Board of Trustees

Officers

Matthew Niznik

El Paso County | Chair

A Colorado Springs native, Matt is an attorney with Sparks Willson Borges Brandt & Johnson. He received his undergraduate degrees and a law degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. Growing up in Colorado, Matt gained a true appreciation for and a desire to protect Colorado’s open spaces and biological diversity. He and his family enjoy hiking, backpacking and cycling throughout Colorado.

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John Geary

El Paso County | Vice-chair

John is a native of Colorado Springs, a graduate of the University of Alabama, and the owner and president of GLM Development Co., a land and timber business dedicated to environmentally sound management of natural resources. He is also the nephew of Stuart Dodge, one of the original founders of Palmer Land Conservancy. He divides his time between Colorado Springs and Athens, Ga., and he continues the family tradition of actively participating in land conservation in both locales. The state of Georgia recently honored John with the prestigious Georgia Tree Farmer of the Year award for his conservation of 4,000 acres of timberland.

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Vanda Dyson

Jefferson County | Treasurer

Vanda is a Business Strategy & Transitions Consultant for Eide Bailly LLP. She is a CPA and works with companies and nonprofit organizations as a CFO-for-hire and a financial consultant. Vanda is passionate about Colorado land conservation and is the treasurer for Keep it Colorado, the statewide coalition of land trusts. She is a native Coloradan with deep roots in both the skiing and ranching communities. Vanda lives in Golden with her husband and enjoys spending time hiking, biking, and skiing with her two active Labradors.

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Paula Chostner headshot

Paula Chostner 

Pueblo County | Secretary

Paula Chostner is a rural Nebraska native who still jointly owns her grandfather’s farm with her husband Jeff. She attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in French along with teaching credentials. She and Jeff met while both were attending law school at the University of Mississippi, and after their marriage, she accompanied him throughout his Air Force assignments around the United States and a 5-year stay in England. She earned teaching credentials in the states of Nebraska, Mississippi, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado and taught a variety of curricula from kindergarten through 12th grade in both public and private schools. Throughout her career she has also maintained involvement in the nonprofit sector, heading Officers’ Wives’ Clubs in Loring AFB Maine, Cannon AFB New Mexico, and Lakenheath AFB in England; a 2-county Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in New Mexico; Pueblo Symphony president; and a member of Parkview Medical Center Foundation, United Way, NeighborWorks of Pueblo, and the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce boards, among others. She served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and executive director for human resources in Pueblo City Schools/D60 for 15 years, retiring from the district in May of 2017. In June of that year, she was named the Director of Fund Development & Campaign for Pueblo County United Way. She and Jeff have 2 children, Kirsten and Michelle, and 6 grandchildren.

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Directors

Andrea Aragon

Pueblo County

Andrea is the Executive Director of the Robert Hoag Rawlings Foundation. Born in Rocky Ford, she has over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector through various leadership roles in Pueblo. Prior to joining the Foundation, Andrea was the President and CEO at United Way of Pueblo County for 17 years. She also served as the Executive Director of Latino Chamber of Commerce, and as Assistant Director of Development and Director of Alumni Relations at Colorado State University-Pueblo. She has received numerous awards for her community service and has served on several statewide and local boards and is currently a charter trustee of the El Pomar Foundation. Andrea and her husband Darrin Smith live in Pueblo and have two sons.

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Dawnellen Dotson

el paso county

As a Colorado native, Dawnellen has over two decades of international strategy consulting experience. She has worked with various organizations, including multiple Fortune 50 companies, the United Nations, governments, and NGOs. She also has a strong academic background, having taught strategy dynamics at The Wharton School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Babson College. 

Dawnellen has a deep appreciation for Colorado's water, land, and history and grew up in a family that believed in conservation. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the mountains and prairies of southern Colorado, gardening, and raising her daughter.

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General Ed Eberhart

El Paso County

General Ralph E. "Ed" Eberhart, USAF (Ret.) currently serves as the Chair of The Armed Forces Benefit Association (AFBA) and its related enterprise, 5Star Life Insurance Company.  A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, Ed Eberhart's active duty military career spanned 36 years with his last assignment as Commander, U.S. Northern Command, and Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. He is also a command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours.

Ed Eberhart has been praised for bringing together the five military branches of service, including the National Guard and Reserve forces, to ensure the security of our nation in the aftermath of the tragic September 11, 2001 attacks.

Ed Eberhart serves on the boards of several privately and publicly held companies, including TERMA, Jacobs, Triumph Group, and VSE, and non-profit organizations such as Segs4Vets and the American Air Museum in Britain (AAMB).  Additionally, he serves as the Chair of AAMB, VSE, and Triumph Group.

