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Annual Conference Speakers

Plenary Speakers

Bob Kunkel, City of Durango, has been actively involved in tourism management, marketing, and community development since moving to Colorado in 1971. In his professional career he has worked in all three areas of public education, private business, and government.

After several years as a teacher and administrator for Denver Public Schools, he spent 30 years in Colorado’s expanding resort and tourism industry. Bob worked in management positions for 8 years at Copper Mountain then held Vice President Marketing positions for the next 16 years at Winter Park and Vail/Beaver Creek. Bob spent 2 years consulting with high end resort clients in Colorado and in Austria. He served for 4 years as Senior Vice President for Durango Mountain Resort.

His broad range of experience in all phases of resort development and operations, tourism and recreation marketing, and community economic development led him to his third career with the City of Durango as the downtown Business Development Manager. Bob also serves as the Executive Director of Downtown Durango Business Improvement District.

Bob has served on numerous boards at the state and local levels, taught tourism at CU-Boulder and is called upon frequently to speak to small communities and at large industry conventions. He currently teaches part-time in the business school at Fort Lewis College. Bob’s graduate work focused on commercial recreation and tourism at CU -Boulder. He also holds an MBA in management and graduate certificate in international business from CU-Denver.

Plenary: Roles and Partnerships in Marketing Downtowns, Wed, Sept 21, 6:30pm

Della Rucker, Wise Economy, advises across the US about how to improve the local economies of communities by thinking about what they need to be successful places not just not, but for decades into the future.  Her approach focuses on building from a community's assets (including the not-so-obvious ones), engaging the whole community in constructive action, thinking about the full range of future scenarios, and leveraging all of a community's resources to meet its goals. Della's approach to helping communities revitalize themselves goes far beyond traditional planning and economic development -- and lays the groundwork for a comprehensively healthy and sustainable community.  Della’s strategies make the best available use of the tight budgets that every local government and nonprofit organization face by helping the full cross section of the community understand their issues clearly, identify their best opportunities and work together. Della has provided planning and economic development into more than 100 communities, mostly in the Midwest. She is one of a handful of private sector consultants who carry the industry-standard certifications in both planning and economic development. She blogs on economic development and planning issues at and is a contributor to the Planning Commissioner’s Journal and New Geography, among others.  

Plenary: An Invitation to Create a Wise Economy, Thu, Sept 22, 8:00am

Matthew Wagner, Ph.D., is the president of Nitro Development LLC, which is focused on building innovative downtown and community economies. Through Nitro Development, Matt blends his academic background in economic development with his extensive professional experiences in downtown development. Dr. Wagner has spent the past year tracking trends that when effectively applied to small business principles can influence and attract consumer spending. This presentation addresses those key issues, from the impact of over 1 billion smart phones by 2012 to the growing influence of the "expectation economy.”

As a former manager of the Sheboygan Falls Main Street Program (Great American Main Street Award Winner), executive director of the Downtown Racine Corporation (International Downtown Association, National Sierra Club, and American Institute of Architects Urban Planning Award Winner) and a Senior Program Associate at the National Trust National Main Street Center in Washington D.C, Matt has nearly 20 years of award winning downtown development experience.

Recent consulting engagements included market analysis training, performance metrics development, community assessment teams, and various conference presentations in West Virginia, New York and the State of Washington. In addition, Wagner brings a unique focus on urban issues, having worked with urban Main Street districts in Philadelphia, PA, Oakland, CA, and Dayton, Ohio, as well as earning his Ph.D. in urban economic development with a research concentration in minority entrepreneurship from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Plenary: Trends & Tools for Growing an Innovative Business District in Your Community, Fri, Sept 23, 8:00am

Erik Wolf, International Culinary Tourism Association, is recognized internationally as the founder of the culinary tourism industry. Erik has more than 20 years of experience in travel marketing and has worked with a variety of travel industry companies. He is a popular speaker in the USA and abroad, and is considered as the go-to culinary tourism resource for media all over the globe, including, The Washington Times, Forbes, The Travel Channel and Peter Greenberg (in the US), as well as media outlets in Canada, Mexico, India, Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Erik also advises on a regular basis to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network gastronomy program. Erik holds a B.A. in languages from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in Travel Marketing and International Communication from The American University in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and Slow Food. For Erik, food is a way to communicate and connect with local people. A command of several languages has helped him navigate through dozens of countries. Erik has also lived in Australia, Denmark, Singapore and South Africa. The more Erik traveled, the more he realized that many destinations have wonderful but untold stories in the form of truly unique food and beverage experiences. Erik enjoys recommending unusual and remarkable food and beverages experiences from obscure lands.

