Our staff and board are vital to accomplishing the Alliance’s vision and mission.
Meet the Alliance Board
The Alliance Board consists of nine representatives. Five representatives are from the private sector and are elected for three year terms by Alliance members. The four public sector representatives are appointed by their respective jurisdictions. One public sector representative serves from each of our three communities (Durango, Bayfield, and Ignacio) as well as La Plata County to ensure that the Alliance represents all of La Plata County.
The current Alliance Board members are:
CHAIR: Chris McCroskey, Owner, Idea-Loop, Durango. Prior to founding IdeaLoop, Chris was a Director for Rockfish Interactive and worked with clients such as WalMart and Sam’s Club. Chris is active in the worlds of social media and politics and is the co-founder of Tweet Congress, a website which initially began as a grassroots effort to encourage politicians on Capitol Hill to begin tweeting with constituents. Chris is an active speaker on the topics of social media, disruptive technologies and politics. Chris speaks regularly for the National Conference of State Legislatures, World Affairs Council and the U.S. Department of State. Chris contributed to the O’Reilly Media book “Open Government”. Chris is currently the Chair of the Board for the Alliance.
VICE CHAIR: Mitch Dye, Market President, ImageNet Consulting, Durango. Mitch grew up in the Four Corners and moved back to the area in 2013 after pursuing opportunities and gaining invaluable experience at large Financial Services and Telecommunications firms. Since moving back and launching ImageNet in the Four Corners region, his branches have experienced 30% year over year growth and are blessed and honored to serve nearly 2400 clients in SW Colorado and Northern NM. Prior to his role at ImageNet, Mitch served 11 years as Vice President and Director of Procurement and Technical Provisioning for BOK Financial, a 32 billion dollar financial services company based in Tulsa, OK. Mitch celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary in 2015 with his wife, Christal, and they have one son who will be attending Fort Lewis College in the fall of 2016. Mitch enjoys volunteering in the community, happily serves as a Durango Diplomat, a San Juan Rotarian, is an active member of the Durango Chamber, and provides mentorship to FLC students. He also loves spending time with his family hiking, biking, fishing and exploring. Mitch serves as the Vice Chair for the Alliance.
SECRETARY: Matt Salka, Owner, Absolute Rodent Control and Absolute Computer Solutions, Bayfield. Matt moved to Bayfield in 2000 and attended Fort Lewis College. Matt is a Town Trustee for the town of Bayfield and is currently serving his first four-year term. Matt is involved with working on a branding initiative for the Town of Bayfield, as well as a committee to help bring local growers together and help establish more community events for the town. Matt has been an Alliance Board member since 2015.
TREASURER: Anna Passalaqua Vice President and a Commercial Lender at Bank of the San Juans (BSJ), Division of Glacier Bank, in Durango, CO. Anna grew up in Sothern Siberia, Russia, and she has been in the financial industry for over 20 years, with 13 years at BSJ. Anna’s primary focus is on creating long-term business and personal banking relationships through lending and deposit solutions. Areas of expertise include real estate loans, construction loans, lines of credit, and equipment loans. Anna’s perpetual curiosity, creativity, passion for outstanding customer service and technology, and strong work ethics allow her to thrive in corporate cultures that encourage and appreciate employees’ ingenuity and drive for being challenged. She takes pride in her ability to think outside the box and see the big picture without losing sight of tasks at hand. Anna is passionate about volunteering with focus on education and children. She has been a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of La Plata County for the last 15 years. Anna is also a Treasurer of The Earlybird Toastmasters Club, and she enjoys traveling around the world, reading, photographing, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their Redbone Coonhound named Dude.
Emily Meisner, Owner, The Patio Restaurant, Ignacio. Emily is committed to business growth in La Plata County, both as a successful local entrepreneur and active member of Chambers of Commerce and the Alliance. Whether running the successful Patio Restaurant in Ignacio, Volunteering for the La Plata County Fair Board or mixing it up with Motorcycle enthusiasts as the Coordinator of the Ignacio Bike Rally, Emily has shown her willingness to get involved and the unique ability to relate to a wide spectrum of customers. Emily has raised five children in La Plata County, and has been recognized as the Economic Development Leader of the Year by Region 9 in 2009.
