20 Under 40: Katie Carroll | SteamboatToday.com

20 Under 40: Katie Carroll

Katie Carroll (Photo by John F. Russell)

Katie Carroll traded the busy, people-filled streets of Manhattan for a more laid back lifestyle among the mountains in Steamboat Springs.

She refers to it as the “Yampa Valley Curse” as she followed the usual path of coming to town as a ski bum for just a winter and then moving to the area, meeting her future husband and putting down roots. She has blazed a path of community service along the way.

The New Jersey native moved to Steamboat eight years ago with a master’s degree from New York University and years of experience working in off-Broadway theaters. She eventually landed at Strings Music Festival where she serves as director of artistic administration and education.

In this role, Carroll, 34, gets to combine her cultural passions with youth and education. On the administrative side, she works on Strings’ artist contracts and the logistics associated with bringing different musicians to the Yampa Valley.

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“It was a great fit and all serendipitous to get introduced to Strings,” she said.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Strings’ educational programs work with students in Routt, Moffat and Jackson counties. Since assuming the position six years ago, Carroll has helped Strings expand its residency programs to schools in Craig and Walden, as well as other districts in Routt County.

Carroll finds interacting with youth exciting and inspiring. She works to bring professional touring artists to mentor local music students. While she’s not the one doing the teaching — rather lining it all up — she still gets to witness the transformation that happens and the building of relationships.

“It feeds your soul,” she said.

Carroll also works as an adjunct English professor at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, teaching about one class per semester.

Part of her full-time career focuses on helping music become a more integral part of the community. Her vision for Strings’ education programs is to expose local students to different music and cultures so students meet people from other parts of the country who look different and sing in different ways, she said.

“Something like jazz. We don’t have a lot of jazz in Steamboat — the traditions of jazz music,” she said. “It’s actually something that can help broaden our students’ worldview.”

Elissa Greene, executive director of Strings Music Festival, admires Carroll for being hard working and reliable.

“She thinks creatively and finds innovative solutions,” Greene said. “You may find her driving to Craig to deliver a microphone to the Moffat County High School band or creating lesson plans for elementary school students to add to their enjoyment and understanding of music.”

Greene said Carroll’s passion for music and education is undeniable.

It’s that passion that led Carroll to join the board of directors of the North Routt Community Charter School, where she is currently serving her first term.

Carroll credits her mother for developing a community-minded approach to life. Growing up poor with an absent father, Carroll’s mom put herself through college, eventually becoming a nurse. It was her dream as a young woman to join an international service organization, such as the U.S. Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders, and help change the world.

“The doctor she was working for told her, ‘People right here need their world changed, too,’” Carroll said. “And that’s how (my mom) has lived her life: Always thinking about the people who are nearby and not losing sight of the work that can be done in your community.”

Like her mother, Carroll proves you don’t need to travel far from home to make a difference. Carroll says she wants to make Steamboat her long-term home, perhaps raising a future Olympian in the next decade. She and her husband are currently expecting their first child.

“I love working for Strings, so I’d love to continue being here and expanding all of our community programs so that we can do more,” she said.

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