Meet The Team: Eagle Rock’s Director of Operations, Susan M. Luna

Eagle Rock's Susan Luna (with husband David Hoskins)

Susan Luna (with husband David Hoskins)

In case you don’t know her, we’d like to introduce you to Susan Luna, who comes from a big family of educators, artists, tennis players and social activists, and serves as our director of operations.

Susan was born in Pueblo, a steel mill town in Southern Colorado, and was raised in Denver. She’s a graduate of East High School and the University of Colorado, where she earned her undergraduate degree in sociology (Boulder) and her master’s degree in urban and regional planning (Denver).

And it’s probably important that you know Susan has five older brothers. That would explain all the energy she expends on a daily basis. But don’t take our word for it; please read on.

Eagle Rock: What do you do here at Eagle Rock?

Susan: Currently, I’m the director of operations, which means I’m in charge of managing Eagle Rock’s business office, facilities and the kitchen. I am also responsible for a lot of the behind-the-scenes work in areas like human resources, safety, finances, auxiliary services, facilities, and plant and capital projects.  I am also a member of the Ponderosa House team.

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock?

Susan: I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for 20 years and have worked for a variety of human service organizations in and around Denver including the Enterprise Foundation, NEWSED, Jewish Community Center, Mile High United Way, Intermountain Tennis Association, Girl Scouts Mile Hi Council, Servicios de la Raza, and YMCA. Before coming to Eagle Rock, I was the executive director of the Denver Inner City Parish.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Susan: My husband Dave Hoskins. He was an instructional specialist at Eagle Rock in 2000 when we started dating, so I heard a lot about the place from him and I visited the school once or twice while I was completing my master’s degree in Denver. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was engaged and living in Estes Park with David. A year or so later we moved on campus and I became a House Parent for Spruce House. My friends thought that I had lost my mind — and they may have been right — but I was up for the adventure and I jumped in with both feet. Luckily, Spruce had some incredible veteran students who helped make the experience enjoyable for me and I soon came to love the Eagle Rock community, the students, the mission, and the idea of being a part of something bigger than myself.

Eagle Rock: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Susan: For me, time away from Eagle Rock is all about rest, recovery, and family responsibility. My 81-year-old father is living in my house down in Denver, and I am his primary caregiver, so I make weekly trips to the city to look after him, catch up on sleep, watch a movie or two and play some tennis. If I have more than a weekend of spare time, then I like to go relax in a natural hot spring, get massages, and, of course, play some more tennis.

Eagle Rock: What reality TV should you be on and why would you win or be kicked off?

Susan: I’m not into reality shows, but that’s not to say I don’t like TV. My favorite show is “Whose Line is it Anyway?” It is a live, comedy-improv show that cracks me up and is so much fun to watch. When I get stressed at work, I can always count on “Whose Line” to cheer me up. Improvisation really amazes me, I’m sure I’d get kicked off the show because I’d laugh so hard that I’d cry.

Eagle Rock: What’s your all-time favorite Eagle Rock success story?

Susan: Dave used to take a group of Eagle Rock students on an annual expedition to California to work alongside a California Conservation Corps (CCC) backcountry trail crew. One summer I joined them. It’s important to know that before I met Dave, I was a city girl, so this type of wilderness experience was new for me and completely outside of my comfort zone. Our destination was a CCC base camp located deep in the Marble Mountains of Northern California and we had to backpack 10 miles to get there. That hike alone was quite an accomplishment for me, but that was nothing compared to the truly back-breaking work that I got to do alongside a professional trail crew who had been in the backcountry for over three months. They were animals (in a good way). By animals I mean they looked like animals, smelled like animals, and they worked HARD all day, every day. It was unbelievably exhausting physical labor (I remember spending hours to move a giant rock just three feet) and it didn’t take long for me to start asking myself why I decided to come on this trip with Dave. What was I thinking? I certainly don’t need the academic credit like these Eagle Rock students. Not only do I already have a high school diploma, I have a damn master’s degree! What am I doing here?” You get the idea. 

It was during one of these mental fits that I noticed just how hard three of our students were working on their section of trail. Charmaine, Monique and Stacy were fully engaged in the task before them and they seemed determined to make a good impression on our hosts. These were three tough mamasitas who had come all the way from Colorado to WORK and it showed. I was inspired by their example to embrace the pain and to focus my attention on doing good work despite being a petite female, city-slicker, office worker. I don’t think I’ve worked that hard since. 

So, how, you ask, is this an Eagle Rock success story? Well, thanks to Eagle Rock, I had the opportunity to go someplace (Marble Mountains) and do something (trail work) that I would otherwise never have done. And, thanks to Eagle Rockers, I was able to push beyond my perceived limits to do something that I didn’t think I could do. That trip was my opportunity to experience a bit of what Eagle Rock students get to experience during their wilderness trips. It was transforming and empowering. A genuine Eagle Rock success story for sure.     

Eagle Rock: What’s one thing not many people know about you?

Susan: I’m a big Denver Broncos fan. I’ve been watching them ever since I was a young girl sitting in front of the TV with my brothers. The Elway days were the glory days, Tebow was an interesting phenomenon, but Manning – he is a sight to see! Go Orange Crush! (Yep, I’m Old School).

 

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