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Our Staff

Christopher Aaby

Executive Director

Chris Aaby is a long time resident of Colorado Springs and is an active supporter of environmental sustainability. Chris was born in Norway and spent his summers there hiking and exploring with his brothers while growing up.  Chris has been at Catamount Institute for over 5 years. Before joining Catamount Institute Chris was with BuyWell Fair Trade Coffee, where he served as the Director of Marketing and the Sales Manager. Working with a commodity like coffee and closely with farmers who grow the crops inspired his activism for fair trade in addition to cementing his view on environmental sustainability. In 2010, Chris traveled to Peru to meet with coffee and cocoa farmers and had the opportunity to witness first-hand the positive difference fair trade certification makes in the lives of the farmers, their families, and their land. Chris serves on the board of the Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future as well as the steering committee for Leading Edge a program of Leadership Pikes Peak, and regional council for Project Angel Heart. Chris was named a 2017 Colorado Springs Business Journal Rising Star, received the Colorado Springs Independent Inclusion Award, and is a 2016 Graduate of the Leadership Pikes Peak Signature program. In 2018 Chris received the Gary Bostrom Community Inspiration Award at the Annual LPP Awards Luncheon. In March 2019 Chris was named Emerging Leader at the Colorado Nonprofit Week Awards by the Colorado Nonprofit Association and Boettcher Foundation.

In his free time, he enjoys baking cupcakes, hiking, and perfecting his photography skills.

E-mail: aaby at catamountinstitute.org
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x106

Tracy Jackson

Tracy Jackson – Certified Environmental Educator

Education Director

Tracy Jackson is a bright and enthusiastic scientist and science teacher. She grew up playing in and near the woods, creeks and wild lands of Georgia’s heartland. At age six, she announced to her grandparents that she wanted to be a paleontologist when she grew up. She went on to fulfill that dream, earning her undergraduate degree in geology, from the University of Georgia, where her undergraduate research focused on freshwater ecologies of the present and past.

Tracy fell in love with the Rocky Mountains while working as a backpacking guide at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, a high adventure base for the Boy Scouts of America. After working fulltime as an outdoor educator in Massachusetts for Nature’s Classroom and then in Minnesota for the Audubon Center of the North Woods, Tracy moved to Colorado to earn her master’s degree in science education and her teaching license from the Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She and her husband love living in Manitou and enjoy hiking, dancing, good music and caving with friends. If you get the chance to meet Tracy, ask her about working at Catamount, she’ll give you a grin and tell you this is her dream job. Her personal philosophy from an old family saying: “Change lives.”

E-mail: jackson at catamountinstitute.org
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x104

Beth Austin – Certified Environmental Educator

Education Program Coordinator/Educator – Catamount Outdoor Schools

Beth Austin has lived in Colorado Springs for the past 20 years with her husband and two children. As a native New Yorker,   she has a bachelor degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia in Political Science.  Her early career she worked for a variety of non-profits in program development and oversight of funding with the United Way.

Beth has experience as a preschool teacher, a volunteer school program teacher with the Starsmore Discovery Center and a manager for Science Matters in America.  Through Science Matters she developed a love for giving children the opportunity to explore science through hands-on activities.  It was truly wonderful to see the excitement of children when they discover!

As a family they enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, boating, traveling (only 5 more states to go) and camping in the great outdoors.  Beth most enjoys walking with her dogs, Ellie & Aspen, through the variety of parks in Colorado Springs with her friends.

E-mail: austin at catamountinstitute.org
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x101

Sam Hinkle – Certified Environmental Educator

Education  Program Coordinator/Educator – Field Trips

Sam was born and raised in Colorado Springs. While studying Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Whitman College, he had the opportunity to partake in Semester in the West: a traveling, semester-long program studying public lands, natural resource policy, ecology, and place-based writing in the American West. On this program, Sam experienced first-hand the benefits of learning while immersed in a landscape. He began searching for ways to increase access to similar experiences. After he graduated, he worked as a Naturalist for the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, a Program Assistant for the Quivira Coalition, and a Ranger for Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. He could not be more excited to be back in his home town, working with the school systems in which he grew to increase access to environmental education in the outdoors.

When he’s not having a blast with his job, you can find Sam running the trails, throwing a Frisbee, trying to play guitar, or working to fit Lord of the Rings and Star Wars quotes into everyday conversation.

