Author Archive

Spotlight: Rick Coffin

What drew you to RIHEL originally?

I was originally drawn to RIHEL for several reasons. I heard stories from colleagues about how rewarding their RIHEL experiences were and I wanted to experience it for myself. I have a strong interest in personal and professional development and the Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP) seemed like a great learning opportunity as I would be exposed to a wealth of resources from the RIHEL faculty. I am also an environmental advocate and I looked forward to meeting my RIHEL cohorts from regional environmental and public health institutions. I am grateful that my employer, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, also sees the value in this opportunity and they are very supportive of sending staff to the ALTP.

What have you gained from your experience (as a fellow, volunteer, or coach) with RIHEL?

As a fellow I gained a deep understanding of myself, including how I react to certain situations and interactions and techniques that I can use to change any behavior that I was unhappy with. This was a powerful insight that had positive impacts in both my professional and personal life. I also gained a greater understanding of many other things, including emotional intelligence, mindfulness, professional communication (e.g., media training), and how to be effective in difficult situations. As a first-year coach I am enhancing my strategic thinking, communication, and development skills.

Spotlight: Stephanie Denning

Discover why Stephanie Denning, a graduate of the 2010 Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP) and a RIHEL Coach continues to choose RIHEL.

What drew you to RIHEL originally?
I was interested in participating in a program with a group of people who also wanted to learn and build their leadership skills. I had heard others talk about RIHEL and how much they enjoyed it, so I thought it would be fun and a great way to get to meet new people, while learning how to be a better “leader.”
Why is RIHEL important to you and the community?
We need leaders in the public and private sectors who are able to think critically about the complex and often divisive issues facing virtually all of our communities. These leaders need to be armed with the right technical, professional, and social/emotional skills to work across and within political, economic, social, cultural and geographic arenas to build policies and programs that create communities where everyone can thrive. RIHEL helps participants to develop these kinds of skills, pushes them to think bigger and go deeper, to challenge their cherished assumptions and be something more. RIHEL helps create the kind of leaders our communities need.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about sponsoring or donating to RIHEL?
Just Do It! I believe I gained tremendous personal and professional value and made amazing, lasting friendships through my experience through the ALTP. That value has grown exponentially as I have stayed connected with RIHEL through the Peer Coaching program. I’ve seen that same value manifested in others who have participated in the program and have supported fellows who I know also benefitted personally and professionally from their RIHEL experiences.

Physicians Encouraged to Shape Their Futures

In his letter published in the January edition of EyeNet, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Dr. Alan Kimura encourages physicians to shape their futures by shifting their “perception of health care reform and value-based care from externally imposed burdens to internally driven improvements.” He describes autonomy, mastery and meaning as the pillars of engagement with one’s work – all practical applications he derived from his experience in the Physician Leadership Skills Series presented by RIHEL to members of the Colorado Medical Society with funding from the Physicians’ Foundation. Kudos to Dr. Kimura for deriving strong practical and principled applications from the leadership lessons of the workshop, and for inspiring others with this letter!

Click here to read his letter.

RIHEL Gave Me Confidence to Run My First Marathon

Written by Rachel Jervis, Advanced Leadership Training Program Class of 2017

On May 5, 2017, I graduated from RIHEL’s Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP).

On October 15, 2017 I completed my first marathon.

The latter is a direct result of the first.

I’ve been a runner since moving to Colorado in 2007. Over the years I’ve completed numerous short and mid-distance races, including six half marathons. I never planned to run a marathon. I’d joke “I’m such a slow runner that I’d have to stop mid-race for a meal.” I feared injuring myself, abhorred the time commitment, and was dubious that I could physically complete a marathon even if I wanted to. In short, marathons held no appeal to me.

Fast-forward to April 2017, when I was in the homestretch of the RIHEL Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP). Since attending college in Boston, I find myself glued to Boston Marathon results and human-interest stories each Patriot’s Day. Unlike previous years, some part of my brain wondered if I could conquer 26.2 miles. In a row. I confessed this thought to a friend on a long run the following weekend. Having completed multiple marathons and a full ironman, she assured me that with proper training I could finish a marathon. That evening I thought, Maybe I should run a marathon.

RIHEL Alumna Provides Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico

Last September, Aimee Voth Siebert (Advanced Leadership Training Program 2014), was deployed to Puerto Rico to lead a team of 11 behavioral health responders who were providing much needed aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Aimee urges others to “please find ways to remind yourself of Puerto Rico now, in six months, in a year, and in five to 10 years

Vision for Superfund Site Comes Alive in Libby, MT

A RIHEL alumna’s vision for stakeholder engagement in the redevelopment of a recently completed Superfund Site comes to life in Libby, Montana.

