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    2016 WRMC Speaker Biographies


A Emily Abell is an experience designer, hiker, safety geek, and former outdoor tour company staffer. In 2014, she completed the Masters of Design program at Carnegie Mellon University. Her thesis, entitled Park Visitor as Known Hazard: Designing for Imperfect Humans to Combat 'Human Error,' explored creative approaches to understanding and reducing day hiker incidents at Grand Canyon National Park. In between weekends, Emily works at Athenahealth San Francisco designing software that helps doctors work smarter.
  Deb Ajango has presented nationally and internationally on the topic of risk management, emergency action planning, and wilderness medicine at a wide variety of conferences across the United States and abroad. She has provided risk management consulting throughout Alaska, the United States, and around the world. Deb has been an instructor for Wilderness Medical Associates for more than 20 years.
  Leslie Arutunian, after sixteen years in higher education, became director and owner of Wildlands Studies in 2008. Operating in 16 countries, with 42 faculty and 230 students, Wildlands Studies’ enrollment has increased by 200% with above industry standards in risk management, academic accountability, faculty hiring standards, and insurance coverage. The result of living abroad and traveling to 40 countries, Leslie’s personal interests lie in experiential education with a focus on the outdoors as a medium for personal empowerment.

Michael Blasie is a graduate of NYU Law School and seasoned litigation attorney. After over five years of civil and criminal cases at the Manhattan office of the international law firm of Cooley LLP, he moved to Colorado where he currently serves as law clerk to the honorable David Richman of the Colorado Court of Appeals. During his transition to Colorado he completed the NOLS Wilderness Medicine and Rescue semester, earned his WEMT and WFR certifications, and learned rescue skills in mountain, rock, and swift water environments.



Sydney Clark hails from the Midwest where she earned a BA in Sociology and Political Science and played Division I volleyball at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. She subsequently spent two years in nonprofit coalition building and grassroots community development with Public Allies Chicago. From 2013 to 2015, Sydney served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan where she led a variety of education projects and explored the Tian Shan mountains. Sydney is currently the Diversity and Inclusion manager at NOLS where she is primarily developing initiatives to increase accessibility to the outdoors.
  Joshua Cole is an owner and guide at North Cascades Mountain Guides and has more than 15 years of experience working in the outdoor education and guiding industries. He has given trainings and presentations on wilderness risk management to numerous organizations. Josh served as Washington program director for Northwest Outward Bound School for 8 years, is a lead instructor for Wilderness Medicine Training Center, and has worked as a professional ski patroller. Josh is an AMGA certified ski guide, single-pitch instructor, and is working towards his AMGA certification in the rock and alpine disciplines.
  Leah Corrigan is a lawyer who advises and defends outdoor recreation businesses on liability and risk management issues. She is the founder of Western Recreation Law Center, based out of Jackson, Wyoming, and represents a wide variety of outdoor professionals throughout the intermountain west. Leah spent 10 years as a wilderness river guide before becoming a lawyer, and is an avid skier, mountain biker, and river-runner. She is passionate about helping her clients run a professional recreation business, while keeping the adventure in their operations.
  Steve Creech loves learning and loves inspiring others with what he has learned. He gets to teach staff and students about the wilderness, education, leadership, and development of strong character in his role as an associate program director of course quality and safety for the Colorado Outward Bound School in Moab, Utah.
  Dr. Clinton Culp is a retired U.S. Marine with several combat deployments. He has spent time as the Officer in Charge of the USMC’s Mountain Leaders course at Bridgeport, California, a Company Commander in the infantry, and Naval ROTC instructor. He is an avid climber, mountaineer, backcountry skier, and educator. He has taught Adventure Leadership at the University of Idaho and is currently teaching Outdoor Adventure Leadership at Montana State University in Billings.

Rick Curtis has been director of the Outdoor Action Program at Princeton University for 34 years, running one of the largest college outdoor orientation programs in the US. He is the founder of, the premiere web site for outdoor professionals and the author of The Backpacker’s Field Manual. A software and database developer, he is the architect of the International Incident Database System, a standard for incident data collection in the outdoor industry.




