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Board Members

Erika Brown, Board Member, District A

Erika BrownErika Brown was appointed to the Board of Education on February 25th, 2020.  She got involved in education when her twins started elementary school, and volunteered in the classrooms, at the school, and joined the Needham School Accountability Committee (SAC). In 2019 she deepened her understanding of and engagement with the district through Leadership 9R. Erika is a passionate believer that empowering all students to become lifelong learners, reach their fullest potential, and give back to their communities and the world is the most critical work we can do.

 

Erika was the Communications Manager for San Juan Citizens Alliance, a regional environmental advocacy organization, and served as the co-chair of the Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado (SASCO) Board. She has a degree in B.A. in Biology from Brown University and a Master of Science and Technology with a focus on Environmental Policy and Communication from the University of Utah.

 

Erika moved to Durango in 2011 with her husband, Dr. Patrick McLaughlin and twins, Emery and Mason McLaughlin, who attend Needham Elementary. She enjoys hiking, biking, and running the trails, reading, yoga, gardening, traveling, camping, laughing, and spending time with her family.

Kristin Smith, Treasurer, District B

Kristin SmithKristin Smith was elected to the Board of Education on November 5, 2019.

Kristin’s passion for education began as her son, Asher, who has special needs, started school. She began to see the educational benefits for Asher when he was included and educated in his grade level classroom. She became an advocate for school inclusion of her son. She firmly believes that All students have strengths and that All students can succeed.

 

Kristin has been serving in Durango Schools for 7 years.  She has served as the Needham Elementary PTO President, Juniper Parent Action Committee Leader, Miller Middle School PTO Secretary and Vice President, and on the BOCES Special Education Advisory Committee.  She completed the first ever Leadership 9-R courses.  Kristin has also served in the schools as a volunteer advocate for students who have special needs. Kristin has been an active classroom volunteer and thoroughly enjoys working with Durango students, teachers, and parents.

 

Kristin is currently serving as the Board President of the Adaptive Sports Association. She is also a volunteer for the Red Door Youth Group. She loves serving the Durango Community!

 

Kristin has a BA in Communications from Whitworth University. She currently works in Home Health.  She is married to Beau Smith and has two children, Asher (15), and Eden (12). Kristin enjoys spending time with her family, skiing, paddle boarding, running, playing the ukulele, reading, and caring for her chickens and family pets.

Mick Souder, Vice-President, District C

Mick Souder served on the Durango 9-R School Board from 2013 to 2015, and was re-elected in November, 2017. Following his first board term, he was on the district's Finance Advisory Committee.

  

Mick is a Senior Consulting Technical Solution Manager for IBM, and has a diverse background in education having taught for 11 years, mainly on the Zuni Indian Reservation in Western New Mexico. At the end of his teaching career, he coordinated development of a pioneering online education program for The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota and helped Capella University get accredited. He also was a state-wide Internet Curriculum Specialist for K-12 school districts in Minnesota.

 

He has been an advocate of using communication technology to empower people to affect their societies for the past 30 years. This has included helping start not-for-profit Internet services (Minneapolis Telecommunications Network River Project), training (Access Minnesota Main Street e-commerce project), teaching elementary school students to produce community radio (Zuni Public Schools), community access television (camera operator, board member and President for Durango Community Access Television) and helping write a book on applying the principles of e-commerce to state and local government. Mick was involved with the global civic engagement organization, E-Democracy.org, since its inception in 1994 and served on its Board of Directors until 2015. He has also served on the Durango Nature Studies Board of Directors.

 

Mick holds a Master's degree in technical communication focused on computer-mediated communications. He is a successful grant writer and has managed costing, budget creation, and technology design on projects. He and his wife Linda Schwinghammer have lived in Durango since 1999. Both of his children, Lisa Schwinghammer and Gabrielle Souder, are graduates of the Durango 9-R School District. Linda was a 9-R teacher and is currently directing the testing center at San Juan College. Lisa is a teacher in the Denver Public Schools. The family talks about education a lot.

Andrea Parmenter, Secretary, District D

ParmenterAndrea Parmenter was appointed to the Board of Education on December 3, 2019.

Andrea Parmenter has been actively involved in 9-R schools for over a decade, since enrolling her children at Needham Elementary - where they were third generation attendees.  Andrea started by volunteering in her children’s classrooms which led to her to serving in officer roles for seven years on the Needham PTO. Andrea also served 7 years on the Needham Elementary School Accountability Committee (SAC), and is currently serving her 6th year on the Miller Middle School SAC. Andrea is currently in her 9th year on the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC), of which she was the Committee chair for 5 years. In addition to her other involvements with the district, she has worked in program and event participation, such as completing the Leadership 9-R program in its inaugural year. Twelve years of volunteering in these varied capacities within 9-R has allowed Andrea to gain a deep understanding of the operations in local schools, legislative impacts on the District, and the role of the Board of Education.

 

Andrea currently works as a consultant in Leadership Management and Economic Development and delivers custom training to small businesses throughout Colorado Region 9. She has an extensive background in research and program management, teaching at the college level, business development, and instructional design. Andrea’s excels at critical thinking and problem solving, prioritizing wants and needs, and her strong organizational skill set.

 

Andrea has a Bachelor of Science in Geology with minors in Chemistry, Environmental Science and Spanish and a Master of Science in Earth Science (with focus on physical Geology and Geography/Remote Sensing and GIS). She has two children, Elena (16) and Asher (13). She is an avid skier and mountain biker and feels fortunate to live in Durango with easy access to both the mountains and the desert. She enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, gardening and time spent with her pets and teenagers.

Shere ByrdShere Byrd, President, District E

 

Dr. Shere (Kuss) Byrd is a second generation Durangoan who spent her K-12 years in School District 9-R. She attended Western State College in Gunnison, CO on a cross-country ski scholarship, and after attending graduate school at the University of Oregon and doing postdoctoral research at Washington State University, she had the opportunity to come home to Durango as a faculty member in the Biology department at Fort Lewis College, where she has taught cell and molecular biology for 25 years.

  

While at Fort Lewis she has advocated for greater use of high impact pedagogies that focus on student-centered learning and problem solving in the classroom. She introduced undergraduate research with faculty mentors into the biology curriculum and it is now being used as a model across the entire campus. Dr. Byrd has hosted local teachers, and high school and community college students in her lab, enabling them to do hands-on research. She was recognized with the Alice Admire Teaching award in 2008 for her commitment to engaging students in her classrooms.

 

Dr. Byrd has also supported enhanced student learning opportunities by writing several successful multi-million dollar Department of Education grants. These grants provided increased opportunities for underrepresented students, such as new digital media equipment for students producing the Native American newsletter, and funding for Farm to Table interns at the Environmental Center. She is an active faculty partner of the Village Aid Project student organization, and has traveled to Ecuador and Myanmar with these students to help villages in these countries build water and sanitation projects. For her continued involvement she has received the Fort Lewis College Achievement Award and was recently named the Roger Peters Distinguished Professor.

 

Dr. Byrd and her husband John have one daughter, Mallory, who recently graduated from Durango High School, and has numerous nieces and nephews attending different 9-R schools. Shere is also on the Board of San Juan Basin Public Health, and was recently elected as Vice President of the Durango Cooperative, a partnership between Mancos and Durango School Districts. The Byrd family are all outdoor enthusiasts, involved in hiking, scrambling peaks, biking, rafting, and all the other activities Durango has to offer.