The 2019 Powerhouse Maker Honorees

Walt Dear

Jenna Kvasnovsky

Heidi Steltzer, PhD

GitPrime

2019 Powerhouse Maker Honorees Announced

The honorees this year once again represent leadership by example, providing models for others while making significant contributions in our community and beyond in the fields of STEM.

Sponsored by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

L.L. Nunn Honoree in Philanthropy: Mr. Walt Dear. Dear is a fourth-generation newspaperman who owned the Henderson Gleaner, a six-day newspaper in Henderson, Kentucky, for 30 years. Walter Dear was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, graduated from the university of North Carolina and lived in Sweden for a year. He moved to Henderson, KY in 1960 where he built a robust daily newspaper. He also, along with his wife Martha, raised their three children there.

Walt Dear is an explorer of places and people. He took his son, Bryan, down the Grand Canyon when Bryan was 13. He took his family on long vacations to the west and to the oceans. He loves engaging with people.

He and his wife, Martha, moved to Durango in late 2000. Martha lived four pretty good years locally until dying of breast cancer. Walt founded the Martha Dear Breast Cancer endowment at the University of Colorado. He has given generously to non-profits and causes in both his former hometown and in Durango.

He is an author of two books, “It’s Always Something” and “Paradise with an Edge.”

Caroline Romney Honoree for a Student: Jenna Kvasnovsky. Jenna was born in Centennial, Colo. and went to school in nearby Golden for her first three grades. At that point her family became disgruntled with the school system and decided to world-school the children. The aim was to expose Jenna and her sister to as much community service and different worldviews as possible, so they could go out in the world and see the changes that can be made. Homeschooling began on the road while visiting Central America. Jenna had the opportunity to build a cob house from the ground up in Guatemala for an organization for abandoned mothers. It was at this job site that her true work ethic and commitment became obvious, even when she was exhausted and dripping in mud. She has since become quite a good natural builder and has volunteered with earth ships and community rebuilds, while currently working on the family-owned straw bale home. She is always kind-hearted and compassionate while trying to view both sides of every situation. A lover of languages, music, violin, travelling to any new country, and innovation; she begged for a visit to The MakerLab. Director Ryan Finnigan creates a dedication to learning, and supports the student interns. He taught her that anything can be built, or at least an attempt can be made to learn how. Her mother Karin says, “The MakerLab has been the wind beneath her wings on her project to design and build her own violin and she is super grateful for its existence.”

Sponsored by Carver Brewing Company

Stuart Allen “Stu” Roosa Honoree for an Individual: Dr. Heidi Steltzer, Fort Lewis College. Heidi Steltzer is an explorer, scientist and storyteller. She has spent more than 25 years conducting climate change research in alpine and arctic lands. She melts snow early, though she wishes for late-lying snow. Her research takes place in the mountains of Alaska, Greenland and Colorado. Heidi is a lead author of the mountain chapter of a soon-to-released special report by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on “The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.” The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. She earned a BS in Biology at Duke University and a PhD in Ecosystem Science at University of Colorado, Boulder. Heidi is a professor in Environmental Science and Biology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO.

William Jackson Palmer Honoree for a Business: GitPrime. Founded in Colorado in 2015 by engineering manager Travis Kimmel (CEO), and product designer Ben Thompson (CMO), GitPrime serves tens of thousands of software engineers with objective data on their contributions and impact. It is the leading engineering intelligence platform. In its startup year, GitPrime created its initial software and acquired seed funding. In 2016, GitPrime was accepted to Y Combinator, a California-based accelerator for businesses with alumni such as Dropbox and Reddit. The accelerator helped the GitPrime founders build their business and network. They also participated in the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs, or SCAPE, in Durango. GitPrime was named a 2018 Colorado Company to Watch Winner –an awards program honoring second-stage companies headquartered in the state of Colorado.This year, 2019, Plurasight, Inc. of Farmington, Utah acquired GitPrime in a multi-million dollar deal.