Clare Dallat is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. For 13 years, Clare held the position of director of risk management at The Outdoor Education Group (OEG), an organization with 40,000 participants and 400 staff participating annually on multi-day programs. She now leads Risk Resolve, an OEG risk management consultancy service. Clare spends her time working with organisations and schools throughout Australia, assisting them to develop, test, and improve their systems. She has responded in field and leadership roles, to critical incidents, has served in an expert witness capacity, and is familiar with the inside of a courtroom.

  Sam Daume has been in the insurance industry since 1986 and has worked with educational institutions since 1989. He joined the Fred C. Church Education team as an account executive in January of 2009. His experience includes 26 years as an account executive with three insurance brokers assuming various leadership positions including New England Education Practice Leader for Marsh USA. Sam has provided risk management advice and insurance brokerage service to independent schools, colleges, and universities of all shapes and sizes as well as several well known outdoor educational institutions. Married 27 years with 2 kids, Sam loves the outdoors and traveling with his family. His highlights include climbing and hiking in national parks, flyfishing for salmon in Quebec, and a family trip to South Africa. He is an active member of Massachusetts Audubon, Appalachian Mountain Club, Trustees of the Reservation, and Sierra Club.
  Liam Downey divides his time between practicing austere medicine as a remote paramedic and teaching wilderness medicine and survival. He has worked as an emergency care provider in the rugged deserts of southeast Utah and west Texas, the Navajo and Hopi tribal reservations of northern Arizona, Black Rock City of Nevada, Yellowstone National Park, and beyond. Downey is a senior lead instructor for NOLS Wilderness Medicine, and an instructor and subject matter expert in desert survival for US Army Special Operations, BORSTAR, US Marshals Service, and others. He has worked as a river guide in the American southwest and India, and still takes every opportunity he can to row boats.

Todd Duncan has managed and directed adventure, research, and education programs on five continents. He specializes in developing new programs, and has been creating and running programs in Hawaii and Belize for ten years, where he also served with the Wildlife Conservation Society as manager for Glover's Reef Marine Research Station. After two years as the director of safety and student life for the School for Field Studies (SFS), he now helps administer operations as program safety manager for the Sierra Club. Todd serves on the WRMC Steering Committee.


F Kate Farthing is in her ninth year at Broadreach and currently acts as the director of Field Operations, which includes overseeing both general and program specific risk management practices. Her perspective ranges from being a field instructor for many years to coordinating scouting programs to her current position overseeing the team of program coordinators at Broadreach. Kate has attended the WRMC numersous times.
  Bill Frederick is the founder of Lodestone Safety International, specializing in health, safety, and security for educational and service organizations operating abroad. Prior to that he served as director of safety at The School for Field Studies for 8 years and as an Instructor and program director at Outward Bound for 16 years. He is a faculty committee member for Wilderness Medical Associates International. He holds an M.Ed from Harvard University and a CTH from the International Society of Travel Medicine.

Ron Funderburke is the education manager at the American Alpine Club where he has been working hard to educate all climbers and climbing instructors about Universal Belay Standards. Ron is an AMGA certified rock guide, is the discipline coordinator of the AMGA SPI program, and serves on the AMGA Board of Directors. Ron has published a handful of climbing related titles through FalconGuides. He lives in Golden, Colorado with his wife and sons.



Wilma Gray, born in Ontario, Canada, received her B.A. degree from Queen’s University in 1984 and J.D. in Law from New College of California in 1996. Wilma has been practicing law since being admitted to the California Bar in 1997, joined the McNamara Law Firm in 1998, and became a partner in 2005. She is a member of the State Bar of California, American Board of Trial Advocates, International Society of Barristers, American Bar Association, Contra Costa County Bar Association, and Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California. When not in trial or depositions, Wilma loves to get outdoors to enjoy hiking, canoeing, biking, skiing (cross-country and downhill), and snowshoeing. Wintertime is spent volunteering at Achieve Tahoe, a ski school for the disabled at Alpine Meadow and Squaw Valley.

