Faculty & Staff
Elaine Belansky, PhD
Dr. Elaine Belansky is the CRSHE Director and a Research Professor in the Morgridge College of Education. Her research interests include identifying strategies to shorten the research-to-practice time delay so that rural communities facing the greatest physical and mental health disparities can implement evidence-based practices on a more aggressive timeline. Elaine enjoys hiking, gardening, reading, creative writing, traveling, and spending time with family, friends, and her two cats.
Shirley Berg is the Business Coordinator at the Center for Rural School Health & Education. She is interested in rural mental health at both school district and community levels. Shirley enjoys movies, books, walking, ethnic cooking, being a grandmother, and following world events.
DREAM Community Coordinator
Lisa Casias is a DREAM Community Coordinator at CRSHE, located in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Her interests include community and youth engagement, substance use prevention, community partnerships, and rural school health and wellness. Lisa enjoys baking, cake decorating, gardening, and spending time with her family.
Nicholas Cutforth, PhD
Director of Community Engagement & Outreach Professor,
Department of Research Methods and Information Science
Dr. Nick Cutforth is Director of Community Engagement & Outreach at CRSHE and Professor in the Morgridge College of Education. His interests include rural school health and physical activity environments, university/community partnerships, and qualitative and community-based research. Nick enjoys running, traveling, and hiking.
DREAM Community Coordinator
Melissa Fritschka is a DREAM Community Coordinator at CRSHE, located in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Her interests include health equity in rural communities, sustainable food systems, nutrition and natural health, community engagement, and experiential education. Melissa enjoys taking long walks along the Rio Grande with her dogs, devouring local food, knitting on cold winter nights, rehabbing old furniture, and getting away from the computer with her family as often as possible.
Savannah Hobbs, PhD
Director of Research and Evaluation
ECHO-DU Program Manager
Savannah Hobbs is the ECHO-DU Program Manager. Her interests include connecting professionals with resources to best support student learning and wellness, resource access, and food security in rural environments, schools as centers for learning and community wellness, psychosocial stress and related health and educational outcomes, engaging community partners (and youth especially) in research, and intervention development. Savannah loves food, skiing, running, and traveling.
Ben Ingman, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Ben Ingman is the Associate Director of CRSHE and Research Assistant Professor in the Morgridge College of Education. His interests include rural school health and wellness planning, implementation science, adventure and environmental education, qualitative research methods, community partnerships, youth engagement, curriculum studies, and educational experience. Ben enjoys camping, hiking, climbing, running, and spending time outdoors with his family.
Carla Loecke, MEd
Director of Curriculum & Training
Carla Loecke is the Director of Curriculum and Training at CRSHE. She is interested in the intersection of student health and learning, staff wellness, and engaging students and staff in the process of creating school environments that are meaningful and supportive to them. She and her husband Paul have two children, Henry and Lucy, and the four of them enjoy exploring the great outdoors in their home state of Oregon.
DREAM Community Coordinator
Teotenantzin Ruybal is a DREAM Community Coordinator at CRSHE, located in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Her interests include assisting and empowering youth, serving the underserved and homeless in her community and assisting others through various groups and organizations to which she belongs or supports locally. Teotenantzin enjoys camping, fishing, hunting, and the quiet of the mountains and the peace being in nature brings.
Karla Heredia is the Business Coordinator at the Center for Rural School Health and Education. She is passionate about supporting immigrant families, English language learners and first general college attendees. Karla enjoys watching her kids play school sports, chatting with her husband, long walks with her dog and spending time with friends and family.
Kat Becker is a Graduate Research Assistant for ECHO-DU and a Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology program through Morgridge College of Education. Her professional interests include qualitative methodologies exploring the lived experiences of cancer survivors and those with chronic illnesses, human resiliency, existential psychotherapy, and grief and loss. Kat enjoys hiking, cooking, drinking coffee with her partner, and taking walks with her big fluffy dog.
Sandra Bertram Grant Solis
Sandra Bertram Grant, M.Ed. is a graduate research assistant in CRSHE and a doctoral student within the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Denver. Her research interests are in Latinx psychology. Specifically, her focus is to explore strategies and interventions, while using an interdisciplinary lens that will promote students’ academic success and student retention. She enjoys taking her dog for long walks and the Colorado sunshine.
Elly Maras is a graduate research assistant at CRSHE and third year PhD student in the School Psychology program in the Morgridge College of Education. Her research interests include trauma-informed classrooms, consultation, complex family trauma, integrative approaches to health and wellness, qualitative research methods, and school-based art therapy. Elly enjoys practicing yoga, boxing, bouldering, and camping and hiking in the mountains.