Executive Director

Mary Shepherd

Starting Your Business (Start-Up Specialist)

Mary Shepherd joined the Southwest Colorado SBDC as the Office Manager in December 2014. Prior to that, she worked in the office of admission at Fort Lewis College.

Mary has lived in Southwest Colorado for over 20 years, working in many industries from public relations to hospitality management to educational recruitment. As a public relations account manager, she worked with national outdoor brands to develop media strategies and direct outreach and campaigns to build a favorable brand image with customers, prospects, retail channels and the public. She understands the challenges of small business ownership, having owned a small restaurant in Durango with her husband. She wishes she would have known then about the services the SBDC provides.

Mary received her Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Cornell University. She is a recent Leadership La Plata graduate and serves on the LLP Alumni Committee. She is also currently serving on the steering committee for Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days 2018. She enjoys travelling, camping, and all the great outdoor recreation opportunities that life in Colorado provides.


Disaster Recovery Coordinator

Kiki Hooton

Kiki Hooton joined the Southwest Colorado SBDC as the Disaster Recovery Coordinator in July of 2020.

Kiki grew up watching her Dad run a small, family business in North Carolina and got a first hand view of the rewards and challenges of making a business work. She carried her passion for business to school with her, and started a club to help businesses make positive changes using student support. When she moved out west to Arizona for her masters degree she found that the lack of strong community was correlated to the lack of local, independent businesses and focused her studies on how small businesses help solve deeper community issues. She then moved to Durango and worked for Local First for three years doing business support for La Plata County.

Kiki received her Bachelor’s in Environmental Technology and Management and Master’s in Sustainability Solutions with a focus in Business. In her free time you can find Kiki in the backcountry skiing, biking, or trail running with her dog Luda.


Business Manager

Allison Danforth

Allison Danforth began her career in the outdoor industry which honed her ability to collaborate with brands and clients in the creative and production environment. These experiences range from managing a product line, design services, sourcing new factories and developing manufacturer relations.  She attended the University of Colorado and earned a degree in 20th century European history. While immersed in the liberal arts, she satisfied a practical employment requirement by peddling gear at local bike and climbing shops.


When not at work Allison can be found on a local trail cruising single track on a mountain bike or on foot hiking with a friend or two. She is always on the lookout for a few more favorite places to explore.