Plenary: Culinary Tourism for Towns of All Sizes, Fri, Sept 23, 11:15am

Additional Speakers

William Buck, Mayor, Mt. Crested Butte, has developed several businesses over the years including sales, manufacturing, construction and special event planning / consulting. As an outdoor enthusiast he has enjoyed the magnificent opportunities that Colorado provides for winter and summer activities. Over the last decade William has participated in local and state municipal affairs as President of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST), Colorado Municipal League (CML) Executive Board, and Mayor of Mt. Crested Butte.

Walker Christensen is a senior associate with DHM Design in Durango, Colorado. His professional experience specializes in streetscape design, public parks, stream and wetland restoration, stormwater reuse, and sustainable design. Walker has worked on many projects on the Front Range and Western Slope of Colorado including Ridgway Historic Streetscape Master Plan, Silverton School Renovation, Three Springs in Durango, and Northside Park in Denver. Northside Park won national acclaim including the American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award and the Phoenix Award from the EPA.

Kristin Cypher, Britina Design Group. In both her professional and educational experience, Kristin has had the opportunity to research, design and manage an interesting mix of public and private land planning projects. As both a planner and a landscape architect, Kristin’s expertise ranges from fi eld work documentation to the planning and design of historic and current places. A researcher at heart, Kristin continually drives the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of Britina’s work. As the primary point of contact for Britina’s community planning and design work, Kristin is often the ‘face’ of Britina during public meetings and project presentations, where her gift for communication and consensus-building shines. Kristin is also currently serving her first year on DCI's board of directors.

Sean Devereaux, Colorado Restaurant Association. Currently the president of the Durango Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association. Sean is the owner and food lover of Guido’s Favorite Foods, bringing ideas and food experiences from Italy to Durango since 2001. Guido’s features traditional authentic Trattoria cooking using local farm fresh ingredients whenever possible. Guido’s is an AAA 3 Diamond award winner restaurant as well as a recipient of Wine Spectators award of excellence.

Mark Heller, Golden Urban Renewal Authority (GURA), applies more than 20 years of experience in community planning, economic development, real estate development, sustainability programming, small business legal counseling, cultural organization management, and community involvement to the challenges placed before GURA. He has overseen significant positive changes in GURA and for downtown Golden since becoming Executive Director in 2004. Among other projects, he co-authored and directed the award-winning Golden Sustainability Initiative in 2007 and managed the Gateway Station mixed-use redevelopment, which was recognized by DCI as the 2008 winner of the Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence for new construction. Heller developed a passion for community planning while living in Crested Butte, Colorado, where he served on the boards of some of the area’s leading environmental, cultural, and economic organizations. He was a board member of High Country Citizens’ Alliance and the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre and was counsel to the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and the Crested Butte Music Festival among others. One of Heller’s objectives in working with such diverse groups was to balance sustainable economic development with environmental conservation and community vitality.

Aaron Huckstep, attorney, (known to friends and clients as "Huck") began his professional career as a CPA, and then obtained his law degree from the University of Colorado. He owns a small legal firm in Crested Butte focused on providing clients with practical expertise on business, real estate and land use matters. He is also an active board member for the Crested Butte Nordic Council and Gunnison Trails, and has served as race organizer for Crested Butte's infamous Chainless Race. His passion for cycling led to his involvement with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and to the creation of a new local nonprofit focused on supporting community events such as the 2011 stage finish in Mt. Crested Butte and the 2011 Leadville Qualifying Series event in Crested Butte. He spends as much spare time as possible on his mountain bike in and around the Gunnison Valley.