Ed Eberhart is the recipient of the Pacific Air Forces Able Aeronaut Award (1971); the Air Force Association General Jimmy Doolittle Award (1997); the National Football Foundation’s Tom Lombardo Leadership Award (2001); the General Thomas D. White United States Air Force Space Trophy (2001); the General James V. Hartinger Award (2002); the El Pomar Foundation Award for Excellence (2004); the General Bernard A. Schriever Award (2007); the Jim Otis “Hustle” Award (2008), the Kent Leadership Award (2008); the Air Force Order of the Sword, Air Force Space Command (2008); the United States Air Force Academy Distinguished Graduate Award (2011); the American College Soldier-Citizen Award (2015); and, the Segs4Vets Battle Flag Award (2018).  He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ed Eberhart and his wife Karen, reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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BJ Hybl

El Paso County

William “BJ” Hybl, Jr. brings a wealth of experience to the Palmer Land Conservancy board. A graduate of Colorado College and Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Undergraduate Space / Missile Training program, Mr. Hybl also received his Master of Business Administration from Regis University in Denver in International Business. He served in the United States Air Force from 1993-1997 and was an integral part of the United States Air Force Reserve, serving as their Space Operations Captain for nine years. Since his time in the Air Force, Mr. Hybl worked with The Garden City Company in Kansas, where he was involved in strategic planning for over 28,000 acres of agricultural land. Mr. Hybl is currently the President and COO of Griffis/Blessing, Inc. in Colorado Springs. 

In the past 20 years, Mr. Hybl has served on numerous boards throughout the area, including the United States Olympic Museum board, the Vail Valley Foundation, Pikes Peak Hospice Board of Trustees, and the Air Force Academy Foundation. He and his wife, Kristel, have two children and live in Colorado Springs.

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Jim Johnson

El paso county

The Johnson family has a long history with the land with homesteading roots dating back to 1929 in Teller County. They continue to own and operate a historic ranch on the south side of Pikes Peak, where they graze cattle, hunt, and hold cattle drive experiences through Jim’s outfitting company, Elk Glade Outfitters.  

A Colorado College graduate, Jim worked for his family’s company founded in 1900, Johnson Moving and Storage, until he retired and then shifted his focus on making the family ranch more self-sustaining. Jim lives in southwest Colorado Springs and has served on many boards, including Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, Mile High Council of Girl Scouts, and Porter Hospital. Jim is currently a member of the Pikes Peak Range Riders and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

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Mike Jorgensen

el paso county

A Colorado Springs native, Mike Jorgensen is President and Partner of the Red Noland Auto Group. A graduate of Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, Mike earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Brigham Young University. Prior to joining the Red Noland Auto Group in 1992, he worked in public accounting as a CPA in Colorado Springs.

Mike is very engaged in the community and currently serves as president of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation board. He has also served as board chair for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC, Military Affairs Council of the Chamber EDC, and the Colorado Springs Conservatory. He has also served on the boards of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Pikes Peak United Way, and Goodwill Industries.

In 2014, the Pikes Peak Range Riders awarded Mike the Silver Spur award for service and contributions to the community. He was also recognized as a Good Neighbor by Ft. Carson in 2018. Mike and his wife Maureen have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Alex Lasater 

Elbert County

Upon graduation from Trinity University in San Antonio Texas, Alex co-founded a wholesale distribution company in Monterrey, Mexico. The company was sold in 2002, and Alex shifted to the oil and gas sector in Mexico, working for various operators and service companies. In 2011, Alex returned to manage the family ranch in Matheson, Colorado, home of the Foundation herd of the Beefmaster Breed. In 2015, Alex took control of all ranch and land operations, as well as becoming the sole proprietor of the Foundation herd, which is the oldest closed herd of cattle in existence. He continues to ranch in Matheson, Colorado, and in northern New Mexico. Alex continues his family’s legacy of excellence in breeding genetics and meeting the needs of the commercial cattleman. Alex is a member of the Pikes Peak Cattleman’s Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He also serves as a member of the board of the Beefmaster Education Endowment Foundation.

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Michael League

El Paso County

Michael League is Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of 5Star Bank with three locations in Colorado Springs and one in Greenwood Village. The Bank has future plans to serve Pueblo and Trinidad. 5Star is focused on serving the needs of the communities it reaches. Mr. League received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Kansas and a Master of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary. He is Vice-Chairman of the Association of Military Banks of America and a board member of the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center.

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Catherine Steele

El Paso County

In 2019, Catherine retired as the Senior Vice President, National Systems Group at The Aerospace Corporation in Chantilly, VA, where she managed Aerospace resources supporting the national security space and intelligence community in the acquisition, launch, and orbital operation of advanced technology space systems and their communications and ground data stations. She led and was responsible for Aerospace efforts with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), National Geospatial Agency (NGA), and other intelligence agencies.

Prior positions include Vice President, Strategic Space Operations, at The Aerospace Corporation in Colorado Springs, CO where she managed a broad portfolio supporting Air Force and Dept. of Defense customers. She was the trusted advisor to three successive four-star generals at HQ Air Force Space Command and was also responsible for leading Aerospace key efforts at four regional locations.

After a dedicated 43-year career at the national level, she currently serves on several local community boards. Catherine received her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering/system science and Master of Science degree in engineering control systems from the University of California, Los Angeles. She received the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Director’s Team Award in 2001, the National Security Space Team award in 2004, and was honored with the 2013 Women in Aerospace Leadership Award. She also holds a Ham Radio technician-level license with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

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