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Aspen Public Radio is proud to present select lectures, discussions, and conversations from area events and festivals, thanks to a remarkable collection of community partners. Click here to view the full archive. Events are recorded at no cost to the partner and archived here online; select recordings are broadcast on Aspen Public Radio Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Equity Symposium 2024: Equity Action Project Alumni Panel

This event was recorded on May 10, 2024, as part of the 2024 Equity Symposium, in partnership with Aspen Public Radio.

MANAUS' Equity Action Project hosted the second Equity Symposium on May 10, 2024. The Equity Symposium focused on the topics of: anti-racism; intersectionality; and the relationship between language justice and educational equity.

Speakers for this panel include:


Sydney Schalit is the Executive Director of MANAUS, coordinating and implementing the vision of MANAUS through project development, professional and technical assistance and in supporting the projects, and their leaders, as they grow.

Sydney proudly serves as the Board Chair of Mountain Family Health Centers and is a publicly elected board member for the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District.

After receiving her bachelor of arts at the University of Texas in Austin, she spent the next 15 years working to help organizations and businesses better communicate and align their vision with their actions. Sydney served in the United States Peace Corps, owned and operated multiple small businesses and recently served as the Chief Executive Officer of a digital marketing firm in Carbondale that, under her guidance, shifted it’s culture to specialize in non-profit marketing.

She is, by nature, inquisitive and compassionate. Her passion for the work MANAUS does, and how they do it, runs very deep, as does her dedication to supporting the personal and professional development of those around her.


Sylvia Castorena (she/her/ella) proudly embraces her Bilingual and Bicultural background, having been raised in the heart of California while proudly embracing her strong Mexican heritage. With a passion for community service, she has served as a Mentoring Program Coordinator at Buddy Program since 2020. Sylvia has been an integral part of the valley for two decades, dedicating herself to various roles within nonprofit community support initiatives, particularly in the Latinx community. Alongside her commitment to community, she has raised three amazing children, who have since embarked on their unique journeys.

During her free time, Sylvia finds enjoyment in strolling along the river with her German Shepherd, Luna, or immersing herself in the natural wonders that this valley has to offer


Monica Perez-Rhodes joined the board at Mountain Family Health Centers in December 2013 and was appointed treasurer in 2014 until 2022. Monica is the controller at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. She previously was an advocate for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault with Advocate Safehouse Project. Monica is proud to call the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley her home for over 25 years, and is equally as proud of her dual citizenship, being born and raised in Mexico. Monica earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. She lives in Garfield County, and her pride and joy are her two amazing daughters. When she is not at work or volunteering, Monica enjoys playing golf and softball, the Broncos, and traveling to Mexico to see her family.


Andrea Aust works as the Education Director at ACES. She has been fascinated with nature and wildlife for as long as she can remember. After she graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Environmental Science, she landed her dream job as a naturalist at ACES. That summer, she discovered she loved sharing her passion and wonder for the environment with others, and is why she pursued career in environmental education. Andrea taught, developed, and managed marine science and environmental education programs on Catalina Island and in the San Francisco Bay Area, and went on to earn her M.A. in Teaching and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of San Francisco.

Prior to returning to ACES in 2019 as the education director, she worked at KQED, a public television and radio station in San Francisco, where she developed science education resources and provided professional learning for science educators.

On summer evenings and weekends, you’re likely to find Andrea out on a trail photographing wildflowers. In the winter, she’s on the slopes, constantly remarking about the beauty of this magical place.


Will Roush first joined Wilderness Workshop to inventory lands for citizen wilderness proposals, then worked as an organizer and advocate for efforts to designate new wilderness and protect the Thompson Divide. He went on to conduct outreach and advocacy for WW’s federal lands policy work, organized the popular Naturalist Nights winter speaker series, started the restoration program, and led our advocacy work to move water rights for dams on Castle and Maroon Creeks. Will served as Conservation Director for four years before becoming Executive Director in 2018. Today, Will leads an amazing team and collaborates with staff to determine and execute conservation priorities and programs, raise funds for the organization, and oversees its community and outreach programs. A native of the Roaring Fork Valley, he has a Master’s in Geography and Environmental Science examining the impact of climate change on alpine ecosystems.

Other talks presented as part of this symposium include:

Full Circle Strategies- "Storytelling as a Strategy for Anti-Racist Community Action and Solidarity."

Regan Byrd - "Advanced Intersectionality."

Sofía E. Chaparro- "La Lucha Continua: The Fight for Linguistic Rights and Educational Equity in Colorado."