Our Staff

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. Now that she’s raising her first child here, it’s more important to her than ever to preserve the natural and cultural treasures of Southwest Colorado for generations to come.


Mark Nelson, Cultural Site Stewardship Program Manager: Mark Nelson has been a member, supporter and volunteer of SCCA for twelve years. Mark began volunteering as an SCCA Cultural Site Steward in March 2011. His experiences as a Site Steward have given him a deep understanding of the policies and procedures of the Site Stewardship program and the intricacies of volunteers collaborating with the BLM. Mark is a member of the Colorado Archaeological Society (CAS) and has spent significant amounts of time learning about the history of CANM, the Ancestral Puebloans who made it their home, and the greater Four Corners area. He has extensive knowledge of CANM sites from Site Stewardship, reading, and attending CAS conference sessions and webinars put on by other groups in the area like the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. He is also enrolled in the Program for Avocational Archeological Certification (PAAC) and is working towards becoming a Certified Surveyor. These activities have given him a deep connection to Colorado archaeology.