Class of 2016 - 2017

David Berkson

David Berkson

David Berkson

I fell in love with this place the first time I saw it in 1979. Met several friends going to college in Boulder (1981-1984) that lived here, but I could not afford to move here till I decided to just go for it in 2010.

I am a therapist that does Bodywork on people. More dealing with structure and flexibility and healing physical inadequacies from past injuries. Teach Yoga and Metaphysics and I am a Transpersonal Astrologer.

I never served my country as my age put me in between having to serve our country, in these unnecessary wars. How lucky! So getting involved with civic duty has always been on my mind to give back to society somehow. When I heard about this program I could not want to learn and get involved.

Ryan Brown

Ryan Brown

Ryan Brown

I’ve been in Aspen for 12 years and sell wine for a Colorado based wholesaler. I also work several other jobs throughout the year as many of us must do to make it in this town.

I applied for the program for two reasons. I wanted to learn more about what makes this amazing town work, and also as a possible avenue to getting more involved and perhaps finding a job or serving on a committee within the local government.

Sherese Chrétien

Sherese Chretien

Sherese Chrétien

The Aspen Citizens Academy has enabled me to learn the city's strategies for balancing Aspen's unique challenges.

Andy Curtis

Andy Curtis

Andy Curtis

I grew up in Massachusetts and was placed for an internship in Aspen almost 10 years ago, where I quickly ditched my coastal lifestyle and embraced my new life in the mountains. Since then I have spent my time here as a film and tv producer / editor, which has allowed me to dive into the many faces of Aspen's diverse cultural experiences.

I joined the Aspen Citizen's Academy to give me a crash course in the ins and outs of Aspen City Gov't, further my knowledge and understanding of city programs and protocols and to hopefully jump start my future civic involvement.

Cindy Hirschfeld

Cindy Hirschfeld

Cindy Hirschfeld

Cindy Hirschfeld is the editor-in-chief of Aspen Sojourner, the award-winning magazine that covers everything local for both residents and visitors, as well as a freelance travel and ski writer.

As soon as she heard about the Citizens Academy, Cindy was interested in participating, both to satisfy her own curiosity about what goes on behind-the-scenes in local government and to better serve the magazine’s readers with that enhanced local knowledge.

Richard T. Lai

Rich Lai

Richard T. Lai

Born in Beijing and raised in a global context by foreign service parents, I first came to Aspen as a 22-year old in 1959-60 to work in architecture for Sam Caudill, but leaving after five years to teach at UT-Austin and Arizona State, only to return at every opportunity with my family to ski, hike, and fish. I earned two degrees in architecture at Princeton as well as a doctorate in city and regional planning from Penn.

I appreciate the prospect offered by the Citizens Academy to re-immerse myself as a retiree into the Aspen community. This community allowed me in my early twenties to chair the committee on the Aspen experimental mall (modeled after my master’s thesis displayed at the Jerome and then proposed at an Institute conference on the Future of Aspen) and later to serve on the planning and zoning commission (while still an applicant for U.S. immigration status).

Ali Marshall

Ali Marshall

Ali Marshall

Ali Marshall was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. In 1996, she came to Aspen for one season and has never left. Ali is the Executive Assistant with a local CPA firm and a mom to two children.

Originally, Ali applied to Citizens Academy to learn about where we live and how to change things we don’t like. Her experience has turned out to be so much more. She has found that the information shared each session is filled with knowledge and facts about this amazing place we call home.

Skippy Mesirow

Skippy Mesirow

Skippy Mesirow

I am a community builder who wakes up each day and asks how I can make our community fuller and more connected. I have worked for our President, started companies, run non-profits, and volunteered my time towards that goal.

As Chair of Aspen NextGen and Co-Chair of P&Z I felt it was my responsibility to know as much about our system and process as I could and to set an example for other public servants to do the same.

Christina Speck

Christina Speck

Christina Speck

Christina Speck is a recently returned Aspen native who has worked in non-profits, corporate and as a civil servant. She came home to Aspen to reunite with family after studying, working and traveling in the US and overseas.

Christina joined the Citizens Academy to gain a better understanding of current issues facing Aspen today and how the City of Aspen government works, it's top priorities, concerns and challenges.

Julie Thorne Engels

Julie Thorne Engels

Julie Thorne Engels

Julie Thorne Engels is a lifelong visionary, strategist and entrepreneur with a passion for employing creativity to drive business and social change.

Recently, Julie and her family took the leap of faith, moved to Colorado and have landed in the deep embrace of the Aspen community. Her curious nature led her to Create Aspen Mentorship Program, where she serves as the Executive Director, helping unite intergenerational citizens through mentorship, collaboration and resources.

The Aspen Citizens Academy was a natural extension to learn what makes her new hometown tick. Julie is honored to find herself in a community that actively cultivates prosperity.