Meet the Staff:
Markleigh Swanson, Executive Director: Markleigh spent her youth in Southern Arizona, volunteering for various non-profits and exploring the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. After graduating from the University of Arizona, summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, Markleigh began her career in non-profits in the membership department of the Tucson Botanical Gardens, quickly ascending from a membership intern to the Director of Membership. In her 5 years there, with the guidance of exceptional colleagues, she gained invaluable knowledge about the numerous aspects of running a non-profit. After spending countless hours driving to the Four Corners area for nearly every vacation, Markleigh and her husband finally decided to move closer. With a love of the desert and the mountains but a desire to get away from big city life, they landed in Cortez for its abundance of outdoor recreation and proximity to all the adventures they love. You’ll find them whitewater rafting every summer, hiking, backpacking and mountain biking as often as possible and skiing and snowshoeing all winter long. Markleigh has always been passionate about the environment and stewardship and is so glad for the opportunity to become more involved in her new community. She feels that more people should be able to experience the wonders of nature but that this needs to be done responsibly. With her first child on the way, it’s more important to her than ever to preserve the natural and cultural treasures of Southwest Colorado for generations to come.
Diane McBride, Cultural Site Stewardship Program Manager: Diane has been deeply involved with SCCA since its inception and served as its first Executive Director. She has a diverse professional background with degrees in Dance and Elementary Education with a focus on English. Her Masters work in Anthropology was curtailed but enhanced by meeting her husband Bob and finally migrating to Southwest Colorado after visiting the area since the mid-1990s. Diane performed dance professionally and taught dance and drama in the Dallas, Texas, area for 10 years before teaching elementary school for 15 years. Once in the area, Diane served as a contractor at what is now Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum in curation, directed education programs for the museum for 10 years, managed the Cultural Site Stewardship Program since 2010, and conducted hiking tours and Road Scholar programs for a local B & B. In addition to her work with SCCA, she carries on the survey and recordation of cultural resources that she and Bob started in 2008. An avid hiker and camper, you’ll find her in the backcountry during her free time. She is grateful to have been called to the “center place” of this region and is dedicated to preserving the characteristics of our local public lands and engaging others in its stewardship.