Hometown Heroes

December 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

Even before the pandemic, president and CEO Dan Porterfield and Cristal Logan, the Institute’s vice president for Community Programs and Engagement, saw the opportunity to deploy the Institute’s resources and expertise as a force for good in the region from Aspen to Parachute. Aspen locals Bob Hurst, an Institute trustee, and Soledad Hurst saw that need too. The result: the new Hurst Community Initiative, directed by Evan Zislis, the Institute’s new director of community engagement. Dedicated to promoting dialogue and increasing understanding, the initiative collaborates with government officials, nonprofits, community organizers, the private sector, immigrants, and philanthropists. The initiative began work at a moment of new need: hard hit by Covid-19, Aspen and Snowmass endured the highest unemployment rates in Colorado and an already high suicide rate, with the area’s Latinx community bearing the heaviest burden. Initiative projects already underway include a Hurst Leadership Seminar, conducted with the Institute’s Executive Leadership Seminars Program; an Opportunity Youth Forum in collaboration with the Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions; regional BIPOC youth outreach designed to introduce and sustain meaningful experiences in the public lands of the White River National Forest, in collaboration with the Institute’s Energy and Environment Program; and a regional forum in collaboration with the Institute’s Community Strategies Group. Focused on recovery and resilience, the Hurst Community Initiative will connect these and the many other community-focused Institute programs with the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys.