Shadowcliff Opens for the Season on Memorial Day. Now Taking Reservations!

by Jay Liebenguth

If you were putting together a list of attributes that you want in a General Manager at Shadowcliff, it would include some must-haves, some good-to-haves, and some nice-to-haves.

Thankfully, Karen Bellina seems to have it all.

Karen grew up in New Jersey, went to school in Pennsylvania, moved to Colorado after college and never left. She loves the mountains and has worked in mountain towns in a number of service positions for years.

Karen 3After an exhaustive search for the General Manager, Karen rose to the top as the ideal candidate. “From the moment I first spoke with Karen on the phone, I was excited about what she could bring to Shadowcliff,” shared Hillary Mizia, Executive Director. “Throughout the series of hiring interviews that excitement grew, and when it came time to make a decision, Karen was indeed my clear first choice. Not only does she have the right combination of hospitality and management experience, she is passionate about the outdoors and her connection to it. It was clear to me that she understood Shadowcliff’s mission and was going to be able to support that mission as an experienced manager and leader.”


We need to have someone with Leadership skills.

Karen comes with plenty of experience managing people and teams in outdoor and professional environments. While at the Denver Foundation  (Colorado’s oldest and largest community foundation) she guided a portfolio of over 60 scholarship funds with assets totaling $43 million. Her team worked with over 100 selection committee volunteers each year, many choosing to serve multiple years.


It was important to have someone who had experience in Office and Facility Management.

Karen served as the Reservations Manager at the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, a nonprofit organization that manages a system of backcountry huts along 350 miles of trails for skiers, mountain bikers, and hikers. “I oversaw reservations for 30 backcountry huts and managed over 45,000 individual and group reservations annually,” she said. Over the years, she hired and trained the reservations staff and led backpacking, biking, and backcountry skiing trips for teens to seniors.


It would also be nice to have someone who understood the value of Customer Service.

Providing excellent customer service has been at the core of all of my positions. From working with major donors at the foundation, to answering questions about avalanche danger at the hut system, to making someone laugh while working as a waitress,” Karen said. “Some places you show up and you know, this is going to be cool. I assume that’s going to be my reaction to Shadowcliff. Who’s here tonight? Who’s going to walk in?

After 13 great years at The Denver Foundation, Karen left her position to take a personal sabbatical. While traveling, she wondered how she could be of service in the upcoming years.

“Shadowcliff is a great match. I have a deep affinity for the natural world, the mountains, and the people who love them. I am drawn to this position as it combines so many of my skills and true interests. I am particularly attracted to the focus on sustainability.”

She is joined by Will Peak, a 3-year veteran of Shadowcliff, who will serve as Assistant Manager this summer. They’ve already met and Karen picked his brain for hours, getting him to describe the place the programs and the people.

“When I saw the ad for Shadowcliff on the Colorado Non-Profit website, it just jumped off the page for me. The more I read about it the more I saw it as a really cool fit.”

So do we and we are happy to have her.