MEGAN STRAUSS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Megan Strauss is the Executive Director and founder of Alpine Achievers Initiative. Megan received her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in non-profit leadership and development and has been working in the non-profit world since 2006. Her passions are bringing inspiration to underserved youth and creating meaningful experiences for service-oriented individuals. Megan served two terms with AmeriCorps which changed the course of her life and is now proud to support AmeriCorps programs serving youth in the San Luis Valley.
RYAN JOHNS, PROGRAM DIRECTOR
As the program director for Alpine Achievers Ryan is proud to assist our members in serving the San Luis Valley area schools. Ryan is a lifetime Colorado native and most recently was a high school science teacher for a local San Luis Valley school. As a resident of the San Luis Valley and a father of three young children, Ryan has a personal investment in improving the services offered to the students in this community. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Development from Colorado State University as well as certifications in informal education and outdoor programming. Ryan spent a year with his wife volunteering in Thailand where he found an appreciation for true service and is passionate about making that experience a reality for our members.
HOPE RHEINGANS, OFFICE MANAGER
Hope Rheingans started her Alpine Achievers Initiative journey in 2014 as an apprentice supporting after school rock climbing programs both indoors and outdoors through the Adams State Adventure Program. She moved to Salida after receiving her degree in Physical Geography and minors in Adventure Leadership, Environmental Science, and Human Performance and Physical Education. Three years later a casual coffee shop conversation with Megan turned into a job offer for AAI, now holding a nonprofit status! Hope jumped at another opportunity to be supporting positive youth development in the San Luis Valley where she herself grew up. She is stoked to turn many of our students into environmental stewards (in the process) while teaching them about the mountains and other outdoor resources that are right in their backyards. Hope strongly believes her work in and out of the office support personal growth and awareness in SLV youth.
Nathan fuhr, program manager
Nathan is a salsa enthusiast, book addict, unconvincing gardener, language lover, part-time creative problem solver, who occasionally dreams of riding an elephant off into the sunset. He is a practitioner in the fields of conflict resolution, cross-cultural communication, and social emotional learning. Nathan’s work has taken him to schools in the San Luis Valley, communities in Guatemala, India, Thailand, and also with refugees in Denver and Northern Colorado. When he’s not working, Nathan is visiting museums, trying to find new ways to make pasta, rolling a multitude of multifaceted dice while exploring hazard filled dungeons for treasure, and traveling. His current dream is to build a neurodiverse and trauma-informed mindfulness retreat on a permaculture farm in South America.
maddie interdonato, Marketing and outreach associate vista
Maddie is originally from the east coast, and finally made her way to the mountains after receiving her degree in Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Last year, she was an AmeriCorps State member serving communities in the San Luis Valley, and this year she is returning as the Marketing and Outreach Associate VISTA where she will help develop AAI's programming to better serve children. She was drawn to AAI because of her love of working with kids: considering she still is one herself. Maddie is known for singing too much and having her camera with her almost everywhere she goes.
Amy garoutte, accountant
I am the part time Finance Manager for Alpine Achievers Initiative. I grew up in the San Luis Valley and currently live in Saguache, Colorado. Before joining AAI, I worked as a CPA on the front range and in the San Luis Valley for 12 years. Through a serendipitous series of events, I found myself as the math teacher at Mountain Valley School where I feel in love with teaching high school students and saw first hand the benefits that AAI provides to youth and communities. While I dearly loved my job as a teacher, I was fortunate to become a mother in May of 2018 and decided to take a break from the long hours of education to spend time at home with my daughter. Now, as the AAI Finance Manager, I am able to spend many quality hours with my baby, work with fantastic people, all while still contributing to youth in southern Colorado.