Our Staff

Katy Hale

Executive Director

Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Katy has been with Grand Beginnings since 2013 and specializes in early childhood health prevention and systems-building across the health and early childhood sectors. Katy holds two Bachelor of Science degrees in Neurobiology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has a Graduate Certificate in Global Health from UW-Madison’s Global Health Institute and a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, where she specialized in infectious disease epidemiology as well as the relationships between social justice and health within individual communities. Her work with Grand Beginnings has led to the Colorado Trust John R. Moran Jr. Grantee Leadership Award in 2015 and recognition as an Early Childhood Colorado Partnership Emerging Leader in Early Childhood in 2017. As the Executive Director, she works to promote a child-centered early childhood system that fosters early learning, facilitates healthy child development, and promotes family success in Grand and Jackson Counties.

Ashley Hotz

Assistant Director

Ashley Hotz discovered her passion for education in 2008 when she began tutoring with Colorado Learning Connections (CLC)  in Frisco, Colorado. Four years and many roles later, she became the Executive Director when she purchased the organization, then an LLC, and began the work of converting it to a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization in order to ensure equitable access to services. In 2017, CLC received its official status as a non-profit organization, and Ashley founded the Opening Opportunities Scholarship Program. Ashley has a Masters in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and a Certificate in Educational Leadership through Regis University in Denver. She received her Bachelors in English and Philosophy from Hastings College in Nebraska. In 2022, Ashley joined the Grand Beginnings team as the Assistant Director where she hopes to use her previous experiences to positively impact the community.

Julia Macchione

Family Education Coordinator, Coach, and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant

Contact Julia for upcoming family education classes, play groups for young children (0-5 years of age) in our community, or information about the Children’s Fair (4th Friday of April each year). Julia is a native Coloradan who grew up in Nederland (home of Frozen Dead Guys Days and the most amazing Nepalease food ever). She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where she received a Bachelor’s in Psychology, a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and defended her thesis: Flexibility in Infants: Linking a modified A-not-B task to generalization and locomotion, for which she received magna cum laude honors. She graduated from Colorado State University with a Master’s in Teaching and Learning and a teacher’s license in the State of Colorado (K-5). Julia has always been drawn to the early childhood years and served as a research assistant for a development center, the director of a development center, a toddler teacher, a preschool teacher, and an early childhood center director. She then spent time with the youth in our community (and their parents) as an Intentional Faith Development Director. She learned that the techniques that work for our earliest learners often parallel the techniques that work with youth (and adult) learners. She has two children who have helped cement her learning in the field while giving her a new, fresh perspective on the education she received being used “in the wild”. She hopes to provide resources and foster community for families with young children through formal means (education classes, screening tools) and informal means (parent groups, children’s fairs). 

Jessica Smolleck

Coach and Professional Development Coordinator

Contact Jessica for information on child care information and resources, scholarship programs, training and education, and community events. Jessica has been in the field of education since 2004. She was Group Leader Qualified as a toddler teacher at Winter Park Resort Early Education Center from 2004-2008. In 2008 she taught in East Grand School District as a Special Education Teacher until the fall of 2012 when she started at Grand Beginnings. She has dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Elementary and Special Education, is the Director of Ready! for Kindergarten, is a certified Pyramid coach and trainer in Social-Emotional Pyramid Plus Approach as well as a ASQ trainer and EQIT (Enhancing Quality for Infants and Toddlers) trainer and coach.

Kyle Ohl

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant

Contact Kyle for information on maternal, infant/early childhood mental health, behavior concerns, referrals and resources in the community. Since Kyle started her career in 2007, as a YMCA Camp and Family Services Director, she has gained her masters of education and become a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor. Before she moved to Colorado from North East Ohio, she coordinated and grew a program called Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding Program, which lowered the rates of preschool expulsion, built resiliency in our youngest children and teachers. Here in Granby, Kyle is an advocate for our 0-5 population through Grand Beginnings, partnering with early childhood programs and community organizations, as well as working with Mind Springs, providing counseling services to children and families.

Alli Whalen

Early Childhood Health and Systems Coordinator
Contact Alli for oral, vision, hearing, and the Ages & Stages (ASQ) screenings.  Alli comes from a family of educators, medical professionals, and small business owners.  Growing up in Littleton, Colorado, she loved to dance, act, and ski.  As an adult she moved to Vail where she worked for the Ritz Carlton for many years and where her family started a solar company out of their home. They wanted to bring the same opportunities of a cleaner and more efficient environment to Grand County. Now, she has been living in Grand County for five years working in hospitality as well as floral arrangements and wedding decor.  Her young daughter has led her to Grand Beginnings and her new passion to help sustain a healthy and educational environment for all the kids of Grand and Jackson counties. She wants to make an impact in the counties that she loves in the areas she is passionate about.