Reb Gregg is a Houston, Texas attorney specializing in outdoor adventure and education law. He is on the the Board of the Independent Schools Experiential Education Network and on the Risk Management Committee of Outward Bound International. Reb serves as legal counsel to the Association for Challenge Course Technology and to a number of adventure programs including summer camps, college and secondary school outdoor programs, and challenge course and zip line operators and builders. He is a frequent lecturer and writer, and honoree of the Charles (Reb) Gregg Wilderness Risk Managment Award.


Daniel Hadley has been on the Salt Lake County Search and Rescue team for 5 years. He studied Wilderness Rescue during his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Utah.
  Erika Halm is the Washington program director at the Northwest Outward Bound School. Erika has worked in adventure and outdoor education for more than 8 years in a variety of settings, from independent schools and wilderness medicine to expeditionary outdoor education. Erika is a lead instructor for the Wilderness Medicine Training Center.
Amberleigh Hammond is a program quality manager and functions as the national medical screener for the Student Conservation Association (SCA). Her primary focus is screening, leader training, incident response, and compliance with field standards. Prior to the SCA, Amberleigh was at Outward Bound for six years as the national senior medical screener for OBUSA. Amberleigh teaches wilderness medicine courses and is an EMT and ski patroller. This will be her second year serving as a WRMC Steering Committee member.
Catherine Hansen-Stamp is an attorney in Golden, Colorado and a current member of the WMRC Steering Committee. She advises recreation and adventure providers on law, liability and risk management issues. She speaks and writes on these issues both regionally and nationally, and has presented at the WRMC since its inception in 1994. Cathy provides legal counsel to a variety of organizations, including recreation, adventure and sport program providers, camps, schools, outfitters, and guides. She is a member of the Wyoming and Colorado Bar Associations, and co-authors for ACA Campline with Reb Gregg.
  Tim Hare has worked as a field staff and administrator in outdoor and international settings since 1999, with Outward Bound from 2001-2013 and with Where There Be Dragons since 2005. He has given professional trainings to Outward Bound and Dragons’ instructors, school faculty, and to conference attendees. He has a keen interest in advocating for engaging risk as growth as well as training to the nuances in managing risk in international settings. An accomplished rock climber and alpinist, he has climbed, instructed, and guided throughout the US West, Alaska, and the Andes. Tim believes that healthy risk taking is essential for living an inspired and full life.

Seth Hawkins is an experienced outdoor program medical advisor. Board certified in both Emergency Medicine and EMS, he is also the first physician to be designated a Master Fellow by the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He serves as medical advisor for North Carolina Outward Bound School, Landmark Learning, and REI. Seth is an assistant professor at Wake Forest University and maintains a full-time clinical emergency medicine practice.



Jeff Jackson is a professor and coordinator of Algonquin College's Outdoor Adventure guide training diploma programs, overseeing 10,000 student field days per year. He is actively involved with adventure and action sports industry development. Jeff has presented at WRMC many times over the years, introducing alternative models of safety performance such as sensemaking, non-normal, and training to failure. The safety culture work at this year's conference is based upon his PhD research.


Millie Jimenez is currently the Outreach and Volunteer coordinator for Grand Teton National Park. She is new to the park service and the outdoor industry. She was introduced to the park service in 2012 as a junior at the State University of New York at Albany through the Student Conservation Association. She immediately fell in love with the park service and has been working with the NPS since then. Millie primarily works to help bridge the gap between the National Park Service and underserved and underrepresented communities through programs such as the National Park Service Academy and Pura Vida.


