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					                                    AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE

        2009 Distinction in Community Leadership Nomination Form
Name: Amy Johnson
Region: Northeast

Occupation: Executive Director of Kit Carson Rural Development
Time in Region: 14 years

Community Activities/Involvement
      Kit Carson Rural Development (KCRD).
      Represents Kit Carson at rural development workshops and events.

Special Awards/Recognition
      None

Describe what sets this leader apart from others?
Ms. Johnson is a positive, articulate, and candid leader; her focus and organization have helped her push
community improvements to completion in Kit Carson. Ms. Johnson has taken to her life and community
involvement with determination, gusto, and dependable good spirits. Among Ms. Johnson’s most exemplary
leadership qualities are her ability to share her vision of making Kit Carson a better place for her children and
grandchildren, and her impetus to accomplish projects rather than just talking about them. Ms. Johnson
identifies important community issues by acknowledging the needs and wishes of community members and she
makes decisions that will play out past her tenure. Not one to sit on her heels, Ms. Johnson actively transforms
her hope for the community into action. In approaching community projects, she translates her community’s
dreams for a better future into tangible projects, raises necessary funds, and convenes community members to
take part in making their dreams a reality.

How has this person significantly impacted your region through their work and their
While she may not have a direct impact on the entire Northeast region, Ms. Johnson is an example of how each
and every community can have a person who makes a significant difference through their leadership. She
demonstrates this kind of leadership day in and day out. She moved to Kit Carson 14 years ago and has since
given her very being to create a positive impact on her community for the long term. Ms. Johnson is an
exceptional example of the difference one person can make in a family, community, and region—she is a true
asset and inspiration to not only Kit Carson, but to anyone who believes in the power of rural communities. Ms.
Johnson’s steadfast commitment to the development of Kit Carson inspires those around her to also refuse to let
rural towns disappear. In the words of a Northeast Council member, “every community should have an Amy

What difference has this person made to the community and for the population they
Ms. Johnson’s goal for Kit Carson has been to ensure the viability of the school and community of Kit Carson
for the benefit of her family, relatives, and friends in the community because they carry most importance to her.
Ms. Johnson has led numerous projects through her leadership of Kit Carson Rural Development, most of which
concern beautification, community improvements, and support of the school in Kit Carson. In addition to
community projects, she has been a part of town assessments to plan for the future of Kit Carson. Ms. Johnson
organized a Community Economic Development assessment, a Community Action Plan assessment, and the
Residential Energy Conservation Action Program for the town. Ms. Johnson’s efforts are visible in Kit Carson
and her projects continue to encourage residents to make investments in their community and contribute to the
development and maintenance of Kit Carson as a rural town with a vibrant and committed community.

Additional Comments:
Some of the specific improvements Kit Carson has seen thanks to Ms. Johnson’s work are solar-powered
lampposts on Main Street, a solar-powered welcome sign with trees and a windmill, improved landscaping at a
local health clinic, and two town clean-up weekends with a “most improved space” contest. Mr. Johnson wrote
a grant to completely revamp a park in Kit Carson and saw the $185,000 project through, which included new
walking paths, benches, winterized bathrooms, park pavilion, basketball court at the Kit Carson School, grills,
landscaping, and drip system.

A Northeast Council member gave the following testimony of Ms. Johnson’s commitment to community
members in northeastern Colorado:

       “When the Office of Economic Development and International Trade did a community assessment in
       Kit Carson, Amy offered her home for our assessment team to stay and cooked all the meals for our
       team. Short story, when we conducted the community assessment program, after the meeting I found
       out that my step-brother-in-law had just passed away. Amy opened her home and comfort to me and my
       family and wanted to assist in any way to help me move forward in my crisis. Amy will always hold an
       extra special place in my heart because that is what speaks out the loudest about her: her heart and soul.
       She is a rare gem in the community—she makes things happen. Kit Carson, Cheyenne County, and the
       Northeast Region are blessed to have a person of such selflessness character making a difference every

The following is a summary of Ms. Johnson’s contribution to the Kit Carson, in her own words:

       “I have a great interest in the community of Kit Carson. I do what I do through KCRD to assure the
       continued vitality of this community and its school. This is my family's home, and the home of so many
       others. I never realized before I lived in a small town how much of what needs to be done is left up to
       concerned citizens. There is no Parks & Recreation department to build or maintain parks. There is no
       large city government to tear down old buildings, put up town welcome signs, lights on Main Street, or
       landscape various public areas around town. There is no real responsibility for the success of the
       community other than by the folks who live here. With only two paid government employees in the
       town, the rest is left to volunteers. It is my hope that KCRD will continue to accomplish much in
       this community to ensure that Kit Carson remains a small, but thriving town long into the future.”

Ms. Johnson contributed to the reestablishment of KCRD from a dormant state and served as treasurer before
she became chair in 2006. Her position with KCRD is voluntary. She has several projects currently in progress
through KCRD. These include cleaning up duplex housing with the Prairie Development Corporation, creating
a new website for the town of Kit Carson, working with the Colorado Brownsfield Foundation on an
Environmental Protection Agency grant to tear town a building that contains asbestos, and establishing a
convenience store and truck stop in Kit Carson.

While Ms. Johnson has not received any awards in her time at KCRD, she considers the grants that she has
received for the benefit of her community to be her awards. These include:
-   Great Outdoors Colorado grant for $199,110 and $55,000 in matching funds, including a $15,000 grant
    from Cooper Clark and a $2,500 Conservations Trust Funds grant
-   El Pomar grant for $1,500
-   Conservation Trust Funds grant for $5,000
-   Amy aided Summer Ball in Kit Carson with a $10,000 grant for local baseball fields
-   Environmental Protection Agency grant pending for $200,000