Contact Us

Questions, comments, or suggestions for us? Please reach out! You can also learn more about each team member's specific areas of expertise and how we can partner with your community by visiting our Services Page.

Elizabeth Sodja

The GNAR Initiative


Liz Headshot

Elizabeth Sodja, MNR, MCMP, is the Program Coordinator for the Gateway & Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative at Utah State University (USU) Extension. She has a decade of experience in communications and community outreach and has worked with federal, state, and local government agencies. She got her undergraduate in Environmental Studies and Organizational Communication from USU, and recently received her Master's in City and Metropolitan Planning with a Small and Resort Towns specialization from the University of Utah. Before joining GNAR, she worked for USU's Center for Community Engagement and the National Park Service. She grew up in a small town in Utah where most family vacations were either camping, fishing, or to a National Park, and she has a passion for helping small towns around the west preserve what is special about them. When she isn't working, you can usually find her and her husband climbing a rock, living out of a tent, or driving down a dirt road covered in dog hair.

Jake Powell

Utah State University

GNAR Initiative Lead,
GNAR Initiative
Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Phone: (435) 797-4293

Jake Powell headshot

Jake Powell, MSLA, is a native of Utah and spent his childhood exploring the backroads of the intermountain west. These experiences formed a deep love for the landscapes, the communities, and people of the west. Jake found landscape architecture as a way to unite people and places, and earned his BLA from Utah State University and MSLA from Penn State University.  In his current position as a Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Extension Specialist, Jake works to bring design and planning solutions to Utah’s communities. As the lead for the Gateway and Natural Amenity Initiative, Jake works with an amazing team to bring attention, resources, and new opportunities to the gateway communities of the Intermountain West. 

Dr. Jordan W. Smith

Utah State University 

Director, Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Associate Professor, Environment & Society

Phone: 435-797-9174



Jordan W. Smith, Ph.D., is the Director of the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management with minors in both Geospatial Information Systems and Sociology from NC State. Jordan completed both his master’s and undergraduate degrees from Utah State University. Jordan's work uses social media analytics and geospatial technologies to develop an understanding of how outdoor recreation is changing across the American West. His goal is to provide natural resource professionals, elected officials, private industry, and the general public with a scientifically grounded understanding of how to best manage outdoor recreation. Off-campus, Jordan is an active road cyclist and triathlete.

Jordan Katcher

University of Utah

Initiatives Facilitator, Environmental Dispute Resolution Program
Adjunct Instructor,
City & Metropolitan Planning

Phone: (703) 915-8296


Jordan Katcher, MCRP, is an Initiatives Facilitator with the Wallace Stegner Center Environmental Dispute Resolution Program and Adjunct Instructor within the City & Metropolitan Planning Department at the University of Utah. She earned her Master of Community & Regional Planning from the University of Oregon where she conducted her research on equity, diversity, and inclusion practices involving single identity-based crews within conservation corps nationwide. She also obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology & English from the University of Virginia. She is a 3x AmeriCorps alum with almost a decade’s worth of community development experience supporting students, tribes, non-profits, and rural communities. As an Appalachian, she deeply enjoys forest bathing, hiking, camping, and kayaking. 

Dr. Danya Rumore

University of Utah

GNAR Initiative
Environmental Dispute Resolution Program
Research Associate Professor, SJ Quinney College Of Law
Research Assistant Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning

Phone: 801-587-1453

Danya Rumore, Ph.D., is the Founder of the GNAR Initiative. She is a facilitator, collaborative process designer, and conflict resolution professional with a particular passion for understanding and addressing the unique challenges and opportunities facing western amenity-rich rural regions like that surrounding her hometown, Sandpoint, Idaho. Danya holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Policy and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a professor of planning and law at the University of Utah, where she directs the Wallace Stegner Center Environmental Dispute Resolution Program. Danya really likes to shred the gnar on her mountain bike and skis, but she can also be found climbing rocks, floating rivers, and running trails.