AGNC 2023 Economic Development Summit Speakers

Gail Schwartz is the current President of Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley affiliate which serves the region from Aspen to Parachute and her home has been on the Western Slope for the past fifty years. Her career began with community and resort planning throughout North America with Sno-engineering, Inc, and she then became the Director of Development and Interim Director for the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority. She served on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, University of Colorado Board of Regents, two terms (2007 to 2015) in the Colorado State Senate representing SDistrict 5, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, in addition to serving on local and statewide nonprofit boards.

At Habitat RFV, Gail focuses on building partnerships and developing new energy efficient communities throughout the region in order to address the impact of the housing crisis. She is committed to engendering community awareness and support to address this need for safe, affordable homes from which people can work, retire and engage in their communities. 

Mercedes Maestas is the Colorado Field Office Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She started her career in asset management compliance and grew into a career where she leads and manages programs that provide affordable housing. She collaborates with federal, state and local officials and organizations to promote HUD programs that help make affordable housing accessible and sustainable for all Coloradans.

She’s worked on several design councils for the Department resulting in over 50 million dollars saved to the Department through contract preservations and policy changes.

As a Colorado native she is passionate about public service for all communities in our state.

Evan Zislis is a Colorado native born into a globetrotting military family. His passion for learning led him to undergraduate degrees in political science and cultural anthropology before completing a Masters in curriculum development and experiential education. Evan was scouted out of graduate school in 1999 to teach social studies for the Aspen School District. Teaching led to multiple program development and organizational leadership positions serving nonprofit organizations across Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield Counties. In 2012, Evan launched his own consulting firm focused on organization, operations, and social entrepreneurialism — publishing a bestselling book about conscious consumerism in 2015. In 2020, Evan was recruited to serve the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys as the Aspen Institute’s Director of Community Engagement, working with community leaders to facilitate collaborative solutions to regional challenges. Evan is an active member on a wide range of regional coalitions and community task forces. He lives with his family in Carbondale, Colorado.

Ray Beck retired from Yampa Valley Electric Association on March 30, 2009 after 37 years of service. He also retired from public service after fourteen years in January of 2021.

Ray was elected to the Craig City Council in 2007 and served two consecutive 4-year terms; and one 2-year term as the Mayor of Craig Colorado. Ray was elected as a Moffat County Commissioner in November of 2016 and took the oath of office on January 10, 2017 and served one- 4-year term.

Ray has served on various boards and commissions over the last 14 years including the Craig Moffat Airport Advisory Board and the Yampa Valley Airport Commission. He was appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to the Colorado Aeronautical Board in 2014 and again in 2017. He has served in various leadership roles including the past Chairman to the CAB, an advisory board to the CDOT Division of Aeronautics. Ray is a past member of the Colorado Northwestern Community College Foundation Board and is an alumni from the class of 1970.  He sits on the Executive Board for CLUB 20 as the Membership Chair and has held that position for the last 12 years. Ray served as the Liaison for the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners to Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado representing issues that are important to Craig and Northwest Colorado. He also was the past chair for AGNC, a position he held for 3 years.

As a County Commissioner Ray shared responsibility for day to day operations, was Liaison to several boards and commissions, aided in adopting county policy, along with approving a balanced budget. Ray was elected as the chairman to the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners for two years.  As a local elected official, Ray has had the opportunity to advocate on issues at the state and national levels about issues important to Western Colorado on several occasions over the past 14 years.  Currently he is the Co-Chair for JOLT (Joint Organizations Leading Transition).

Dave Ulane, under the direction of the Colorado Aeronautical Board, leads the Colorado Department of Transportation’s innovative and forward-leaning Aeronautics Division.  In collaboration with 76 public use airports, the users of Colorado’s aviation system, and numerous other stakeholders, Dave and the Division endeavor to support the state’s multi-modal transportation system by advancing a safe, efficient, and effective statewide aviation system through collaboration, investment, and advocacy.

Dave joined the Division of Aeronautics in July 2015 and has over 33 years of aviation experience in the Northwest Mountain Region.  Prior to his current role, Dave was the Northwest Mountain Regional Manager for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), where he managed the association’s airport advocacy, state and local legislative and governmental affairs, and member engagement in seven northwestern states.  Before he joined AOPA in 2011, Dave served over six years as the Assistant Aviation Director at the Aspen/Pitkin County (Colorado) Airport and has managed the St. George (Utah) Municipal Airport and the Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyoming.  He began his aviation career in 1989 as an intern at Denver’s Centennial Airport, where he held a variety of airport operations positions.

Dave has a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management from Metropolitan State University of Denver and has been an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) since 1995.  Over the past 30 years, he has served the Northwest Mountain Region in a variety of aviation leadership roles.  He is currently serving as Chair of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), and previously was President of the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and President of the Wyoming Airport Operators Association.  An active pilot since 1987, Dave is a seaplane rated private pilot, with a Part 107 Unmanned Aircraft Systems rating as well.

