Meet the Board

Ursala Hudson, President and Co-founder

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 support her family today. Ursala strongly attributes her drive as an entrepreneur, artist, and life-long-learner to her early years, learning alongside her parents at home.

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, an idea which drove the founding of Pagosa Peak Open School.

Ursala sees the project of opening PPOS as a macro-version of the projects that the students at the school work on today: real, meaningful work that is the result of engaging the community, diligent research, financial planning, solid team work and a clear mission.

Ashley Wilson, Board Member

Ashley grew up in Pagosa Springs. After high school, she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development and Families Studies from Colorado State University. This took her to Dallas and on to Nashville where she worked in children’s hospitals with the primary goal of bringing understanding and comfort to seriously ill children through play and developmental learning support. She returned to Pagosa after several years and worked for the Department of Human Services as a family advocate until she took time off to stay home with her two children.

In 2016 she received her Master in Public Heath through the University of California Berkeley and is currently the Outreach and Evaluation Coordinator for Rise Above Violence.

Bill Hudson, Board Member and Co-founder

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.

John Daffron, Board Member

John received his Master’s in Educational Administration, MEd, from the United States International University, USIU, in Irvine, California, and his teaching credential and administrative credential from the University of California, Irvine. He taught various grade levels at Newport Heights Elementary beginning in 1989. Over the last 20 years of his career he served as campus administrative designee, chairing 20+ IEPs a year, meeting with parents for disciplinary issues, and running staff meetings. He also served as the chairman of the school site council, and for 16+ years was the director of our school’s Program Quality Review team, which oversaw school compliance in curricular practices.
HIs strongest area of knowledge is in the area of Academic Program Improvement. For the last 15 years of his career he was in charge of training staff to analyze practices and refine instruction by working together with adjacent grade levels, keeping up with current research, and inviting presentations by in‐house and guest experts. He wrote district curriculum in spelling and GATE, and piloted the math program for the district.

After retiring to Pagosa Springs, it took about six months for him to realize that fishing, skiing and guitar playing just weren’t enough.

“I miss education, and I still have more to give. I hope you think so, too. Thank you for this opportunity to share a little of myself, and I wish all of you the best of luck with this exciting and unique endeavor.”

Julie Simmons, Secretary

Julie has an extensive background in private business, government and nonprofit and an array of skills that will greatly benefit our board. She and her husband, Tony, own the very popular and successful Pagosa Brewing Company. At Pagosa Brewing Julie manages Human Resources, finances, organizational restructure design and implementation, systems development as well as capital fundraising and construction.

Her past work experience includes Colorado Housing and the Town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado where she acquired a varied skillset including grant writing and special event coordination.

Julie’s civic experience includes Treasurer of Rollergirls in Pagosa, Vice President Seeds of Learning, member of the La Plata Electric Scholarship Committee, Treasurer of Archuleta County Housing Authority, and Vice President of the Archuleta County Victim Advocate Program.