John Kelley has worked in outdoor and experiential education for the last 15 years. He is currently the dean of students at the Fountain Valley School of Colorado. He has been an instructor at a number of therapeutic wilderness programs, international schools, collegiate outdoor programs, and adventure travel organizations. In addition to his work at Fountain Valley, John teaches periodically at Prescott College and works as a climbing guide in a variety of locations.
  Nadia Kimmel founded Desert Mountain Medicine (DMM) in 1998. As executive director, she teaches wilderness medicine, trains instructors, develops course curricula, and consults with outdoor recreation organizations concerning wilderness risk management. Nadia has 22 years experience as an outdoor educator for Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Outward Bound. In addition to being an outdoor professional, she continues to stay current in the field of emergency medicine as an ER nurse.
  Skip King began working in emergency medical services before graduating high school. He worked EMS in Boston during college, then became a professional ski patroller and later a patrol director and mountain operations manager. He shifted to communications in 1990, and has since handled many of the ski industry's most visible incidents. This mix of hands-on communications and operational experience makes him a rarity in the crisis management field. In private practice since 2002, he serves a variety of clients in the active outdoors industry, including Outward Bound.
  Tracey Knutson graduated from Montana State University with a B.S. in Sociology in 1983, and from the University of Minnesota Law School (J.D. granted by University of Montana) in 1989. Tracey served in the United States Peace Corps between her undergraduate and graduate training. During and following law school Tracey worked in the Missoula, Montana County Attorney's office, in private law offices, and as a law clerk in the Alaska Court System before joining DeLisio, Moran, Geraghty & Zobel in 1992, where she became a partner. In 1998 Tracey joined Rod Sisson as a partner in Sisson & Knutson where she continued her extensive trial practice. In 2004 Tracey began the firm of Knutson and Associates and has oriented the firm's focus practice on recreation and adventure sports defense. Tracey has had a rich background of insurance defense litigation, defending oil field companies, native housing authorities, insurers, outdoor recreation and adventure or sports entities, and a variety of other clients. She has tried numerous tort litigation-style cases and regularly participates in appellate level practice. Tracey has an extensive history of charitable, community and volunteer oriented activities; she held an elected position within the Municipality of Anchorage from 2003-2007 on the Girdwood Board of Supervisors.
  Megan Kohli is the director of education and Outreach at Grand Teton National Park and just celebrated 10 years with the National Park Service (NPS). Previously at Grand Canyon National Park, she started the field school program there, designing and guiding back country service learning programs for youth and the accompanying risk management practices. Her passion is for bringing new voices to the conservation table and she has lead numerous initiatives to provide meaningful outdoor experiences for Native American, Chinese, inner city and other youth who are under-represented in parks. Kohli also does international work and served as a National Park Service ambassador and instructor in China for Beijing Normal University, Henan Polytechnic University, and Yun Tai Shan National Park.

Kate Koons has worked in the field of outdoor education since 1995. She has 20 years of experience leading expeditions around the world, guiding and teaching a variety of students and clients. She is a senior field instructor for NOLS with 270 weeks of field experience. Currently, Kate still works for NOLS in a number of capacities; she works as a program supervisor in the winter and summer backpacking programs at NOLS Teton Valley, as well as for NOLS Custom Education as a lead instructor on both expeditions and classroom trainings. Kate also continues to work for other organizations when not working at NOLS. She works as a backcountry ski guide in the winter in her home range, the Tetons, and occasionally travels south to Antarctica to assist science groups on remote scientific research expeditions. She has also spent many years cumulatively living and working in the Himalayas, a place she likes to call her second home. Kate lives in Victor, Idaho with her husband and two dogs where she can be found in her garden, running, or backcountry skiing.




Emily Ledingham is a senior NOLS field instructor and administrator. She has accumulated over 150 weeks of experience instructing hiking, mountaineering, whitewater, and back-country ski courses. Emily currently supervises faculty and risk management as a program supervisor at NOLS Rocky Mountain and NOLS Yukon.

Drew LeemonDrew Leemon, Director of Risk Management at NOLS, began his career in outdoor education in 1979 and has held his current position since 1996. He is a past chairman of the Wilderness Risk Managers Committee and is on the steering committee for the Wilderness Risk Management Conference. He has published papers on wilderness injury and incident data and is co-editor of the Manual of Accreditation Standards for Adventure Programming and co-authored Risk Management for Outdoor Leaders.

