Board of Directors
The Challenge Mountain Board of Directors is made up of a group of dedicated and actively engaged leaders from our local communities with diverse backgrounds and skill sets that contribute to the overall success of Challenge Mountain. Board members volunteer their time and support recognizing that planning for the future of Challenge Mountain is an ongoing commitment to ensure continued success in fulfilling our mission. The Board of Directors is instrumental in evaluating the organization’s effectiveness and working with staff to implement strategies that contribute to long-term sustainability.
Bill Aten | President Retired Boyne Falls School Principal
Bill has always been an active participant in various outdoor recreational activities, and understands the value that that participation has contributed to his life. He became interested in volunteering at Challenge Mountain because he believes everyone should have the opportunity to feel the joy and rewards that participation in recreational activities can provide. His participation at Challenge Mountain has also provided him with a great deal of personal gratification and sense of fulfillment. As an educator, he has always loved the joy that comes from seeing others feel success when they achieve new goals.
Hugh Conklin — Vice President City Commissioner, Boyne City
Hugh was introduced to Challenge Mountain’s work through the Challenge Mountain Resale Store. Learning about The Store led him to discover the mission of Challenge Mountain and the great group of dedicated volunteers involved in making it so successful. Hugh has seen Challenge Mountain make a big difference in the lives of many, many people. As a volunteer and Board member, he feels fortunate to be involved in working with great people who show such commitment to the cause and experience the joy of seeing people living with disabilities enjoy the exhilaration of outdoor recreation in ways their families never imagined were possible.
Lisa Spang | Treasurer Vice President, Charlevoix State Bank
For many years Lisa Spang had driven by the Challenge Mountain Lodge and wondered what was happening at the former Walloon Hills Ski Area. She had heard people talk about adaptive winter programs offered at the Lodge, but didn’t know much more. Lisa grew up with a younger sister with special needs, so when she heard about a vacancy on the Challenge Mountain Board, she was interested in learning more. It turned out to be a perfect match – Lisa was looking for an opportunity to serve her community and Challenge Mountain needed a board member with accounting and finance experience.
Mary Towne | Secretary Settlement Specialist, Title Resource Agency & Parent of Participant
Mary chose to be a board member because she wanted to make a difference in the lives of people living with disabilities. Being a parent of a special needs child Mary feels it is a perfect fit.
George Armstrong | Director Special Education Teacher Petoskey High School
George has been involved with Challenge Mountain and its mission since it was brought to his attention by the Coalition of Advocates for the Impaired in 1983. He was introduced to the founder of Challenge Mountain, Darla Evans, and was encouraged to start SPIRIT Day Camp, a summer program that brings individuals with and without disabilities together in a summertime extravaganza of leisure activities. Since then, he has been involved with Challenge Mountain in a variety of ways spanning over three decades and is honored to be on the board.
George believes that Challenge Mountain is all about the people; a majority of the significant relationships in his life have been forged from his involvement in causes that help make the world barrier free for all. George has chosen to volunteer his time with Challenge Mountain because he believes in and is inspired by the many participants.
Ralph Dubey | Director Home School Parent/Retired Managing Partner, Wolverine Homes
Ralph Dubey is a lifelong skier and has been volunteering in winter programs at Challenge Mountain since 2014. Ralph’s wife, Amy, and their two sons, Joel and Caleb, also volunteer. Ralph brings an impressive and varied background to the Challenge Mountain Board of Directors including sales, logistics and a 12-year partnership with his brother managing Wolverine Homes, Inc. “We focused on custom construction primarily for lakefront second homes, while offering retail construction materials and land development.” Now partially retired, Ralph manages some real estate, home-schools his two sons, and advises Amy on her therapy clinic. As a member of the Board, Ralph is looking forward to sharing his connections and construction management skills on future Challenge Mountain projects.
Olivia Francis | Director Occupational Therapist, Villa at the Bay & 2017 Challenge Mountain Doctorate Resident
Olivia Francis started her relationship with Challenge Mountain during the winter of 2017 where, through a 16-week residency, “I fell in love with the organization,” she explains enthusiastically. “I love everything Challenge Mountain stands for, and I think it is such a great contribution to the community.” After graduating in May with a doctorate degree in occupational therapy, Olivia works Villa at the Bay in Petoskey, Michigan. Though her new full-time career doesn’t allow for as much volunteering as she would have liked, Olivia looks forward to serving on the Board of Directors “to contribute and continue helping such an amazing organization.”
