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What is the Hurst Community Initiative? 

Generously funded by Bob and Soledad Hurst, the Hurst Community Initiative seeks to promote dialogue, increase understanding, and facilitate opportunities for meaningful collaboration across the West Mountain Region – among the communities of the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys (Parachute to Aspen, Colorado).

We believe that individuals are most resilient as integral members of communities that promote equity, inherent belonging, justice, and civic engagement.


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Distance: 80 Mile Corridor​

Area: 4,000 Square Miles​

Total Population: <90,000 Regional Total​

Child Population: 21,000+​ Total (Under 19)

White:                           +/- 70%​

Hispanic/Latinx:           +/- 30%​

People in Poverty:              7% - 8%​

Without Health Care:         4% - 18%

Not US Citizen:                   36% - 62%​

Free & Reduced Lunch Qualifying Students:

Aspen School District:               6.2% 

Roaring Fork School District:  50.8%

RE-2 School District:                34.1%

Garfield District 16:                  67.7%


Garfield Self-Sufficiency Standard:        $96,234

Garfield Median Household Income:    $82,772


RFV Eagle Self-Sufficiency Standard:     $118,088

RFV Eagle Median Household Income: $117,791


Pitkin Self-Sufficiency Standard:              $116,064

Pitkin Median Household Income:          $96,123

Pervasive Regional Challenges:


Fair, Equitable & Affordable Access to Quality

• Food & Housing

• Medical Healthcare & Mental Health Services

• Preschool & Childcare

• Skills-Based Training & Professional Development

• Diversity of Competitive Career Opportunities

• Living Wage | Financial Self-Sufficiency

• Transportation & Mobility

• Inclusive Design, Disability Access & Inclusion

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Aspen Institute Hurst Community Initiative Leadership and Advisors

Leadership & Program Advisors

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A Colorado native, Evan Zislis joins Aspen Institute with over twenty-five years in the Roaring Fork Valley working as an educator, social entrepreneur and community advocate. With a career focused on building relationships through program development and organizational leadership, Evan’s expansive network in the public and private sectors strategically positions him to launch and direct the Hurst Community Initiative, targeting public policy and regional populations hit hardest by the defining challenges of our time. Evan lives with his wife and daughter in Carbondale, Colorado.

Evan Zislis  
Founding Director, Hurst Community Initiative                                              970.366.2532

[click on each for more information]

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Chris Estes
Co-Executive Director
Community Strategies Group

Elliot Gerson

Elliot Gerson  

EVP, Policy & Public Programs

International Partners

Cristal Logan

Cristal Logan  

VP, Aspen Community Programs

& Engagement

Steve Patrick

Stephen Patrick

VP & Executive Director

Forum for Community Solutions

Domenika Lynch

Domenika Lynch

Executive Director

Latinos and Society Program

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Ida Rademacher
VP, Executive Director

Financial Security Program

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Lori Severens
Director of Leadership Programs

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Frederick Riley
Executive Director
Weave: The Social Fabric Project

Todd Breyfogle

Todd Breyfogle

Managing Director

Executive Leadership Seminars

Aspen Institute is a global 501c3 nonprofit organization igniting human potential to

build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., (founded in 1949 in Aspen, Colorado) Aspen Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the greatest challenges of our time in service of a more free, just, and equitable society.

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