Micah Leinbach has been the director of Crystalaire Adventures for four years, every year sending college-aged summer employees on drives that can last up to 12 hours. His experience stems from effectively training short-term staff in a short amount of time, and he has conducted research in using social approaches to motivate successful training.



Brendan Madden is director of operations and national safety officer at Outward Bound Canada. He has been active in the expedition-based adventure education field for over 20 years, mostly as a program director and senior instructor at both Outward Bound and NOLS. Brendan has also been a risk management trainer and consultant at NOLS. He was once the director of Hulbert Outdoor Centre in Vermont. Brendan continues to be fascinated by the confluence of systems thinking and human-factor elements in outdoor risk management.
  Dr. Will Marling earned his undergraduate (1986), graduate (1989), and post-graduate (1997) degrees in a variety of disciplines. Trained in crisis intervention, trauma mitigation and education, and responding to hundreds of incidents over 25 years, his praxis has been informed by a variety of national and international events from violent crimes to natural disasters. In his season as a chief executive of a national victim assistance organization, he knows the challenges of leading an organization whose job is to engage and respond to crises.
  David McEvoy began volunteering for the Student Conservation Association in 1983 and has worked for SCA, the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and other outdoor and land management organizations since that time. He has worked as a paramedic since 1990 and founded Aerie in 1995. With Aerie, Dave trains his staff to teach wilderness medicine courses to outdoor organizations and the US military throughout the US, in addition to teaching courses in Central America, Africa, and Asia.
  Kira McGieson is a Northwest native and spends her time in, on, and around the beautiful water of the Seattle area. She is a Wilderness First Responder and an ACA Certified Level III coastal kayak instructor with 5 years guiding and teaching experience. In addition to paddling, Kira is passionate about youth work and currently combines her love for kayaking, youth, and queer and social justice with OUT There Adventures as their program director and a lead instructor.
  Laura McGladrey has instructed for NOLS for the past 15 years and is a nurse practitioner with dual board certification, practicing both emergency medicine and child and adolescent psychiatry. She currently works as a psychiatric prescriber at Tennyson Center for Children with a focus on behavioral emergencies and trauma. She has a background in international work and continues to teach wilderness medicine to providers and lectures nationally on Psychological First Aid.
  Lisa Meerts-Brandsma is a doctoral student in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism at the University of Utah. Prior to her graduate work, she worked as a guide for a variety of companies in the outdoor industry. She also holds an MFA in Writing from the University of New Hampshire.
Katie Baum Mettenbrink has worked in outdoor education since 1999, primarily at NOLS. She currently leads NOLS Risk Management Services, which provides risk management consulting and education for organizations around the world. She is also a senior field instructor at NOLS, with 140 weeks of experience on wilderness expeditions. Before landing in her current role, she worked at a university outdoor program, taught environmental education, was the program manager at NOLS Alaska, and then oversaw staffing at NOLS Professional Training. She serves on the WRMC steering committee and lives in Lander, Wyoming with her husband.

Frances Mock is an attorney specializing in advising outdoor education and recreation programs. She is counsel to NOLS, Outward Bound, L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery School, and other clients providing advice about responding to serious incidents, claims, and lawsuits, as well as other matters such as ADA compliance, liability release forms, contracts, and general risk management. Frances worked as a Class V whitewater rafting guide, volunteer cross country skiing instructor for special needs populations, and in other adventure-based industries for ten years before becoming an attorney.


Greg Moore is a leader in Montana's emergency medical and wilderness medical fields. He completed medical school at The Ohio State University and did a dual residency in emergency medicine and family practice. He has practiced as a Board certified emergency room physician for over 30 years. He directs Barrett Hospital's emergency department and serves as medical director for Saint Patrick Hospital's rural outreach. Greg is very active in EMS, serving as medical director for Missoula Emergency Services Ambulance, Missoula County Airport Authority, Powell County QRU, Beaverhead EMS, and Wisdom Ambulance. Greg’s passion, however, is Wilderness Medicine. He serves as medical director for Aerie School of Backcountry Medicine, Beaverhead County Search and Rescue, Northwest Connections, and the Student Conservation Association. Greg is actively involved in teaching and instructing all levels of medical professionals, and loves to hike, hunt, ski, snow machine, raft, fish, scuba dive, and travel.






