About Palmer Land Trust

Board of Trustees

Nissa Steinhour


Nissa brings over a decade of non-profit and land conservation experience to the Palmer Land Trust. Nissa worked for the Trust for Public Land for 7 years helping with conservation transactions, landscape planning efforts, and serving as the Southwest Conservation Finance Director where she worked across the inter-mountain West to help communities raise dedicated funds for park, trail and land conservation priorities. Most recently she worked for the Western Conservation Foundation on a project with the Nature Conservancy to encourage state investment for wildlife habitat conservation. With Colorado roots that go back five generations into Elbert County, Nissa has always felt a strong connection to the land. She currently lives in Colorado Springs and spends most of her time raising her three children.

Matthew Niznik

Vice Chair

Matt Niznik, a Colorado Springs native, is an attorney with Sparks Willson Borges Brandt & Johnson. He received his undergraduate degrees and law degree from University of Colorado Boulder. Growing up in Colorado, Matt gained a true appreciation for and a desire to protect Colorado’s open spaces and biological diversity. He and his family enjoy hiking, backpacking and cycling throughout Colorado

Vanda Dyson


Vanda is a Business Strategy & Transitions Consultant for Eide Bailly LLP. She is a CPA and works with companies and non-profit organizations as a CFO-for-hire and a financial consultant. Vanda is passionate about land conservation statewide and is the treasurer for Keep it Colorado. She is a native Coloradan with deep roots in both the skiing and ranching communities. Vanda lives in Golden with her husband and enjoys spending time hiking, biking and skiing with her two active Labradors.

Paula Chostner


Paula Chostner is a rural Nebraska native who still jointly owns her grandfather’s farm with her husband Jeff. She attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in French along with teaching credentials. She and Jeff met while both were attending law school at the University of Mississippi, and after their marriage she accompanied him throughout his Air Force assignments around the United States and a 5-year stay in England. She earned teaching credentials in the states of Nebraska, Mississippi, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado and taught a variety of curricula from kindergarten through 12th grade in both public and private schools. Throughout her career she has also maintained involvement in the non-profit sector, heading Officers’ Wives’ Clubs in Loring AFB Maine, Cannon AFB New Mexico, and Lakenheath AFB in England; a 2-county Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in New Mexico; Pueblo Symphony president; and a member of Parkview Medical Center Foundation, United Way, NeighborWorks of Pueblo, and the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce boards, among others. She served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and executive director for human resources in Pueblo City Schools/D60 for 15 years, retiring from the district in May of 2017. In June of that year she was named the Director of Fund Development & Campaign for Pueblo County United Way. She and Jeff have 2 children, Kirsten and Michelle, and 6 grandchildren.

Marc Dettenrieder

Marc moved to Teller County with his wife Angel in 1996. Since that time, he has worked in mining, financial planning, higher education, and County government. Marc holds a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in Communications/Political Science, having graduated magna cum laude. He is an honors graduate of Regis University with an MBA in Operations Management. Most recently, he is a 2014 graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies. Over the years Marc has engaged in various civic and volunteer activities in the community and across the State. Under Colorado Governor Bill Owens, Marc was a Governor appointee to the Colorado Emergency Planning Commission and the Colorado Workforce Development Council. He is a former member of the Pikes Peak Workforce Investment Board, Teller County Planning Commission, Teller County Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the Teller County Community Wildfire Protection Plan Committee. Currently, he serves on the boards of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP), Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG – alternate board member), Teller County Board of Health, Teller County Board of Social Services, Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byways, Action 22, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and participates in Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) steering committees during the legislative session. Since 2014, Marc has been a member of the Governor’s Commission on Community Service. Beginning in 2015, he will be serving on the State’s Emergency Fire Fund (EFF) Committee. Marc believes in active, positive, and principled leadership. As Commissioner, Marc is committed to serving Teller County and to representing the best interests of his fellow citizens at the local, regional, and state level.

Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is a retired career teacher who is committed to working for the preservation of Colorado open space lands. She is beginning her third term as a Palmer Trustee. In addition, she is co-chairman of the Pikes Peak Farm to School group, which is working actively to improve the nutritional level of school food in the region.

John Geary

John is a native of Colorado Springs, a graduate of the University of Alabama, and the owner and president of GLM Development Co., a land and timber business dedicated to environmentally sound management of natural resources. He is also the nephew of Stuart Dodge, one of the original founders of Palmer Land Trust. He divides his time between Colorado Springs and Athens, Ga., and he continues the family tradition of actively participating in land conservation in both locales. The state of Georgia recently honored John with the prestigious Georgia Tree Farmer of the Year award for his conservation of 4,000 acres of timberland.