For 18 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been conducting asbestos cleanups in Libby, Montana as part of the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site. In September of 2016, the EPA determined that the 400-acre industrial park owned by the Lincoln County Port Authority was complete. As an EPA Remedial Project Manager assigned to the Libby Site, Dania Zinner chose to focus her RIHEL leadership project on the community planning efforts for this property. Dania’s vision, and the vision shared by her project partners, was to engage all stakeholders in a collaborative event to discuss the economic redevelopment of the Port Authority property, with the intention that these discussions would result in a long-term vision and action plan for the site.

Alumni Receive Awards at 2017 Public Health Conference

Please help us congratulate several members of the RIHEL family on their hard work and recent awards from the 2017 Public Health in the Rockies Conference. The purpose of this conference is to provide an opportunity for education, networking and skill development of the professionals in Colorado, Wyoming and neighboring regions, and to build a more competent public health workforce. The 2017 conference theme highlighted the ongoing importance of promoting health equity.

Spotlight: Carmen Martin

This month meet our Governing Board member Carmen Martin.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

“Communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women.” -Michelle Obama

Why is RIHEL important to you and the community?

RIHEL is important to me as a woman, as a woman of color, and as someone who lacked connections early in my public health career.

Cate Townley, MURP, MUD

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – Built Environment Specialist –

Cate Townley is a Built Environment Specialist for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Her primary role at CDPHE is to work with community organizations and local governments on policy and environmental change efforts to promote active living, reduce ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure, and prevent chronic disease. Cate is a member of Colorado’s Built Environment Strategic Collaborative as well as the Colorado Parks and Public Health Collaborative, bringing together diverse stakeholders from communities across the state working to improve the health of Coloradans through the built environment. As part of her role at CDPHE, Cate is a member of the Colorado Safe Routes to School Advisory Board, the Governor’s 16 Trails in 2016 Inter-Agency council, the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Working Group, and a member of the Colorado Urban Land Institute Building Healthy Places Committee. Prior to CDPHE, Cate worked for the University of Colorado Denver where her primary role was to help communities design, redevelop and program schoolyards to promote healthy eating and active living. Cate has a Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning and Masters of Urban Design from the University of Colorado Denver and serves on the City of Englewood, Colorado Planning and Zoning Commission.


Rachel Cleaves Dahlke


Rachel Cleaves Dahlke has twelve years’ experience in community development community engagement, and organizational leadership in the US, Africa, and Latin America. As the Executive Director of Westwood Unidos from 2012 – 2017, Dahlke founded and helped lead a resident-centered movement striving for health equity in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. Westwood Unidos’ approach focused on listening for what to do. Westwood Unidos facilitated resident-led action that resulted in new parks, new bus service, a youth-led bicycle library, transformation of blighted areas and abandoned buildings into community gathering spaces, a neighborhood plan, and a new community center.

Dahlke is experienced at creating participatory budgets, fundraising, securing community support, and communicating through media and stakeholder relations. She is an engaging speaker in English and Spanish, with years of experience training and coaching through experiential workshops for diverse audience. She is currently a consultant, speaker, trainer, and coach with clients including the Denver Housing Authority, The Denver Foundation, and YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region. Dahlke is a Fellow of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.


Molly Hanson


Molly Hanson has over seventeen years of experience developing, promoting and evaluating population health initiatives to reduce health disparities. Molly was a Community Health Specialist at Boulder County Public Health, promoting tobacco-free workplace policies, youth empowerment approaches to reduce tobacco use, and clinical guideline integration in healthcare settings. She served as a Peer Mentor for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), supporting rural and urban communities as they implemented coalition-driven approaches to address tobacco-free workplace policies. Molly was also a program manager in the network of Federally Qualified Community Health Centers in the state of Colorado.

For several years, Molly served as the LiveWell Wheat Ridge Coordinator and Health Promotion Supervisor at Jefferson County Public Health, promoting policies and built environment changes to reduce food insecurity and create vibrant safe places for people to be active. She also served on the Denver Regional Council of Government (DRCOG) Sustainable Community Initiatives Gold Corridor Working Group, the Colorado Food Policy Network, the Colorado Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Network, and was actively involved in the LiveWell Colorado HEAL Cities and Towns initiative.

Molly is passionate about Health in All Policies (HiAP), health equity, and coalition-driven approaches, and now serves as a public health consultant for Safe and Healthy Communities, Center For Research Strategies and Health Team Works. She is a graduate of the Colorado Transit Alliance, the RIHEL Advanced Leadership Training Program, and the University of South Florida School of Public Health Social Marketing Field School. When Molly is not working, she is hiking, camping, backpacking or canoeing with her new dog, Tucker.


