Mountain Middle School is fortunate to have a highly talented Board of Directors who are passionate about project-based learning.
Jennifer Rider, Board President
Jennifer Rider is the Director of Teaching and Learning Services at Fort Lewis College. She has been teaching for the past 15 years, and the beginning of her passion for working with kids started while she was in the Peace Corps in Honduras working with local schools on topics related to nutrition and the environment. She has taught high school Spanish in Durango and Glenwood Springs as well as teacher education courses at Fort Lewis College. Her experience living among Latin American cultures is vast, including a Fulbright Teacher Exchange in Mexico and leading various student trips to South America. Jen is passionate about multicultural and multilingual education as well as emerging educational technology. She holds a M.A. in Linguistically Diverse Education, a M.A. in Spanish Linguistics, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Educational Learning Technologies.
Jen loves playing in the mountains with her husband Warren and their daughter Willa (8), most of the time on a raft, skis, or bikes. They also spend evenings in their vegetable garden or biking around town, enjoying the fun of living in Durango.
Larissa Lopez, Board Vice President
Larissa Lopez, SHRM-CP
Larissa Lopez was born and raised in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado and has called Durango home since 2007. She is a Human Resources Consultant at Fort Lewis College and has been working for student organizations for the past 7 years both at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy and Fort Lewis College. She is passionate about project-based learning and utilizing technology to support today’s education pedagogy and is grateful to be a part of the MMS community as a board member and parent.
Larissa graduated from Colorado State University with a BA in Communications and a BA in Spanish and has a SHRM-CP certification from the Society of Human Resource Management.
Larissa can often be found outside in the great outdoors with her husband and daughter, hiking, camping, skiing, on a lake, or playing music with family and friends. She is thrilled that her daughter will be attending MMS.
Carrie Allen, Member
Carrie Allen retired after 26 years teaching Special Ed., 2nd, 3rd, and 4thgrades at Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary and Animas Valley Elementary. She was also fortunate to do a teaching exchange to Australia in 1992. After retirement she recreated herself as Ruby Balloon twisting up smiles and balloon creations for kids of all ages.
Carrie graduated from University of Arizona with a B.A. in Elementary Education and received her Masters Degree in Special Education from Adams State College.
In Durango you can find Carrie cycling, on skis, or on a pickleball court. An enthusiastic Francophile, she and her husband are usually planning their next trip to France. She has a weakness for cats and ice cream.
Nicole Perino, Board Secretary
Nicole moved to Durango with her family as a teenager. She quickly fell in love with the community and the bountiful recreation opportunities. After graduating from DHS, Nicole attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where she graduated with a BA in International Affairs. She worked in retail management and in sales for a national builder in the Denver area until 2006 when she returned to Durango. She’s been a Realtor since then, leading her own team as a top producing broker. Nicole is passionate about helping empower humans to live their best lives by developing their why. She and her husband Jeff enjoy work together designing and building homes for clients and themselves. They have two young children, Vivienne and Hugo. Together they love to go on river trips and go camping with friends and family. Most of the time you can find them working and playing on their Florida river “mini-farm” along with their two cats and Eddie the dog.
Catherine Gervais, Board Member
Catherine Gervais is the Problem Solving Court Coordinator for the Sixth Judicial District. As the Court Coordinator Catherine works in a collaborative team environment where the client is the central focus. Prior to her Judicial work, Catherine worked with Korn Ferry, an international Talent and Leadership firm. There Catherine developed and implemented training and development for employees. She also spearheaded a variety of HR projects.
Catherine graduated from the University of Colorado, Denver with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Catherine and her children have been in Durango for over 20 years and enjoy all this great town has to offer.
Jim McCarthy, Member
08/21/19 – 08/21/22
Jim McCarthy is pleased to serve on the Mountain Middle School Board. Jim graduated from the University of Vermont with a BS in Civil Engineering and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Auburn University.
Jim served in the United States Air Force as a Civil Engineering Officer for 33 years. Upon retiring from the Air Force, Jim led construction management teams working on multimillion dollar projects for the US government in the fields of chemical demilitarization, embassy construction, environmental cleanup, and geotechnical engineering.
Jim had the pleasure of serving on the MMS Board when the school was in its infancy. He was instrumental in establishing the foundation from which the school has built it current success. He has lived in Durango since 2003 with his wife and his 16-year old son, an MMS graduate.
Contact: Jim McCarthy@mountainmiddleschool.org
Jason Austin, Board Treasurer
Jason Austin SFO, MBA
Jason is an experienced school finance and operations specialist. He has worked in public and private sectors, with over eight years as an administrator in public schools. Hailing from the great state of Wisconsin (GO PACKERS), Jason and his family moved to Durango in 2013 to fulfill the role as CFO for Durango School District 9-R. Currently he is the Senior Vice President of Operations for Bank of the San Juans.
Jason is very passionate about education and providing the best opportunities for children in our community. He volunteers for numerous organizations including, DEVO, Purgatory Ski Team, Durango Swim Club and Durango Early Learning Center. He is proudly serving as the Board Treasurer of Durango Early Learning Center and United Way of Southwest Colorado Finance Committee member . Jason also enjoys time with his family, listening to music, and playing in the great outdoors.
Jason holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Science in Finance, from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. In addition, he earned and maintains his School Business Administrator license in the State of Wisconsin and is a Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations (SFO).