Staff Bios

© Werner R Slocum

© Werner R Slocum

Shelly Benford, Chief Executive Officer

Shelly Benford is thrilled to join the Colorado Chautauqua Association (CCA) following over 30 years of corporate and consulting experience. Having served as Chair of the Board of Directors of CCA and Interim Executive Director for nearly a year, Shelly brings a deep understanding of Chautauqua’s mission, values and strategic objectives.

Prior to moving to Colorado, Shelly spent many years in Chicago where she progressed through corporate positions in finance, marketing and strategic planning before starting her own consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, organizational change and leadership development. In her role as Principal and Managing Partner of the firm, Shelly was responsible for developing strategic alliances with key partners, managing relationships with numerous corporate clients, developing and validating leadership assessment tools for use with high-level executives, and training associates to deliver services across the United States.

Shelly has an MBA and a doctorate in clinical psychology and has served on numerous non-profit boards supporting the arts and underserved youth. She has been elected twice to the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) Board of Education, with responsibility for developing and overseeing the implementation of achievement and equity goals impacting 56 schools and over 30,000 students.

Sue Perkins, Chief Financial Officer

Sue Perkins is Chief Financial Officer at the Colorado Chautauqua Association. In this role, Perkins is responsible for overall financial leadership of the Colorado Chautauqua Association including accounting, finance, risk management, information technology and administration.
Before joining the Colorado Chautauqua Association in 2005, Perkins worked in finance and accounting in both the private and public sectors for over 20 years. She brings valuable expertise from previous experience working with seasonal, entertainment and other nonprofit businesses. Perkins holds a Master of Science in Accounting and Finance and is a certified public accountant.

Wanona Tara, Director of Sales and Hospitality

Wanona is a strategic thinker, trend spotter, motivator and problem solver with an artistic eye.  She joined the Chautauqua team in September of 2013 and has been instrumental in elevating Chautauqua’s ability to deliver a full and rich guest experience.  Her love of Chautauqua can be clearly seen in the recently upgraded décor that focuses on the historic roots that make Chautauqua so special.  With over twenty-five years of experience, Wanona has an exemplary career in hospitality and extensive expertise in the many facets of management and operations. She has consistently been chosen for  leadership roles throughout her career due to her deep commitment and communication skills.  Wanona values the human connection that hospitality supplies and the ability to build and nurture relationships within her immediate community.

Jeff Medanich, Director of Preservation & Sustainability

Jeff Medanich has been building, remodeling, restoring and preserving residential buildings for 35 years. For the 14 years before joining CCA in May 2008, Jeff was involved in the construction of new homes, working with Harvard Communities, a leading high-performance home builder, and with McStain Neighborhoods, a pioneer in the Green Building industry. Jeff has been a featured speaker at numerous national conferences including the U.S. Green Building Expo, the International Builders Conference, and the Urban Land Institute’s national conference. He is certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED Accredited Professional, by Colorado State University as a Green Building Professional, and by Naropa University as a Permaculture Designer. He is a contributing editor for the Green Building Advisor. Jeff was inducted into the Colorado Built Green Hall of Fame in 2005. He is currently a member of the Berthoud Historic Preservation Commission and formerly was a member of the Lafayette Historic Preservation Board. He lives in a 110 year-old farmhouse.

Jason Hill, Director of Operations

Jason oversees the historic buildings, grounds, capital spending and risk management across the Colorado Chautauqua campus. He holds a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from the University of Maryland and an M.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Massachusetts. Jason comes with over 12 years of experience in the land management, property management, and construction industries across the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Prior to coming to Colorado Chautauqua, Jason spent six years in nonprofit leadership focusing on land conservation in the Greater Boston metropolitan area.