Lead Organizer:
Vanessa McCrann

Vanessa has been building community in Colorado for 7+ years and she’s thrilled to be at the helm for West Slope Startup Week. Her whole life has been leading to this moment.

Programming Lead:
Celeste Herron

Celeste Herron is a brand architect, strategist, and founder at Northern Crown Media, who helps business owners and startup founders confidently launch and profitably scale their companies, products, and services through brand positioning, messaging, and design.

She is also a founder and facilitator at Female Founders WestCO, a community for women building companies on the Western Slope of Colorado.

Venues Lead:
Elizabeth Calagias

Elizabeth is a Fort Lewis College alumna, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Marketing and Graphic Design. She is excited to put both skill sets to work as the Business Manager at the Center for Innovation in Durango.

Zero Waste Lead:
John Armstrong

I am passionate about sustainable systems and finding creative solutions that benefit the environment and people we serve. I founded B1 Energy as a solution for waste and renewable energy in rural communities by creating an advanced recycling facility powered by waste-organics.

Marketing Lead:
Psyche Digital

The Durango-area Psyche Digital team (Kate Ishay, Kelsey Parks, Faye Zink, Megan Milstead, and Maggie Emerson) are over the moon to support the digital marketing and website management efforts for WSSW23. With combined specializations in marketing and branding, startup operations, non-profits, and customer service, the Psyche Digital team brings their passion for West Slope businesses and entrepreneurs into every aspect of their Durango-based startup digital agency.

Tech Track Captain:
Justin Lewis

Justin Lewis builds digital public goods for governments, global health, and climate through TerraFrame and Bedrock Labs. He’s the founder of West Slope Technologists where he helps support a community of technologists to support their communities, organize events, and strengthen the network.

Toolbox Track Captain:
Meghan Rauker

Raised in Idaho and now based in Colorado, Meghan is passionate about creating opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners. As a Community Engagement Officer, Meghan works with entrepreneurs, partners, and community stakeholders to support a collaborative ecosystem.

Fun! Track Captain:
Amber Blake

Amber is the owner of a boutique consultancy focusing on leadership development and coaching for entrepreneurs and leaders in the public and private sectors. Bringing 20 years experience she has extensive expertise in leadership, organizational development, and change management. She is passionate about community, is an avid runner and cyclist, wife, mom, and a believer in humankind.

Money Track Captain:
Cory Finney

I was born and raised in Durango, Colorado and feel lucky to call it home again! I am a Partner at the Greater Colorado Venture Fund and enjoy supporting founders all over Colorado.

Comms Track Captain:
Maryrose Ewing

Maryrose is the CEO of the Ewing School, a public speaking coaching and training company based in Durango. Her and her team help leaders and executives speak with clarity, confidence, and authenticity. Maryrose dabbles in all things outside: trail running, paddleboarding, backpacking, rock climbing, cycling, skiing, ice climbing, and more!

People Track Captain:
Kirstie McPherson

Kirstie McPherson is a behavioral economist who works in transitioning coal communities throughout the state. McPherson also owns 518 Wine Bar, Blanco Cellars Wine and Whiskey Bar, and The Find, Co. along with numerous other commercial development projects.

Makers Track Lead:
Roger Zalneraitis

After receiving his Master’s Degree in Urban Planning, Roger worked for almost 16 years in economic development before becoming the CEO of MODSTREET, a 2020 start-up manufacturing firm located in Durango, Colorado that makes modular, steel-fabricated platforms and fencing for onstreet dining and events. He has now run MODSTREET for 2 1/2 years, and helped the firm expand its sales, raise $750,000 of capital in loans, equity, and grants, secured subcontracting relationships statewide, and be recognized as a Colorado Company to Watch in 2023. Roger is married and has one daughter who just finished Fourth Grade at Mountain Middle, and enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, and traveling abroad.


Every year WSSW is made possible by a kickass group of volunteers and community champions from across our beautiful Western Slope region, and 2023 is no different. We are currently scouting for amazing humans to fill the below volunteer roles. Commitment will begin in early June, and run until the end of August. Co-leading encouraged, these are a tall glass of responsibility!

If you or someone you know is interested, please reach out to Lead Organizer Vanessa McCrann at to get involved.


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