they made their way back to Durango. Their 2 beautiful children Isabella and Gabriel were both born at the old Mercy Hospital. They bought a house in Hermosa in 2013 and can’t imagine calling any other place home.
Amber worked in Natural Healthcare for 12+ years running a holistic family practice, an Acupuncture practice where European Biological Medicine was utilized, and an alternative addiction therapy clinic. Amber is a trained practitioner in Core Shamanism, is a full Mesa Carrier in the Quero tradition of the Inka people, and has played West African percussion for over 5 years. She is the founder of Luminous Sojourns (Spiritual Healing), New Hat Baking (GF baking products) and To the Penny (bookkeeping services), and is the Operations & Membership Coordinator at the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance. Amber believes the success of local independent business is the solution to today’s economic struggles in America. She joined the Local First Board in May 2016 to begin fostering the development of her vision here in Durango. She enjoys gardening, singing, dancing, drumming, Tequila and always welcomes a good jam session or dart night with her friends.
Peter has lived in Durango since 1989 with his wife, Andrea Avantaggio. Together they have owned and operated Maria’s Bookshop for nearly 20 of the independent bookshop’s 33 years. They’ve both put down deep roots in the community and are raising a family here; their son is off to college and their daughter attends DHS. Peter has a variety of interests including gardening, backpacking, cycling (including unicycles and penny farthings), tree planting, skiing, good beer, napping, boating and all types of outdoor exploration.
Locally owned independent bookstores are often cornerstone members of Independent Business organizations and Peter has exhibited his passion for Local First, both as a business owner and a community member. Maria’s Bookshop is a founding business member of the Local First organization. Peter contributed one term on the Local First Board at the outset of the organization and has enthusiastically signed back on for another Board term.
Photo taken by Jeff Loewe/WME