Staff - Ascendigo

Full-time Staff

RonRon Rash – Director of Programs

Ron is the past CEO of Aspen Alpine Guides and EnvironClean, Inc. He is a partner in Aspen International Travel Company. As the past CEO of Aspen Alpine Guides, Ron was instrumental in starting the rock climbing program with the Ascendigo. Rock climbing has become one of the signature sports programs at the Ascendigo. Ron has been a mountain guide for over 28 years, guiding trips in the American West, Canada, and the Indian Himalaya. In the Aspen, Colorado area Ron has over 150 ascents of the Bells, Capitol, and Pyramid Peak, some of the more technical peaks in Colorado. He has been a full member of Mountain Rescue Aspen for 15 years and served 2 years as a board member and the Training Officer, a Single Pitch Instructor for the American Mountain Guides Association, a Senior Field Instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and a ski pro for the Aspen Ski Company. Ron has extensive medical training as a Wilderness First Responder and is certified as an Outdoor Emergency Care Technician. He has been teaching Level 1and 2 avalanche courses for 25 years. He loves to introduce people to the mountains and when not guiding he can still be found in the mountains showing his daughter, Megan, this incredible environment. Ron has helped to put together the driving management plan for Ascendigo and has been involved in the training of new skill’s trainers in leadership, communication, and creating a positive work environment.


CarlyKnaufCarly Knauf – Adult Program Manager

Trading lakes for mountains, Carly is a Michigander turned Coloradan. Lured by the mission and vision of Ascendigo, Carly spent her first summer in Aspen in 2012 and fell in love with environment, people, and, of course, the amazing campers!  Duty called at the end of the summer and Carly returned to Michigan State University (Go Green!) to finish graduate school. She couldn’t shake the mile-high state of mind and returned to Colorado after receiving an M.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling.  Rehabilitation Counseling allowed Carly to focus her lifelong enthusiasm for helping others in a program with an emphasis on helping adults with various disabilities achieve their personal, social and career goals through a holistic hands-on counseling approach.  Carly has experience as an aide for children and adults with autism dating back to elementary school, and she successfully translated that passion to collegiate positions by serving on the executive board for Best Buddies and co-founding D.A.R.N. (Disability Advocacy Rehabilitation Network). Carly’s vast experience isn’t confined to the United States: she has traveled to Ireland and Haiti to help children and adults with disabilities and expand her scope of disability counseling to international practices. Carly is beyond excited to apply her education and experience and is gearing up for another unforgettable season.

Ashley Singiser – Program Manager

AshleyAshley grew up in a small town outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree in Health and Physical Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Throughout college, she volunteered at different community programs for individuals with disabilities. After developing this new passion, Ashley went on for her master’s degree in Adapted Physical Activity at Slippery Rock University. While at SRU, Ashley taught weekly Adapted Physical Education to Head Start and high school students, as well as an autism support class. She obtained a certification in Special Olympics Coaching and Disability Sport Specialist. After completing her internship at Ascendigo, she fell in love with their mission and the participants and families. As a year round staff, she is excited for her third winter with Ascendigo!

 Maureen Muller – Business Manager

Bebe Byrd – Office Assistant / Logistics


Adult Program Staff

Joseph Breiling – Lead Skills Trainer

JosephJoseph has been working with individuals with disabilities for over 11 years. He has coached Special Olympics soccer, basketball, and softball and been an instructor for many sports such as skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, and climbing. Joseph started working with individuals with autism in 2009 as a counselor for Ascendigo. He fell completely in love and made working in this field his passion and career. He moved on to being a Team Manager and then the Lake Program Manager. Last fall he founded AWAKE (Adaptive Wakeboarding Autism Kinetic Empowerment) in an effort to expand what the lake program had to offer and share its positive impact to a much greater population. Joseph’s patience and positivity is unparalleled, and he is thrilled to have turned his passion into his career. Through Joseph’s leadership, creative imagination and dedicated work ethic, the adult program is sure to excel!

Chase Bowlby – Skills Trainer

ChaseBorn and raised in the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley, Chase has been an avid skier, snowboarder, and white water enthusiast since he was a child! Since 2005, Chase has helped build Ascendigo’s mission, vision and programs! Through the years Chase has managed the lake and river programs for Ascendigo as well as developing individualized participant programs. The adult program is beyond excited to have Chase on board, making a difference everyday!


Gerard Beattie – Skills Trainer

Gerard-2For the past 2 years, Gerard has worked with Ascendigo and AWAKE (Adaptive Wakeboarding Autism Kinetic Empowerment) as a Skills Trainer, coach and instructor. Gerard’s passion for helping others has turned into a career that allows him to focus his knowledge and experience to enhance the lives of many on the autism spectrum! Helping to develop programs and opportunities using sustainable agriculture methods and individualized programming, Gerard’s contagious passion and hard work ethic are a huge asset to the adult program!



Skills Trainers

Summer 2015

Winter 2014/15

Autism Expertise

DianeOsakiDiane Osaki, OT – Consultant to Ascendigo

Deeply involved in the shaping and development of our programs, Diane has played an integral role in our success.  Year to year, she has helped to continually improve our program quality which makes the experience and benefits for the kids who attend the Ascendigo the best they can be.  Diane is personally involved in our training each season and provides valuable on-site direction and guidance for our entire staff.  She attends periodically during the summer and winter programs to provide guidance and training throughout our programs.

Diane Osaki is the Early Start Denver Model Director of Firefly Autism. She was the founder and executive director of the center – originally known as the Aspen Center for Autism – in 2003, and served on the board from 2007 to 2010. She is a pediatric occupational therapist and has been working with people with developmental disabilities for nearly 20 years, specializing in treatment for children with autism and their families. Prior to opening what was then the Aspen Center for Autism, Diane was with JFK Partners at the University of Colorado Health Services. Diane is a member of the Association for Behavior Analysis, the Autism Society of America, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. She was also on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Chapter of the Autism Society of America. Diane provides educational and behavior consultation to families and schools in Colorado and around the world. Her intervention focuses on building positive relationships and the science of instruction to improve learning in all areas of development.

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