Angela Padalecki is the Executive Director of the Grand Junction Regional Airport, a post she’s held for almost six years. She previously served as Director of Airline Affairs at Denver International Airport and spent the first portion of her career working as an economist for the Commerce Department and the Federal Reserve. She holds master’s degrees in economics and finance from the University of Colorado Denver, and spent her freshman year of college at Mesa State College before transferring to Colorado State University. In addition to her role at the Airport, she serves on several boards: St. Mary’s Hospital; Hilltop Community Resources; Colorado Mesa University President’s Advisory Committee; and the CMU Economics, Finance, & Real Estate Department Advisory Board. She is married to Ryan Padalecki and together they have four children – Aspen (11), Myles (7), Samuel (3), and Alex (infant).

Brian Condie began his aviation career by taking flight lessons in a Robinson helicopter at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California. He proceeded to get a fixed wing aircraft pilot’s license one year later.

Brian worked for Western Aviation Fixed Base Operator while attending college in Logan, Utah. During college he served as Flight Club President of the Aviation Department. That’s flight club, not fight club.

He graduated from Utah State University’s aviation program and was hired by Salt Lake International Airport in the operations department. He worked at the Salt Lake airport in various positions for approximately eight years before applying for the Airport Director position at the Garfield County Airport.  

Brian was hired by Garfield County in 2002 as the Airport Director to transition the airport into an economic engine for the county. During his twenty years as the Airport Director, the airport has transitioned from a local airport to a world-famous first-class airfield and is now one of very few general aviation airports that is self-sufficient. 

During his time as Airport Director, the Rifle Garfield County Airport received an official proclamation from the State of Colorado recognizing the economic impact and aviation sustainability achieved by a general aviation airport. In 2020 Brian received the prestigious Colorado’s Aviation professional of the year award.

Because of his vision and foresight, the Rifle Garfield County Airport has grown to not only what it is now but will also meet the future needs and expectations of the region.

Richard Orf is a government affairs representative working at the Colorado General Assembly since 2011.  Employed by Orf & Orf PC, he advocates for clients in the areas of local government and economic development, mining and natural resources including water, wildlife management, and healthcare. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the University Colorado Denver and an undergraduate degree from Colorado State University.  Previous to doing time at the state legislature, he worked in graphic design, web development and marketing for small business and trade associations.

Dylan Roberts represents Senate District 8 in the Colorado State Senate which encompasses Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, and Summit Counties. Senator Roberts serves as the Chair of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and as a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Local Government & Housing Committee. He also serves as a member of the Just Transition Advisory Committee and the Colorado Tourism Board.

Senator Roberts was elected to the Senate in 2022. From 2018-2022, he served in the State House representing Eagle & Routt Counties. His work at the legislature has focused on lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, protecting our environment and water, funding more affordable housing development, and promoting rural economic development. In 2019, he wrote and passed the law that made Colorado the first state in the nation to cap the cost of insulin and in 2022, he helped pass the largest single-year investment into affordable housing in Colorado history. Prior to and during his service in the legislature, Dylan was a Deputy District Attorney for Eagle County. Dylan grew up in Routt County and now lives in Eagle County with his wife Sarah and their son Teddy.

Dawn Thilmany McFadden is a Professor of Agricultural Economics and Co-Director of the Regional Economic Development Institute at Colorado State University.  Her research and outreach focus on food systems and rural economic development, primarily focused on opportunities related to value-added food market supply chains, market access and financial viability of underserved food enterprises. She is on the Colorado Food System Advisory Council and will help to lead the new USDA Northwest and Rocky Mountain Food Business Center.

Jeff Engell is a Regional Specialist at Colorado State University’s Western Region Extension Office. He brings to this role over 12 years of organizational leadership and consulting experience focused on economic development and growth. His specific domain expertise includes agriculture, energy, life science, food security, industrial production, and cleantech, resulting from having worked with 800+ entrepreneurs and small-to-medium sized enterprises to access capital, create product-market fit, and develop strategies for growth and scale. Prior to joining CSU, he served as the Director of the Grand Junction Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in which he oversaw the formation of 29 new companies, over 300 jobs created/retained and over $19 million in client company sales growth in the trailing 12 months prior to his departure.

Matt Solomon is a civic-minded entrepreneur with a broad set of experiences in both the public and private sector. He has helped to launch companies locally and internationally and has served as a Town of Eagle Council Member. He is a former collegiate and professional athlete, author, and public speaker. Matt has been an Eagle County resident since 1996. His appreciation and understanding of Western Colorado values and passions, coupled with his ability to bring experience and perspective from both the public and private sector, offer a balanced vision for any task at hand. Matt is currently serving on the Colorado Broadband Deployment Board, the Judicial Performance Review Commission for Colorado’s District 5, and is the Project Manager for the Northwest Colorado Energy Initiative.

Nathan Perry, PhD, is an associate professor of economics at Colorado Mesa University. His research interests include money and banking, and economic history. He has conducted several regional economic grant studies in the state of Colorado including economic impact/contributions studies, public land studies and has published a book chapter on deficits and debt. Dr. Perry writes quarterly economic newsletters for Mesa, Montrose, and Delta Counties. He teaches money and banking, econometrics, macroeconomics, and business statistics.