E-mail: hinkle at catamountinstitute.org
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x103

Lydia Ballantine

Education  Program Coordinator/Educator – YES Club

Lydia Ballantine grew up in rural NH, where she spent her childhood making fairy houses in tree stumps, climbing trees, and swimming in lakes. By the time she finished high school, Lydia was ready for a change and moved West to attend Colorado College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in environmental studies. The summer after her sophomore year at Colorado College Lydia accepted a position as a summer camp guide intern at the Catamount Institute, which got her hooked on environmental education. She continued to work for the Catamount Institute during the summers and part-time during the school year thanks to Colorado College’s work-study program. She recently joined the team full-time as the Young Environmental Steward’s club coordinator. Lydia loves working at the Catamount Institute because it fulfills her desire to teach the next generation about how powerful, fragile, and important the environment is while also working to make environmental science accessible to children from all backgrounds and income levels.

Lydia has experience working with children in many different contexts, from babysitting and summer camp to tutoring elementary schoolers in reading and teaching English to recently arrived refugees. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, rock climbing, and tasty food. Lydia is still undecided if her favorite animal is a ladybug or a donkey.

E-mail: ballantine at catamountinstitute.org

Phone: (719) 471-0910 x107

Cheryl Sims

Cheryl Sims

Finance & Operations Manager

Cheryl Sims moved to Colorado Springs from Minnesota in 1973 after graduating from Riverside Community College with a degree in Business Management. For more than 30 years, Cheryl has worked in the field of accounting for various local businesses. Her most recent position was with Drexel Heritage where she performed the duties of Office Manager for 10 years. Enjoying involvement in the community, she has also served on numerous volunteer committees including the March of Dimes and Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure.
Cheryl joined Catamount Institute as the Finance & Operations Manager bringing a heightened level of expertise working with rapidly growing businesses. At Catamount Institute she created an efficient financial management process, monitors reports and maintains membership and renewal systems for Catamount’s Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network.
Cheryl is a dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother and when she’s not crunching numbers at Catamount or winning the lottery, you will find her chasing after her two adorable grandsons.

E-mail: sims at catamountinstitute.org
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x108

Marisa East

Environmental Educator

Marisa’s bio

E-mail: east at catamountinstitute.org

Suzanne Scott

Development Coordinator – Generation Wild

Suzanne Scott is a two time Paralympian in the sport of swimming (competing in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games as Susan Beth Scott). Suzanne made the Paralympic National Team in swimming for the first time in 2006 at the age of fourteen, qualifying to compete in the year’s World Championships in Durban, South Africa. The next year, she took her training a step further by relocating to Colorado Springs to train under coach, Jimi Flowers at the Olympic Training Center. Thanks to great coaching, Suzanne broke the world record in the 400 freestyle at the Paralympic Trials in 2008, which earned her a spot on the Beijing Paralympic team, as well as a nomination for ESPN’s ESPY award. She earned a bronze medal in the same event in Beijing and moved back to Missouri for about a year. In 2009, her coach, Jimi, died tragically in a mountain climbing accident. In 2010, Suzanne began training again at the Olympic Training Center with a coach and former teammate, Dave Denniston who helped her earn three more medals in the London 2012 games including bronze in the 400 freestyle, silver in the 4×100 freestyle relay, and bronze in the 4×100 medley relay.

Shortly after London, due to a back injury that required surgery, Suzanne’s swimming career was put on hold. After months of rehabilitating the injury, Suzanne made the difficult decision to retire from swimming, and focus on building her career in the nonprofit sector. In 2014, Suzanne was selected as the inaugural Team USA Fellow at El Pomar Foundation.

Suzanne is passionate about helping people succeed and making opportunities accessible for all and is excited to be able to combine these with her passion for the outdoors, through this initiative. When not working, Suzanne can be found coaching swimming, hiking, reading, or practicing photography.

E-mail: scott at catamountinstitute.org
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x109

Nancy Perez

Marketing & Outreach  – Generation Wild

Coming soon!

E-mail: perez at catamountinstitute.org
Phone: (719) 471-0910 x110

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Catamount Institute
740 West Caramillo St.
Colo Spgs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 471-0910
Fax: (719) 471-0910
Website: www.catamountinstitute.org
Email: info@catamountinstitute.org