Sarah Tober, Executive Director

Local First Foundation is excited to announce Sarah Tober as its next Executive Director. Tober will succeed Monique DiGiorgio, who has spearheaded Local First programs addressing affordable healthcare, the creative economy, and local clean energy, as well as initiatives aiding frontline workers and the small business community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tober joins Local First Foundation with more than 19 years of non-profit and business experience. In her most recent role as president of a statewide non-profit dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the visual environment, Tober was instrumental in the growth of the organization and played a key role in safeguarding the state’s scenic qualities and natural resources for generations to come. By shepherding passage of two bills in the the Texas 87th Legislative Session, Tober helped establish the State Scenic Byways Program and further protect the Dark Skies. Tober previously served as the communications director for a small business advocacy group, as well as owned and operated a small sustainable neighborhood grocery store. In 2018, Tober received her MBA at University of Texas McCombs School of Business.

Doug McCarthy, Healthcare Advocate

Douglas McCarthy, M.B.A., is a longtime resident of Durango, Colorado and healthcare policy expert. He has supported the Commonwealth Fund’s work on a high-performance health system since 2002 through the development of chartbooks and scorecards on health system performance and case study research on promising practices and innovations in health care delivery.

He has more than 30 years of professional experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and has consulted on projects for corporations, foundations, and universities. He was a public policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a leadership fellow of the Denver-based Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership. McCarthy serves on the boards of Colorado’s Center for Improving Value in Health Care and the Peak Health Alliance.


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.”