Staff

  Jessica Denison, Executive Director

Originally from Upstate New York, Jessica has called Durango home for over thirteen years. Before joining Vallecitos, she was an integral part of a local, veteran-owned small business, Chinook Medical Gear, as its chief operating officer. The company proudly provides life-saving medical supplies to our country’s military, law enforcement and first responders.

Jessica has been a yoga practitioner since 1997 and became a registered yoga Instructor in 2010. Her passion for the yoga tradition eventually led her to the Durango Dharma Center where she has been a member and served on the board of directors for five years, including serving as board president. A lifelong learner, her practice has taken her to places like India, Belize, Costa Rica, Telluride and others. Vallecitos offers a bridge for her to further connect her work and her practice, creating a wonderful experience for herself and others centered around heart and nature.

 Erin Treat, Guiding Teacher

Erin Treat lives in Durango, CO and serves as a Guiding Teacher of Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center.  She is a member of the Teacher Council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and is the Resident Teacher at the Durango Dharma Center.  Erin offers talks, leads classes, and teaches meditation retreats in the southwest and nationwide.  Her approach to sharing the dharma is influenced by her experience as a student of the Diamond Approach by A.H. Almass and by her deep love of socially engaged practice, embodiment and wild nature.

Erin was born and raised in the prairie of Fargo, ND and was active in the performing arts throughout her early life.  After attending college in New York, she moved to Santa Fe, NM in 1995 to attend massage school.  She felt an unexpected sense of homecoming – an immediate connection to the cultures of the southwest as well as the magic of the red rocks, high desert, and alpine landscape of the Four Corners area. She settled in Durango in 1997.  A bodyworker and healing arts practitioner for more than 20 years, Erin enjoys working with students from around the country and especially at her home in Durango.  Erin is happiest dancing, hiking, cooking, and being in the mountains and rivers she calls home.

  Melissa Hay, Registration Manager

Originally from Massachusetts, Melissa has lived in the western part of the U.S. for the past 17 years. She loves the open vistas, mountains, sunshine, and rivers of the west. Before relocating to Durango, CO in 2018, Melissa attended the Anake Outdoor School at the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington state. For 9 months she immersed herself in nature-connected learning such as bird language, wildlife tracking, ancestral and wilderness survival skills. Melissa has been a registered nurse since 2005. She currently works in her local community as a Home Hospice nurse and deeply enjoys connecting with patients and their families. During two retreats at Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center in the summer of 2018 she fell in love with the land and the way it opened and supported her meditation practice.
Melissa has practiced meditation for the past 15 years in various traditions. She started her journey in diversity, equity and inclusion work several years ago including attending a “Power and Privilege” workshop as well as community council discussions exploring white privilege, unconscious bias, and the role of white people in racial justice. In her personal time Melissa also seeks out books and various media resources to continue her own work in “waking up white” and exploring systems of oppression in our culture.

Retreat Managers

Katya Lesher

Joey Heusler

Facilities Managers

Gary Sharlow

Craig LaFevre

Daniel Caimi

Cooks

Katie Gall, Head Cook

Amy Gates, Head Cook

Jack Egber, Assistant Cook

Kat Henry, Assistant Cook