Melissa Youssef, Durango City Council. Melissa and her family moved to Durango twenty years ago. She founded and served as CEO of a successful, Durango-based medical billing firm for the past fifteen years. She has served locally in multiple nonprofit leadership roles and on numerous boards of directors. Her thirty years of experience in business management, funding and finance, coupled with her MBA, have provided a solid platform for creative fundraising and achievable financial planning. Melissa’s mission through her years of service has always been to ensure that local citizens’ voices are heard, respected and represented. Married to Jim Youssef, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Spine Colorado, they have three children that have attended Durango public schools. She is also a dedicated writer and researcher. In 2016 she launched her blog, “Your Front Row Seat,” covering a broad range of topics, including education, infrastructure, economy and outdoor recreation in order to draw attention to, and provide clarity on, some of the critical issues Durango faces.
Mike Russell, Owner, Russell Planning & Engineering, Durango. Mike Russell is the owner of Russell Planning and Engineering, Inc., a growing twenty-two person firm that assists private and public clients with land use and civil engineering projects ranging from home drainage plans to master planned resort communities. They also work regionally for several local governments assisting with planning and public infrastructure improvements. Formerly the La Plata County Engineer, Mike has lived in Durango since 1994, raised his family here, and has been actively involved in the community. Mike has been an Alliance Board member since January 2014.
Brad Blake, La Plata Board of County Commissioners, Owner of Blake Mechanical and Co-Founder of Konisto Companies, Durango. Brad Blake’s family moved to Durango in the early 1930’s and Brad was born and raised here. He attended school in Durango, and spent a year at Fort Lewis College. After several years living in Phoenix and Salt Lake City, Brad returned to Durango with his family in 1990. Upon his return, Brad became partners in Blake and Tomberlin Mechanical Inc., and then in 2001 started his own plumbing company, Blake Mechanical Inc. He also is a partner in a solar construction company, Konisto Companies Inc. Brad and his wife, Janelle, have been married for 31 years and have three sons. The Blakes enjoy outdoor activities including boating, 4-wheeling, hunting, fishing, hiking and skiing. Brad is very active in his church. Brad began serving on the La Plata Board of County Commissioners in January 2015.
Dan Naiman, is the Ignacio representative to the Alliance Board. In Ignacio, Dan serves as the planning director for the town. Dan also runs a private architecture practice in Bayfield for 15 years. Prior to moving to La Plata County, Dan lived on the Front Range where he practiced architecture as well as interior design for larger commercial projects in the South Metro area.
Meet the Alliance Staff
Executive Director: Roger Zalneraitis Roger has worked in both the private sector as a consultant and a risk manager for trading companies, as well as in the public sector as an economic development specialist. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Notre Dame, and a graduate degree in Urban Planning from Virginia Tech. As the director, Roger is responsible for working directly with businesses, advancing strategic initiative to improve the business climate, and marketing for the region and organization. Prior to becoming the Executive Director at the Alliance, Roger worked for the City of Lawrence, Kansas, where he helped in efforts to grow local businesses and promote the bioscience industry. Roger enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, running, traveling abroad, and exploring the Anasazi ruins in the Four Corners region. Roger can be reached at roger@yesLPC.com and 970-259-1700 x1.
Operations Coordinator: Amber Davis We met Amber when New Hat Baking, her gluten free baking company, went through the SCAPE program in 2014. She’s also the founder of To the Penny, LLC which provides bookkeeping services to a multitude of clients in the Four Corners area. She has the entrepreneurial spirit we love. She is the Secretary of the Board at Local First, married to a talented chef, and they share 2 teenage children together. She can be reached at Admin@yesLPC.com and 970-259-1700 x3.
Program Manager: Heather Otter Heather holds a Masters of Education from Lesley University and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fort Lewis College. Heather was a Training & Employee Development Manager for two oil and gas service companies, and she has experience with strategic development and program development projects. Before that, Heather was a business owner of Durango Computer Classroom serving individual and corporate clients throughout the Four Corners Region. She has extensive experience with on the job training, communication, and networking. She and her husband met at Fort Lewis College and Durango has been home ever since. When not at work or volunteering at her son’s school, Heather can be found mountain biking with her friends and family on the local trails. Heather can be reached at ProgramMgr@yesLPC.com and 970-259-1700 x2.
Working as a Team is critical to the success of La Plata County. If you would like to know more or meet us, please stop by our office at 1211 Main Avenue, Suite 1, Durango Colorado or call us at 970-259-1700.