Get to Know Your CFGV Team: Alicia Corliss
If you’ve ever called CFGV for guidance, there’s a good chance the person who fielded your call, at least to start, was our Director of Operations, Alicia Corliss. It’s rare to find someone with her extensive nonprofit experience, deep love for the Gunnison Valley and Colorado as a whole, and tremendous attention to detail. We consider ourselves extremely lucky that she happened to spot an ad for a position at CFGV four and a half years ago and applied. As Lauren says, Alicia keeps the CFGV clock ticking!
What do you love most about the Gunnison Valley?
I’m a fourth-generation Coloradoan who has only lived in Colorado, so the beauty of this state is very familiar to me. I grew up in Denver and have lived in communities across the state (several Denver-area suburbs, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, and Cortez/Mancos among them). While every place I’ve lived has had its special elements and unique people, I’ve never lived in a place with both natural beauty and a strong sense of community. The Valley has stunning vistas, amazing outdoor spaces, unique offerings, and incredible people. There is something truly special about this place and this community that draws people in and makes them want to stay, and I am among the lucky people who have had the privilege to move and thrive here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else!
What other nonprofits have you worked with? In what roles?
I started working in the public sector entirely by accident. While I was finishing my degree at Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) in Grand Junction, I needed to work part-time to make things work. My stepdad was the Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority there and his event planner had just quit when I moved to town, so he needed a temporary employee to run events like the farmer’s market, 4th of July parade, car show, etc. while he hired a full-time planner. So, I worked until he found someone and I stayed on just to help run the events, but eventually that planner quit – and another, and another – and I stuck around for nearly three years planning and running events.
My mom found herself in the same boat when she was the Executive Director of the Mesa County United Way and couldn’t find a part-time employee to assist with things like donation entry, filing, etc., so I helped her out too and ended up working and volunteering for the United Way for a while. I also worked weekends for the Arts Center running their membership program and for the Town of Palisade while their utility billing clerk went on maternity leave. But, I never thought any of that would turn into a career after I graduated!
However, after three years of piecing together jobs in the local government and nonprofit sector, I started to think that I actually wanted to continue that kind of work because it was so gratifying. After I graduated, I got a job at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez in the development department and worked my way up, gaining more fundraising, grant writing, and event planning experience as I went. After four years, I moved back to the Denver area and briefly worked for the CU Foundation in Boulder before landing another development position at Central City Opera. I spent four years at the opera until my husband was offered a position at Western, so we packed up and headed west to start a new adventure. I didn’t have a job when we moved, but I was able to quickly find a position in the Gunnison County Finance Department where I gained a ton of financial knowledge. After three years with the County, I quite literally stumbled upon an ad for an administrative coordinator position at CFGV, and I jumped at the opportunity. Four and a half years later, I’m now the Director of Operations. I am so lucky to continue my career here at CFGV and I look forward to working here for many years to come!
What’s the best part of working at CFGV?
All the knowledge, skills, and experience I’ve gained over the past 19 years in my various roles in the public sector have really enabled me to become an expert in nonprofits. I love being able to share what I’ve learned not only with my own organization but with other nonprofits in the Valley. I love that I get to answer the phone and speak to an executive director or development officer who needs advice or guidance on some aspect of nonprofit management or governance or fundraising, and I feel so good when I know that I was able to help them continue the good work they’re doing in our community. I am honored to be able to support our amazing nonprofits and their staff! I also feel like CFGV sits at a unique intersection in our community, and I love being able to connect people and resources and to see everyone in our community come together to help each other. And I’ve met so many amazing folks while working at CFGV… the people truly are what makes this place so special!
Tell us a little bit about your life outside work.
My husband, Greg, and I don’t have children, but I am the proud fur-mom of two senior kitties, Bixia and Danica, who are getting quirkier and more fun as they get older. Greg and I are also the proud owners of a beautiful blue Jeep, and we’ve covered literally thousands of miles of trails and 4×4 roads in the area. We also love to go camping when we can (although our summers are busy with so many things going on!), and we love seeing music at great Colorado venues. I like to hike with my friends, and I bought a kayak this year so I can get out on the Mesa. Greg and I were homebrewers when we moved here. Although we haven’t brewed anything in a while, we still love to grab a pint of delicious beer at High Alpine. I’m also a musician (play guitar and piano and sing) and I like to knit, sew, and do other crafty stuff.
What’s your favorite Gunnison Valley event?
Growing up in Denver, the National Western Stockshow and Rodeo was a must each January and I still try to attend whenever I can, but I’m so excited to get to continue the western rodeo tradition by attending Cattlemen’s Days right here in Gunnison. I plan my summer around it every year! As a fourth-generation Coloradoan, I really appreciate the role that traditions like rodeo and the agriculture and ranching communities play in the history and unique culture of the American West, and I’m thrilled to live in a place that’s still surrounded by these traditions. It makes Gunnison truly feel like home!
Alicia, we couldn’t do any of what we do without you. Your wisdom and experience uplift the whole nonprofit sector in the Gunnison Valley. We’re lucky to have you on our team!