Longtime Partners in Routt County director leaves mentoring organization’s leadership role

Michelle Petix, right, is leaving her role as executive director of Partners in Routt County, and Lindsay Kohler, left, has been hired to fill the position. (Photo by John F. Russell)

After nine years in the position, Michelle Petix has stepped down as executive director of Partners in Routt County, which serves youth in Routt County by pairing them with an adult mentor.

Lindsay Kohler, a former school social worker with the Hayden School District, has been hired as the organization’s new director.

“To me, it was a really great opportunity to continue doing social work but at more of a community level than a one-on-one level,” Kohler said. “We all just want to be seen, heard and understood, and that’s especially true when we’re young and perhaps are experiencing difficulty.”

Petix will help Kohler with the transition and then backpack along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2022. She hopes to work as a substitute teacher when she returns to Routt County.

“I am constantly humbled and honored by the community support for Partners and also for myself as the organization’s leader,” Petix said. “Lindsay (Kohler) is a great choice and natural fit for taking the organization into a bright future.”

Kohler moved to Routt County in 2009 to work as a mentor with Partners as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Kohler earned a master’s degree in social work, then accepted the position at Hayden schools.

“From my experience as a mentor and then being in the school setting, I just know through research and anecdotal experience how powerful mentoring can be,” Kohler said. “It’s really far reaching and can impact so many different parts of a person’s life.”

As for the future of the organization, Kohler said she is still learning the ropes of working as an executive director. She hopes to eventually talk with Partners staff and board members about expanding the program regionally, implementing peer mentorships and working with different age groups.

“We want to be creating a deeper sense of community because there’s more connection to our community when two people create and engage in a relationship like that,” Kohler said. “It’s hard to overstate the reach that this organization can have and what a special thing it is to be part of it.”

Both Kohler and Petix said a youth mentoring organization like Partners is particularly important in Routt County because of the economic divides often seen in rural and affluent communities.

“There are a lot of amazing things about growing up in Routt County, but there are also a lot of challenges for many people,” Petix said. “It’s great for people to have those opportunities to do things they didn’t know were possible for them.”

Partners is holding a community open house that is open to the public from 4-7 p.m. Sept. 2 at 2673 Jacob Circle.

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