A large nonprofit that provides social services in Ignacio has a new executive director who plans to focus on rebuilding the organization after major funding cuts.
Lori Niewold started as executive and development director at Southern Colorado Community Action Agency about three weeks ago. As development director, she will be in charge of grant writing.
“I applied for the job because there’s a place in my heart that is and always has been passionate about fundraising and advocating for social services in our community,” Niewold wrote in an email to The Durango Herald.
Niewold will replace Eileen Wasserbach, who retired this week.
The nonprofit, formerly known as Southern Ute Community Action Programs (SUCAP), provides child care; senior services; transportation; job training; drug testing and monitoring; and after-school and adventure programs for youths.
The Southern Ute Tribal Council severed ties with the nonprofit in August. As a result, the nonprofit’s funding dropped from about $7 million in 2018 to about $3.5 million in 2019.
Because of the of the funding cuts, every program the nonprofit runs saw cuts, and staff was reduced from more than 140 positions to more than 70, Niewold said.
Since then, the nonprofit has started to rebuild its programming, she said.
For example, Southern Ute Head Start closed as a result of funding cuts. But on Feb. 7, Ignacio Early Learning Program opened and is already close to capacity, she said.
Niewold said she is meeting with Southern Ute tribal staff about other programs, and the Tribal Council has authorized the nonprofit to operate some programs funded with grants that pass through the tribe.
Programs receiving pass-through funding include meals and transportation for seniors, Dial-A-Ride transportation service in and around Ignacio and after-school and adventure programming for youths.
Niewold brings 10 years of nonprofit experience to the job. She was the early childhood director for Teller and Park counties, where she wrote grants and raised funds for several programs, including the Cavity Free at Three program and Expanding Quality in Infants and Toddler Care program.
She has also served as the executive director for the El Paso County Bar Association in Colorado Springs and as a grant writer for Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a nonprofit that works to protect public lands.
Before working for nonprofits, Niewold started a business selling pigments she developed based on ancient Mayan blue pigment. In graduate school, she discovered how Mayan blue pigment was synthesized, replicated it and received a patent. She developed an entire line of pigments and has eight patents.