Shawna Hodge, Lamar Main Street, offers management experience in marketing, public relations, community outreach, not-for-profit administration, project development and economic development services. Although her formal education was received from University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of the Pacific, Ms. Hodge returned to the city of her birth, Lamar, Colorado, to discover her niche, working on several levels to develop a solid, community-wide economic foundation for the city. She has put her 15 years of experience to work in her current position of Main Street Director. Ms. Hodge was instrumental in the development and execution of national award-winning, strategic and creative public relations programs. Shawna has worked with several agencies which helped Lamar host the Cal Ripken World Series in 2010 and the 2011 16 year-old Babe Ruth Girls Fastpitch Softball World Series recently held in August. She has acted as ad hoc liaison with the Lamar City Council, Prowers County Board of Commissioners, Prowers County Development Incorporated and Prowers County Lodging Tax Panel. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Prowers County Development Incorporated and is the current Executive Director of the newly formed, Lamar Downtown Revitalization Board of Directors, Lamar Partnership. Inc.

Michael Hussey is the manager of planning and landscape architecture for the Colorado Springs office of Nolte Associates, Inc. Michael has over 30 years of experience in a wide variety of urban design, landscape, planning, environmental engineering, and architectural projects. He has worked on urban development and renewal, and downtown streetscape improvement projects in Billings, Montana (downtown), Colorado Springs (Downtown BID), Avon (Town Center), Broomfield (US287), Fountain (US85), and Manitou Springs (US Bus 24/Manitou Avenue). Project responsibilities have included grant opportunity identification and application, master planning, urban and site design, and construction observation and management. Michael is also the co-author of "Grow Native,” one of the earliest Colorado xeriscape landscape guides, and has worked on a number of award winning projects – including the Colorado Springs Downtown Business Improvement District.

Anna Jones is a vice president of Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A), a consulting firm that specializes in downtown and commercial area revitalization strategies. Anna is primarily involved in the formation of special districts, market-based planning and project feasibility analyses. Prior to working at P.U.M.A, Anna served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sri Lanka teaching English and working at a sea turtle hatchery. Anna is a member of the Denver Planning Board, and is on the board of DCI.

Jim Ketter, Ketter Project Management and Consulting, has 25 years of experience in facilities planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. He is a Mechanical Engineer, Registered PE and has been a LEED Accredited Professional since 2004. Mr. Ketter was a Juror for the 2007 & 2009 International Solar Decathlon in Washington DC. Currently he owns and operates KPMC, LLC, which provides sustainability and construction consultant services.

Jamie Licko is the founder and president of Centro, Inc., a consulting firm focused on the future of our city centers. Centro provides services to strengthen cities and neighborhoods, from research and strategy development to on-the-ground implementation. Jamie founded the firm after previously serving as President of the Cedar Rapids Downtown District – a downtown management organization – and later as an associate for a national downtown and community development consulting firm. She has assisted clients in more than 35 cities in 13 states across North America, working to empower people and organizations to create great sustainable places. Jamie is a frequent speaker on downtown and community revitalization issues and is seen as a thought leader on emerging trends in community development. She has been named a "40 Under 40” Award Winner for her contributions to community development and her commitment to professional excellence.

Jack Llewellyn, Durango Chamber of Commerce and La Plata Economic Development Action Partnership (LEAD). A Fort Lewis college graduate, Jack returned to Durango and was the FLC Director of Athletic Development from 2000-2007. He has been the Executive Director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce and La Plata Economic Development Action Partnership (LEAD) since 2007. In 2010 he coordinated the separation of economic development from the chamber and now acts as the chambers full time Executive Director. The Chamber oversees daily operations of 810 members, and works closely with business community to promote commerce. Jack developed the "Buck and Look Local First” campaign, and collaborates with the City of Durango almost on a daily basis.


