Our Staff

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Our staff consists of bright and enthusiastic individuals who are dedicated to the vision of preserving this magnificent land for the enjoyment of future generations.

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Bud Knapp

Knapp Ranch, Owner/Principal
Knapp Foundation, Chairman

Cleon T. (“Bud”) Knapp is the former Chairman and CEO of Knapp Communications Corporation, where he developed and published Architectural Digest and Bon Appétit magazines, which were sold to Conde Nast Publications, Inc. in 1993. Bud was born and raised in Arizona and spent most of his working adult life in Los Angles, with some time in New York City, before moving permanently to the Vail Valley in 2013. Bud has been active in professional, philanthropic and civic organizations as both a member of and Chairman of several boards. Most recently, Bud and his late wife Betsy wrote Living Beneath the Colorado Peaks, published in the fall 2018. It is the story of Knapp Ranch and their vision for land stewardship, architectural traditions, conservation and sustainable farming. Bud lives at Knapp Ranch and enjoys high-altitude farming, land and stream preservation, reading, spending time with friends, and planning for the legacy of his land.

Michelle Gennett

Human Resources

Michelle was born and raised in New Jersey. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University, she served for the U.S. Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Michelle then moved to and has lived in Colorado since 1996. In 2002, Michelle graduated from the University of Denver with a Master of Science in Environmental Management and moved to the Vail Valley, where she worked for Gallegos Corporation in Wolcott, Colorado as Human Resources Coordinator. She worked for ten years at the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, leaving as the Director of Human Resources to become an HR consultant, and began working in 2015 for West Lake Creek Company and Knapp Ranch in 2017. Michelle lives in Avon, Colorado, with her husband, Matt, and two sons, Roman and Marco. They love to bike, ski, and play hockey.

Andi Goodrich

Farm Processing & Data Manager

Andi hails from northern Michigan. Prior to joining the Farm at Knapp Ranch, Andi spent seven years working at a family owned certified organic vegetable farm in New Jersey, where her passion for organic local growing and a chemical-free healthy lifestyle began. Before discovering her interest in sustainable living and healing through food, Andi was Assistant Technical Director of the Stage Production Design department at the Savannah College of Design, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. She was responsible for overseeing the drafting, building, technical elements and safety of all stage sets, as well as the basic wood and metal shop training of all students in the program. At the Farm at Knapp Ranch, Andi established Good Agricultural Practices protocol, oversees the HACCAP standards, food processing, seeding, and germination. Delicious, healthy, and organic are her three favorite words! Outside of work Andi enjoys hiking, camping, gardening, home fermentation and homemade skin care.

Matt Heelan

Buildings & Infrastructure Manager

Matt was born and raised in the Vail Valley and attended Colorado State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. Matt’s love for the outdoors ultimately brought him Knapp Ranch, where his organization, attention to detail, and reliability rapidly advanced him to the leadership position of overseeing the management and maintenance of Knapp Ranch lodges, guest cabins, and structures. When Matt is not working, he can be found enjoying the Colorado wilderness with his wife, Courtney, while camping, whitewater kayaking, backcountry skiing, and dirt biking.

Jim Klatte

Maintenance Foreman & Ranch Hand

Originally from Dover, New Jersey, Jim lives and has been raising his family in the Vail Valley for the past twenty-one years. Jim's 36-year career in the gas industry,working for both Xcel Energy and Source Gas leading new construction projects and line repair provides a breadth of experience and wisdom in logistics, safety and teamwork. His experience in mechanical drawing, auto and equipment mechanics, and his “can-do” attitude are invaluable at Knapp Ranch. What Jim loves most about working at Knapp Ranch are the people and vistas he enjoys while cutting trees in the forest, snowplowing, and running ranch equipment. Jim’s passion for the outdoors and mechanics is expressed outside of work spending time with his two sons, Jason and Chris, hiking, camping, building off-road vehicles, and drag racing.

Kevin Kottenstette

Expert Woodworker

Originally from Pueblo, CO, Kevin has been living in the Vail Valley for over 36 years. He is a retired Eagle County Schools Woodworking Teacher and holds both Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Industrial Education. Kevin was an elected Eagle County School Board member and enjoys volunteering in the Vail Valley community. He is proficient in CorelDRAW, computer design drafting, and hand sketching to-scale furniture and building designs. In addition to woodworking, Kevin has experience and expertise in cabinet making, house construction, and laser design. Kevin’s and his wife, Janelle, also a career educator, enjoy biking, hiking and especially time spent with their grandchildren.

Andy McNeill

Agro Forestry & Grounds Manager

Andy was born and raised in the Vail Valley. After graduating Battle Mountain High School, he attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Denver. Andy's true love of the mountains beckoned him back to Vail where he worked in the kitchen at Sweet Basil, and simultaneously began studies in biology at Colorado Mountain College. Andy has his Wilderness First Responder certification, and is working towards becoming a Certified Arborist. At Knapp Ranch Andy oversees key aspects of the 320 acres including irrigation for hay, the farm, and estate grounds, collecting data and conducting research with Wellesley College and Colorado State University on high altitude fruit tree growing, and under the direction of the Colorado Forest Service, implementing Knapp Ranch’s forestry plan. Outside of work he can be found adventuring with his Golden retriever, Brie, hunting, whitewater rafting, and backcountry skiing.

