The Queen’s Ball Celebrates Four Female General Managers in EPNRC’s 20 Years – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

Have you heard of the Queen’s Ball? This event will take place next weekend at the Stanley Hotel Concert Hall. Costumes are encouraged. There will be a live and silent auction, a dinner and a dance party. J

his fundraiser of the year is very special as it commemorates the 20th anniversary of the EPNRC. A Queen’s Ball is inspired by the female line of the EPNRC: Christy Crosser, Jill Lancaster, Laurie Dale Marshall and, now, Cato Kraft.

ENTER CHRISTY CROSSER (2007-2012)

“When the board realized there was a need to serve nonprofits in Estes Park, they had the foresight to hire staff. This initial, very part-time position led to a more robust, stronger and more resourceful organization for the nonprofit community. The EPNRC continues to grow and is able to provide more assistance to local non-profit organizations. The very first National Philanthropy Day event was a big hit in the Hondius Room at the Estes Valley Library (a potluck with punch). It was packed and this event is still going on. The EPNRC has come a long way, baby! Luckily Jill Lancaster came after me and did a great job cleaning up my mess. HA!”

BATON PASS: Enter Jill Lancaster (2012-2018)

“I was excited, having just moved to town, had a part-time job – 10 hours a week (HA), so I could meet new people and spend most of my retirement hiking.

Christy and the board had laid a good foundation for us to focus on serving nonprofits, making them stronger. It was clear when I started, there was fatigue in the board; we needed a board succession plan.

I walked through the first year, encouraging collaborations with United Way of Larimer County, the Community Resource Center, and the Colorado Nonprofit Association to strengthen our educational offerings. A wonderful partnership with the YMCA has made National Philanthropy Day the incredible celebration it is today.

The biggest community issue during my tenure was the 2013 flood. This disaster catapulted EPNRC into the role of community organizer. We set up the Volunteer Clearinghouse, a partnership with the city and several other organizations (local churches, Red Cross, etc.) to send volunteers for flood cleanup and recovery.

Donor money was going to flood relief, and nonprofits needed funding to continue to meet budgets and deliver services. EPNRC has launched the Give Where You Live Work and Play campaign to help raise funds for non-profit organisations. Donors began to take notice of EPNRC, which could now afford a part-time director.

Thanks to my work with the Work Force Center during the flood, the EPRNC now had a physical office. The biggest breakthrough of my time was when I hired a part-timer, the amazing Alison Rivers, who still works for the organization. This allowed us to focus on programming and partnerships/collaborations. We have launched other programs, including Estes Valley Legacy. Eventually, EPNRC formed a partnership with the Presbyterian Church of the Rockies, which provided us with triple the space.

We needed to focus on fundraising so that we could continue and expand the programs. So, thanks to the vision of board member Cynthia Krumme, we launched our “Night of” fundraising events. The first being Night at the Museum.

Nothing in my tenure could have happened without the dedicated and volunteer Board of Directors and Alison Rivers. I never intended to work full time, but wanted to get the organization to a point where it could support a full time manager and support staff. Alto! In 2018, I handed over to Laurie, who took on the role brilliantly and enthusiastically.

BATON PASS: Enter Laurie Dale Marshall (2018-2021)

“In my first year, the organization was ready to add another part-time position, a Marketing and Communications Coordinator (Karen McPherson). The council became a governing body and we established the PCCR as a place of support through a code amendment allowing nonprofit organizations to rent in certain residential areas.

I am proud to have enhanced the position of the EPNRC in our community and in the region. EPNRC has become an organization known for thinking outside the box to meet local needs. Nonprofits in the Neighborhood was a weekly column in our local newspaper that publicized all nonprofits and the vital contributions they make. The BBB Charity Accreditation program has enabled non-profit organizations to gain recognition as an accredited charity, thus assuring donors of their high quality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it very clear that nonprofits are a community’s safety net. Never before has collaboration been more necessary. EPNRC held a weekly meeting to assess community needs and solutions. That weekly meeting has evolved into now monthly partnership networking, where local nonprofits continue to maintain strong ties. EPNRC has also developed a nonprofit relief fund for nonprofit organizations that have suddenly been cut off from their usual sources of funding. This allowed them to continue their services in our community. When our community closed due to COVID, EPNRC brought together nonprofit partners, donors, and volunteers to run Nourishing Network, a community food program that distributed food and information.

BATON PASS: Enter Cato Kraft (2021-present)

After serving two years on the EPNRC board, Cato decided to step up to the helm of the organization as its fourth chief executive. In just a year of starting, Cato Kraft succinctly states, “EPNRC increases the local impact of nonprofit organizations. Our goal is to support, connect and inspire. Capacity building is not a sexy term, but it is a necessary term for what we do to support the success of our local nonprofit sector. This includes board trainings, fundraising, marketing, grant seeking, back-end support, innovative collaboration opportunities, and educational workshops.

When I started, my number one goal was to meet our nonprofit community organizations where they are and learn what they needed or wanted from the EPNRC. The most common request from nonprofits is for a genuine connection to our diverse community. Individuals in the community funded 100% of the first six months of a diversity, equity and inclusion program. This program continues into 2023, focused on developing an audit of board training and a policy manual that fundamentally challenges who sits on small nonprofit boards. Kraft goes on to say, “My mantra is ‘community over competition’. I speak on behalf of nonprofits when difficult conversations need to take place with business or government. We are able to be an advocate for nonprofits and issues that affect our sector. It is a huge honor and a pledge of confidence of our non-profit organizations towards EPNRC. There may be a fear of stepping on each other’s toes, but the collaborations we have and build create the organization’s vision of Strong Nonprofits = Strong Community.

With Kraft leading the organization, the Estes Park Nonprofit Resource Center is poised for the next 20 years supporting our community nonprofits.

Check out a recent national podcast Cato participated in called Agency for Change, hosted by KidGlov. This podcast is about Estes Park, our nonprofit sector, and the great work EPNRC does to increase the local impact of nonprofits! The podcast is available at: https://kidglov.com/podcast/cato-kraft/

Tickets and auction items can be found at EPNonprofit.org. Ticket sales end on January 21. The online auction is open from January 25 to January 28 at 6 p.m. Five items are reserved for the live auction held on the evening of the event.

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