Advisory Council provides expertise to support the Avenir Museum

Story by Doreen Beard

Picture of the entrance to the Avenir Museum
The entrance to the Avenir Museum

The Colorado State University Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising is pleased to announce the Fall 2021 formation of its inaugural Advisory Council to help provide guidance, support, and assistance to the museum in fulfilling its mission on behalf of CSU.

The Council is advisory in purpose, since it is the Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System who oversees formal governance and fiduciary responsibilities on behalf of CSU.  The Council’s advising will be in the areas of program direction, strategic growth, and community connections while they assist museum staff in enhancing public awareness of the Avenir Museum and its academic home in the Department of Design and Merchandising, within the College of Health and Human Sciences at CSU.  One of the first major initiatives the Avenir Museum Advisory Council will help support is the Avenir Museum’s path to professional accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums.

While formative By-Laws are in development, the Advisory Council’s total composition is envisioned as eleven members with staggered appointments of 2-3 years each, with meetings to be held 3-4 times per CSU fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).  Ad hoc committees will meet informally, as tasks are determined.

Advisory Council members are passionate about the textile treasures housed within the Avenir Museum and have a track record of leadership, resources, skills, and other qualities that serve to advance the Avenir Museum mission. We are so pleased to welcome the Advisory Council’s inaugural roster, and to introduce you to them here:

Dianne Denholm ‘75

Textile Arts Consumer Specialist

Representing: Fashion/Merchandising business interests in Northern Colorado and Denver

Launched by a CSU ’75 B.S. Textile & Fashion Business degree, Dianne’s experiences in business ownership led to international connections of fabric suppliers, customers, and artisans with renowned retail success. Her vision to stabilize fiber arts integrity brought the creation of a Regional Mountain States non-profit community of fiber arts guilds, artisans & patrons in an Art Gallery/Meeting Center setting.  Dianne currently teaches Fibers, Tools, & Color Harmony at The Art Students League of Denver (

Martha Denney

Emeritus Director, International Education Colorado State University

Representing: Community Interest / Global Connections

Martha Denney studied Textiles and Clothing at the University of Missouri. After completing her Master’s degree she worked in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) in Southern Africa to help programs for women and youth.  Martha served as the CSU Director of International Education building education abroad, Area Studies Programs, international linkage agreements, Peace Corps, other curricular and co-curricular programs on campus, retiring after 35 years. She is a co-founder of the Global Village Museum in Fort Collins, and is an independent consultant in International Programs in Higher Education, and Gender Analysis and Programs.

Avery Martin ‘20

Digital Media Strategist, College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS)

Representing: CHHS / Office of the Dean

Born and raised in Colorado, Avery Martin is a multimedia content creator who earned his bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Media Communication from CSU in 2020. In 2018, he began working as a multimedia assistant with the College of Health and Human Sciences working on written, video, and social media projects. Upon graduating, Avery joined the CHHS Communications team full-time where he continues to utilize his multimedia skills to promote the College.

Marilyn Murphy

Managing Partner/Author at ClothRoads: A Global Textile Marketplace

Representing: Global Textiles

Marilyn has combined a passion for and knowledge of the textile arts for her entire career. In 2010, she and her partners launched ClothRoads, an online resource which focuses on supporting textile artisans around the world who want to sustain their cloth-making heritage. Prior to this, she was president of Interweave, a media publishing company in the arts and crafts sector. Since 2011, she has shared her expertise in retail and small business management, publishing, and non-profit work in the artisan sector as a mentor to new artisans at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, NM. She also serves as board president of the nonprofit Andean Textile Arts.

Ashley (C.M.) Rathmann, NCIDQ, LEED Green Associate, NEWH

Instructor, Interior Architecture and Design, CSU Department of Design and Merchandising


Representing:  Department of Design and Merchandising faculty

Ashley holds a Master of Architecture from Clemson University, and a Bachelor of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.  She has worked as an architectural designer in Georgia, South Carolina, and Scotland.  Ashley has been teaching in architecture and interiors programs since 2001, with positions at Clemson University, Savannah College of Art and Design, and The Art Institute of Austin where she was Director of Design programs prior to joining CSU.

Heather Short

Development Coordinator, CSU College of Natural Sciences

Representing:  CSU cross-campus connections

Heather Short received her B.A. in international communication and media studies with minors in marketing and environmental science from Franklin College Switzerland (now University) in 2013. After college, she worked for several large corporations such as Walt Disney and Vail Resorts in social media coordination, facilitating orientation, hospitality marketing strategies, and tourism and marketing master planning. In 2019, Short joined the Avenir Museum as the Visitor Services and Venue Coordinator. In April 2021, she moved to University Advancement as a Development Coordinator for CSU’s College of Natural Sciences.  Short serves on the Women’s Advisory Board for the City of Fort Collins.  She is also an MBA candidate with the CSU College of Business with an anticipated graduation date of 2023.

Sarah Sivas-Bernstein

Design and Merchandising graduate student, 2020-22

Representing:  Department of Design and Merchandising (DM) students

Sarah’s work and research is rooted in the historic and socio-cultural and political aspects of dress. A current graduate student in the Apparel and Merchandising program, Sarah is also pursuing a graduate certificate in gender, power, and difference from the Women’s Studies department.  She holds dual undergraduate degree in Organizational Leadership and Business Management from Graceland University.  Sarah serves on the board of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and is an active restorative justice and Right Use of Power educator and facilitator.

Ty Smith 

Director, CSU Native American Cultural Center

Representing: CSU cross-campus connections

Ty A. Smith was born and raised in Upper Fruitland, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation. He is Tódích’íi’nii  (Bitter Water Clan), born for Ashiihi (Salt Clan). Ty received both his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and his MBA from Colorado State University.  He was a practicing engineer in the oil and gas field and energy industry prior to becoming director of the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) at Colorado State University in 2005. NACC focuses on outreach to Native communities, recruitment, retention, and graduation of students at Colorado State University while raising cultural awareness on campus and within the community.

Marcella Wells

Interpretive Planning, Visitor Studies and Evaluation professional

Representing:  Avenir Museum community volunteers

Marcella’s 30-year primary career as a visitor studies specialist and interpretive planning consultant has taken her to 2 dozen states and 3 foreign countries.  Since 2015, she has been a volunteer at the Avenir Museum working with the collections, curating four exhibits, and organizing the Reading Room.  She also currently serves on the Board of the Crossroads Safehouse.  Marcella has degrees from Texas A&M (B.S.), Virginia Commonwealth University (M.S.), and Colorado State University (Ph.D.).

Thank you for reading this far! You may have noticed that nine of the intended eleven Advisory Council representative positions are filled to date; this is intentional.  As the inaugural nine Council members begin their work, they will be advising the Avenir Museum of interested individuals in the wider community who may be interested in filling the final two positions on the Avenir Museum Advisory Council. Additional individuals may also directly express their interest in serving on the Council in the future and have their names added to the recruiting matrix. If this includes anyone in the present readership, your expression of interest is welcome!  Please contact:  Avenir Museum Advisory Council c/o Avenir Museum Director of Operations and Engagement Doreen Beard,

The Avenir Museum is in the Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.