Collin Jenks | Director Business Owner/Retired Snowboard Instructor
From 2001 to 2013, Collin Jenks was involved with Steamboat Resort and Steamboat Winter Sports Club in Colorado. While at the resort for the first two years, Collins was a snowboard instructor including instruction during the annual special needs week. “This was one of my favorite times of the year, because the kids were so eager to come out and have fun on the mountain,” he explains. His work provided him the opportunity “to bring smiles to faces and watch kids achieve their goals,” he adds. “I am interested in helping Challenge Mountain achieve the same goal — bringing smiles to faces and creating experiences that will last a lifetime.”
Laurie Kelts | Director Mortgage Lender, Chemical Bank
As a past board member at both the Boyne City Little League and the 4-H Swim School, Laurie Kelts brings an understanding of the need for recreational opportunities for all community members. “I was looking for a non-profit in the Boyne City area to be involved and share my experience,” explains Laurie. Laurie recognizes the passion that volunteers and staff have for the clients and she looks forward to the challenge and the rewarding experiences of serving on the Board.
Danielle Poindexter | Director Former Teen Director, Jordan Valley District Library
Danielle is a native of East Jordan and mother to nine adult children/step-children and grandmother to three grandchildren. As a mother and volunteer in her community, Danielle has always had a passion for children, especially adolescents. She has been active with many organizations including 4-H, the East Jordan Co-op nursery, serving as High School Youth Director at her church and the Teen Program Director at the Jordan Valley District Library for five years. In addition to her leadership position as a Director on the Challenge Mountain Board, Danielle plans to volunteer in recreational programs throughout the year.
Anneke Rader | Director Challenge Mountain Participant
Anneke was drawn to Challenge Mountain because it gave her a chance, as a person with a disability to do things she didn’t think she would be able to do. She has chosen to volunteer her time at Challenge Mountain because it is a worthwhile cause that provides great opportunities to many people.
Jen Shock | Director Art Dept. Production Manager, Harbor House Publishers
Jen Shock is passionate about human-powered adventure; especially hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, camping, and kayaking. Her interest in lending a hand at Challenge Mountain stems from the idea that everyone should have access and opportunity to get outdoors. Although Jen is inclined to be outside as much as possible, she gladly spends her days managing production in the art department at Harbor House Publishers. She lives in Boyne City with her wife, Christie, and dog, Ruby.
Elizabeth Gertz Looze | Executive Director
Elizabeth brings 20+ years of non-profit service experience and a lifelong passion for skiing and the outdoors to her position as Executive Director of Challenge Mountain. She graduated in 1991 from Michigan State University with a BA degree in Political Science and recently earned a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Elizabeth is committed to the organization’s long-term sustainability, ensuring Challenge Mountain will continue to connect people with opportunities that change lives.
Linda Winn-Armstrong | Program Director
Being the Program Director for Challenge Mountain is a dream come true for Linda. She started working with individuals living with disabilities in 1982 while attending Central Michigan University, where she received a BA degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Linda finds it very rewarding working with all types of individuals in helping them achieve their goals.
Dickie Katz | Facilities Manager
Dick has been working and volunteering at Challenge Mountain for over 15 years. He started as a volunteer at the Lodge on Saturdays in the winter driving snowmobiles and fixing equipment. During his time at Challenge Mountain he has met some outstanding human beings and on his off time he volunteers at The Nightmare, Boyne Thunder and other Challenge Mountain events.
Staci Payton | Resale Store Manager
As a lifelong member of the Boyne City Community, Staci has shopped and donated goods to Challenge Mountain knowing of the positive impact that her donations would have on individuals in surrounding communities. In 2015, she was overjoyed to be given the opportunity to join the Challenge Mountain team and a short time later became the manager of the Challenge Mountain Store. In her role, she strives to ensure that every customer is met with a smile when they walk through the doors of the Resale Store and are given an exceptional shopping experience.
Alaina Farrington | Boyne City Resale Store Assistant Manager
As Assistant Store Manager of the Challenge Mountain Resale Store, Alaina loves the circle of community involvement that Challenge Mountain Resale Store offers. From servicing as a donation center for the community, to supplying merchandise at an affordable price to customers, Alaina believes in the role that the Resale Store plays in making a difference in our communities and in the lives of individuals living with disabilities. She loves working with all of the volunteers in the store and appreciates the hard work and time they give so generously.
Erica Tosch | Payroll & Accounting Administrator
Erica Tosch has worked as the part-time bookkeeper for Challenge Mountain since 2016. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, she loves being part of an organization that opens those doors for everyone. She believes that everyone, with or without disabilities, should be able to enjoy all that northern Michigan has to offer. Erica also feels lucky to come to work and be a part of the wonderful community of volunteers and staff.