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Jackie Brown, Laura Schmidt tracking similar nonprofit career paths in Routt County

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— Two important members of the Routt County nonprofit sector are transitioning into new jobs this fall without having to leave the community.

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Paula Jo Jaconetta/courtesy

Jackie Brown

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Laura Schmidt

Laura Schmidt, the former executive director of the Routt County Council on Aging, is the new executive director of LIFT-UP of Routt County, which seeks to meet the needs of people confronted with unemployment and poverty through its food banks and community thrift store.

Replacing Schmidt at the Council on Aging early in November is Jackie Brown, who has worked on development and special events for the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley. Ironically, Schmidt worked at the Healthcare Foundation prior to Brown’s arrival.

“I was a little worried about leaving the Council on Aging, but I’ll see some of the seniors over here (at LIFT-UP), and I can still go to lunch there,” Schmidt said. “I grew up poor, so I understand what it is like to decide between gas and groceries. LIFT-UP feels like home to me.”

In her role with the Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds on behalf of Yampa Valley Medical Center, Brown played a significant role in putting on two signature events, the annual Penguin Plunge and the Doc Willett Awards.

Although she has one more week of work at the Healthcare Foundation, Brown said, she has been busy getting to know staff and board members at the Council on Aging. She added that through the transition at the Healthcare Foundation, she has been able to take on roles that have prepared her for her new job.

“It’s such a great opportunity for me,” Brown said. “I’ve been able to have a hand on everything at the foundation and handled a lot of corporate development. It was a great stepping stone for me to step into this opportunity as an executive director."

Before coming to the Healthcare Foundation, Brown managed the in-house charity of the Phoenix Coyotes, of the National Hockey League, and fielded hundreds of grant requests.

She said that in her interview for the job with the Council on Aging, she told its board members she is optimistic that her experience with the Coyotes has prepared her to search out new fundraising opportunities for the Council on Aging. Schmidt said that prospect was pleasing to her, as well.

In addition to serving senior citizens from across the county at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, the Council on Aging operates the Meals on Wheels program. Delivering meals to seniors living in their homes provides a valuable opportunity to check on their overall well-being, Brown said.

Schmidt said she attended a meeting Thursday with other leaders and staff members of community nonprofits collaborating on the relatively new Bridges Out of Poverty program. It is intended to give families the skills needed to extricate themselves from their predicaments.

“That’s what I’m most excited about,” Schmidt said. “To really help folks get out of poverty.”

LIFT-UP’s website reports that it served 2,512 individuals and 1,386 households in 2012. The total amount of emergency assistance funding through LIFT-UP last year was about $169,077, and that number grows to $387,000 when in-kind food and clothing assistance are taken into account.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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