Lisa Knudsen and Her Journey for Change

Lisa Knudsen and her contributions to our community as a whole and how her life has led her on this path.


Josie Brewer, Staff Writer

Erie, as a community, thrives on selflessness. We give before we get, raising our town instead of bringing each other down. From simple acts of kindness within the school hallways to funding and grants that are achieved through the hard work of generous people, this community never fails to give back.

Elizabeth Knudsen happens to be one of the many altruistic people within our town, who puts her own time into making Erie a better place. As not only one of the founders of Erie Uplink, but a college counselor who enjoys helping those seeking guidance, it is no doubt Knudsen has a selfless heart.

Knudsen enjoying time with her whole family.

Knudsen was born in Colorado Springs on September 14th, 1969, but she spent much of her childhood within the confines of Craig, Colorado as her father worked there as a district attorney. But when her parents divorced she was moved back to Colorado Springs for middle school, but again when they remarried she was relocated to Grand Junction. Knudsen claims that “my whole goal in high school was to get out of grand junction.”

When she finally graduated, Knudsen was quick to move to California to attend University of San Diego, where she majored in Psychology and minored in religion and philosophy. Although the beaches and weather in California are idealistic, the price of living is not. Knudsen struggled to pay for food, and at one point had nowhere to live; “I was broke all the time, it was terrible,” Knudsen explained.

Despite this, she loved the area so much she decided to stay two more years and get her masters in marriage, family, and child counseling. Knudsen laughed upon reminiscing about how her ambitions changed through college,“I always wanted to be famous enough to be on the Phil Donahue show, a famous psychologist to be exact. And then somewhere along the line, I decided I really wanted to have kids and that changed my ambitions.”

After completing all of her hours in CA, she returned to Grand Junction and got her counseling license. It was here that she met her husband Jim, who she eventually moved to Erie with after having both her children. But before this,  she was working a multitude of jobs including counseling at mental hospitals and also at a residential facility and day school for the adolescence. After her work as a counselor, she decided that when Cole, her son, was born that she was tired of counseling, describing that, “I felt like we did all the right things to help people, but as soon as the crisis past they weren’t really motivated to change. It was very discouraging.”

Knudsen with her husband, Jim, and her two children, Cole and Kate.

But Knudsen found a new love within raising her children, Cole and Kate, who are two years apart but have still formed a close bond with each other as well as with their mother. She began delving into the Erie community after a call for help from the administrators for more parent involvement so students could still get the learning they needed even with overcrowding.  She volunteered in writers workshops through elementary school and worked within the library for over five years at the middle school. This eventually led to her involvement within the high school when Cole became a freshman and it was not soon after that Erie Uplink began.

Erie Uplink, as their motto says, “see a need, fill a need,” is all about opening opportunities to those who want to give and in turn helping those in need. It all started in 2011 when Lexie Cire, Stephanie Short, and Knudsen herself all agreed they wanted to make a difference in the community. After creating their 501c3 and getting their own company email, they were in business for change.

Tiger Packs was one of the first programs created within their organization, which are backpacks filled with nonperishable food items that are sent home with a child during long breaks and weekends. Many kids whose parents struggle to get food on the table are heavily supported simply by these backpacks. On top of that, many kids and groups come to pack the backpacks and others donate money to supply food for them. Knudsen estimates that in the past seven years, the amount of packs handed out each month has gone from a measly eleven to around 140.

Erie Uplink is not just a three women job though, everyone within Erie pulls their weight in supporting their idea of giving to the community. Knudsen reflected on the support they receive, “It’s not really a we,” she explains, “The community donates everything and they support us financially. They volunteer for everything. My job is really just to coordinate it.”

On top of TigerPacks, Erie Uplink also hosts countless other fundraisers and events such as food drives and their new summer lunch program, they also partner with schools to provide scholarship funds for field trips and other enriching activities. The nonprofit is certainly a shining example of the generous people that live in this town, and the role they play is certainly huge for many of those who once struggled without their support. Lisa, as she discussed her job within Uplink and what she wished to do, commented that “If I can organize the community in a way that people can give and serve, that’s what I kind of think I do.”

Besides Knudsen outstanding work within Uplink, she also is a college planner for Collegiates Crossings, which is a service that provides a college planning program to their clients. Knudsen thrives helping students who seem hopeless on the subject of college, reshaping their whole lives. Though she quickly found this new job was much like counseling, she explained that “I like it better because there is an end result: college.”

Although many kids have small life changes from her help, some students come out with a whole new perspective, with new hopes and dream they always had but were lost on how to truly chase them. Her daughter commented on her mother’s love for helping people, specifically with college, stating that, “it’s a constant topic she brings up, there’s always a new scholarship or college program she wants to offer to students. Her love for helping people always shines through her daily life.”

Knudsen with her daughter.

It’s obvious that Knudsen is a humanitarian at heart, that has put much of her time into shaping our community into a better place. She described that this love for volunteering and helping people in need “all just kind of evolved out of what I felt like I could do that matters.”

Knudsen’s selflessness roots from a multitude of events in her life and just a genuinely kind heart. Upon meeting her, if you ever get the pleasure, it is no doubt that she is strong and dedicated to her work, but also nurturing and naturally fosters good intentions. She has used these characteristics to truly delve into the community and has been able to make real change even when it seems impossible. But still, in selflessness, Knudsen explains that the community, as a whole, is the true hero of our town, noting that, “we can all do something that matters, it doesn’t have to be very big.”

So, even if you find yourself lacking heart, simply making one kind gesture can change someone’s day, and that is what is important in this community. Erie can only go so far on negative intentions, so always go the extra mile to serve your town and volunteer for people in need, especially when you have all the means to give.

Knudsen is an outstanding example of what it is to give more than you receive and through this ideology she has been able to connect the community together in ways no one else has. If we can all be a little more like her, our community could thrive like never before.