20 under 40: Carlyn Lawatsch goes above and beyond for community youth

Carlyn Lawatsch
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Carlyn Lawatsch is constantly looking for new ways to better her community, and isn’t sure how she finds all the hours in the day to do what she does.

Lawatsch, youth programs manager at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, said she is passionate about helping and empowering young people in Steamboat — whether it be through wilderness excursions, social justice initiatives or helping parents set their kids up for success.

She moved to Steamboat in 2012, then lived in Denver and her home state of Massachusetts before returning to the Yampa Valley in 2019. Lawatsch worked with single parents and youth experiencing homelessness before working with Rocky Mountain Youth Corp.

In her current position at RMYC, “it’s not exactly social work, but it’s also a kind of social work,” she said. “You’re working with people to build upon skills.”

As the youth programs manager, Lawatsch leads over 500 youth in programming from trail maintenance to backpacking trips.

“She goes beyond her role at Rocky Mount Youth Corps even in her personal time,” said Ryan Banks, program director for RMYC. “She’s a passionate, driven person that I think we’re just really grateful to have her in our valley.”

“I love being able to kind of set up this wonderful experience that derives a strong sense of self-efficacy and resilience for young people,” Lawatsch said. 

Lawatsch is president of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition. One recent project she has helped to coordinate is a parenting summit for folks who want to learn more about activities for their kids in Routt County.

If you go

What: 2022 20 Under 40 Celebration

When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1

Where: Snow Bowl Steamboat, 2090 Snow Bowl Plaza


Lawatsch is also chair of the Routt County Social Justice Coalition, which recently helped to organize a LGBTQ+ roundtable for parents and youth in conjunction with Yampa Valley Pride.

She also works with the Culture and Climate Committee for the Steamboat Springs School District, volunteers as a senior partner with Partners in Routt County, and is a doula in her free time and has helped to deliver 17 babies.

“She actually was in the room with my wife and I when we delivered our second child,” Banks said. “She just takes charge and and is able to be empathetic in a way in moments like that.”

Lawatsch somehow finds the time to bake a mean chocolate cake.

When asked why she works so hard to be involved in so many facets of life in Steamboat, Lawatsch said she just hopes to give children the community she felt she lacked.

“I always felt really disconnected from my community,” Lawatsch said. “I guess what keeps me going is just the drive to make sure that other people get to feel involved.”

“It feels good to be able to give people spaces where their voice gets to be heard and where they have the resources that they need,” she added.

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