"He will ask questions (while reading together), and one of my favorites is: Mommy, imagine if… "


Raising A Reader Aspen To Parachute

P.O. Box 2533

Glenwood Springs, CO 81602


Physical Address: 817 Colorado Avenue #205, Glenwood Springs, Colorado 81601



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Our mission is to foster early literacy bonds between children and their parents to ensure that all young children from Aspen to Parachute develop a love of books and the skills to become successful readers.


Cindy is excited to work with the RAR Team and partner with our valley’s families, schools, and libraries to promote early childhood language development and parent and child bonding through the shared adventure of reading aloud and exploring the wonderful world of books. Cindy has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has worked with local non-profit organizations for 15+ years, most recently with a program that prepares and empowers first-generation college students for the social, emotional, and academic landscape of college. Although her boys are mostly grown, Cindy still visits the Hundred Acre Wood and gathers acorns of wisdom from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.

Mary Margaret Hesse – Director of Programs & Strategies P: 970-230-9117 E: marymargaret@rar4kids.org

Mary Margaret is the Raising A Reader Program Coordinator for Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Her professional background is in foreign affairs; she served as a U.S. diplomat overseas and in Washington DC with the State Department and as a civilian with the Defense Department before returning to her native Colorado. She loves to read and is a huge fan of America’s wonderful public libraries. Some of her favorite children’s books include Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. Mary Margaret has a master’s degree in international security from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and English with a mathematics minor from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

Mandy Murray - Operations and Marketing Manager P: 970-230-9117 E: mandy@rar4kids.org

Mandy is taking a break from her real estate career to help us with bookkeeping, public relations and office operations (and to focus on raising two young boys who are great ambassadors for the Raising A Reader program). Her past experience includes four years with Lehman Brothers in New York and eight years as a licensed realtor with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse in Glenwood Springs. She is a Cum Laude graduate of Wake Forest University with a degree in Business Administration. She was born in Glenwood Springs and is thrilled to be raising her family here.  They take advantage of the skiing, hiking, camping, and the wonderful community events that are available to us here.   Mandy and her boys love to read and some of their current favorites are:  Inspector Croc Investigates by Sam Lloyd; Cars, Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry; and The Chronicles of Narnia  by C.S. Lewis.


Iliana Renteria - Full Time Program Coordinator P: 970-230-9117 E: iliana@rar4kids.org

Iliana recently moved to Colorado from Mexico where she coordinated the Master’s Degree in Health Economics program for the National Institute of Public Health. She has years of medical training and recently finished her Psychology studies in Mexico. She also has worked with children as an English teacher, and has a passion for books, science and early childhood education. Her favorite authors include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Iliana is excited to live here in Colorado with her husband and their two children. She is fluent in English and Spanish.


Rosa Vargas - Program Coordinator P: 970-230-9117 E: rosa@rar4kids.org

Rosa is originally from Mexico but has lived in Colorado for many years.  She studied at the Instituto Tecnologico in Mexico and learned English at Colorado Mountain College and with the help of volunteer Bill Climble, who along with his wife Ivy have been like family to Rosa and her children ever since .  She is very active in the community and in her children’s  schools. She also is the secretary for a family concrete business. Rosa radiates love of humanity and children in particular – a perfect fit for her work guiding RAR programs in several classrooms and facilitating weekly Bolsitas Rojas (Little Red Book Bags) outreach sessions.  Her favorite book to read to her children was The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Rosa loves spending time with her husband and three daughters. She enjoys dancing, cooking and spending time in nature.  She is fluent in English and Spanish.


Liz Russo- Program Coordinator P: 970-230-9117 E: liz@rar4kids.org

Elizabeth Russo is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico and has been living in the USA for 18 years.  She worked as a preschool teacher for the Head Start program in Carbondale and Rifle for seven years, then moved on to work with the  Preschool On Wheels program (Gus the Bus) for another seven years. Prior to that she was a licensed child care provider in the State of Colorado for two years. Liz attended Colorado Mountain College to learn English and also earned her Child Development Associate Credential. Liz loves working with children and their families. She enjoys teaching children to read and developing her knowledge about child development and social-emotional development.  Her hobbies include cooking and spending time with her family.

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• Board President
• Occupation: Senior Project Manager,
Roaring Fork School District

• Board Vice President
• Occupation: Pediatrician, Grand River Health, Rifle, CO 

• Board
• Occupation: CPA and Partner, Reese
Henry Associates, Aspen, CO

• Board Secretary
• Occupation: Attorney, Garfield and Hecht,
Aspen, CO

• Board Member
• Occupation: Executive Director, Garfield County Public Libraries


• Board Member
• Occupation: Clinic Director, Roaring Fork Family Practice, Carbondale, CO

• Board Member
• Occupation: Director of Education, Two Rivers Community School, Glenwood Springs, CO 


Organization founded in Aspen by Jayne Poss when she learns that 50% of children in many local schools enter kindergarten without adequate oral language skills. Programs reaches 391 children.



Rick Blauvelt becomes Executive Director.


Red bags reach 1,800 families

Neighborhood outreach (Bolsitas Rojas) sessions begin in five communities.



RAR launches new series of mid-year parent presentations and discussion groups.

​At the request of several local schools, RAR begins programs for kindergarten classrooms


Cumulative attendance at parent sessions reaches 1,200 (48 sessions)


Cindy Blachly becomes Executive Director.



De Beque ~ Parachute ~ Rifle~ Silt ~ New Castle ~Glenwood Springs ~ Carbondale ~ Basalt~ Snowmass~ Aspen


Community funding partners

Alpenglow Foundation

Alpine Bank

American National Bank

Anschutz Family Foundation

Aspen Community   Foundation

Aspen Elks Lodge #224

Aspen Rotary Club

Aspen Skiing Company        

Bank of Colorado

Bill and Sheila Lambert

Buell Foundation

Caroline Norquist

Casey Concrete Company

Castaways Foundation


City of Aspen

City of Glenwood Springs

Debbie Fields Rose

Tom and Lucy Danis

Eagle County

El Pomar Foundation

Emmanuel Lutheran Church

Ernie and Lacy Fyrwald

Frank Taverna

Fred and Elli Iselin   Foundation

Friedman Family Foundation

Garfield County BOCC

George Shaver

Grand Valley Kiwanis

Holy Cross Energy

J. Robert Young   Foundation

Jared Polis Foundation

Jayne and Bill Poss

Kelly and Emily Boggs

Kids First- Aspen

Laura and Michael Kaplan

Mandy and John Murray

Melony and Adam Lewis

Miguel and Jacklyn Bezos

Mt. Callahan Community   Fund

Peter and Mary Ellen Rogers

Pettit Foundation

Pitkin County

Reese Henry & Company

Rifle Community     Foundation

Robert and Marci Musser

Robin Van Norman and Jim   Vickroy

Rotary Club of Glenwood   Springs

Rotary Club of Rifle

Sam and Terri Potter

Schlumberger Scherer   Construction

SGM Inc. 

Terra Energy Partners

The Gallegos Corporation

The Spidell Foundation

The Thrift Shop of Aspen

Town of Basalt

Town of Snowmass Village

Umbrella Roofing


Wells Fargo Foundation

William H Baker   Construction Inc.

Frank and Tamara Woods