Craig Larimer, Jr

Craig Larimer, Jr. is a Colorado Springs native whose father hails from Salida. He enjoys fly fishing and is currently secretary/treasurer of a homeowners’ association along the Tarryall River. Craig has a long association with Fountain Valley School of Colorado, as an alumnus and former board member, and retired as headmaster in 2013. Prior professional experience included capital markets business with banks in London and Chicago, and as a financial attaché and policy analyst with the U.S. Treasury. Craig holds a Master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Bachelor’s degree from Pomona College, both in International Relations.

Alex Lasater

Upon Graduation from Trinity University in San Antonio Texas, Alex co-founded a wholesale distribution company in Monterrey, Mexico. The company was sold in 2002, and Alex shifted to the Oil and Gas sector in Mexico, working for various operators and service companies. In 2011, Alex returned to manage the family ranch in Matheson, Colorado, home of the Foundation herd of the Beefmaster Breed. In 2015, Alex took control of all ranch and land operations, as well as becoming the sole proprietor of the Foundation herd, which is the oldest closed herd of cattle in existence. He continues to ranch in Matheson, Colorado and in northern New Mexico. Alex continues his family’s legacy of excellency in breeding genetics and meeting the needs of the commercial cattleman. Alex is a member of the Pikes Peak Cattleman’s Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He also serves as a Member of the Board of the Beefmaster Education Endowment Foundation.

Jody McCoy

Jody McCoy grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, backpacking and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, and was instilled with a love of the land from an early age. He earned his M.A. in communications management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has spent his professional career in broadcasting. He is a past president of the National Association of Media Brokers, and is currently the president of the board of KCME 88.7 FM, the Pikes Peak regional classical music station. His association with the late Stu Dodge led to an interest in the work of Palmer Land Trust, and in the conservation easement that was ultimately placed on the Bear Creek Regional Park; he helped to raise funds as part of that easement process. He thoroughly enjoys hiking, bird hunting, and motorcycling in rural Colorado.

John Onstott

John Onstott is an owner at NAI Highland Commercial Group, a commercial real estate services firm in Colorado Springs. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a law degree from Washburn University School of Law. John grew up and worked on the family wheat and dairy farm in Kansas, and has a great appreciation of farmers and ranchers and the preservation of lands for future generations. A thirty-year resident of Colorado, his hobbies include hiking, biking, and skiing.

Blake Osborn

Blake Osborn was born and raised in southern Colorado, with a family history that goes back several generations along the Arkansas and Rio Grande Rivers. Still a resident of southern Colorado, Blake serves as the southern Colorado Regional Water Specialist for the Colorado Water Institute. His research and outreach activities are centered on better understanding post-wildfire hydrologic processes, helping farmers make efficient uses of water, and creating coalitions to improve water quality. Blake has a BS degree in Natural Resources Management from Colorado State University and a MS in Hydrology from the University of Wyoming. Blake and his wife just welcomed their first child, Owen, and are happy to live on a 5-acre hay patch in Cañon City.

John Poyzer

John Poyzer retired after 33 years with IBM, serving as a computer systems engineer, large systems salesperson and consultant doing energy-efficiency and computer optimization studies. He received a BS and ME in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University, and an MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa, where he was also on the Engineering College faculty. He is a US Navy veteran, has served as Treasurer of an Iowa family farm corporation, and on the Board of the Bear Creek Garden Association. From his youth until recently, he helped with all aspects of row-crop farming in his spare time, and is an avid vegetable gardener. He enjoys hot-air ballooning and playing his French horn in the New Horizons Band of Colorado Springs.

Emily Vandenberg

As an Air Force child, Emily grew up all over the country and in 1994 her family settled in Monument, Colorado. Today, she works as a deputy district attorney for the Tenth Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Pueblo. Emily graduated from Lewis-Palmer High School in 1999 and earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Northwestern University in 2003. She graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 2007 and has been a prosecutor in multiple Colorado jurisdictions.

Nancy Whitford

Nancy Whitford is a California native and 22-year resident of Colorado Springs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising from San Jose State University, and has more than eleven years’ experience in fundraising for nonprofit organizations in Colorado Springs. Nancy has a great appreciation for Colorado’s beautiful landscape and is interested in helping protect open spaces for recreational purposes. She serves on the Incline Friends board, and the Old North End Neighborhood Intergenerational Village (ONEN iVillage) committee of the Innovations in Aging Collaborative. She enjoys attending arts events and performances, traveling, hiking, and running and walking in Monument Valley Park.