Board of Directors
Edward J. Aber
Kathy Tonnessen - Executive Director
Kathy’s professional career has encompassed an exciting mix of jobs. She started her journey in the business world as an analyst for the University of Colorado and business manager for other small boulder firms. After a move to Gunnison, CO, she accepted a position as the assistant director of Western State College’s foundation. Upon becoming a certified massage therapist, Kathy enjoyed a private practice for over ten years. Prior to becoming Manna’s executive director, she was a board member and volunteer with the organization while also working as a funeral director at a local mortuary. Kathy brings compassion and business savvy to her position at Manna and enjoys giving back to her community.
McKenzie Miller - Culinary Manager
Chef McKenzie earned her degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She took what she learned at school to a French brasserie in Virginia before making her way back home to Durango. One Valentine’s Day, she offered to volunteer at Manna in hopes of sharing her culinary knowledge with other staff members. Her relationship with Manna grew and she was asked to come onboard as the culinary manager for Manna’s new program. McKenzie takes pride in knowing that not only is the Manna culinary program helping to put people to work, it’s also contributing to the local talent pool and providing establishments with qualified employees. Having a positive impact on those in need and as well as her community is what she values the most in her job.
Thomas Bentley - Kitchen Manager
Raised by a single mother, Thomas first learned to cook after watching over his sisters. But his passion for cooking wouldn’t translate to a profession until much later. For 21 years, he’d work in the high-tech industry before taking a more heart-felt job teaching important life skills to at-risk kids. Little did he know the tools and understanding he’d gain from working with a struggling population would assist him in a future job. After moving to Durango and being employed again by a technology-driven company, Thomas soon made his way to Manna. He accepted a job as the kitchen manager and brought with him what he learned as a teacher: acknowledging the challenges of people in crisis; showing empathy while also having expectations; providing a structured environment and giving people the kindness, respect and dignity they deserve.
Liz Stellrecht - Support Service Specialist
Originally from Wisconsin, Liz came to Durango to finish college after living for five years in Glenwood Springs, traveling abroad and working with AmeriCorps NCCC, where she helped on community service projects. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2014 with a degree in sociology. Liz has always had a strong interested in non-profit work and people-centered services. She brings kindness and approachability to Manna in what can be a challenging environment at times. Connecting people with resources to help them either change or improve their lives is what she enjoys most. When a client stops coming to Manna on a daily basis, she recognizes it as a good sign. Hopefully, that person has moved forward with his/her life and no longer needs the services of Manna.
Jason Cloudt - Garden Manager & Volunteer Coordinator
Jason’s story epitomizes Manna’s mission. At the age of sixteen, Jason was living on the streets in Oregon. For the next few years, he wandered the western United States and stumbled upon Manna while traveling to Tennessee. The accepting and non-judging atmosphere of Manna allowed him to open up to possibility. He no longer feared being seen as an outcast. After volunteering at Manna for over a year, Jason took a part-time position with the organization, which evolved into a full-time leadership role. Volunteering gave him the confidence and drive to take the next steps in life. Today, Jason is married, owns a car and is finishing his GED. He’s also searching for property to build his first home.
Pam Gibson - Facility Assistant
Pam was a longtime volunteer at Manna before becoming a staff member. She also spent time helping at the Denver Rescue Mission. Generally, there’s someone within an organization who wears many hats and at Manna, it’s Pam. From coordinating the student backpack program that offers meals for food insecure children to stocking goods and looking after facility upkeep, Pam’s the all-around employee who gets things done. She brings to her role at Manna a listening ear and desire to help those in need. Tackling problems and finding solutions together is what she strives to do at Manna. No matter what’s being called for, she’s always willing to lend a hand.