True North Youth Program

With the support of adult Navigators we envision that every teen participant in True North Youth Program will graduate from High School with a plan and a path to follow into adulthood. We are an all-inclusive organization with hopes to help every teen succeed through high school and beyond.

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Vivian Russell, Co-Founder & Executive Director
Start Date: 2014

A fourth generation Coloradan and Denver native, Vivian worked in nonprofit fundraising and event-planning in San Francisco (Project Open Hand, San Francisco School Volunteers, & Arts in Action) before working as a Development Associate for SOY Mentoring Project in Denver, an agency serving over 500 urban youth per year. Vivian holds a BA with honors in English from Colorado College, and graduated from the Colorado Resource Center Nonprofit Leadership & Management program. Vivian served as the Executive Director of One to One San Miguel Mentoring Program for five years, where she created the annual Top Chef fundraiser, developed the summer camping trip, and grew the organization to serve more youth than ever before. She has worked with Deer Hill Expeditions in Mancos, CO, an organization providing wilderness and service experiences for teens. Vivian is a past board member and active participant with the Telluride Women's Network. Vivian is co-founder of Telluride Air Taxi, a writer and contributor for the Telluride Daily Planet. She most enjoys cooking for family and friends as well as exploring and photographing river canyons and other wilderness places.

Loren Knobbe, Program Director
Start Date: 2018

Loren 'obi wan' Knobbe comes to us from the East Coast, a Georgia peach to be specific! She has always had a passion for the outdoors and carries a smile everywhere she goes. She spent her freshman year of college studying in Panama and Spain and has been on her own unique path every since. Loren graduated Cum Laude from Florida State University (GO NOLES!) with a BS in Environmental Science. Her work experience seems to be as diverse as her major. Loren has worked around the country and internationally in guiding, farming the jungles of Panama, DNA testing in a Microbiology lab, working with troubled youth in Wilderness Therapy, recreating and instructing with the Telluride Academy and most importantly... program directing for TRUE NORTH! Loren is incredibly passionate about spreading the benefits and thrills of the outdoors, separating youth from the addiction to technology, giving back to the community and living life to the fullest. When she's not working, you can probably find her biking or running the trails of the magnificent San Juans. Loren is thrilled to be a part of TRUE NORTH and its promising future!

Melissa Martinez, College & Career Support
Start Date: 2018

Melissa, a native of Denver, has more than ten years of experience working with high school and college students in the U.S., in the Middle East, and in Latin America. A first-generation college student, Melissa is passionate about assisting youth with overcoming financial, educational, and personal barriers that may prevent them from enrolling in and graduating from college. She has spent the majority of her career creating summer programs, advising programs, and leadership institutes for Daniels Scholars, Denver Scholarship Foundation scholars, communities of color, and international students. She is thrilled to be working with Telluride students and their families/guardians! In her spare time, Melissa enjoys camping, hiking, attending music festivals, reading, meditating, and watching the Game of Thrones.


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