Staff & Board of Trustees

Executive Director, Nicola Ripley

(970) 476-0103 x6

Born in the British Isles, Nicola learned a love of alpine plants in the Scottish and Welsh Mountains. Nicola has a BS in Biology and an MS in Ecology. Nicola has traveled widely giving talks, collecting seed and studying alpine flora.

Nicola has been with the Gardens for almost twenty years in different capacities and has been the Director for 6 years. Nicola was Board Member of the American Public Gardens Association for 7 years serving a 2 year term as President. She is the recipient of the 2016 Award of Merit from the North American Rock Garden Society.


Curator of Plant Collections, Nick Courtens

(970) 476-0103 x4 

Born in upstate NY, Nick grew up on an organic vegetable CSA farm where he developed a passion for plants and growing. Nick graduated from Longwood Gardens Professional Gardener Training Program and made his way west for a summer internship at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in May 2010. Nick is responsible for growing, maintaining, and developing the plant collections. He has traveled around the world studying rock gardens and alpine plants and has given several presentations to plant societies and botanic gardens. 


Operations Manager, Lorrie Panfil

(970)476-0103 x3

Lorrie is originally from Upstate NY and has lived in the Valley since January of 2016. She holds a Bachelors of Arts from St. Bonaventure University in Western NY where she studied Sociology. Lorrie began her journey at the Gardens as the Office & Events Coordinator and has since moved into the new role of Operations Manager. Before moving to the Vail Valley Lorrie spent several years as a Physical Education Teacher at the University of Chicago and served as a Facility Director within the Chicago Park District where she gained valuable experience planning and executing programming and events with the public. 



Development Director, Liz Campbell

(970) 476-0103 x 5


Education Coordinator, Nanette Kuich

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Nanette became a part of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens with the design and building of the Education Center, completed in 2015, and has been responsible for all educational programming. She holds a Master’s Degree in Science Education Free Choice Learning from Oregon State University.

Nanette grew up on the east end of Long Island, NY, received a B.A. in Earth and Space Sciences from State University of New York at Stony Brook, and taught secondary science and math for two years before heading to west to attend graduate school at the University of Texas, Dallas.  She worked as a geologist and geochemist for two major oil companies for 19 years before moving to Colorado.  Plant science became an interest through the Colorado State University Extension’s Master Gardener and Native Plant Master Programs, where she instructed for both.



Customer Service Coordinator, Ellen Lorenz

(970)476-0103 x2  

Ellen comes to us from Ohio by way of Boulder where she studied environmental science and philosophy at the University of Colorado. After graduating, she worked for an environmental non-profit before moving to the valley five years ago. Here, she has built her expertise in the wedding planning and customer service industry. With long term involvement in nature conservation, she is thrilled to be a part of the Gardens. 




Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, Jeri Powles 


Alpine Treasures Shop Manager/Buyer, Susan Swimm



Our office is located at the Education Center in Ford Park

Physical Address & Mailing Address:

522 South Frontage Road E., Vail, CO 81657




Board of Trustees

Betty Ford – Honorary Director in Memoriam

Helen Fritch – President Emerita

Susan Frampton, President

Margaret Rogers, Vice President

Bob Fritch, Treasurer

Gwen Scalpello, Secretary

Susan Ford Bales

Kathy Borgen

Doe Browning  

Holly Elliot

Sheika Gramshammer

Dick Liebhaber

Jennifer Mason

Liz Paxson

Carey Firestone Romer 

Click here to read the Board of Trustees Code of Ethics and the Conflict of Interest

Annual Report