We’re fortunate to live in a place known not only for its extraordinary natural beauty but also for its vibrant culture. At Fortified, we’re steeped in that sense of place. We bring the best of Fort Collins—beer, bikes, food, farms, music, art and nature—to every collaboration and project. Where we live is why we started this company. It’s what inspires us and shapes who we are.

My story and the story for each of us begins right at home in our own community—and with our own capacity to recognize and protect what we truly care about.
— Judy Wicks

Our Mission

To strengthen community through purposeful collaborations and partnerships that create authentic connection and fortify our local economy and the living systems that sustain us.

 

Our Values

Keeping it Collaborative. We believe that we’re “better together.” We actively work with members of the community on matters of common interest and shared values.

Keeping it Local. We believe that the core of a restorative and resilient economy is a commitment to place. We actively support local businesses, local farmers and local households.

Keeping it Positive. We believe in seeking out the best of the best. We look for positive examples, methods and ideals around our community and around the world to emulate and share.

Keeping it Innovative. We believe that the true test of an idea is in its implementation. We believe in continual learning and continual improvement through action and work that exemplifies the kind of world we want to live in.

Keeping it Fun. We believe in good friends and good times. We strive for balance with a playful spirit and open hearts and minds.

Keeping it Real. We believe in speaking from the heart and honoring the innate value in everyone. We listen to each other and we stay honest, candid, positive and flexible.

 

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KRISTINA CASH - FOUNDER & CHIEF CONNECTOR

Born and raised in rural southern Colorado, Kristina is a farm girl at heart. Daily chores that included care for her younger siblings, cows, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and plants gave her a sense of connection and stewardship that has motivated her lifestyle and work to this day. After earning her Bachelor’s in Language Arts and Cultural Anthropology, Kristina then hit the road. She worked for an Alaskan fishery, spent time on the West Coast and backpacked through Europe before landing in Fort Collins. With aspirations of becoming an educator, she got her Teaching Certificate and Masters in Education Administration, but set teaching aside for an opportunity with a new company in town called New Belgium Brewing. As “Resourceress” she wore many hats during her seven years with the company and was instrumental in helping to build the New Belgium brand and tie it to Fort Collins culture.

 After taking a break to focus on being a mom, Kristina was asked to helm the Rocky Mountain Sustainability Fair. In three years she grew fair attendance from 6,000 to 12,000 and built the event into the premiere sustainability fair in the West, drawing celebrity speakers from around the country. Kristina’s work as a community advocate and leader takes many forms. She’s served on the boards of the Fort Collins Food Coop, Bike Fort Collins, Global Visionaries and The Growing Project. Before founding Fortified she served as Outreach and Fundraising Coordinator at Be Local Northern Colorado and worked closely with the national Local Living Economies initiative. For Kristina, Fortified is the manifestation of a lifelong vision and an intrinsic desire to learn, connect, build and nurture.

 
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MALIA RUCHTI - CONNECTOR DIRECTOR

Since a young age, Malia has held passionately optimistic beliefs about the way the world works. She was absolutely crushed when she was told that Santa Claus, unicorns and fairies didn’t exist. Yet she has stubbornly dedicated herself to making magic in the world through positive and meaningful connections. Malia has done this through a number of venues over the years, including Girls Scouts Mile Hi Council, the Downtown Denver Partnership, Mile High Business Alliance, BikeDenver and The Growing Project. She recently organized the 3rd Annual Local Food Summit in Denver. Malia is elated to be invited into Fortified Collaborations and excited to form deeper connections in her hometown of Fort Collins.

 

KAYLEY ALIE - Event Connector

There is something about a special event that brings nothing but a contagious, happy and exciting energy to people, and it is that force that has Kaley hooked! With a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism from Colorado State University, a passion for the local food movement, commitment to sustainability, and a creative drive, Kaley is beyond excited to be taking on the role of Event Coordinator for Fortified Collaborations.

It is easy to believe that the love for events may be ‘in her blood’ as she grew up in Summit County helping out the family event and party rental business. This later led to countless event volunteer hours, a position with the Town of Frisco Special Events, Recreation Coordinator for Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, Program Chair for St. Jude’s Northern Colorado Events, and, most recently, the Community Engagement and Event Coordinator for The Kitchen Bistro. Over the past 10 years, Kaley has become rooted in the Fort Collins Community and is continuing her efforts to build lasting relationships in a very special place.

She believes that when we all come together over good local food, drink and conversation a strong sense of community is formed and at that point, we can’t help but make our home a better place.

