Sonja Macys is the new executive director of Yampatika, a nonprofit organization in Steamboat Springs devoted to inspiring environmental stewardship through education.

Photo by Tom Ross

Sonja Macys is the new executive director of Yampatika, a nonprofit organization in Steamboat Springs devoted to inspiring environmental stewardship through education.

Macys takes helm of Yampatika

Steamboat resident brings experience to executive director role

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— Sonja Macys brings depth of experience to her new role as executive director of Yampatika, the Steamboat Springs-based environmental education organization.

Macys recently was named as the replacement for Jenn Wright, who served as executive director since January 2007.

"We greatly appreciate the good work of Jenn Wright and wish her the best with her new family," said Julie Dalke, a member of Yampatika's board of directors. "Jenn's commitment and vision has brought Yampatika great success, stability and energy."

Dalke and other Yampatika officials expect Macys to pick up where Wright left off.

Macys spent six years as the executive director of the Tucson Audubon Society before coming to Steamboat in 2006. She oversaw a $1.2 million budget in Tucson while working with a board of 15 people and a staff of 22.

She came to Steamboat intent on taking a break from her professional career while indulging her passion for horseback riding.

"I was really taking a year off to ride and train horses," she said.

However, she couldn't resist getting involved with Yampatika and Historic Routt County, leading historic downtown walking tours and giving presentations about Carl Howelsen's impact on the community.

Wright came to Yampatika with degrees in environmental science and environmental law. She had a track record in public lands policy and was previously an educator and naturalist at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. When Wright decided to go in a new direction, Macys said she was ready to get back in the game.

"Yampatika is a wonderful organization, and there's so much going on," Macys said. "Jenn leaves a legacy of accomplishing a lot in a short time."

Macys said she intends to continue the work Wright began of building the organization's membership base and asking those members for support beyond their dues. Among the keys to building the organization into the future is gaining the financial stability to attract and retain a great staff, she said. Macys also would like to tackle the difficult task of tracking the effect Yampatika's education programs have on children and young adults.

"Our mission is inspiring environmental stewardship, but how do you measure that?" she asked.

After earning her undergraduate degree in anthropology and environmental studies, Macys moved to Mexico's Yucatan region to work as the environmental education director for the Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan. Her role included establishing school programs about the natural history of marine turtles.

She went back to school after about five years and earned a master's degree in parks and protected area management.

The public is invited to meet Macys on June 4 at a fundraiser featuring gourmet foods of Northwest Colorado.

For more information, visit www.yampatika.org or call 871-9151.

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