Steve Neal, Risk Management Officer for Outward Bound USA and WRMC Co-sponsor Member, has been a risk management and safety professional for 40 years. After an early career as a paramedic, he developed a keen understanding of the importance of proactive loss prevention. His career spans his current position with Outward Bound; 9 years as risk manager for the city of Portland, Maine; 20 years in the ski industry focusing on insurance, safety, and risk management; and 6 years as an insurance professional providing insurance, loss control, and claim services to the outdoor recreation industry. A native Mainer or "Maniac," Steve enjoys all the seasons and outdoor activities New England has to offer.

Paul Nicolazzo is an outdoor professional with over 35 years of experience leading trips, training staff, and designing and managing outdoor programs, including 22 years with Outward Bound as an instructor, staff trainer, climbing specialist, white water specialist, and program director. He has authored numerous books, field manuals, and articles on wilderness medicine and outdoor program risk management. Paul has extensive technical and field expertise in general mountaineering, ski mountaineering, rock climbing, canyoneering, and all inland whitewater and expedition paddle and rowing sports.




Jamie O’Donnell has worked as an educator in numerous capacities since the early '90s: as an outdoor educator, a high school biology teacher, and university biology lab-instructor. He currently manages curriculum for NOLS as the Field Curriculum manager. Jamie instructs field and wilderness first aid courses for NOLS, has a M.S. in Environmental Education, and an M.A. in teaching, and is a current Wilderness EMT. His passion for teaching, experiential education, and wilderness medicine fuels his enthusiasm as a NOLS instructor.

  Chad Olcott is a director at Apogee Adventures, a program that specializes in small-group adventure travel in the United States, Europe, and Caribbean. Before joining Apogee, he spent six years practicing law, first as a JAG with the U.S. Navy in San Diego, California and Sardinia, Italy, before joining a law firm in Portland, Maine. In 2009, Chad left the active practice of law to join Apogee as a full-time director.

Nate Ostis is a Rescue 3 Swiftwater Rescue instructor and a Level 5 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue instructor trainer for the American Canoe Association. He is a firefighter, WEMT-B, a NSDS open water diver, and an ice rescue technician. Additionally Nate instructs for NOLS, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, and the department of emergency programs at University of Utah. He is the author of The NOLS River Rescue Guide which recently won the National Outdoor Book Award for Best Instruction. He founded Wilderness Rescue International in 2002 and teaches approximately 20 river rescue courses a year.



Don Pachner turned his outdoor organization and environmental organization volunteer work into specialty insurance brokerage firm Pachner & Associates, LLC in 2003 to serve the wilderness recreation, nature and outdoor education, environmental conservation, and research communities. He is on the America Outdoors Association Insurance committee, the National Park Service Advisory committee sub-group on insurance requirements, and has regularly taught insurance courses for AMGA mountaineering guides and guide services.
  Bruce Palmer is the admission and marketing director at NOLS, a position he has held since 1990. Educating nearly 24,000 students annually NOLS is the world’s largest, most comprehensive wilderness educator. As NOLS’ primary media coordinator and spokesperson, Bruce has handled communications with written, radio, and television press on positive stories and in times of crisis. Web, blog, and social media are all employed by NOLS as part of its crisis communication's arsenal.
  James Pearson has 30 years experience in business law, management, and consulting. He has received a Martindale-Hubbell top AV rating for attorneys and is president of Pearson & Paris, P.C., a Denver, Colorado law firm which emphasizes commercial transactions and litigation, real estate, insurance, and recreation law. Jim has an extensive background in business transactions and litigation and he routinely advises on matters related to both. He founded the RiverReach Youth Initiative (now known as cityWILD), an organization that helps young people gain a sense of responsibility to their community and environment, rewarding participating youth with recreational outings. He holds B.S. and Juris Doctorate degrees and lectures frequently in the areas of business and related liability issues, including recreational liability.
  Anne Peick is a senior NOLS field instructor and administrator. She has over 200 weeks of experience instructing hiking, mountaineering, whitewater, climbing, and back-country ski courses. Anne currently works in the staffing office and has also supervised staff as a program supervisor at NOLS Rocky Mountain. Prior to her work with NOLS she was an instructor for Outward Bound. She is working towards AMGA certification in the rock discipline.
  Jill Penwarden, a partner in Rimon’s Litigation group, has nearly two decades of experience representing and defending sports and recreation providers in high-stakes litigation. She has a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall and is a member of the California Bar Association, Association of Ski Defense Attorneys, and is the former president of the Tahoe Truckee Bar Association. She volunteers her time as pro bono legal counsel for nonprofits including an Expeditionary Learning public charter school, an outdoor education program for at-risk youth, and an arts enrichment program for children. She also volunteers as a Judge Pro Tem for the California Superior Courts. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, mountain and road biking, paddle boarding, and open-water swimming.

