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: 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.
VICE CHAIR: Jameson D. Bobbin, Vice President, Vectra Bank Colorado. Jameson moved from Colorado Springs to Durango in 2012 to continue his Commercial Banking career with Vectra Bank. Having grown up in Albuquerque and lived on the Front Range he is familiar with the Four Corners economic influence to the surrounding areas and has a passion to see La Plata County be a great place for businesses to thrive. With 17 years of experience in the financial industry, 10 of which have been at Vectra and 7 with J.P. Morgan Chase, Jameson has a well-rounded perspective on what it takes to help businesses grow. When Jameson is not meeting with business owners, he is hard at work raising hay and cattle at his home in southern La Plata County. Jameson is also a First Responder volunteer with Durango Fire & Rescue, serves as a loan committee member for Accion, which is a nonprofit that provides business lending to entrepreneurs across a five state region in the Southwest, and serves on various committees with United Way of Southwest Colorado.
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: Kristin Garland Accounting Director, Texas Capital Partners, LLC, Durango. Kristin and her family moved back to Durango in 2016. After graduating from Fort Lewis College in 2005, Kristin and her husband moved to the Front Range. While away from Durango, Kristin held various accounting positions from staff auditor to VP of Accounting and Operations. The amazing community of Durango and La Plata county pulled Kristin and her family back eleven years later. Kristin brings her accounting expertise, passion for business, and love of Durango to the Alliance Board. While not crunching numbers, Kristin enjoys all things Durango from outdoor activities to enjoying the streets of downtown. Kristin has been an Alliance Board member since 2017.
Melissa Youssef, Durango Mayor. 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.
Clyde Church, La Plata Board of County Commissioners,
Born in Minneapolis and grew up in Phoenix from the age of seven. He is a father, husband, grandfather, engineer, teacher, and volunteer. He paid his way through Phoenix College and Arizona State University working during summers at Motorola Semiconductor and local livestock auctions and stables. He is an Arizona State University graduate with BA in chemistry and secondary education. Resident of La Plata County since 1999. He is an Industrial Extension Consultant to Region 9 Economic Development Area. He is the Chair of the Southwest Colorado Rural Workforce Board. He is part of the Durango Planning Commission; Dolores County; Economic Developer, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Planner; Falls Creek Ranch Homeowners Association: Board of Directors, Firewise Chainsaw Crew Chief, Post-Wildfire Recovery Team Co-Chair; Rotary District 5470 Governor; representing southern 2/3rds of Colorado; Rotary Club of Durango; Board Member, Past President.
Sharon Craig, Town of Ignacio Trustee. She and her husband, Clark, returned to the area in January 2017 and purchased the Meadow Brook Mobile Home Park in Ignacio. They met and were married in Durango 27 years ago. They have 3 daughters, two still in college. Oil and Gas took them to different cities in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Alberta (Calgary). After 25 years, they are thankful to be back “home”. Through many moves, Sharon’s focus was creating family stability and community service.
She is very excited to be back in SW Colorado and living in Ignacio. She joined the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce early in 2017. She was elected as an officer in the spring of 2018. In March, she ran for and was elected as a Town of Ignacio Trustee. Sharon was appointed as the Town of Ignacio representative for the Economic Alliance in August 2018.
Dr. Tom Stritikus, President of Fort Lewis College. His focus at FLC is helping students achieve success in their educational and professional careers, building FLC int a positive economic and social force in the Four Corners region, and continually evolving the campus’ facilities and offerings to meet the needs of students today and into the future.
Previous to FLC, Dr. Stritikus was a deputy director of education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He served on the Global Learnng Initiative, building a strategy to improve education in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Dr. STritikus spent three years leading work in improving education in the United States.
As a scholar, his work examined the effects of bilingual education policy and teacher practice on the academic lives of Latino and Asian immigrants. His articles have appeared in top-tier education journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Teacher Education, and Teachers College Record. He is the author of the book, Immigrant Children and the Politics of English Only.
Raised in an immigrant household, Dr. Stritikus began his teaching experience with Teach for America in Baltimore. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in Language, Literacy, and Culture.
Eben Harrell, Sr. Editor at Harvard Business Review (HBR). Before joining HBR, Mr. Harrell worked as a foreign correspondent in the London bureau of TIME magazine; as an associate at the Harvard Kennedy School; and as the head of thought leadership for L.E.K. Consulting, a strategy consultancy. An award–winning reporter, writer, and editor, Mr. Harrell has published articles in TIME, The Economist, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, and other major titles. In 2017, Mr. Harrell and UC Berkeley professor Dacher Keltner won the Warren Bennis Prize, which is awarded each year by the USC Marshall School of Business to the editor and author of the best article on leadership in Harvard Business Review. Mr. Harrell holds a master’s degree from the University of St. Andrews and a bachelor of arts from Princeton University, where he graduated with high honors and was twice a member of an Ivy-League-winning golf team. Mr. Harrell makes his home in the Animus City neighborhood of Durango with his wife, the orthodontist Daniella Phillis.
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.
Executive Assistant: Janae Blanscet
Janae is a Denver native. She graduated with a Bachelors in Political Science and a minor in Russian History from the University of Colorado – Denver. She has an extensive background in private insurance; as well as supporting multiple top-level executive. She came to the Alliance through the Trailing Spouse program when her husband was transferred to his company’s Durango office. While in Denver, Janae volunteered on the American Diabetes Tour de Cure planning committee. In her free time, she enjoys learning new languages, traveling abroad, and doing long distance bike rides through Europe with her dad. In addition, she and her husband enjoy exploring new cities across the U.S., road biking, and hiking.
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 2301 Main Avenue, Durango Colorado or call us at 970-259-1700.