Ursala was homeschooled until Junior High with both parents working from home as self-employed artists. During that time she began studying graphic and web design, and learned first-hand from her parents about how to run a business. In high school she started her own freelance graphic design business, which continues to help support her growing family today.
She studied business, psychology, and global citizenship at Fort Lewis College before graduating with degrees in art, Spanish, and sociology. Throughout her college career she was continuously reminded how necessary public education is in facilitating healthy communities and social change.
In 2008, Ursala co-produced and promoted a regional art exhibit, “Clothes on a Fish,” in Pagosa Springs, featuring over 50 innovative artists. The exhibit stands out as one of the best attended visual arts events in Pagosa Springs in recent years.
In 2011 Ursala developed a tuition-free expressive fine arts program for economically disadvantaged children and their families. Through the program she was impressed by the sight of children learning from parents, and parents learning from children, during a shared creative experience.
Ursala strongly attributes her drive as an entrepreneur, artist, and life-long-learner to her early years, learning alongside her parents at home.
Kierstan Renner has been the sole owner and operator of Kierstan Correnti Photography for more than ten years. She obtained her Associates Degree at Colorado Mountain College in Glennwood Springs, Colorado and her Bachelor of the Arts Degree from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California.
After her internship with David LaChappelle Studio in New York, NY, Kierstan spent time as a private nanny to several Manhattan families. It was during this time that she was introduced to some of the experimental education methods being explored in the New York public school systems. Kierstan was impressed by the progressive methods she observed, which varied greatly from the conventional education she received as a child in southern California, and which are now performing effectively throughout many public schools in New York.
Kierstan is very community-minded and when she sees a need she jumps in and creates a solution. When she realized that the nearest breastfeeding support group (an hour away in Durango) was shutting down, she immediately created The Pagosa Lactivist which meets monthly to support other nursing moms. She also created and is currently the administrator of the Pagosa Moms Facebook group, which is a thriving page that keeps moms in our small town in touch and less isolated. Kierstan also mentors high school students in photography in her extremely rare spare time.
Out of concern of her own children’s limited educational prospects, Kierstan accepted her position as Vice President of the Pagosa Charter School Initiative, to help bring more innovative learning opportunities to the community.
With over a decade of banking experience, Chenni possesses extensive knowledge of the credit and financial industries. As a former loan officer, she understands the financial responsibilities required by organizations to be deemed credit-worthy by lenders. She has assisted customers with data collection for IRS audits and understands the diligent record keeping required to comply with regulatory provisions. Her daily review of the tax documents of various types of businesses provides easy understanding of federal forms required of non-profit corporations. Countless hours of interviewing small business owners has allowed Ms. Hammon to understand the basic needs of startup companies as well as day-to-day financial challenges of running a business.
Chenni and her family relocated to Pagosa Springs in March of 2011 from the Seattle metropolitan area. Since that time she has experienced growing frustrations with the lack of programs and advanced educational opportunities for eager intellectual students at the public middle school. It was these frustrations that led to the decision of homeschooling her eldest child. The absence of individualized student attention brought her to a group of passionate like-minded parents where she helped establish the Pagosa Charter School Initiative non-profit corporation.
After briefly attending Stanford University on a scholarship, Bill Hudson escaped to Juneau, Alaska where he raised three children, built musical instruments, operated a successful graphic design business, served on the founding board of the Alaska Folk Festival, developed a visual arts program for the Juneau Fine Arts Camp, worked in the state-sponsored Artist-in-the-Schools program, and produced family-oriented theater productions at Perseverance Theatre.
Bill moved to Pagosa Springs with his family in 1993, and promptly founded the Pagosa Pretenders Family Theater, a unique family-centered theater company that won an El Pomar award for artistic excellence in 2004. He also produced the popular Whistle Pig Concert Series, and co-founded Artstream Cultural Resources, an arts-in-education non-profit that won support from, among other organizations, the Smithsonian Institution. He co-founded the Pagosa Summer Arts Camp for Kids, in collaboration with art teacher Tessie Garcia.
Bill is currently editor and publisher of the Pagosa Daily Post, an online community news magazine that he founded in 2004. He has written extensively about education issues in Colorado’s southwest.
Tom is a life-long educator, with over twenty years of teaching experience in the Pagosa Springs area. Upon arriving in 1981, Tom was hired to teach Junior High Science, which he did for eleven years. He also earned a Masters Degree in Secondary Science Education along the way.
In other teaching endeavors, both before and after his public school stint, Tom has taught all grade levels of learners K-12 — at Montessori schools, alternative private schools, and with home schoolers. He has taught most areas of the curriculum as well.