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.
Karen Mann | President
Karen and her husband, Terry, are retired engineers who relocated to the area two years ago from Midland. Karen brings to the board of directors her considerable skills in corporate leadership, including strategizing, goal setting, and team building. And, she understands the importance of the Challenge Mountain mission, as she has friends who have struggled to find adaptive recreation for their disabled children. “I admire all that Challenge Mountain has been able to accomplish,” she says. “This is an exciting time to be on the Challenge Mountain Board of Directors, and I’m very happy to be part of it!”
Olivia Francis | Vice President Occupational Therapist, Villa at the Bay & 2017 Challenge Mountain Doctorate Resident
Olivia gained hands-on experience when she did her occupational therapy residency project with Challenge Mountain, and interned with the organization in 2017. She continued as a Challenge volunteer before joining the board of directors. The northern Michigan native grew up in the upper peninsula before moving to Petoskey in 2016. Her position as an occupational therapist gives her important hands-on experience and a deep knowledge of special needs individuals, which she uses to further Challenge mountain mission of helping those living with disabilities to achieve their potential. “Challenge Mountain holds a special place in my heart, and I am so lucky to be a part of this organization.”
Bill Aten | Secretary Retired Boyne Falls School Principal
Bill has long known the benefits of recreational activities, both for himself and for Challenge Mountain participants. And, as an educator, he has always been invested in helping others achieve new goals and find success. He became a Challenge Mountain volunteer because he believes in the opportunity to grow, to feel the joy, and to reap the rewards that recreational activities can provide. His previous role as volunteer and now as Challenge Mountain board member gives Bill a great deal of personal gratification and sense of fulfillment. Bill Aten is currently the Board of Directors’ secretary.
Ralph Dubey | Treasurer 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. “[I] loved it from the first day,” he says. 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., builders of custom homes. Ralph’s practical skills and business experience will be a great help as Challenge Mountain continues to grow. As a member of the board, Ralph is looking forward to sharing his connections and construction management skills on future Challenge Mountain projects.
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 four 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 37 years of special educational teaching and 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.
Caren Peltier | Director
Challenge Mountain welcomed Caren Peltier to the Board of Directors in January 2020. After 32 years in the corporate end of the automotive industry, and later as administrative support for a private entrepreneur, Peltier moved to Boyne City with her husband, Tom, in 2018. She brings a wealth of professional business experience to the board, where she uses her considerable organizational skills—and her passion as a volunteer— to help further its mission. “When I heard how Challenge Mountain came to be, starting with Darla Evans’ trip to Colorado with her daughter Chrissy, it is such a wonderful story of [paying] it forward, I was hooked.”
Carole Melvin | Director
Carole knows firsthand the profound importance of adaptive activities for those living with disabilities. Her first volunteer experience was with SPIRIT Day Camp in the mid-1990s and she enjoyed a long career in special education, during which her students benefitted from the Challenge Mountain programs. Carole watched her students benefit as Challenge Mountain grew to add new programs and expand its outreach, and she credits the staff and volunteers who worked over the years to make it all possible. “Challenge Mountain works wonders. I have seen so many kids genuinely feel joy while participating in the activities Challenge provides. I always said, ‘The sun always shines at Challenge.’ It’s a magical place.”
Skip Simms | Director
Skip and his wife have lived at Boyne Mountain for over twenty years, so they know the pleasures of the active life. It was while working on the Feasibility Committee regarding capital improvements and the growth of programs and services that Skip saw the impact of Challenge Mountain. The experience “opened my eyes to the opportunities and needs of the [participants.]” With extensive experience working on non-profit boards around the county, Skip has a broad knowledge of how best practices impact programs like Challenge Mountain, such as increasing efficiency to serve more participants. As a board member, he will be “a fresh set of eyes and ideas.” Moreover, Skip understands that, unlike other social programs, resources are limited for those living with disabilities. “Challenge Mountain is meeting an unmet need for many.”
