Kara Buckley, a full-time resident of Crested Butte, Colorado, is the founder and director of the Crested Butte Institute, which engages in academic research in three Western Slope policy areas: energy, land use, and water. Kara has spent three decades in education, as a high school teacher, a graduate lecturer, a college professor, and a department chair. The first recipient of the Endowed Chair in History at Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Mass., Kara was also chair of the History & Social Sciences Department. She was an assistant professor in Political Science at Middlebury College in Vermont, where her teaching focused on American politics and policy, and her research focused on coalition-building in the US Congress. During her doctoral years, she taught and guided curriculum at Stanford and at Harvard. She has earned numerous awards for her excellence in teaching and for her writing. Kara has a Ph.D. and master’s degree in Political Science from Stanford and graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors from Brown University. Appointed by the Governor in 2021, Kara serves on Western Colorado University’s Board of Trustees.
A former college rower (at Brown) and river guide (on the Arkansas), Kara is happiest behind the oars of a raft on any Western River, a passion she shares with her husband and their two sons (both whitewater kayakers). She has long given up on catching her boys on the slopes and mountain bike trails in and around Crested Butte, but she still loves trying. Passionate about access-for-all to wild, open spaces, Kara is a true believer in TPL’s mission and the positive impact that mountains and rivers can have on each of our lives.