Board of Directors

Board of Directors

The Four Rivers Institute is very fortunate to have a committed board who represent diverse backgrounds and expertise.  These individuals understand and support our mission and have offered their time and resources to meet our goals and objectives.

Brian Francis– Originally from the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona, Brian is the director of the Northern Arizona University Americorp Program.  Before this Brian Directed the Fort Lewis College Upward Bound Program.  Upward Bound is a federal college preparatory program for low income and potential first generation college bound students.  He molded the program to include a high degree of outdoor activities with an 80% success rate.  Brian came from a low-income community on the reservation and is the first in his family to complete college.  His Mother is from the Coyote Pass Clan and his father is from the Bear Clan.  His Maternal grandfathers are of the Towering House Clan and his paternal grandfathers are of the One Who Walks Around Clan.

Dr. Mary Hermes- Dr. Hermes(Dakota) earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of  Wisconsin in Madison.  She is Currently the Director of the Center for Indigenous Cultural and language revitalization at the University of Wisconsin.  She has co-founded language immersion schools and has authored several published papers on the subject as well as having testified before congress on the importance of protecting Native languages and culture.  She has received numerous awards and recognition for her work.  Dr. Hermes is also an active outdoors enthusiast.

Anthony DeMond M.D.-  Originally from New York City Dr. DeMond is currently the EMS medical director for ground transports in La Plata County.  He began his medical career in 1978 at Cornell University Medical College in NYC and then crossed the country to do his residency in emergency medicine at University of Southern California Medical Center.  He worked for four years at Gallup Indian Medical Center before moving to Durango in 1989.  In 2006 he retired from the Emergency department at Mercy Medical Center to work full time in EMS.  He is married to a Navajo jewelry maker, Rita Keeman, and has four children by marriage and six grandchildren.  His own ethnicity is Multi-racial.

Dr. Sam Eliot Horsethief Canyon

Dr. Eliot earned his Doctorate of Education from Harvard University in 1980.  His diverse experience reflects his passion for education and the environment.  He was one of the founders of the College of the Atlantic where he served as vice-president for 10 years.  He was Headmaster at the Kurt Hahn inspired Athenian School in the Bay Area for 5 years and has worked as a consultant with The Island Institute and the Outward Bound Expeditionary Learning Program.   Currently Dr. Eliot is an English Teacher and College Counselor at the Conserve School a preparatory school with an environmental focus in Northern Wisconsin.

Michael Ackerman-Founder  and Director of Learn Outdoors Inc., Michael is a certified mountain guide, professional educator and freelance photojournalist.  After earning his degree in Eco-centered Adventure Based Education from Prescott College,  Michael has employed his unique approach to experiential education in both classroom and field settings.  He founded the charter school,  Tributaries Alternative Education Program in Conway, NH and together with a small group of talented educators helped found the Oliverian School, an alternative boarding school, in Pike NH.  He is currently the head of Animas High School, an alternative charter school based on the High Tech High model, in Durango, CO.  Michael continues to guide Backcountry Snowboarders and teach avalanche courses in Colorado and his adventure writing and photography has appeared in publications nationwide.

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