Ann Marie Tracey | Director
Ann Marie Tracey was introduced to the Challenge Mountain experience through her step-mother, Joanne, who was a passionate volunteer. Tracey was “awed by the extent and depth” of the Challenge Mountain programming and was moved to become a volunteer. Tracey’s career in law and her previous volunteer experience in outreach and development will be useful to the Challenge Mountain board. Ann Marie knows the value of recreational activities in generating physical and mental well-being, and she is committed to helping expand the possibilities of those living with disabilities. Helping others reach their potential through Challenge Mountain programs “…seems the least I can do, as I have been so privileged in that regard.”
Dave Gracy | Director
Dave Gracy retired from a long career with special needs students in the Petoskey school system; after retirement, he accepted a friend’s invitation to attend an organizational meeting about winter programming for Challenge Mountain. At that moment, Dave Gracy found his new calling. He brings his educational management skills, coupled with his love of 4-seaason outdoor activities, to his position on the board of directors. Dave’s family has a history of volunteerism and civic duty, and he is drawn to like-minded individuals who give their time and energy to help others. He draws inspiration from the Challenge Mountain staff, and he values the personal satisfaction derived from working with participants and their families. e
Jenna McTevia | Director
Jenna first volunteered for an adaptive sports program when she was living near Mt. Hood, Oregon. She learned about Challenge Mountain from friend and fellow board member Olivia Francis, and she was very impressed by the caring and compassionate people she met. As a physical therapist, Jenna understands the importance of recreational activities for those living with disabilities. Additionally, while working at Henry Ford Hospital, she served on a research grant board, and also helped raise money for an annual Adopt-a-Family program. These experiences helped her develop innovative marketing strategies and fund-raising skills which she will bring to the board. “I’m so excited to get to know everyone more and work together to further accomplish the goals of this amazing organization.
Joseph Schodde | Director
Joseph A Schodde is a retired financial executive who has successfully worked with small and
large businesses to improve and streamline their processes, grow their businesses and enhance their financial performance. He has broad-based expertise in financial systems and analysis, performance-based compensation, and facilitating partnerships between community stakeholders and organizations. Much of his career was spent in the medical industry, including San Jose Medical Group, Stanford Health Care, and Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in California; and Northern Michigan Hospital and Charlevoix Area Hospital, before retiring, to Petoskey with his family.
Schodde grew up in Santa Rosa, California. He earned his economics degree from Duke University and his MBA from the University of Rochester, which was preceded by two years in the United States Army. Schodde also earned his CPA certification. Joe lives with wife Jill and their son Eric, who has benefitted significantly from the adaptive programming offered by Challenge Mountain. The Schodde’s feel blessed to have these opportunities for Eric, and the Challenge Mountain board will surely benefit from Joe Schodde’s vast store of experience.
Elizabeth Gertz | Executive Director
Elizabeth brings 30 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. She has 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.
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.
Pat Morrison | Sales Associate
After serving as a Challenge Mountain volunteer in the resale store through 2019, Pat Morrison accepted a Sales Associate position in January of 2020. As Pat increasingly dedicated more and more volunteer hours to the store, her role was a natural fit for this permanent staff role, where she continues to provide excellent customer service and dedication.
Terry Baker | Assistant to the Program Director
Terry was appointed as the new assistant to the Program Director at the lodge in January 2020. Terry started as a ski instructor in 1987. After attending a Challenge Mountain Family Day, Terry explains “I was amazed at what our daughter could do. Both my husband and I were hooked!”
Terry’s experience includes several years as a Special Olympics alpine ski coach, taking many participants to State Games. “My favorite part about adaptive skiing is watching participants and their families realize that they can ski. The confidence and self-esteem gained by learning they can do something as amazing as skiing is life changing. Knowing that you are a part of that is life changing for the volunteers and staff as well.”
Terry’s dedication to Challenge Mountain reaches beyond skiing. Terry was owner, producer and director of The Nightmare at Challenge Mountain, an annual event that was a great source of Halloween entertainment and funding for 16 years.