Listening and Leading for La Plata County
As a professional meeting facilitator and consultant focusing on public issues and public policy, I have facilitated over 1,300 meetings and forums in our region. I have worked effectively with more than 100 organizations, including businesses, topic-specific groups/coalitions, governments, nonprofits and more. I am proud of so many of the projects I have facilitated - let me tell you about a few...
The Hermosa Creek Workgroup resulted in successful federal legislation to establish the new Hermosa Creek Wilderness Area and Special Management Area in 2014. I served as facilitator, but the credit for this feat goes to the many who taught me the importance of honoring all the values and contributions of everyone, whether they were most concerned with economic values, ecology, water, hunting, mountain biking, grazing or wildlife. And, it taught me the importance of sticking with things even when the going gets tough. We accomplished Hermosa Creek because it is the La Plata County way: working hard and respecting each other creates results.
In the mid-2000s our state budget was in a real mess. A bipartisan local group started a grassroots effort tied to the statewide “Yes on C&D” campaign. The effort led to the passage of Referendum C, which allowed the state to keep needed General Fund resources to take care of K-12 and higher education and other priorities. I co-chaired that volunteer effort in 2005; we educated people all over La Plata County about critical state fiscal needs. La Plata’s affirmative vote was the second highest of any county in the state. We worked hard for C&D because it’s the La Plata County way: to take care of our kids and families with safe roads and good education because these are key to a successful community.
Before the Missionary Ridge fire happened in 2002, a national conference was held in Durango on how to be more “Firewise.” From that, the regional Firewise Program was launched and I served as its first paid coordinator. Working across many jurisdictions, we established Firewise of Southwest Colorado (now Wildfire Adapted Partnership) and one of the nation’s first ever Neighborhood Ambassador programs. Today, it is still going strong. We acted out of a shared vision because proper preparation means safer communities, another example of the La Plata County Way.
In the early 2000s, more capacity was needed to address county health challenges. Through co-chairing the Community Health Action Coalition (CHAC), we led efforts to help get needed services, raise awareness around healthcare funding and provide a forum (which still exists) for finding creative solutions, reducing duplication and helping residents with access to basic healthcare and timely information. We did these things because, as neighbors, we care about everyone - and that also is the La Plata County way.
Public Service and Community Leadership
* Chamber of Commerce and Leadership La Plata's Barbara Conrad Leadership Award, 2006
* Colorado State Forest Service’s Partner of the Year, 2008
* Service to Youth Award by the La Plata County Boys and Girls Club, 2009
* Leadership La Plata Graduate, 2001
I have served on the boards of: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of La Plata County, the La Plata County Historical Society, and the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado. Also, I am a co-founder of the "It’s About Kids” advocacy network, a project of the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
In 2014-2015, I served on the La Plata County Government’s "Fiscal Needs Committee" and then served on the 2016 Road and Bridge ballot initiative issue committee.
Family and Deep Southwest Colorado Roots
I am a fourth-generation southwest Colorado native. My great grandfather Edwin Porter was a miner in Silverton. He and my great grandmother Carrie moved from Silverton to a ranch/farm north of Cortez around 1903. My grandmother, Sonora Lewis Porter, and my grandfather, the late Colorado State Senator Charles T. Porter, attended Fort Lewis College when it was a boarding school in Hesperus. They were later school teachers in Arboles. My parents, John and Nancy Porter, have been involved in public service, education, water development/planning and helping others for generations. The community I grew up in, Lewis, Colorado, was named after my great grandfather Reufus Lewis.
My husband, John Norton, grew up in Denver and a 1985 graduate of Fort Lewis College. He is an MAI (Member of the Appraisal Institute) commercial real estate appraiser and owns his own company. We met in Denver working on a trail project through Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. In 1994, southwest Colorado was calling us home and so we moved to Durango.
In 1986, I graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Then, in 1989, I graduated from the University of Denver (Denver-campus program) with a Master of Social Work. I am a 2001 graduate of Leadership La Plata and a 1993 graduate of the Community Resource Center’s Grassroots Leadership Program for nonprofit professionals. I was a delegate from Colorado to the 2015 Capitol Conference in Washington, D.C.
Pictures above, left to right: The view from Perins Peak; Community Celebration of the Hermosa Creek legislation, 2014, Power House Science Center; facilitating a meeting about river health
Note: Mention of any specific organization does not imply an endorsement; 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations do not endorse candidates.