 

CONNECTOR CONTRACTORS

 

AMY ALCORN - MARKETING DIRECTOR AT ASPEN GROVE MARKETING

Amy Alcorn is the marketing addict, social media nerd and queen of collaboration and connection that makes Aspen Grove Marketing the premier Northern Colorado digital marketing superstar that it has become.
A social butterfly with a heart of gold and a mind like a steel trap, it’s Amy’s affinity for creating and fostering connections and her love for good people and local business that give depth and heart to a realm primarily powered by RAM and algorithms. There is nothing she would rather do than help local businesses connect with their customers and target markets through social media and email marketing… except maybe go for a run, take a stroll through Old Town or enjoy a tasty beverage and a local band.
In addition to her kind, colorful, and entrepreneurial spirit, Amy is also dedicated to volunteering her time and efforts to local causes that she is passionate about. She has been the Social Media Coordinator with the Sustainable Living Association since 2008 and is also the Co-Founder and Director of Marketing and Events at the NoCo Rebuilding Network.
Her love for the Northern Colorado community is palpable as is her desire to provide Aspen Grove’s customers with the utmost in digital marketing services, creating new connections, and promoting businesses in her network. The life of the party and enterprising powerhouse, you’ll definitely want Amy in your business’ corner.

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MARY MERRITT - NERD HERDER AT NERDYMIND

Mary is the Co-Owner, Co-Founder and Operator of NerdyMind Marketing in Fort Collins, Colorado. She started her company with one wildly important goal in mind:  To create more high-value jobs in her community and beyond. By being in the business of business growth, she is able to meet that goal by helping organizations realize their sales potential through digital marketing and an intelligent web strategy. Outside of NerdyMind, Mary loves woodworking, playing music, running, cooking and spending as much time as possible with family.

HILLARY MIZIA - PRINCIPAL AND FOUNDER AT PRIZM SUSTAINABILITY

Known sustainability expert and strategist, Hillary Mizia has over 15 years of experience that span across the business, non-profit and government sectors. Thriving on innovative sustainability system design, creative partnerships, and helping to develop key institutions, from the Sustainable Living Fair to the City of Golden Sustainability Advisory Board, Hillary is both a respected leader and community partner. Often asked to guide conversation, action, and strategic planning around sustainability issues, Hillary has become a knowledgeable facilitator drawing on tools from Appreciative inquiry, personal experience, and her background in group dynamics. As a self-professed committee geek, Hillary has an extensive history serving on boards and committees of all kinds, and is currently serving on the board of trustees for Mountain Sage Community School and the chair for Colorado Environmental Education Leadership Council. She has appeared on both television and radio, and has spoken to myriad audiences about sustainability. As a celebrated writer, Hillary's pieces have been published in a variety of magazines, books, and on-line sources. A 1997 graduate of Prescott College with a BA in Experiential Education, and 2003 graduate of Antioch University Seattle with an MA in Environment and Community, Hillary has also obtained academic training specific to sustainability.

SONJA SALZBURG - SONJA K PHOTOGRAPHY

Sonja wants to live in a world where Red Vines are a health food, love really does conquer all, and unicorns can fly (because we all know they exist).  As a portrait, wedding, and fine art photographer, she’s been showcased in international gallery shows and flown around the country to document weddings.  When she’s not drinking wine and crafting, you can find her furiously traveling the globe, painting this life in watercolors, or drinking coffee in her backyard next to her beehives. Her latest project – a piece of elastic- hits the airwaves very soon. Find out how to listen in or get photographed at sonjasalzburg.com

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EMILY ZAYNARD - MIGHTY HEART

Emily is a creative director and a graphic, print, and web designer. She is the Creative Director for Rocky Mountain Publishing; producers of RM Parent magazine, 50 & Better magazine and Ride magazine. She also works with Fortified Collaborations using print design to unite and engage lovers of local food and farms. Emily never begrudges herself a visit to a museum and is passionate about bringing a creative flavor to local businesses. 

 

Organizations We Support

 

  • Attending a Fortified Collaborations event is guaranteed to give you a feeling of being nourished — both physically and emotionally!
    — Carol Cochran, Horse & Dragon Brewing
  • Fortified brings dedication and flair to our local food work through its heart-filled events that bring good people and causes together with wonderful food and drink. Thanks - our community is richer for your efforts!
    — Gail Marie Kimmel, Resources for Resiliency: Land, Water, Food
  • Fortified Collaborations plays a key role in the Northern Colorado food community...assuring deeper connections a nd relationships through engaging events, community-driven promotions and thoughtful networking activities. Our region is lucky to have this innovative player on our team!
    — Dawn Thilmany-McFadden, Professor, Extension Economist-Labor & Agribusiness Management, Colorado State University
  • At White Balcony we celebrate genuine connections on a daily basis, like laughing over an inappropriate card. There's nothing quite like sharing a meal to bring people together. Being part of that is pretty magical.
    — Justine Reed, White Balcony
  • One of the things I love most about the Farm Dinners is how many smiles are shared around the table....alongside the delicious food and beverages. It's one of those special events where you leave with more energy than you came with.
    — James W Mitchell, Renewablue