Top of the Pines, Inc. is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization, vested by Ouray County to oversee the operations and maintenance of the Top of the Pines facility. Top of the Pines, Inc. consists of a Board of Directors and an Advisory Council of consultants and dedicated experts.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Brad Wallis, Board President
Brad Wallis is the owner and principal of BTB Construction & Consulting LLC, a small design/build firm specializing in the design and construction of super insulated homes in southwestern Colo. In addition to serving as board president at Top of the Pines, he is also the education coordinator for the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership. Prior to moving to Ridgway, Brad owned and operated Greystone Mortgage, one of the top producing mortgage operations in Utah, and provided leadership to several national and regional organizations serving national parks and other public lands. He has traveled extensively both nationally and internationally supporting good business practices and ethical behavior in the conservation community.
Jen Ballard was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Jen moved to Colorado in 1996 after college to have more access to rock climbing. After a few fun years of ice and rock climbing, Jen returned to the DC area to get a Masters Degree in Education while teaching Physics in an Alexandria, VA High School. As soon as her Masters program was over, Jen returned to Colorado in 2004 where she works as a high school science and health teacher. Jen has two children, Mackenzie and Aiden. On her free time, Jen and her family raise bees and hope to educate others to do the same.
Geoff Tischbein, Vice Chair
Geoff moved to Montrose in 1974 after taking a position as a public information specialist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife) where he worked for 27 years covering Colorado’s West Slope. Over the last 50 years he has been involved with several local and national nonprofits and professional organizations. He remembers first skiing TOP in 1974 or1975 when it was still referred to as “The Girl Scout Camp.” He enjoys hiking, backpacking, skiings, scuba diving, birding, and “about anything you can do outside!”
Kathy came to this area about 20 years ago to continue her career with the U.S. Forest Service. For the first half of her career, she worked as a wildlife biologist in Oregon, Arizona and Colorado (Dolores). In 2000, Kathy switched her career focus, becoming the recreation manager for the Ouray and Norwood Ranger Districts. In that position she oversaw campgrounds, trails, outfitter-guide permits, wilderness areas, and the Telluride Ski Area permit. Since retiring in 2019, Kathy has had the time to pursue her favorite activities including birding, gardening, mountain biking, hiking, Nordic skiing and acrylic painting.
Joseph Paczosa is a Colorado native residing in the area for the last 23 years. As a self taught Blacksmith, he owns and operates Telluride Forge Ornamental Ironworks & Design LLC and additionally teaches multiple levels of metal smithing in his classroom studio. While attending University of Colorado Denver studying English and Biology, Joseph led sea kayaking tours in the San Juan islands in the Pacific North West and bicycle tours throughout New England during the summer months. In his down time Joseph looks to travel and recreate with his two kids enjoying culture & nature in many forms and functions. Additionally, he dabbles in gardening, birding and stargazing.
Patrick Moore is the shop foreman at Billings Artworks, makers of the Grammy and other fine awards. He moved to Ridgway in 2003 from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and has been at Billings since 2008. Patrick is an avid disc golfer and passionate about developing the disc golf course at Top of the Pines to its full potential. He encourages everyone to try out the sport and is happy to help others learn to play.
Melissa moved to Colorado from Pennsylvania in 2007. She fell in love with the mountains and never looked back. She and her family live, work, and play in Ouray County. She is the second grade teacher at Ouray School and plans to be the liaison between TOP and the schools. In her free time she enjoys hiking, climbing, nordic skiing, reading, hot springs, and yoga.
John has lived in Ridgway since 1982, evolving from a landscaper to a glass artist to a computer consultant & graphic artist/web designer. He has taken on the task of being TOP's webmaster, while continuing to pursue his love of the great outdoors. In 2012, he became Mayor of Ridgway as well, continuing a 30+ year span of involvement in the Town of Ridgway government.
Val Szwarc, Dark Sky Advisor
Val has been a part-time resident of Ouray County since the mid 1990’s and retired in 2014 from a career as an aerospace engineer and atmospheric scientist from a number of employers including NOAA/Boulder and NREL/Golden. Val and his wife Laura are frequent visitors to TOP year-round. In summer they enjoy a short hike or mountain bike ride and in winter they love the XC-skiing opportunities. Val has taken note of the pristine dark skies above TOP and has taken advantage of opportunities to capture those dark starry skies through the lens of his camera. He has led the effort of TOP becoming an International Dark Sky Association (IDA) designated Dark Sky Park (2021) that complements the Town of Ridgway’s IDA designation as a Dark Sky Community (2020), which he has led as well. Val is an active member of IDA, a former director of the Colorado Chapter of IDA, and currently serves as a director and Co-Chair of the Ridgway Ouray Community Council (ROCC) Dark Sky Committee. Currently Val is the Treasurer of TOP utilizing his corporate governance experience and education which includes an Executive MBA degree from the University of Colorado. In addition, Val has a BS in Meteorology from Penn State, and a graduate degree in Engineering (MSE) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Additional advisory council members include Chris Haaland, Bill Leo, Marisa Murphy, Tim Manzagol, Liana Schmidt and Kelvin Kent.
Holly “Shay” Shays - Campground Host
Shay has been traveling the US coast to coast for the last two years with their partner Bee, and their cat and dog. After camp hosting at a variety of locations, they found themselves at TOP, a perfect blend of peaceful wilderness and exciting celebrations! Shay is passionate about permaculture, off-grid homesteading and native environmental preservation and restoration. Their hobbies include botany, geology, anthropology, and all kinds of art.
Liz Stupka – Scheduling & Administration
Liz has lived full time in a fifth wheel RV for the past 4 years along side her husband and Australian Cattle Dog. Their travels brought them to Top of the Pines in 2020 to be the on site camp hosts for the summer. Liz, Ethan, and Aspen fell in love with TOP and returned as the camp hosts for a total of 3 summers. Her knowledge and fondness of TOP lead to managing the reservations and becoming the Scheduling and Administration Coordinator.