In the heart of Colorado’s Sawatch Range, Knapp Ranch is propelled by a vision to preserve the land, water, and wildlife in a rustic and timeless setting.
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.
Knapp Ranch, Owner/Principal
Knapp Foundation, Chairman
Cleon T. (“Bud”) Knapp, founder, former chairman and chief executive officer of Knapp Communications Corporation, a company he founded in 1977, is recognized throughout the publishing and business worlds as an innovative, entrepreneurial, and dynamic leader. Knapp Communications Corporation published Architectural Digest and Bon Appetit, both of which were sold in April 1993 to Conde Nast Publications, Inc.
Bud was born and raised in Arizona, and spent most of his life in Los Angeles, and time in New York City. His history includes chairing and being active in numerous professional, philanthropic and civic organizations. Bud was listed on the Forbes “400” for the first time in 1989.
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 was born and raised in New Jersey. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University and serving for the U.S. Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, she moved to and has lived in Colorado since 1996. In 2002, Michelle received her Master of Science in Environmental Management from the University of Denver, and in the same year moved to the Vail Valley where she was hired to work for Gallegos Corporation as their Human Resources Coordinator. She eventually moved to work at the Sonnenalp Hotel where she spent 10-years, culminating her tenure there as the Director of Human Resources. In 2015, Michelle became a Human Resources Consultant and began work for Knapp Ranch in 2017. Michelle lives in Avon, Colorado, with her husband, Matt, and two sons, Roman and Marco, where they love to bike, ski, and play hockey.
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, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. She was responsible for overseeing the drafting, building, technical elements and safety of all 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.
Buildings & Infrastructure Manager
Matt Heelan grew up in the Vail Valley and attended Colorado State University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Matt’s love for the outdoors inspired him to apply for a job at Knapp Ranch where his organization, attention to detail, and reliability rapidly propelled 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, spending time camping, whitewater kayaking, backcountry skiing, and dirt biking.
Maintenance Foreman & Ranch Hand
Originally from Dover, New Jersey, Jim has lived and raised his family in the Vail Valley for the past twenty-one years. His experience in mechanical drawing, auto and equipment mechanics, and “can-do” style are invaluable to Knapp Ranch. Jim’s 36-year career in the gas industry working for both Xcel Energy and Source gas where he was in charge of new construction and line repair provide a breadth of experiences and wisdom in logistics, safety, and teamwork. 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 in spending time with his two sons, Jason and Chris, hiking, camping, building off road vehicles, and drag racing.
Originally from Pueblo, CO Kevin has lived in the Vail Valley for 36 years. He is a retired Eagle County Schools Woodworking Teacher of 31 years 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 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 with their grandchildren.
Benjamin graduated from Western Michigan University where he received degrees for Biology, Botany Sciences and Spanish, with a minor in Chemistry. He brings expertise from his work at the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, National Institute for Biodiversity in Costa Rica, and Agricultural Input Management, Inc. also in Michigan. Benjamin co-founded and fund-raised to establish the Kalamazoo Community Gardens Initiative (KCGI) ,where he and friends transformed vacant urban lots into vegetable gardens for community residents with a focus on sustainability and education. Benjamin’s scientific and creative mind are put to use at Knapp Ranch’s experimental high-altitude farm. Outside of work, he enjoys skiing and spending time in his own vegetable garden.
Agro Forestry & Grounds Manager
Andy McNeill was born and raised in the Vail Valley. After graduating Battle Mountain High School, he headed to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Denver. His 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 grew up in Keene, New Hampshire, and in 1992 he moved to Colorado from the familiar New England countryside to discover the west. Seth started work at Knapp Ranch in 1997 where, in addition to being 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, including creating a wedding arch of Aspen boughs for the 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.
Director of Administration
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 which 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 returned to the Vail Valley and formed Rimel Professional Services, LLC, which provided 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 grew up in Ohio and Denver and moved to Vail in 1994. Her son and daughter were both born and raised in the valley where Sandy owned and operated an 18-acre ranch in Sweetwater growing organic vegetables and raising Pekin ducks. She has a bachelor's degree in Sociology, a minor in business, 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; from creating a program in 2009 for the Vail Valley Foundation called Sowing Seeds whose mission is to teach horticulture (food production) and sustainability to over 6,500 students in Eagle County Schools; and building 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 grown 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.
Administration & Special Projects
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 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, serving 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 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 and 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.
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 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 was born and raised in the Vail Valley. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Montana State University after which she returned home to be in the mountains. Rebecca works as a Para-Professional Teacher at Eagle County Charter Academy during the school year, and for the Farm at Knapp Ranch during her summers where she loves getting her hands dirty growing fresh organic produce. Rebecca’s adventurous spirit was fueled by working as a rock climbing guide for Adventure Travel Guides and the Vail Athletic Club, work at Denali Park Village, and Paradise Adventure Company, all providing a fresh enthusiastic perspective to everything she does. When not working, Rebecca loves spending time with family and friends adventuring in the Colorado Rockies.