Mike Pigg has been involved in the experiential education industry for over 12 years as an educator, trainer, and administrator. He has a long history with Outward Bound Australia where he served for several years as the safety director, and then general manager. In addition, his experience in Australia includes extensive work within the tertiary/vocational training sector responsible for training outdoor leaders. Today Mike is the associate director of safety at Outward Bound USA, and a member of the WRMC co-sponsor committee.



Joel Reid is a course director and staff trainer with the Northwest Outward Bound School, lead instructor and trainer with the Wilderness Medicine Training Center, and owner of Cascade Outdoor Education which offers wilderness medicine courses in the Seattle area. He usually lives and plays in the small town of Mazama, WA.
  Gates Richards is a senior instructor for NOLS Wilderness Medicine. Gates has been involved in outdoor education and EMS since the early '90s. Over the years he's worked outdoor programming throughout the Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. He's worked urban EMS in Washington, DC; Seattle, Washington; Gunnison County, Colorado; and is an Intermediate EMT in Lander, Wyoming. Gates began teaching for NOLS Wilderness Medicine in 1998 and now bears the title of special programs manager. He oversees NOLS Wilderness Medicine's WEMT and instructor training programs and is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.

Shannon Rochelle, Research Manager and Senior Field Instructor at NOLS, began her career in outdoor education in 1990. She has held a variety of positions at NOLS including Alaska program manager, training manager, and field staffing coordinator, and has taught NOLS students in seven states and three countries. As research manager, she plays a key role in all research studies done at or by NOLS.


Elyse Rylander has spent the last decade working in the outdoor industry. From teaching canoeing and kayaking, to facilitating on a challenge course and guiding kayaking, camping and glacier hikes in Alaska, Elyse believes passionately in the power of connecting people to nature. She has turned this passion in to advocacy for the queer community by co-founding OUT There Adventures, providing consulting and training for outdoor organizations, and publishing pieces in mainstream publications and academia.





Jay A. Satz is the senior director of Partnerships and Innovation for the Northwest Youth Corps (NYC), where he is responsible for developing new conservation service program models, managing relationships with NYC’s key partners, and supporting programs in the field. Jay is an award winning conservationist with an over 30 year career of connecting youth to conservation, creating and running effective backcountry conservation service programs, and developing and promulgating effective risk management practices for NYC, SCA, National Park Service, YMCA, and other organizations. In addition to his work with NYC, Jay serves on the boards for Aerie Backcountry Medicine, the YMCA of Greater Seattle Camping and Outdoor Leadership Branch, Washington’s National Park Fund, and has been a standing member of the Wilderness Risk Management Steering Committee since 1995.
  Tod Schimelpfenig has been a NOLS Instructor since 1973. He is a volunteer SAR WEMT and is currently the curriculum director of NOLS Wilderness Medicine. Tod was the NOLS risk management director for 8 years and the NOLS Rocky Mountain director for 6 years. He served on the board of the Wilderness Medical Society for 3 years and founded the Wilderness Risk Manager’s Committee. Tod authored NOLS Wilderness Medicine and co-authored Risk Management for Outdoor Leaders. He was the recipient of the 2010 Charles (Reb) Gregg Wilderness Risk Management Award.
  Jim Sibthorp is a professor at the University of Utah in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Jim’s current research focuses on youth development through outdoor and adventure programming. Through his work with both NOLS and the American Camp Association, Jim continues to design, implement, and translate studies that bridge research and practice. Jim is the coordinator of the Adventure and Outdoor Programs Emphasis at the University of Utah and is a NOLS faculty member.

