STAFF

Photo taken by Scott DW Smith

Monique DiGiorgio, Executive 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 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.

Hayley Kirkman, Durango Creative District

Hayley Kirkman was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, and moved to Durango in 2013 to attend Fort Lewis College. She completed her B.A. in Graphic Design in April 2017, and has enjoyed establishing creative roots in Durango. In addition to connecting Durango artists and businesses together at Local First through various public art projects, she is a freelance graphic designer and painter.

Hayley is passionate about almost all forms of art, but is specifically fond of print design, painting, ceramics, and collage. When she is not making art, she enjoys tango dancing, hiking, cooking, yoga, and traveling.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Photo taken by Scott DW Smith

Ted Wright, Chair

Ted moved from Phoenix to Durango in 1981 and has been a local attorney here ever since.  With a focus on business and real estate during his practice, the perspective of the law has given Ted a unique look at our La Plata County economy and people.  He was excited to join the Board in the summer of 2016 and was attracted by the truth of localism and the mission of Local First.

Ted believes in unity without uniformity and diversity without division — seemingly contradictory things that form a dynamic and healthy tension essential for a thriving community.  We are part of the rich mosaic of this planet, but we are nurtured right here where we plant our feet.  Localism calls you to think like a mountain and act like a neighbor.  See you in the mountains, neighbor!

Photo taken by Scott DW Smith

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.

Photo taken by Scott DW Smith

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.”

Kiki Hooton, Secretary

Kiki grew up playing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and gained an early passion for the outdoors and environmental protection. She attended NC State University for environmental engineering and focused on water quality research. While also working a side job at a restaurant, she realized the huge gap in research/lectures and actual business practices. She started a student organization to help small businesses make changes to be more sustainable, which led to a job with a solar company on improving 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 on business and communication.

While completing her masters she became interested in how a sense of place connects people to deeper issues, such as environmental and social issues, in the place that they live. She realized the power of small business to create that sense of place and the power of local economies for creating positive change. She began volunteering with LocalFirstAZ, while she also worked for a sustainability consulting group and for the City of Tempe. She knew she wanted to work for a Local First organization and after graduating she moved to Durango and joined the Local First team. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her Golden Retriever Dusty, mountain biking, rafting, and snowboarding.