Linda Gann has come a long way from an idyllic childhood in tiny Redstone, Colo. A member of several important boards, she calls herself a “putterer” but one wonders where she finds the time to putter. A better word for Gann might be “communicator.”
Gann began to apply her communication skills to Colorado’s health care situation after retiring from the Montrose District Re-1J school system. “I did not realize that people could not see a doctor in Montrose, Colorado if they didn’t have cash in hand or an insurance card.” She gave her first Connect for Health Colorado (Obama Care) presentation about four years ago, entitled “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this.” The Affordable Care Act was politically volatile in the state, particularly in Western Colorado. At that time there was no way of knowing that it might be repealed in 2017.
She doesn’t want to contemplate how the future of affordable care will play out. “Right now we don’t know what’s going to happen about health care,” she said.
Gann spent 13 years working in communications and special projects for the Montrose School District. She retired in 2010. “A couple of the last projects I’d worked on in the school district involved writing grants, which I’d never done before,” Gann said.
While writing grants for the school district, she learned of the El Pomar Foundation, a philanthropic fund based in Colorado Springs, and divided into eight statewide regions. The non-profit foundation awards grants in the areas of arts and culture, civic and community initiatives, education, health, and human services.
Gann’s current job as the San Juan regional representative of the El Pomar Foundation has resulted in much learning for her, and a series of successful grants for others.
“It’s really fun because we get to make direct impacts,” she said. “I’m the Montrose County Representative. We were following Region 10’s initiative to get some kind of stability with economic development. Our Regional Council stepped up, and we funded Region 10 to hire a coordinator. That’s one of the things that we do. We can pivot to a need that we hear about.”
El Pomar is also helping Region 10 fulfill the need for broadband internet. Gann said,”With all the diversity in the region we felt that broadband (high-speed internet access) could bring sustainable employment opportunities to our region.”
It has been hard to attract some companies to move here because the Delta-Montrose area didn’t have the internet capability to support their work. However, that is beginning to change, as Region 10 and the Delta Montrose Electric Association set up more broadband capabilities.
Gann is also working to improve the early childhood experience. “We have a real strong commitment to whatever we can do to enrich the youngest in our community. We have a program called Pyramid, which is social, emotional development of little kids of all economic levels in pre-school.
“That’s just our regional council. The El Pomar Foundation does bigger things. Just this last year they funded the Ute Indian expansion, the Botanical Gardens, and Community Options.”
El Pomar is committed to supporting organizations across the state. Gann’s job on the council is to evaluate the activities, legitimacy, and leadership of organizations that apply for grants. “For the longest time I was the grant writer, now I look at the grants and recommend. It’s pretty fun.”
You can still see the sparkle of a 16-year-old when Linda Gann talks of her achievements.
She fondly recalls growing up in Redstone. “It was a wonderful place to live—a wonderful place,” she exclaimed. “I worked as a horse wrangler in the summer during the day, and then would go to the Redstone Inn to wait tables at night. You knew everyone on the street (the boulevard, as it was called.)”
She’s been married to David Gann for 44 years and they have three children, Jamie, Matthew (deceased), and John David, as well as two grandsons.