Kelly McCracken

Public Health Consultant
National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
Term ends: 12-31-21

Kelly McCracken has worked as a dietitian, diabetes educator, and a public health practitioner for over 10 years. She started her career in the clinical setting working with families and children with type 1 diabetes at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Aurora, Colorado. From this experience, she gained an interest in prevention which took her to Boulder County Public Health where she managed the Longmont WIC clinic for seven years. This remarkable experience opened her world to systems change which led to her work as the Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Unit Supervisor in the Prevention Services Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In that role, Kelly worked with statewide partners to increase reimbursement for and access to evidence-based chronic disease prevention and management programs.

Kelly is a 2014 graduate of the Advanced Leadership Training Program, and she credits her RIHEL project with furthering her work to better coordinate communication between public health and Medicaid. This led to her current position as a Public Health Consultant with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors where she manages a project to establish Medicaid reimbursement for the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

Carmen Rosa Martin

Kaiser Permanente
Term ends: 12-31-21

Carmen Martin received her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Colorado State University. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude in 1995. In 2000, she completed her master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in public policy and health care law from the University of Denver. Carmen worked in a variety of public health settings, including the Tri-County Health Department, before embarking her career at Kaiser Permanente. You likely know about Carmen’s work in public health as a champion for healthy food access for vulnerable populations.

Carmen leads the food insecurity work for the KP Colorado region, in addition to managing all the school district grants for KP.

Leigh Caswell

Vice President of Community Health
Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Term ends: 12-31-21

Leigh Caswell is the Vice President for Community Health with Presbyterian Healthcare Services (PHS). Leigh coordinates and directs initiatives, strategy, and operations that support the community health priorities of the largest non-profit health system in New Mexico. This work includes convening cross sector partnerships and leveraging grant and private funds for greater collective impact on barriers to health in communities across the state. The Food Farmacy, Accountable Health Communities, the Healthy Here Wellness Referral Center, Mobile Farmers’ Market, and FreshRX, are a few of the current initiatives Leigh has helped developed to support PHS to promote prevention, increase health equity, and to enhance the quality and effectiveness of clinical interventions.

Leigh and the community health program were awarded the Spirit of New Mexico Award; she was recognized as an Albuquerque Business First Woman of Influence and 40 under 40; she is also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader. Leigh has a B.S. in Environmental Health from Colorado State University and a Masters of Public Health from the University of New Mexico.

Arron Mansika

RIHEL Executive Director

Arron Mansika is an accomplished executive director and social entrepreneur. Arron currently serves as Executive Director of the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership (RIHEL), a nonprofit organization developing and connecting leaders who work collaboratively in diverse sectors and communities to create and sustain the health and well-being of people and the environment. Arron oversees leadership and development trainings for professionals in the health, environment, public and private sectors in the Rocky Mountain region, with 1,000+ graduates.

Previously, Arron led Naturally Boulder, a trade group of 1,000+ companies representing 69,000 employees pursuing a mission to nurture conscious growth, leadership and innovation in the Colorado natural products industry. He co-created Naturally Boulder in 2005 and developed the business community for 15 years, serving on the inaugural board of directors and leading as Executive Director before stepping down in early 2021. Leveraging that success, Arron co-created Naturally Network, a nationwide organization of interdependent Naturally affiliates with a mission to harness, accelerate and elevate the impact of conscious business practices in the natural and organic products ecosystem.

Arron founded and operated Boulder’s Best Organics, Inc., a pioneering internet-based gift-box company in 2006. The business was named “Colorado Success Story” by the Colorado Small Business Development Center and recognized as “Boulder Valley’s Second-Fastest Growing Company with Sales Under $2M” by BizWest Media. Arron was selected as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He led the company through a successful acquisition in 2009.

Arron served as Managing Director of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, an activist-oriented organization rooted in the spirit of unconditional nonviolence and dedicated to radically progressive personal and social change.

Arron is the founder of Mindful Your Business, launching in 2022 to deliver upon a simple and profound truth: awareness training enhances business success.

Arron aligns his professional life with the values of his personal life. He is passionate about delivering honed leadership skills to people advancing sound and progressive environmental and human health strategies and practices. He lives in Boulder, CO, with his entrepreneurial wife and young son.

Contact Me
Send me a message through the contact form below.

Connie Sorell

RIHEL – Program Manager, Advanced Leadership Training Program

head shot of Connie SorellConnie Sorell is the Program Manager for the Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP). After completing a successful corporate career, she has turned her attention to serving her community and pursuing a second calling in non-profit development. Some of her expertise includes fundraising, community outreach, and data management. A long time Colorado resident, she is an avid gardener and lover of books.
Contact Me
Give me a call at 303-871-4252 or send me a message through the contact form below.

