About the Administrative Leaders
Chair of the Board
Aaron Watson is the Board Chair and Chapter Director of IDA Colorado. He works for Solar Energy International, and lives in Paonia, Colorado. He has been a member of IDA Colorado since 2018 and served as the Western Colorado Regional Coordinator until joining the Board as chair in 2022. To IDA Colorado he brings a background in engineering and environmental science, and experience working with nonprofits.
Aaron’s dark-sky advocacy includes work with “Dark Skies Paonia” toward getting a Dark Sky Community recognition for the town of Paonia, and a number of other dark-sky certification efforts in Colorado.
He enjoys stargazing, riding his electric bicycle year round, and playing music with his friends. He likes finding special astronomical alignments, and is author and photographer of an annual lunar astronomical events calendar.
Aaron likes to remember his experience working with the town of Paonia and the local utility to choose a responsible, low-color-temperature option for replacing the town’s streetlights.
Dani Robben is Community Connections Coordinator for San Luis Valley Great Outdoors, and lives in Alamosa, Colorado. She joined the IDA Colorado Board of Directors in 2023. To IDA Colorado she brings communications experience with other conservation organizations in Colorado.
Dani’s dark-sky advocacy includes her work as Project Lead of the Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Reserve, toward a certification as a Dark Sky Reserve.
She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, running, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, camping, and fishing. She also likes to cook and bake.
Dani remembers the first time she saw the Milky Way. She was overwhelmed with the vastness of the universe, and it made her feel grounded.
Martie Semmer is a retired educator and consultant, who specialized in “Kindergarten – Grade 12 Spanish Language.” She lives in Blue River, Colorado. Martie has been a member of the IDA Colorado Board since 2021. She serves on the IDA Colorado “Public Policy Task Force” and in the role as Western Colorado Regional Coordinator. To IDA Colorado she brings experience in networking and reaching out at local, state, and national levels.
Martie’s dark-sky advocacy includes work with the Colorado Governor’s Office and the Colorado legislature on a number of successful projects. She represents IDA Colorado in the “Care for Colorado Coalition.” As a member of the “Public Policy Taskforce,” she works with many governmental organizations in Colorado.
She enjoys swimming, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, camper van trips, spending quiet time in nature during all seasons of the year, along with her passion of experiencing the night sky and doing what she can to advocate on behalf of protecting and preserving the nighttime environment.
Martie fondly remembers two star parties at the Smokey Jack Observatory in Westcliffe.
Richard OBrien is a computer network engineer, and works for the federal agency NOAA. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. He is the chapter Communications Coordinator, maintaining the Chapter website and editing the monthly newsletter. He also serves as Northeastern Colorado Regional Coordinator. To IDA Colorado he brings experience as a college professor, writing skills, and computer knowledge.
Richard’s dark-sky advocacy includes dark-sky presentations and demonstrations throughout Colorado. He’s worked with many Dark Sky Place recognition proposal teams and advocated with a number of governmental bodies. He founded the “Lights Out Colorado” program to help migratory birds by reducing light pollution.
He enjoys hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, bicycling, and stargazing.
Richard remembers many exquisite stargazing experiences, including one at Dinosaur National Monument.
Interim Executive Director
Sarah Tober is a consultant for various nonprofit organizations, and lives in Durango, Colorado. She became Interim Executive Director of the Colorado chapter in 2022. To IDA Colorado she brings a wealth of experience leading nonprofit organizations, and her educational background, with a Master of Business Administration degree.
Sarah has been a long-time advocate of preserving dark skies, including a number of advocacy achievements in her previous state of Texas. She’s currently active in dark-sky advocacy in her new community of Durango.
Sarah enjoys horticulture, and is a Master Gardener. She enjoys outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, skiing, sailing, and camping. She, her husband, and son live with a variety of animals, including a dog, a cat, chickens, ducks, and a rabbit.