Sarah McLean, Durango Area Tourism, has an established career in the hospitality industry, and has been working in tourism in Durango for the last 16 years. She believes that staying on top of emerging trends and utilizing what makes a destination unique is vital to small towns and communities. At the Durango Area Tourism Office, she focuses on integrating the history of the area, while simultaneously offering modern amenities. Sarah will discuss new areas of tourism including, agritourism, culinary tourism, and the emerging gay and lesbian market, and how Durango is approaches these markets. A proud Colorado native, Sarah has a marketing degree from Fort Lewis College in Durango.

Gavin McMillan has six years of experience working on current and long range planning initiatives in Colorado communities. Gavin currently works as a planner in the City of Louisville, Colorado where he focuses on long range planning projects. His recent accomplishments include working as the project manager on the Downtown Louisville Sign Manual and the Downtown Louisville Parking and Pedestrian Action Plan. Gavin earned his Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver and remains involved with the University. His past accomplishments include completion of the Molas Lake Park Master plan for Silverton and San Juan County, and serving as the City’s representative on the Steamboat Springs Base Area Retail Study.

Alan J. Nazzaro is a principal with Community Restoration Partners, LLC (CRP). CRP specializes in assisting communities analyze, plan, gather resources and implement foreclosure recovery efforts and other community development strategies. Mr. Nazzaro’s specializes as a Public Finance Consultant, who advises clients on the use of a variety of financing mechanisms to accomplish difficult community development projects. Prior to ARH, he worked for HUD as the Economic Development Specialist in the Rocky Mountain Region for several years, including serving on Mission Assignment to FEMA doing ESF-14 LTCR work after Katrina in New Orleans. He served as HUD liaison, advising FEMA and local governments on the use of CDBG for disaster recovery. Alan has also served as the executive director of the Aurora Rehabilitation Authority as well as in management positions in private sector construction and land development companies in Colorado. Alan has a BA in Political Science & Urban Studies from Princeton University and a MS in Transportation Planning from the Polytechnic University of New York.


Katie Nelson is an associate at DHM Design with over 5 years of professional experience in landscape architecture. Her work focuses on sustainable design and preserving the ecological history of a site. Her recent projects include park design and construction for the Three Springs new urbanist development in Durango, City of Durango’s new library which is LEED Gold certified, and streetscape master plans for Silverton and Ridgway, Colorado.


Mary Phillips, associate planner and designer at Winter & Co., is currently engaged in historic design guidelines projects for Sausalito, California and Deadwood, South Dakota; historic preservation plans for Excelsior Springs, Missouri, and Tacoma, Washington, and a bulk plane analysis and zoning update for Cherry Hills, Colorado. Recently completed projects include assessment and updates for the City of Fort Collins, Colorado’s historic preservation program, and a Voluntary Residential Design Guidelines Handbook and Residential Zoning Update for Winnetka, Illinois. Mary, a California resident, received a Bachelors of Architecture and a Masters of City and Regional Planning from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Hilarie Portell, Portell Works, is passionate about creating and revitalizing urban places. She has worked in public relations, marketing and management for a variety of complex projects for nearly 20 years. Most were new initiatives, involving both the public and private sectors. All required an entrepreneurial approach and a versatile skill set.

Chris Reddin is the Executive Director of the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. Chris was involved with the Incubator as an entrepreneur for nearly seven years before becoming Director in January 2007. Prior to joining the staff, Chris spent three years on the Incubator campus as a partner and CFO with Mountain Sprouts, a 2006 graduate of the Incubator program. Chris’ professional background also includes business starts in the restaurant and retail sectors as well as having served as Operations Manager at bicycle component manufacturer, DT Swiss. Chris has a BA in Economics from Georgetown University and an MBA from Cornell University where she co-founded a student-run business incubator. Chris is active in the Grand Valley community serving on the Colorado Governor’s Small Business Advisory Council, as a board member for the Colorado PTAC program and Board President of the Colorado Business Incubation Association. Chris is also a mother of two boys, an outdoor enthusiast and writes a monthly column for Grand Valley Magazine.

