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Kelsy Been leaves RFSD for new role

Locations: News Published

On May 5, a press release from the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) announced that its chief of staff and public information officer (PIO), Kelsy Been, had accepted a position as PIO with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). Been’s last day with RFSD is May 26.

In my interview with Been, I realized that I’ve only known her as a go-to contact for all things Roaring Fork schools, and that I know little about her life outside of that role. She conceded, “I’m usually talking, just not about myself.”

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CAIC is a program within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, which, among other things, “strives to help the people who live, work, visit and play in the Colorado mountains” avoid avalanches. 

After learning that Been is an avid backcountry skier, the move to CAIC makes perfect sense. She grew up in Naturita, located in the San Miguel River Valley, where her grandmother, Carolyn “Cookie” Been, served as mayor.

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She started skiing at the age of six and pursued powder every chance she could. “We had a program where buses took us to the ski slopes every weekend,” and at very little cost compared to the pricing at ski resorts today.

As a teenager, Been moved to Rifle, where she attended high school and her mother still lives. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Amherst College and a Master’s in public administration from the University of Wyoming. 

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She and her husband, Josh Vogt, volunteer with West Elk Mountain Rescue, serving Gunnison County from Marble to Hotchkiss.

The couple lives in Marble with their “fur baby,” Chester, a 12-year-old, part-Irish wolfhound. Been refers to Chester as “a super mutt,” who now, at his advanced age, is retired from traversing the slopes alongside Been and Vogt, but remains “the best dog.”

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Been said, she respects the work done by CAIC, and part of her PIO role will include creating public education campaigns about avalanches. Marble has seen two recent fatalities due to avalanches, one this year and one last, which underscores the critical nature of CAIC’s message. 

“I know many people who recreate and don’t have any understanding or knowledge of snow science or avalanches, or that they’re predictable,” Been explained. “It’s not something you learn in school. There’s an awareness gap for many people who live or play in the mountains.” 

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Time well spent at RFSD

In August 2016, Been was hired by Rob Stein, shortly after he became RFSD’s superintendent. She created a new PIO position, the first time the district had an internal public relations staffer.

In 2021, Been added chief of staff to her title, working alongside the superintendent, helping to manage relationships with the school board and other partners of the district. 

Her primary responsibility has been providing accurate and timely information to the district, its 5,600 students and their families.

RFSD has had non-stop activity during her tenure, including two superintendencies and a superintendent search. There was a capital campaign which involved 20 major construction projects, including the opening of the Riverview School, south of Glenwood Springs. There were logistics to communicate to people impacted by the Grand Avenue bridge closure and construction project, and the successful passage of a mill levy override to implement the largest staff salary increase in the district’s history.

Last but certainly not least, Been provided updates during the COVID pandemic, arguably when clear communication was vital throughout our school community.

One of Been’s proudest accomplishments is creating a bilingual communications position, developed with the assistance of former Superintendent Rob Stein and then Senior Project Manager Angie Davlyn. That position is currently held by Cristina Vargas, who studied Communications at the University of Lima in Peru.

She shared that over these last seven years, “While we’ve gotten so much done, we haven’t been able to check every box … I’ll be excited to see how the next person takes everything and moves it forward. I know it’ll still happen.”

One aspect of the CAIC position is that Been can telecommute from her home in Marble, so you’ll still see her enjoying some time on the local slopes.

Tags: #Colorado Avalanche Information Center #Kelsy Been #Roaring Fork School District
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