Megan Strauss, Executive Director

MeganMegan Strauss is the Executive Director and founder of Alpine Achievers Initiative. Megan received her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in non-profit leadership and development and has been working in the non-profit world since 2006. Her passions are bringing inspiration to underserved youth and creating meaningful experiences for service-oriented individuals. Megan served two terms with AmeriCorps which changed the course of her life and is now proud to support AmeriCorps programs serving youth in the San Luis Valley.

 Ryan Johns, Program Director

As the program director for Alpine Achievers Ryan is proud to assist our members in serving the San Luis Valley area schools. Ryan is a lifetime Colorado native and most recently was a high school science teacher for a local San Luis Valley school. As a resident of the San Luis Valley and a father of three young children, Ryan has a personal investment in improving the services offered to the students in this community. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Development from Colorado State University as well as certifications in informal education and outdoor programming. Ryan spent a year with his wife volunteering in Thailand where he found an appreciation for true service and is passionate about making that experience a reality for our members.

Lisa MacPherson, Backyard to Backcountry Program Manager

As the Backyard to Backcountry Program Manager for Alpine Achiever’s Initiative, Lisa works toward bringing quality environmental and outdoor education programs to youth in the San Luis Valley. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Outdoor Education from Western State Colorado University. She has worked for ten years as a Course Director, Instructor, and Trainer for the Colorado Outward Bound School in Moab, Utah. Lisa also works as an Executive Leadership Consultant for Action Learning Associates, Adjunct Faculty for the Outdoor Education and Park Ranger Departments at Red Rocks Community College and for the Recreation and Outdoor Education Department at Western State Colorado University. Lisa strives to use challenge, adventure, and exploration of the outdoors to inspire personal growth and character development in people of all ages.


Cari Caudill, AmeriCorps VISTA member

Melissa Goforth, Financial Manager

Melissa is the Fiscal Manager for Alpine Achievers.  She is a Colorado Certified Public Accountant and received her BA degree in Accounting from Adams State College (now University.)  She and her husband Bruce have lived and worked in several Colorado communities, beginning in the southern San Luis Valley in the 1970’s.  Her professional career has focused in the business world, although she has volunteered for several non-profits over the years.   After her retirement from Monarch Mountain as Chief Financial Officer, she was looking for an opportunity to support a worthwhile organization and found the perfect match in Alpine Achievers which works with underserved children and youth in academics, personal growth, nutrition, and outdoor activities. “I have come full circle, beginning my career in the Southern San Luis Valley, pursuing it in several Colorado communities, and ending it here in the northern San Luis Valley.”  Melissa loves to hike and camp, visit our national parks, practice yoga, and is pursuing lifelong goals of learning piano and researching her family genealogy.

Hope Rheingans, Office Manager

Hope Rheingans started her Alpine Achievers Initiative journey in 2014 supporting after school rock climbing programs both indoors and outdoors for Mountain Valley and Crestone Charter. She moved to Salida after receiving her degree in Physical Geography and certificates in Adventure Leadership, Environmental Science, and Human Performance and Physical Education. Three years later a casual coffee shop conversation with Megan turned into a job offer for AAI, now holding a nonprofit status! Hope jumped at another opportunity to be supporting positive youth development in the San Luis Valley where she herself grew up. She is all in to help Valley kids feel loved, and she is also stoked to turn many of them into environmental stewards in the process.

Natasha Mills-McKim, Program Support Staff

natashaNatasha Mills-McKim is Program Support Staff for Alpine Achievers Initiative.  She earned her Bachelors degree in Social Work from Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana and began work on a Masters in Special Education from UC Denver.  She also served as an Americorps member in Alamosa in 2008.  Her go-get-em attitude has made Valley wide after school programs possible. Fittingly in such a hectic position, she’s often been heard saying, “well that didn’t go as planned” as she works to maintain consistent and valuable programming alongside her beautiful newborn son Jude.