Staff & board

We are nature lovers, educators, and community members.
We are passionate about sharing the outdoors with future generations.

We are dedicated to the outdoors

Meet the team

We are a team of passionate educators and nature lovers who are excited to share that passion with the next generation.  Spending time in nature is something that we all feel strongly about and do in our personal lives. The only way to create great things every day is with great people who truly enjoy their job, so we make sure we only hire the best. As cheesy as it sounds, we live and breathe what we do, we’re enthusiastic and take pride in doing the best work we can.

Please welcome

Executive Director
Heather Graves

“I am beyond excited to join the team at the highly regarded Catamount Institute where I will bring my passions, experience, education, and expertise full circle. Having the opportunity to connect kids with the outdoors, build resilience and strengthen physical and mental health through education, nature and adventure is an honor and a responsibility I do not take lightly. I look forward to serving in this role, it’s really a dream come true!” – Heather Graves 


After a long and thoughtful search for a new Executive Director, I am absolutely thrilled to say that I have some great news to share on behalf of the Catamount Institute. Heather Graves will be joining Catamount Institute as Executive Director beginning on December 12, 2022. We are excited and honored that Heather has chosen Catamount Institute as a place to dedicate her talent and energy. 


Heather Graves, MS MLS, has over 20 years of leadership experience working in community based non-profit organizations, healthcare, and public health. She is a thoughtful and collaborative leader with expertise in relationship building and community partnerships. Heather has a proven track record of successful staff development and mentorship along with financial development, innovative program design, development, and implementation. 


Throughout her career there have been common threads of youth development and health in each role, starting with the YMCA and extending through her work with community and public health. She has tremendous passion for connecting kids with the outdoors, and a vision for aligning our programs with mental, physical health and wellness. She is committed to making an impact in the lives of others through her leadership in her professional work, volunteer service and by serving on many community boards and committees.  


Heather received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University and Master of Science Degree in Management, Leadership and Strategy from Michigan State University. 


Outside of work, you will find Heather spending time with her husband Eric, and their son, Kaden enjoying all of the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer such as hiking, kayaking, camping, backpacking, traveling, gardening, playing, or watching sports.


I would also like to thank Linda Boedeker, Interim Executive Director, who has done an exceptional job of leading the organization through the interim period. Linda’s expertise and natural leadership have been invaluable to keeping the organization moving forward. 


And, lastly, I’d like to thank the Catamount Institute staff, who show unrelenting resilience and dedication to the children and families that we serve and ensuring that Catamount Institute lives up to its mission of connected kids with the outdoors every day. You have all made the Board of Directors so very proud to be a part of this organization this year. You are what makes Catamount Institute special. Thank you for all you do. 


Please join me in welcoming Heather to Catamount Institute. We are truly looking forward to all of the great progress we will achieve with her leadership. Let’s get outside!


Darren Reed

Catamount Institute


Board President

Our staff

Billy Kinn

Director of Education
Billy has helped professionals and children teach and study the natural world since 2011. He has dipped toes in everything environmental science-related from researching leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica to taking soil samples in the Arctic Circle. When he isn't exploring the front range with Catamount kids, he can be found getting sunburnt running trails or climbing rocks.

Janelle Ross

Director of Operations
Janelle Ross graduated from West Virginia University in 2016 where she studied Environmental Geoscience. She is dedicated to contributing to environmental education in and outside the classroom. Janelle loves having fun and creating positive experiences for kids outdoors to greater their connection to nature and themselves.


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.

Emily Tamayo Generation Wild of the Pikes Peak Region Coordinator
Emily Tamayo

Generation Wild of the Pikes Peak Region Coordinator
Originally from Hawai'i, Emily Tamayo has lived in Colorado Springs for the past 20 years with a degree in Anthropology from UCCS. She is passionate about the connections between the Earth and its people with a focus on land justice and anti-colonialism. Besides being with her cat, she loves exploring new foods, cuisines, and restaurants.

