Foundation chief wants to make lives better
As the Aspen Community Foundation celebrates its 25th year, it is welcoming a new executive director, Tamara Tormohlen, who’s worked at the foundation for nearly five years and lived in Aspen for 12 years. “It sounds clichd,” she said, “but if we all help, then we really can make life better. That’s what this foundation is all about.”
During the past 25 years the Aspen Community Foundation has awarded more than $21 million to more than 400 nonprofit organizations, most of which are based in the Roaring Fork Valley.Tormohlen said the foundation helps equalize some of the wealth disparities in the valley. “We raise most of our money in Aspen and distribute most of it downvalley. Downvalley is helping support the lifestyle in Aspen.”
She said she would like solutions to mark her tenure at the foundation. She mentioned current programs supporting first-generation collegegoers and another program giving aid to teen parents as successful examples of breaking cycles of poverty and need.Tormohlen grew up in Cincinnati and earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from Bethany College. She began a master of fine arts degree at the University of Virginia but cut it short to “do the New York thing,” and make a go at acting. She found, however, that her interests were too diverse to focus on one thing, and she ended up moving to Vermont to start a theater company.
“We had a good time,” she said. “We started a nonprofit that featured hard-hitting and provocative theater.”The 10 years she spent in Vermont helped her realize the interests she had in the business side of working for a nonprofit.”I like to pull people together and make things happen,” she said, “it’s like a puzzle to me. I put it together, and there is a good result.”
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Challenge Aspen’s CEO Jeff Hauser has stepped down from the nonprofit in order “to focus on personal pursuits.”