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Tom & Jody Caudill Cardamone  

Born in the old Citizen’s Hospital in Aspen, Jody was the eldest of the five red-headed, blue-eyed Caudill kids. As children, the Caudills roamed and explored the outdoors, riding horses through the fields and into the hills between Red Mountain and Owl Creek, jeep camping on summer weekends with their parents, hiking mountain passes and trails, and fly fishing in high-country lakes. And of course, winters were all about skiing!

Through these experiences, Jody developed a life-long passion for exploring and learning about the natural world.  After graduating from Aspen High School in 1971, where she was senior class president, Jody went on to Cornell University. She studied at the college’s Environmental Education Program, where she could pursue her interests in everything from ornithology to environmental philosophy.

Back home for the summer after freshman year, Jody enrolled in a field class offered by the University of Colorado to do an inventory and write a proposal for the Hunter–Fryingpan Wilderness area review process. 

A handsome young New York native had hitch-hiked cross-country and signed up for the course, too. His name was Tom Cardamone. 

Tom was born and raised in Utica, New York. His parents had traveled to Aspen in January 1950 by train and taxi and stayed at the Hotel Jerome. They became hooked on both Aspen and skiing; Tom and his two brothers were on skis by age two. Childhood summers spent in northern New York and the wilds of Quebec captured Tom’s interest in wildlife and wild places.

Once exposed to the Colorado Rockies, Tom realized a whole new level of wilderness, aided by the girl in the field class who grew up in Aspen. The two soon bonded over a shared love of hiking into the wilderness, fishing, and exploring the backcountry. With Jody studying at Cornell, not far from where Tom was attending Hamilton College, it was, as they say, a match made in heaven. Two years later, the two were married in Aspen. 

When Jody graduated in 1975, Elizabeth Paepcke asked her to run the environmental education center she created at her Hallam Lake sanctuary. Tom joined later that year, and for over four decades the couple juggled executive roles in the organization. Sharing a love of nature and teaching others about the environment, and driven passionately by the ACES mission of “educating for environmental responsibility,” Tom and Jody built a nationally recognized environmental center that today reaches more than 140,000 people a year. Daily programs in schools throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, community classes, programs in the field for all ages, guided hikes – these activities and many more have left an indelible mark on all they have reached.  

With additional campuses beyond Aspen at Rock Bottom Ranch and the Catto Center at Toklat, ACES is going strong thanks to the vision, leadership and hard work of Tom and Jody Cardamone. Their support of environmental causes wasn’t limited to ACES – Tom has served on numerous boards including Pitkin County Open Space & Trails, Ice Age Discovery Tusk Force, Aspen Valley Land Trust, Watershed Biodiversity Initiative, and Roaring Fork Safe Passages.  

Jody is a second-generation Aspen Hall of Famer. Her parents, Sam, an architect who designed many of Aspen’s important buildings; and Joy, an environmentalist, were inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame in 1998.

Today, as they enjoy adult children Kate and Will, two grandchildren and a couple of grand dogs, Tom and Jody still indulge their love of the outdoors and have 50 years of good stories to share together.