Autumn Mcmullen

AmeriCorps Service Member:
Environmental Educator
Autumn is a 2022 graduate from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and pursued a B.A. in Inclusive Elementary Education. Autumn spent most of her childhood with mountains in her backyard, both the Rockies and Appalachians, fueling her love for the outdoors. Teaching others about different places became a passion at a young age. Throughout her career she has brought a passion for learning to students of all ages from zealous preschoolers to reluctant high schoolers in and out of a classroom. Autumn is enthralled to take her teaching to a rain or shine outdoor environment and learn alongside eager students. When Autumn is not at work you will find her in the local thrift stores flipping through books and clothing racks, playing games with her friends, and dancing in the rain (whenever she can)!

Tarin hill

Environmental Educator
When Tarin moved to Colorado and got a glimpse of the snow-capped mountain peaks and beautiful ice-covered rivers, she knew many adventures outside lay ahead. Tarin received her Bachelor's in Wildlife Conservation and Science at Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2019. When she is not getting lost enjoying the outdoors and trying new foods, she can be found learning how to crochet and play the guitar. She looks forward to helping strengthen the bonds between people and the natural world!

Adriana Aboitiz

Colorado College Public Interest Fellow
Adriana the PIFP at the Catamount Institute. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Colorado to study education and environmental science at Colorado College. She loves being outside teaching students about science and creating art. Adriana loves to read, draw and bake gingersnap cookies during her free time.

Caroline Paul

Environmental Educator
Caroline spent her college days in the Texas Hill Country where she graduated with her degree in Communications from Schreiner University. She grew up going to summer camp and always dreamed of one day working somewhere in nature. For the last 12 years, Caroline has worked in some capacity in education or with kids. In her free time she enjoys hiking, camping, rafting, and cooking.

Message Caroline:

Abbey Johnson

AmeriCorps Service Member:
Environmental Educator
Abbey is an AmeriCorps member serving at Catamount Institute as an Environmental Educator. Being a third generation Coloradoan she has grown up among the wildflowers and wildlife of this great state. As a child you could always find her in the yard, leaving no stone unturned, looking for any critter she could find. She is slightly bigger now, wanting to share that passion of exploration and life with those around her. Abbey is committed to helping cultivate and expand kids' interest in the outdoors, teaching and learning alongside them.

Chesney Thompson

Environmental Educator
Chesney received a bachelor's degree in Environmental Public Health in 2018 and is now working towards a masters degree in Natural Resources. She has always been passionate about conservation of our planet’s resources and sharing that with others to encourage stewardship to the environment. She loves hiking, crossword puzzles, and being outside whenever she can!

Katie Martins

AmeriCorps Service Member:
Environmental Educator
She is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs with a degree in geography and environmental studies and a certificate in geospatial information science. Katie grew up in Colorado hiking, biking, and climbing with a strong passion for sustainable food systems and recreation. Katie is excited to share in educational experiences with youth to foster confidence, respect, and care for environmental stewardship.

Jane Chimsuau

Community Engagement Exchange:
Environmental Educator
Jane is an educator who holds a B.A Administration and Management from the University of Zambia. She is currently serving at Catamount Institute as an Environmental Educator under the CEE Program. She is a young leader who has continued volunteering her services to communities in order to explore her passion of having sustainable and transformed communities. In Jane's free time she reads books, sings and listens to music.

Eva Makandi Muriithi

Community Engagement Exchange: Environmental Educator
Kandi, is a Community Engagement Exchange program Fellow from Kenya serving as an Environmental Educator. She is a passionate community developer and educator. She enforces this through Light On A Hill (LOAH) Organization, a community based organization she founded in 2020 with an aim of bridging some of the socio-economic challenges her local community was experiencing that were intensified by climate change. She partners with kids aged 5-12 years and uses environmental education and art as tools to evoke their interest to conserve, connect, protect and restore their natural environment. She graduated in 2017 with a BSC in community development from Egerton University and is currently pursuing her MA in Peace and Conflict Management. During her free time, Kandi enjoys spending time with family, cooking, worshiping and collecting rocks from rivers. Lastly, Kandi is a strong advocate of spreading love and kindness to the world in a bid to making it a better place for everyone and everything to live in.

Board of directors

Partners & Sponsors

We're hiring!

Want to join our team of nature lovers? From summer positions to part-time and full-time employment, visit our open position page to see what we have available.

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