Kristen Van Norman Founder and Executive Director
Kristen Van Norman, a native of Colorado, she grew up in the Vail Valley. Kristen is a graduate of Fort Lewis College with a B.A. in Political Science. She followed this with attending the Josef Korbel School of International Studies graduating with a M.A. in International Human Rights with concentrations in Gender and International Law in the Middle East. Afterwards, she worked at a small non-profit in Vail promoting lifelong education as their Program and Development Manager. Most recently, she worked for Ascend Athletics in Kabul, Afghanistan, a non-profit driven by empowering women through teaching leadership skills while pursuing outdoor pursuits such as mountaineering and rock climbing.
Upon arriving back in the United States, Kristen wanted to share her love of the outdoors with young women in Chaffee County and elevateHER was born. She believes that using outdoor adventure as a mode of teaching young women can impart lifelong lessons and build close female relationships. Kristen is excited to bring together a group of strong women to teach the next generation of independent women lifelong skills so that they can succeed no matter the challenges they face.
If not working hard with the girls of elevateHER, you can find Kristen enjoying many outdoor pursuits such as rock climbing, hiking, camping, rafting, and snowboarding. If its an indoor day, Kristen is an avid reader of historical fiction with strong female character leads.
Jess Lewis Outdoor Adventure Manager
Jess has been an outdoor her whole life. She works as a rafting, kayak, rock climbing, mountain, and horse guide year round. He work has taken her across the world exploring cultures, ideas, and landscapes from Asia, to South America, Europe, and North America. She is in love with adventure. Even more so she appreciates the unique ways in which people are connected to the earth, their environment, and each other.
Jess has spent a number of years working with young adults and teens in outdoor programs through out Colorado. As a Buena Vista local she understands the unique challenges young adults face in getting into the outdoors and because of this is highly motivated to open doors to the young women in the community.
Anna Boyd Program Manager
Anna Boyd is a professional leadership development consultant with many years of experience in varied fields. She holds an AA in Outdoor Recreation and Leadership, a BA in Psychology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies, and a Master of Professional Studies degree in the Psychology of Leadership. Anna began her journey as a raft guide, ski instructor, and dogsled guide. From there, she worked in wilderness therapy as a guide and logistics coordinator, helping students learn how to safely engage in outdoor adventure and work towards their therapeutic outcomes. This is where she began honing her skills in conflict resolution and communication - skills that accompanied her during her tenure working on a sexual assault hotline. Anna’s focus soon shifted towards how to help people in a proactive, rather than a reactive, manner. She specializes in working with women and marginalized populations. Currently, Anna works as a leadership development consultant for Fortune 500 companies with Action Learning Associates. She is also an adjunct instructor with Colorado Mountain College, and recently started her own consulting agency based in Buena Vista, called Empowered Solutions Colorado, LLC.
Alex Blitstein Marketing Strategist
Alex Blitstein grew up in Buena Vista, before moving to Fort Collins to attend college at Colorado State Universality. At college Alex studies Marketing, with certifications in Data Analytics and Branding. In addition to this she is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, and Phi Kappa Phi honors societies and holds a 3.9 GPA. When Alex isn't studying she loves to make art, read books, hike, spend time with friends and loved ones, and call her mom (who is her biggest role model and support system). Throughout her life she has been lucky enough to know many strong and amazing women (such as her mother and younger sister), and is absolutely thrilled to be on the elevateHER team.
Elinor Asay Grantwriter and Development
Elinor is the Grant Writer and Development Consultant for elevateHER, where she brings 4 years of progressive experience in fundraising and development. She also brings a strong commitment to youth development and education programs, with almost 10 years of climbing experience and 5 years of experience in a variety of youth development programs.
Elinor graduated from Santa Clara University with a double major in History and Political Science. She also holds a Master’s degree in International Development from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where she focused on environmental and technology development in South Asia and West Africa. She has traveled extensively, especially in Nepal, where she worked to support girls' education and empowerment issues with the nonprofits Edge of Seven and The Small World.
Originally from the Washington DC area, Elinor went west in 2006 and has never looked back. She is an avid rock climber, backpacker, snowboarder, and cook, and enjoys exploring the trails near her home in Boulder, CO.
Board of Directors
Jessica Jones has been living in Buena Vista since 2008. She and her husband opened House Rock Kitchen on Main St. in June of 2015 which serves healthy and clean food. From 2009 to present, Jess has healed herself from Lyme disease through diet change, lifestyle change, detox, yoga and heightened awareness. Consequently, she has a deep passion for living a healthy lifestyle physically, mentally and spiritually.
Jess has been blessed by many remarkable teachers and experiences along her path and is honored to help our local young woman find their own peace, joy, strengths and passions. When she is not eating at House Rock Kitchen you can find her reading, hiking, running, paddle boarding, mountain biking or off traveling.
Candace Bryans has been living in Buena Vista full time since 2014. She originally came to Buena Vista during the summers from 2009 – 2014 to work as a raft guide. Candace has been teaching AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and Math for the past 8 years. Prior to teaching Candace spent five years working for the Little Rock Veterans Affairs Hospital Inpatient Pharmacy. She brings a strong background in non-profit fund raising and volunteer work. In addition to volunteer work in Thailand, Burma, and Morocco, she has served on several non-profit boards, worked in the education and funds department for Heifer International, and has been the Sponsorship Coordinator for the Autumn Color Run for the past three years. An avid runner, climber and outdoors woman, Candace is excited to assist elevateHER and to support its work empowering young women to push beyond their comfort zones and try new activities.
Heather is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 10+ years of therapy experience with children, teens and adults. Her specialties include child/adolescent therapy (including play therapy), family therapy, and treating depression/anxiety disorders. She is the owner of Thrive Therapeutic Solutions located in Buena Vista, CO. Originally from New Mexico, she moved to Chaffee County 10 years ago. Heather is also the proud mom of two middle school girls. She also serves on the Chaffee County Early Childhood Council.
I am a retired Health/ Physical Education/ EBD (Emotional-Behavioral Disabilities) teacher from Northern Wisconsin. I have lived, with my husband Scott, in Buena Vista for four years. We immediately became involved in this community & are now actively involved in Chaffee County Search & Rescue - North, & trails advocacy, building & maintenance via the brand-new Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition (BVSC). I am an avid outdoors person & spend time outside nearly every day. I love to ride bikes of every kind, hike, snowshoe, & nordic back country ski. I am passionate about the BV area & work to share outdoor opportunities, as well as safety & environmental stewardship with others.