Mountain Youth

Mountain Youth makes youth a community priority. Mountain Youth rallies community support to enable youth to reach their full potential. Mountain Youth creates positive change by promoting the youth voice, strengthening collaboration and addressing the most critical needs of youth

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Hillary Higgins, Safe Driving Coordinator
Start Date: 2018

Hillary joined Mountain Youth in December 2018. Born and raised in Vail, Hillary has a degree in Sociology with a minor in Mexican American Studies and Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado. While in graduate school, she developed a variety of programs focused on the arts. She pursued a career in Denver working with troubled youth and adults as a group facilitator for court mandated classes, facilitating drug and alcohol classes, female offender groups and DUI groups. She is a registered psychotherapist and is pursuing her Certified Addiction Counselor through Denver Health Medical Center. Hillary is a board member of Speak Up Reach Out. Mental health and making our community resources accessible are her passions.

Gerry Lopez, Youth Advisor / Office Coordinator
Start Date: 2017

Gerry joined Mountain Youth in September 2017 as Youth Advisor and Office Assistant. Gerry is a graduate of Eagle Valley High School and has an associates in business administration from Colorado Mountain College. Gerry believes the best way to make an impact with the youth is through genuine relationship building and opportunities for them to thrive in the field they want to pursue. Gerry was born in Mexico, but came to the United States ate the age of six. Gerry is pursuing his bachelor's degree in business administration at Colorado Mountain College.

Carol Johnson, Community Education Manager
Start Date: 2015

Carol joined Mountain Youth in August 2015 as the Community Engagement Coordinator and is currently serving as the Community Education Manager. An Eagle County resident since 1989, Carol has held a variety of marketing and public relations positions for several organizations including Vail Resorts and Slifer Designs. As a mother of three, Carol brings personal experience and passion to her work. She has also worked directly with local youth in various settings including Beaver Creek Resort Children's Ski School, Eagle County School District, Vail Valley Soccer Club and most recently with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. With a penchant for creativity, Carol brings a wealth of experience, energy and knowledge to Eat Chat Parent events. She collaborates with the Eagle River Youth Coalition team and the community at-large to empower local youth and parents to reach their full potential. Carol is a graduate of Boston College with a BA in Art History.

Sandy Schroeder, Communities That Care Coordinator
Start Date: 2018

Sandy joined the Mountain Youth team in June 2018 with robust experience in education as a teacher and administrator. In her past, she has taught prevention classes, French and special education. She also spent 8 years as a principal in two rural middle schools in New England. She taught English as a Second Language for Colorado Mountain College for 3 years, and she taught in Eagle County Schools for 8 years. Sandy holds Master's degrees in International Relations, French, Educational Leadership and Educating Diverse Populations. Sandy also comes to us with deep non-profit leadership, having served as the President of the Board of Directors at Carbondale-based Valley Life for All. Her history with the Developmental Assets and passion for relationship building has proven to boost local CTC efforts.

Gloria Cueva, Collaborative Management Program Coordinator
Start Date: 2017

Born and raised in Texas, Gloria moved to Colorado to be closer to family with the aspiration of getting connected to a smaller community where people know you by name. Gloria holds a BA in Mass Communications and a certificate of nonprofit management. She has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector having served in multiple agencies as executive director, communications director and program manager. In her nonprofit work she has delved into social services around basic needs, youth prevention, adult literacy, homelessness prevention and chronic homelessness. Prior to joining ERYC in February 2017, Gloria was a program manager overseeing a collaborative of homelessness providers in Austin, Texas. Working with this collaborative led to a passion for facilitating and managing groups that can truly change lives. In accepting the CMP Coordinator positon at ERYC, Gloria felt an instantaneous connection to the local community and its efforts in improving and impacting youth services. Gloria considers it her mission in life to serve others, so her career in the nonprofit world continues to be an energizing and rewarding adventure.

Heather Hower, Marketing and Special Events Coordinator
Start Date: 2016

Heather joined Mountain Youth in September 2016 as the Events and Marketing Coordinator. Heather has a wealth of nonprofit experience, working at the Vail Valley Foundation, YouthPower365 and the Red Ribbon Project over the past few years. She strives to impact youth through sponsorships and collaborating with other nonprofits, fostering strong relationships and creating inspired, fun events. Heather also is a writer with a passion for taking on new topics. Heather graduated from Providence College before Facebook and SnapChat existed.

Michelle Hartel- Stecher, CEO/Executive Director
Start Date: 2011

Michelle joined Mountain Youth in February 2011 as the Executive Director. Her commitment to providing positive youth development opportunities and strengthen collaborative efforts in Eagle County. Prior to her work with ERYC, Michelle managed experiential learning programs for SOS Outreach, taught at an emergency preschool in Boulder and served with underprivileged families in diverse environments throughout North America. Michelle holds a Certified Prevention Specialist, Level 2 certification, and is trained in Applied Suicide Intervention, Mental Health First Aid, and Substance Abuse Prevention, is a certified trainer in the 40 Developmental Assets, SafeTALK Suicide Intervention and is a Positive Youth Development trainer, certified through Colorado Department of Health & Environment (CDPHE).

Mikayla Curtis, Manager of Strategic Impact
Start Date: 2016

Mikayla joined the Mountain Youth team in March 2014, bringing a passion for positive youth development and community development. She is committed to enhancing supports for youth and families, and ensuring a space for the youth voice. Previously, Mikayla oversaw leadership development programs in outdoor adventure settings, managed high school afterschool programs and managed a community resource office. Mikayla grew up in Eagle County and stays connected by being involved with CMC Upward Bound, serving on the board of Mountain Recreation, and volunteering with several initiatives. Mikayla received her MA in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding and a Certificate from CMC in Sustainable Leadership. Mikayla is a Positive Youth Development trainer and is trained as a Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist.

Denise Kipp, Prevention Manager
Start Date: 2017

Denise began formally working with Mountain Youth in September 2017 as Prevention Manager, although she had worked in partnership with Eagle River Youth Coalition as the Director of the Red Ribbon Project. Denise was born and raised just outside of New York City, finished her Masters Degree at Iona College and began teaching high school science in Manhattan. After a short ski trip to Vail, she decided it was time to make a change and moved to Eagle County in 1998. Denise was a middle school teacher in Eagle County School District for 12 years, and has a firm grasp of the issues our local youth are facing. Denise has an intense desire to support local youth in their development and understanding of themselves.


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