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.
Jessica has been a yoga practitioner since 1997 and her passion for the tradition eventually led her to the Durango Dharma Center where she has been a member since 2007. She served on the board of directors for nearly 5 years, including the role of board president. An avid traveler and lifelong learner, her practice has taken her to places like India, Belize, Costa Rica, Telluride and others. Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center 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’s love for wild nature, her passionate commitment to serving collective liberation, and decades of working as a bodyworker are all palpable in her Dharma. Erin is Guiding Teacher at both Vallecitos and the Durango Dharma Center, and is a Core Teacher at Spirit Rock. She served as core faculty of the sixth Community Dharma Leaders (CDL) Program, and is a graduate of Thanissara and Kitissaro’s Dhammapala Training, designed to bring forth an embodied bodhisattva ideal within the lineage of Theravada Buddhism.
Erin was born and raised in the prairie of Fargo, North Dakota to a family of Irish and British heritage. When she first came to the San Juan Mountains, 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’s lived in Durango for 26 years.
Erin is committed to fostering communities of belonging. In both her teaching and Dharma leadership, she works to decenter whiteness and heteronormative culture. In her hometown of Durango, she teaches classes that help practitioners understand and deconstruct whiteness in their own minds and acts as a resource for other dharma teachers engaging these issues. In 2018, she was part of a team that developed the groundbreaking “Race and Dharma” course for the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. Erin is also committed to practicing and sharing the depth of the dharma, including teachings on emptiness and not-self, and loves mentoring students over time as their practices deepen and mature.
Erin is happiest dancing, hiking, cooking, and being in the mountains and rivers she calls home.
Jan Estep, Registration Manager
Originally from West Virginia, Jan is an artist, writer, yoga practitioner and teacher, and community songleader. Jan first came to the dharma to counter the heavily conceptual aspect of her work as a university professor, to reconnect to the body, and to heal past trauma. More recently, she left her academic position of two decades to pursue spiritual practice more directly.
Seeking greater connection to nature and wide-open spaces, Jan recently relocated from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Cortez, Colorado with her husband and three dogs. Joining Vallecitos, she is excited to ground in this beautiful land, and to support others in greater accessibility to the dharma and retreat practice.
Ginger St. Ours