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.

Iliana Renteria - Associate Director P: 970-230-9117 E: iliana@rar4kids.org

Iliana moved to Colorado from Mexico, where she worked for the National Institute of Public Health as the academic support for the Masters in Economic Health Sciences. She has years of medical training and 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. A strong believer in the power of books and early literacy, she hopes to inspire families to read together and positively impact many children's lives in our valley. 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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Clinic Director,

Roaring Fork Family Practice

Carbondale, CO



Grand River Health

Rifle, CO

Vice President
Head of School, 

Two Rivers Community School

Glenwood Springs, CO 


CPA and CFO,

Mountain Valley Developmental Services

Glenwood Springs, CO

English & Math H.S. Teacher, Retired

Community Volunteer

Glernwood Springs, CO


Event Planner

Hype House, LLC

Community Volunteer

Glernwood 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.



Parachute ~ Rifle~ Silt ~ New Castle ~Glenwood Springs ~

Carbondale ~ Basalt~ Snowmass~ Aspen


2018-19 Community funding partners




 $10,000 - $19,999

Aspen Community Foundation

Buell Foundation


Kids First

Pettit Foundation

Pitkin County


$5,000 - $9,999


Anschutz Family Foundation

Garfield County BOCC

Melony and Adam Lewis

United Way of Eagle River Valley

$2,500 - $4,999

Alpenglow Foundation

Alpine Bank

Aspen Thrift Shop

Bessie Minor Swift Foundation

City of Aspen

Fred and Elli Iselin Foundation

J. Robert Young Foundation

Laura and Michael Kaplan

Bill and Sheila Lambert

Rifle Community Foundation

Rotary Club of Glenwood Springs

Frank and Tamara Woods

$1,000 - $2,499

Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund

Kelly and Emily Boggs

Castaways Foundation

City of Glenwood Springs

LuLu Colby

Gallegos Corporation

Holy Cross Energy Round-up Foundation

Town of Basalt

Umbrella Roofing

Robin Van Norman and Jim Vickroy

Wells Fargo Foundation

$500 - $999

Susan Dampier

Ernie and Lacy Fyrwald

Grand Valley Kiwanis Foundation

Mt. Callahan Community Fund

Mandy and John Murray

$500 - $999

Robert and Marci Musser

Jayne and Bill Poss

Terri and Sam Potter

Rifle Chamber of Commerce


Terra Energy Partners

Town of Carbondale

Walmart - Glenwood Springs


$100 - $499

Daniel Adams

Aspen Reprographics

Bridget and Rick Balentine

Rick Blauvelt and Candace Goodwin

Richard Blauvelt

Carl J. Ciani Insurance Agency


Deborah Dawson & Dean Gordon

Katelyn Derderian

Paula Derevensky

Dave & Ann Nicholson

Greg and Kathy Feinsinger

Deborah and Scott Fifer

Tish Filiss

Donna Fisher and Skip Behrhorst

Amy French

K T Gazunis

Harriman Construction

Andy and Jody Hecht

Peter Helburn

Judith Huston

Vicki and Sam Johnson


Glen and Tracy Larner

Nancy and Barton Levin

William Lightstone

Dr. Anna Lorenson

Katie and Ryan Mackley

Brendan Matthias

Lynda Palevsky

Marci and Robert Pattillo

Courtney and Dan Petre

Peter and Mary Ellen Rogers

Dr. Katha Rossein and Dr. Ron Razzore

Rebecca Ruland and Terry Shanahan

Linda and Jay Sandrich

Marina Sharpe

Amelia Shelley

Lorraine Spector

$100 - $499

Jennifer Springer

Kim Stacey

Betsy Suerth

Pam Yarus and Theron Russell

Jennifer Zetah


Up to $99

20/20 Eyecare


William Anschuetz


Kim Brown

Georgia Chamberlain

Nicole Christianson

Lisa Dancing Light

Erika Delak

Terrie and Dennis Drake

Hilary Drummond

Ed and Vivian Elbert

Siobhan Farey

Nancy Frizell

Stacey and Rob Gavrell

Darrell and Judy Green

Ruth Harrison

Marianne Keating

Wewer Keohane

Kathleen Kime

Tate LaFountain

Pamela Lauman

Christine and Andrew Light

Marian McDonough

Sharon McLin

Theresa Miller

Julie Olson

Connie Orcutt

Carol Pasternak

Carrie Podl

Diane and Murray Reynolds

Eliza Robison

Tami Solondz

Bernard Sultan

Saundra Swanson

Blythe Tardie

Robin Tolan

Donna Ward

Michael and Dorothy Wells

Garland and Anne White

Susan and Vincent Yoder

Gary and Thelma Zabel