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(l to r) Chaffee County Community Foundation mentor Jodi Hardin and Andrea Earley Coen, Guidestone Colorado. Betsy Dittenber photo

Following on the heels of a two-hour orientation meeting, the six members of the inaugural 2023 Chaffee County Community Foundation Community Leaders Fellowship cohort gathered for snacks and a chance to mingle at Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub in Salida on Jan. 12.

Chaffee County Community Foundation (CCCF) Introduces the Fellows – Part 1 of 2

The Community Leaders Fellowship is an intensive professional development opportunity for nonprofit and community leaders focusing on a specific capacity challenge in their organization.

During the six-month program, each fellow will create a 12 month action plan with the support of their mentor. They will attend monthly skill building sessions and peer support and accountability sessions to problem solve challenges that come up in their focus area.

The expectation is the fellows will make progress during the six month program and continue to implement their action plan over the 12 month period – reporting results and organizational impact at the six and 12 month marks.

The Fellows
The initial cohort of Fellows and the capacity issues they are focusing on include:

  • Andrea Earley Coen, Guidestone Colorado
    • Building HR policies and compensation packages that will provide the right people for the organization to succeed
  • Amy Lovato, Chaffee Childcare Initiative
    • Finding solutions for the early childcare workforce shortage
  • Megan Strauss, Alpine Achievers Initiative
    • Financial fluency for staff and board for an organization whose budget has quadrupled in the past few years
  • Mike Bischoff, Chaffee Housing Authority
    • Financial and program impact reporting and creating pathways for board and community to engage with financials in a meaningful way
  • Salty Riggs, Founder, Bringing Everyone Through The Crisis of Housing (BETCH)
    • Creating a long term advocacy plan and the internal systems to support it.
  • Sarah Dae, Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation (Leadville, Lake County)
    • Creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan for engaging diverse engagement in a local historical site.

Chaffee County Community Foundation Vice Chair Paul Alexander and Community Fellows mentor Megan Lombardo. Betsy Dittenber photo

According to the CCCF Board, the guiding values of this program are that CCCF believes that investing in the capacity of the incredible nonprofit leaders in the community is the best way to lift up individual organizations and the sector as a whole.

“Additionally, CCCF is thrilled to leverage the wisdom and expertise of individuals living in this community who have volunteered to be mentors for the program,” said CCCF Executive Director, Betsy Dittenber.

“We are excited to see how the Community Leaders Fellowship can transform our local nonprofit sector.”

Next: Part 2 – What Does the Community Leaders Fellows Program Mean for Our Community?


AVV interviews Chaffee County Community Foundation Executive Director Betsy Dittenber and learns how and why the program was created. Dittenber shares her vision for the Community Leaders Fellowship program and explains why it matters to each of us.

Also in Part 2 -Meet the Mentors

Featured image: Chaffee County Community Foundation Community Leaders Fellows gather with their mentors at Moonlight Pizza Jan., 12, 2023. Merrell Bergin photo