Beverly Rich was born and raised in Silverton, Colorado. She has been the San Juan County Treasurer for 18 years. She has raised over 10 million dollars in grant funds for historic preservation projects in Silverton and San Juan County. She was the recipient of a National Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2005 for her work in the preservation field. She went to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

Jesse Silverstein is a founder and Executive Director of the Colorado Brownfields Foundation. Jesse’sexperience includes preparing economic development strategies, real estate financial analysis, andeconomic/fiscal impact analysis for a variety of public and private projects. Jesse holds a Bachelor's Degree inEconomics from the University of Delaware, a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Colorado atBoulder, and has an MAI professional designation in commercial real estate analysis from the AppraisalInstitute. Appointed by Governor Ritter, Jesse serves as a member of the Colorado Petroleum Storage TankCommittee.

William Tookey is a Silverton native and has been involved in Silverton and San Juan County governments since 1979. He has served as the Mayor and Trustee on the Silverton Town Board and has held the positions of Public Works Director, Town Administrator, Silverton-San Juan County Planning Director and is currently the County Administrator. Mr. Tookey holds a B.A. in Political Science from Fort Lewis College and a M.P.A. from University of Colorado Denver.

Mike Tupa, CSU-DOLA Extension Community Technical Assistance Program, is a landscape architect with over 30 years experience in the design and construction of a wide range of private and public works projects. He has a BS and Masters in Landscape Architecture. Within his experience is work for CDOT as their Chief Landscape Architect during the Vail Pass-Glenwood Canyon years and as a private design consultant on highway projects including I-25 through Colorado Springs and C-470 in SW Denver. As a private consultant Mike provided project design and coordination services for a wide range of clients including Denver Metro Waste Water, D&RGW Railroad, Beaver Creek Resort, and a range of private developers across the Front Range. Currently, Mike is NE Colorado's coordinator for the CSU-DOLA Rural Technical Assistance Program. This CSU outreach program provides design and planning assistance to small towns in eastern Colorado under a grant from DOLA. Projects range from design of parks, museums, town halls, libraries, senior centers, and trail master plans.

Mark Walker is a project manager with the Colorado Brownfields Foundation, a non-profit involved in providing assistance to those interested in the brownfields arena. Mark was formerly employed for 20 years with state and local health departments in Colorado. Most recently he coordinated Colorado’s Voluntary Cleanup Program since its inception in1994 until 2009. Mark also served on a national task force of the states addressing issues unique to voluntary cleanup and brownfields programs. In the early years of the Brownfields Initiative, he completed a year-long detail with the EPA Region 8 Brownfields Program. Mr. Walker has a Bachelors and Masters degree from Colorado State University.

Noré Winter, Winter & Co., is an urban design and planning consultant with more than twenty-five years of experience nationwide. He specializes in services to communities with special amenities, distinctive settings and traditional neighborhoods who seek to protect their heritage. He has developed preservation plans and guidelines for historic and conservation districts across the country and has provided design review training for a wide range of locations. He is frequently a featured speaker at conferences and conventions. Mr. Winter is based in Boulder, Colorado. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from Tulane University and a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design from UCLA. 

Terry Woodward, Sustainability Alliance of SW Colorado, brings an experience base of over 25 years in knowledge engineering and electronic commerce development with specialization in a systems approach for collaboration to small/mid-size businesses and nonprofit organizations. Mr. Woodward is currently the chief architect for, southwest Colorado’s regional web portal for local collaboration and resource sharing. In addition, Mr. Woodward co-chairs the Financial Permaculture think-tank group and the Sustainable Local Economic Development group of the Sustainability Alliance of SW Colorado focused on bringing new innovations in local finance and local currency to the region.

Roger Zalneraities, La Plata Economic Development Alliance, worked for several years in the private sector as a consultant and a risk manager for energy trading companies, as well as in the public sector as an economic development specialist. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Notre Dame, and a graduate degree in Urban Planning from Virginia Tech. Prior to coming to Durango; Roger worked in Lawrence, Kansas, as the city’s first economic development planner. He became the Director of the La Plata Economic Development Alliance in March of 2011.

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