Advisory Committee

Cindy Williams – Committee Chair

Cindy is Co-lead of Envision Chaffee County and was instrumental in funding, planning and advancing Envision’s community outreach that led to the passage of Ballot Issue 1A, which generates revenues for the Chaffee Common Ground Fund.

She currently facilitates and leads community convener programs for Envision that address quality-of-life concerns identified by residents: Community Wildfire Protection Plan implemented by the Envision Forest Health Council; and the Chaffee Recreation Plan led by the Chaffee Rec Council and developed through the Envision Recreation in Balance program. She also serves on the Dean’s Council, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University.

Cindy was named Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year in 2019, nominated by Chaffee County Commissioner and Envision Co-lead Greg Felt, who called her a “Force of Nature” in her volunteer work. She has extensive leadership and community engagement experience across 17 countries as the former vice president of Newmont Mining’s global exploration and business opportunity creation division.











Michael Hannigan – Committee Vice Chair

Michael is a fourth-generation Colorado native who served for 18 years as CEO of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, where he oversaw grant distributions totaling nearly $100 million. He has nearly 40 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and served as the interim executive director of the Chaffee County Community Foundation.

Michael founded and served as managing director of Aspen Valley Ranch in Woodland Park. The 300-acre ranch is a wildfire training center for professionals and homeowners, among many other activities. He helped preserve and manage the historic Venetucci Farm in Colorado Springs, gaining experience in water rights, private land conservation, and support for local food-oriented entrepreneurial efforts.

He managed the Emergency Relief Fund that aided the Pikes Peak Region after the Waldo Canyon and Black Canyon fires and resulting floods in Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. He is a member of Chaffee County Search and Rescue-North, and has lived full-time in Chaffee County since 2017.











Kit Kuester

Kit was born in Salida to a 7th-generation pioneering and ranching family. She graduated from Salida High School having served as only the second female Student Body President. She attended the University of Colorado in Boulder as a member of the President’s Leadership Class and graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology.

After moving back to Salida, Kit worked as a Real Estate Broker for SkiCo and United Country Real Estate offices. She was elected to the Chaffee County Board of Realtors. She served on the Board of Directors and on event committees for the Alliance for over twenty years, and served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce.

Kit is a member of Ascension Episcopal Church in Salida, and her three children graduated from Salida Schools. As a long-term resident of Chaffee County, she enjoys having a part in how the future looks for the county as a member of the Chaffee Common Ground Citizen Advisory Committee.

Ben Lenth

Ben has worked in the field of land conservation for nearly 20 years, including 10 years with nonprofit land trusts including his current role with Colorado Open Lands. Prior to that, he served as executive director of San Isabel Land Protection Trust in Westcliffe. Ben has worked with hundreds of landowners on conservation planning, and has raised and managed more than $7 million for land protection, forest and stream restoration, and other conservation and nonprofit capacity projects across the state.

Ben has lived in Chaffee County with his family since 2015, after moving from Westcliffe where he served as vice-president of the Custer County Conservation District and managed a working ranch. Ben has a master’s degree in ecology from Colorado State University, has worked as a wildlife biologist for the US Forest Service, and served in the Peace Corps in Mexico, where he focused work on quantifying and marketing ecosystem services. 

Jim LaRue

Jim LaRue has lived in Colorado all his life and in Chaffee County since 1992. He worked in residential construction until 2008, when he and his wife decided to jump all-in on ranching. He has served on the Chaffee County Homebuilders Association, Chaffee County Right to Ranch Board and the Chaffee County Fair Board. 

Jim was an active participant in the agriculture meetings during Envision Chaffee County’s initial planning phase, and he helped draft the county’s Right to Ranch ordinance. He is an active member of the Chaffee County Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the American Angus Association. His Post Office Ranch was the first to complete a conservation easement in Chaffee County, and he and his family have been active advocates of conservation easements ever since.













Dan Omasta

Born and raised in Colorado, Dan brings a strong passion for outdoor recreation, agriculture, and conserving wild places. He currently serves as the North/Central Colorado Program Officer for Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). Before joining GOCO in 2021, Dan worked for Colorado Trout Unlimited, where he engaged with diverse communities to support watershed planning, maintain working lands, and enhance recreational opportunities throughout the state. Drawn to the mountains, Dan has lived and played in Gunnison and Buena Vista for over 10 years.

Dan graduated from the University of Colorado in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science and Certificate from the Center of the American West. He is also a proud graduate of the Colorado Water Leaders Program through Water Education Colorado.

When he isn’t in the office, Dan can be found exploring new places, fishing, skiing, rafting, or hiking with his wife Jennie and their rambunctious chocolate lab, Tarpon.

Sydney Schnurr

Sydney is a founding board member of Chaffee County Community Foundation. She retired from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music where she taught in the Graduate Arts Administration Program.

Prior to that she was Development Director for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival and Associate Development Director for the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. She also served as President of the Greater Cincinnati Association of Fundraising Professionals and was a member of 100 Wise Women.

She and her husband moved to Buena Vista in 2017, where she has been an active member of the Midland Hikers. She has three daughters and nine grandchildren who keep her on her toes.

Commissioner Greg Felt – Liaison for the Citizens Advisory Committee

Greg Felt is Chairman of the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners and liaison to the Common Ground Citizens Advisory Committee. He also serves as Co-Lead of Envision Chaffee County and was a driving force behind the ballot measure which authorized funding for the program.

A fly-fishing guide and outfitter for over 30 years (co-owner of ArkAnglers, LLC), Greg has had a deep and lasting involvement in natural resource issues and water planning. He has served on the state’s outfitter licensing board, the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Citizen’s Task Force, and the Colorado Advisory Board for the Trust for Public Land. In the water world, he is Vice Chairman of the Board for the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, represents Chaffee County on the board of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and was appointed in 2020 by Gov. Jared Polis to serve as the Arkansas River Basin representative on the Colorado Water Conservation Board.