Nicole Tuitt, DrPH, MPH

Colorado School of Public Health, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Department of Community and Behavioral Health

Nicole R. Tuitt, DrPH, MPH is an Assistant Professor at the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health (CBH) at the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH). Nicole received her DrPH from the ColoradoSPH in Community and Behavioral Health with a minor in Epidemiology (2018).

Nicole currently teaches at the ColoradoSPH, in the areas of Community and Behavioral Health, Latent Variable Methods, and Anti-Oppressive Research and Practice Methods in Public Health. Her research focuses on substance use, suicide prevention, and sexual risk reduction among Black and American Indian and Alaska Native youth.


Beth Roome, MA, ACC

Founder of Switchback Institute, and Executive Director of the Switchback Foundation

image of Beth RoomeBeth is Founder of Switchback Institute, and Executive Director of the Switchback Foundation. Her passion is the development and championing of people doing high impact work. She has 28 years’ experience in strategic planning, program development, leadership standards, training and communications. She graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Sociology and a focus in Spanish and Latin American Studies. She has an M.A. in Strategic Communication and Leadership from Seton Hall University. Beth is a proud member of the RIHEL class of ’08 and has served as coach and coach team lead for the RIHEL programs on-and-off over the past 13 years. She is a member of the first cohort of the RIHEL Coaching Academy. Before launching Switchback, Beth worked 13 years for the State of Colorado in the Departments of Human Services, Public Health and Environment, and Public Safety. Eight of those years she served as a Disaster Behavioral Health and Communication Specialist. She co-led the development of a statewide system for standardized behavioral health response during disasters. She also created a workforce resilience workshop including material that has been delivered in various formats to over 100 agencies and conferences locally, nationally, and internationally. The crux of this work is a systems approach to promoting employee engagement and performance through prioritizing organizational resources, recognition, and support. During 5 years with the Department of Public Safety, she served in the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, as the Training and Exercise Program Manager. She and her team were responsible for coordinating statewide delivery of Incident Management Training for hospitals, public health, fire and emergency management agencies. The team also created a clearinghouse for local, state and national Emergency Management and Homeland Security training. She moved to the CDPS Executive Directors Office where she created the Department’s Leadership Strategies Institute and served as the Department’s lead trainer. Switchback Institute exists to provide leadership resources, resilience strategies and personal/professional growth through coaching, presentations, workshops, learning opportunities and retreats. The Foundation exists to partner with other organizations, businesses, and individuals in providing respite and professional development opportunities to non-profit communities engaged in high impact work. RIHEL FACULTY FOR:

Joan Eden, ACC

Consultant, Trainer, Coach

Joan EdenJoan currently works as a professional coach devoted to clients primarily in government and non-profit work situations around leadership development. She is a Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coach Federation (ICF). She has been recognized by the Center for Coaching Certification as a Certified Professional Coach and a Certified Master Coach. She has been a coach with the ALTP Coaching Program for 12 years? and a “Coach Team Leader” for six of those years. She is also certified to administer and debrief the EQi 2.0 Assessment.

Prior to becoming a professional coach, Joan worked as an independent consultant, trainer, and coach. Past projects include working with: 1) the Colorado Department of Health and Environment on creating and administering a ten year formal Mentoring Program with up to 130 participants annually ; 2) the American Public Health Laboratories on development of an internal coaching program and; 3) county, state and federal government employees through Executive Forum as a trainer of “Crucial Conversations,” “Crucial Accountability”, “Influencer”, “Change Anything” and “I love Feedback”.

Joan is an ALTP graduate and served on the RIHEL Governing Board for six years, which included two years on the Executive Committee.

She has a Master’s degree in Public Health and Nutrition from Columbia University.

In 2005 she received an Award for Excellence from the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership (RIHEL), and in 2006 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Public Health Association.


Curt Drennen, PsyD, RN

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – Healthcare Operations and Response Branch Supervisor; HPP Program Manager, CO BH Disaster Coordinator

image of curt drennenDr. Curt Drennen is a psychologist working for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response as the Health and Safety program manager. Curt has led the Colorado behavioral health response to over 10 events of significance including natural disasters, public health crisis and major community violence. He now leads the Healthcare/Hospital Preparedness Program and the Ebola Preparedness Program. He has in excess of 20 years of experience in the fields of mental health and psychology with an emphasis in Disaster Management and Community Recovery, Emotional Intelligence, Resilience, Servant Leadership, and Systems Conflict Management. Curt is also a graduate of the RIHEL Advanced Leadership Training Program Class of 2006.