Mancos Valley Dragonfly Preschool
Mancos Valley Dragonfly Preschool




The Mancos Valley Dragonfly Preschool is an aspiring non-profit. We are currently working on getting our own 501(c)3 non-profit status, but because the school is so new, our charitable status is not yet recognized by the IRS. In the meantime, we are under the fiscal sponsorship of Mancos Valley Resources, and they are our non-profit face. We conduct school business and affairs as a non-profit, and the preschool is registered with the State of Colorado as a non-profit entity.

Our Board of Directors

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Emily Palmer- President

Emily was born and raised in Mancos. She grew up adventuring in mountains, rivers, desert, and snow. She went on to get a degree in Southwest Studies and Botany from Colorado College. Emily spent most summers leading teenagers on wilderness expeditions through local Deer Hill Expeditions. These summers taught her the value of nature in children’s lives, and the power of education. Eventually she went on to school for Massage Therapy in Denver, and does massage at the Beehive in Mancos. Most recently, motherhood has become Emily’s passion and life’s work, mothering 3 year old Hazel and 9 month old baby Olivia. She loves to be in the mountains, raft down rivers, go on dates with her husband John, and show her girls the wonders of the natural world.


E. Kathleen McGinnis Rittenhouse- SEcretary

Kathleen is a Colorado native. She has spent much of her life traveling both abroad and across the wide reaches of Colorado,camping in and exploring the mountains and wilderness. Raised in Colorado Springs, Kathleen attended Colorado College where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and met her husband, Kaleb.  After working briefly as a licensed Colorado real estate broker, she packed a few essentials and set off with Kaleb to work and live on a California goat farm.   They eventually made their way back to Colorado where Kathleen attended Culinary School and worked at a software company in Denver before settling in Durango. She has lived throughout the Four Corners region, working as a professional photographer, butcher, ranch caretaker, and gardener in McElmo Canyon, Mancos, and now Hesperus. In the past few years, she has experienced the indescribable joy of giving birth to her daughters, Atias Bear and Soleia Cree. With the help of her family, Kathleen is in the process of creating a sustainable B-and-B/Artist Retreat on her land in Hesperus.  While cultivating her passion for family and art, most days are spent enjoying Life’s chaos and serenity with her offspring. Throughout her many adventures, Kathleen has learned the value and productivity of play, and she is thrilled at the prospect of helping build a resource for today’s youth to grow and play together. 

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Oliver Scott-Tomlin- treasurer

Oliver hails from South Africa and spent much of his life in the UK, but now makes his home with his wife and son in Southwest Colorado. After graduating with a degree in psychology, he worked with the broadest possible range of individuals, from those with the greatest potential to those most damaged by life. He strives to empower individuals to take responsibility for their thoughts, actions and creations in life, with particular reference to balanced practices that lead to health, happiness and creativity. This passion lead to his dedication to creating a preschool for his son and local children that will be an integrated, nature based experience offering energetic and practical tools to move beyond the all too prevalent ‘victim complex’ and become empowered co-creators in life.


Beverly Capelin

Beverly grew up in the suburbs of Boston climbing trees and being a general tomboy. The excellent school system and progressive colonial communities influenced her drive to become a teacher. To end her more predictable life in New England she headed west to attend college. In Denver she worked at the British Infant School, Head Start and interned in the new Cherry Creek School system. Friends lured her to the Southwest where she completed her degree in Elementary Ed. and Early Childhood Education at Fort Lewis College. She taught 3rd grade in Silverton and Dolores where she met Douglas. In 1984 they combined passions for a mission based life that centered on nature, service and young people by founding Deer Hill Expeditions and the Deer Hill Foundation. Beverly loves to oil paint, hike, garden, read and be with friends and family. Her two granddaughters, Hazel and Olivia, are core to her participating in the creation of the Mancos Valley Dragonfly Preschool.

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Nicole Carey- Vice president

Nicole Carey has lived, loved and recreated in Southwest Colorado for over twenty years. A graduate from Fort Lewis College, she has degrees in Spanish and Sociology. Nicole spent years advocating for immigrants and was a member of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition from 2011-2014. During her professional career, she has held positions as a teacher, youth advisor, office manager, and executive director. She brings her grant writing skills to the table along with the shared vision and desire to create a nature based preschool for the families of our community. An artist, musician, home maker, and now a mother, she enjoys her life in Mancos with her husband and daughter.

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Lily Russo- Board Artist

Lily is an independent artistyoga teacher, traveler, singer, and whole foods chef. She was raised in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated with a degree in International Studies from the University of Illinois. She is passionate about contributing to the shift in consciousness that is bringing society to an awakened state to make the most honorable and healthy choices.  She facilitates various practices in presence that empower individuals with the many tools available in order to live up to their highest potential and purpose on this planet.  Her yoga and meditation classes are grounded in focused intention and fuse graceful, physical movement with deeply concentrated breathwork. Her creative nature inspires her to work in a wide range of mediums, including glass, paint, textiles, clay, digital art and website design. She spends most of her time raising her delightful and energetic son Leo, for whom she is dedicated to the success of this preschool.


Elicia Whittlesey

Elicia is currently the Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager for the Old Fort at Hesperus where she mentors beginning farmers and builds markets for local produce. She holds a MA in Geography from the University of Minnesota and a BA in Environmental Analysis from Pomona College. She was homeschooled with the Waldorf method through 6th grade, and her passion for holistic education as an adult led her in and out of academia, and into sustainable vegetable farming and Zen Buddhist practice. Originally from California, Elicia and her husband Danny moved to southwest Colorado in 2015 and welcomed their baby daughter Sasha in October 2018.