Seth O’Brien

Ranch Manager

Seth grew up in Keene, New Hampshire and in 1992, moved to Colorado from New England to discover the west. Seth started work at Knapp Ranch in 1997 where now, in addition to serving as Knapp Ranch’s on-staff historian, he is acting Ranch Manager and resident artist. Seth’s experience working for a master painter has translated into artistic woodworking and welding expertise. His portfolio of works includes a wedding arch of Aspen boughs for Mr. Knapp’s son’s wedding. Seth’s knowledge of Knapp Ranch infrastructure, preservation practices and systems make him an invaluable part of the leadership team. Seth’s interests include expedition overland travel, camping, snowmobiling and caring for animals. Seth enjoys being an active member of the Toyota Land Cruiser Association. Seth and his wife Sophie live as caretakers on an adjacent ranch with their three dogs.

Wendy Rimel

Chief Marketing Officer & Business Development

Wendy Rimel is a native of Colorado and has been a resident of the Vail Valley since 1983. After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Wendy pursued a career in sales and marketing in Seattle and Southern California that included thirteen years in the paper and recycling industries, mostly for Georgia-Pacific Corporation. During her time in the paper industry, Wendy traveled extensively throughout Asia, where many of her customers were surprised to find out she was not “Mr.” Wendy. She was the first recognized female Sales Representative for GP Harmon Recycling. In 2008, Wendy left her corporate traveling behind, returning to the Vail Valley to form Rimel Professional Services, LLC, providing comprehensive executive management, and administrative support services to for-profit and non-profit 501(c)(3) businesses and individuals. She started full-time management of the Knapp’s family and business offices in 2014. Wendy resides in Edwards, Colorado with her son, Keegan, where she helped found the Education of Eagle County (EFEC). They enjoy volunteering for education-related causes, skiing, spending time at her father’s cabins on Tennessee Pass, biking, and everything outdoors the Vail Valley has to offer. Wendy also serves on the Board of Directors for Great Education Colorado.

Sandy Story

Farm Manager

Sandy grew up in Ohio and Denver and moved to Vail in 1994. Her son and daughter were both born and raised in Sweetwater, the valley where Sandy owned and operated an 18-acre ranch growing organic vegetables and raising Pekin ducks. She has a bachelor's degree in Sociology, a minor in Business Administration, a Master Gardner certification, and is studying to achieve a master’s degree in Agriculture and Integrated Resource Management. Sandy brings incredible experience to Knapp Ranch as a business owner and farmer. She created a program in 2009 for the Vail Valley Foundation called Sowing Seeds, with a mission to teach horticulture (food production) and sustainability to over 6,500 students in Eagle County Schools and she built the organic garden at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, where Knapp Ranch now partners to grow in the CMC greenhouse during the winter months. Sandy’s curiosity, creativity, and hard work have increased the productivity and varieties of produce available from the Knapp’s experimental farm. The delicious taste of fresh food grown by Knapp Ranch can be enjoyed at many local Vail Valley restaurants. Sandy is an avid volunteer and participates in 4H and rodeo with her daughter, and loves discovering new food trends, and eating out.

Claire Thayer

Director of Special Projects and Hospitality

Claire was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. In 1998 after traveling throughout Europe, Claire studied and then worked as a faculty member at Herstmonceux Castle in the UK. She then moved to Vail to work for the World Alpine Ski Championships, and subsequently worked for the Vail Valley Foundation. Claire still volunteers for the VVF, leading the on-hill signage volunteers for the annual Birds of Prey World Cup Ski races in Beaver Creek. In 2006, she joined Claggett/Rey Gallery as the Director of Lougheed Studio and served as Director of Administration for 10 years until moving briefly to Minnesota. The Colorado mountains beckoned her back to Vail, and Claire returned, working for Art Advisory Service as Business and Project Manager, procuring and installing artwork for luxury hotel projects. When she is not deep in the throes of a special project at Knapp Ranch, she enjoys traveling, volunteering, skiing, biking, sailing and camping with her husband, Matt, and their dog, Walter.

Steven Wallace

Farm Crew

Steven grew up in Bronx, New York. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Geology from the University at Albany in New York, and has completed certificate programs in Medical Botany at the New York Botanical Garden as well as Food Handler from ServeSafe National Restaurant Association. He brings a wide breadth of experience to the Farm at Knapp Ranch including working as a Farm Management Teacher at Project EATS, incorporating horticulture therapy practices as Health Educator for the New York Department of Education, conducting fresh food tastings and cooking demonstrations as Market Manager for Down To Earth Farmers Markets, and working as Head Hemp Farmer at Blue Forest Farms and Colorado Hemp Projects in Longmont, Colorado. Outside of his passion for growing delicious healthy food, he loves spending time with his son, James, and paragliding.

Carmen Weiland

Director of Estate Operations

Carmen was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and moved to Vail, Colorado in 1990. She began her career in the Vail Valley opening hotels for the Hyatt Corporation. She also worked in construction management and wrote construction loans for First Bank of Vail, before starting her own property management business in 2002, Albert Incorporated. Before joining Knapp Ranch as Director of Estate Operations, Carmen managed 23 homes, a ranch in McCoy and a Homeowners Association for Cattleman’s Ranch in Lake Creek, Colorado. Carmen and her husband Daniel reside at Knapp Ranch with their three dogs. Carmen loves to garden, bike, Nordic ski, and hike.

Rebecca Wirth

Farm Crew

Rebecca was born and raised in the Vail Valley, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Montana State University. Rebecca currently works as a Para-Professional Teacher at Eagle County Charter Academy during the school year and brings her enthusiasm and fresh perspective to the Farm at Knapp Ranch during her summers, where she loves getting her hands dirty growing fresh, organic produce. In prior years, Rebecca’s adventurous spirit led her to work as a rock-climbing guide for both Adventure Travel Guides and The Vail Athletic Club, and to Denali Park Village and Paradise Adventure Company. When not working, Rebecca loves spending time with family and friends adventuring in the Colorado Rockies.