ATHENA award goes to Glenwood’s ‘mother of dance,’ Maurine Taufer |

ATHENA award goes to Glenwood’s ‘mother of dance,’ Maurine Taufer

Maurine Taufer said she had a hunch something was up when her husband, John, couldn’t quite wipe the smirk off his face the past few weeks.

Indeed, the big secret couldn’t be kept for long, as the longtime Glenwood dance instructor learned she would be the recipient of this year’s ATHENA Award, given annually by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

What was a surprise was the reception she received upon the official announcement Friday at an awards banquet at the Aspen Glen Club.

There, several of Taufer’s past and present dance students — including multiple generations in some cases — waited in the back of the room before greeting her with hugs, flowers and a big sign thanking her for her many years of dedication to introducing the world of dance to area youngsters.

Occupying the room, filled mostly with women, were several past recipients of Glenwood’s ATHENA Award, which traditionally honors a female leader in the community or someone who has empowered women to succeed.

“I’m thrilled to get to be with my current and former students, and such inspiring and incredible people,” Taufer said after receiving the award. “I greatly admire those who’ve received this award, and feel honored to be in that league.”

Named for the Greek goddess, Athena, the award is given in partnershp with ATHENA International, which sponsors awards through chambers of commerce, women’s organizations and universities around the world.

In addition to Taufer, Valley View Hospital’s volunteer coordinator and organization development specialist Kati Ledall, was presented with the ATHENA Young Professional Award.

original dance mom

Taufer was instrumental in bringing the first children’s dance program to Colorado Mountain College in the early 1980s.

Said former CMC Glenwood Center Dean, Jan Shugart, one of Taufer’s nominators, “She is the reason performing arts became so accessible and professional in this community. She really is known as the mother of dance at CMC.”

Her love of dance began in Salt Lake City, where she studied dance at the University of Utah, before she and John moved to Glenwood Springs.

Former Glenwood Chamber CEO and last year’s ATHENA recipient, Marianne Virgili, described Taufer as an “icon” in Glenwood Springs for her work with CMC dance, and later with Aspen Dance Connection and the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. She co-founded Dancers Dancing in 1993, and directed the annual performance for 20 years, putting some 300 dancers on the stage.

“In this community, when you say the word Maurine, you think of one thing — dance,” Virgili said in presenting the award.

When the Center for the Arts closed two years ago, Taufer worked with others to make sure the dance movement continued in Glenwood Springs through CMC.

“It is magical to watch the pure joy in moving that I get to see when I’m in dance class,” Taufer said upon receiving the award.

“Sometimes in class I just step back and watch in awe,” she said. “And one of best parts of our shows is seeing the pride that the students and parents have in their accomplishments.”

She even shared a quote from her husband, John, who has been an avid supporter of the arts in Glenwood Springs for many years.

“One of my favorite John Taufer quotes is, ‘if there were more music and dance in the world, we wouldn’t have so many of the problems we have,’” she said.

rallying support

As head volunteer coordinator and organizational specialist with Valley View Hospital, this year’s ATHENA Young Professional, Kati Ledall, has been active on several fronts in just a few short years in Glenwood Springs.

She currently coordinates more than 100 volunteers in various departments at the hospital in programs ranging from Meals on Wheels, Heeling Partners dog therapy and Thread of Love knitted caps for newborns.

Ledall also helped develop the No One Dies Alone program, which calls on volunteers to sit with patients in their final hours.

“If she cannot find a volunteer, you’ll find her in the patient’s room offering that comforting care,” said Valley View’s Stacey Gavrell, who presented the award.

Ledall also serves on the board for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, is a mentor for the Glenwood Springs High School Capstone program, and a Sunday School teacher at New Creation Church.

Before saying a few words herself, Ledall asked the attendees to stand and give each other a hug in memory of Nancy Reinisch, another past ATHENA recipient and cancer support volunteer who died from cancer earlier this year. A moment of silence was also held in honor of Reinisch during the Friday event.

“I came here four years ago knowing no one … and I just fell in love with this community,” Ledall said. “I think we rise by lifting others up, and I feel blessed every day to able to do that at Valley View. And, I feel so empowered by the women here, and inspired by the lives I’ve been touched by.”

celebrating women

CMC President Carrie Besnette Hauser gave the keynote address at the luncheon event, talking about her recent travels to Africa, and specifically Rwanda where women have played a major role in rebuilding the country following the 1994 genocide.

“Women are often credited for moving the country forward, and realizing they could not survive a hard recovery without simply being and living as normally as possible,” Hauser said.

“Women have a way, don’t they? … to find hope in despair, to find strength in deep reservoirs and huge hearts, to move families and communities forward.”

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