Russell Slaugh has been an avid climber and skier the majority of his life. After serving in the US Navy as an EOD Special Operations diver he earned a Master's of Science degree from Utah State University in Exercise Science and Biomechanics, presenting research related to rock climbing at both the American and International Society of Biomechanics. He then went on to become a tenured professor and department head at Olympic College in Bremerton, WA, teaching exercise science and outdoor recreation. During that time he also coached the Vertical World climbing team, sending athletes to both the national and world championships. Since 2005 Russell has managed professional and government sales for Black Diamond Equipment.


Steve Smith is an outdoor program consultant specializing in risk management. He spent five years as vice president of program quality for the Student Conservation Association, where he led a team responsible for risk management, training, program evaluation, and continuous program improvement. He has been associated with Outward Bound since 1998, first as a mountaineering instructor, then staffing manager, and is currently a board member for the Northwest Outward Bound School, where he also serves on the school’s safety committee. After founding an outdoor program consulting company, he has written emergency response plans, training manuals, field manuals, implemented crisis response scenarios at a wide variety of organizations, conducted safety audits, presented at over 30 professional conferences, and published articles in outdoor magazines and journals. He has presented at WRMC every year since 2010, been a Steering Committee member since 2011, and has served as the Chair of the WRMC Steering Committee since 2014. He lives in Seattle and loves to explore and photograph the wildlife, mountains, and coastlines of the Pacific Northwest.


Grant Statham got his start in the mountains as an ice climber and a ski patroller in Banff in 1986. Soon after, he began pursuing professional certifications in avalanche forecasting and mountain guiding and became an IFMGA mountain guide in 1993. Grant spent many years leading climbing, skiing and international expeditions along with avalanche consulting for industry and public recreation. In 2003, Grant joined Parks Canada as their avalanche risk specialist and spent the next 10 years developing avalanche safety systems, several of which are now used worldwide. In 2005 he received a Canadian Public Service Award of Excellence for his work in avalanche safety, and in 2014 he received an Avalanche Canada service award for “exceptional contributions to avalanche safety in Canada.” Grant lives with his family in Canmore, Alberta, and still works with Parks Canada’s visitor safety program as well as independently as an avalanche and risk consultant.


Jeannette Stawski serves as executive director for the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE). She has worked as an LNT Master Educator, NOLS instructor, wilderness medicine instructor for the Wilderness Medicine Training Center, and EMT. Jeannette has a bachelor’s degree in resource policy and behavior from the University of Michigan and is a Certified Association Executive [CAE]. Jeannette completed 11 years as the director of Outdoor Adventures at the University of Michigan. Prior to working for U of M, Jeannette worked for five summers as a professional outdoor guide. Jeannette serves on the WRMC Steering Committee.


Doug Stevens is a Boulder, Colorado attorney who has provided legal services to outdoor recreational providers for many years. He has defended serious and high-profile personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Doug frequently prepares liability releases and acknowledgment of risk agreements for his clients, in addition to handling their other contractual needs. He also provides employment, risk management, and emergency response advice. Doug has presented to outdoor professional groups on various legal issues and is licensed in both Colorado and Wyoming.



Shana Tarter is the assistant director of NOLS Wilderness Medicine. In addition to 25 years experience in wilderness medicine and outdoor education, she chaired the Wilderness Risk Management Conference Steering Committee for five years. She serves as a reviewer for the Wilderness Medical Society's Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. She is an active wilderness medicine instructor, risk management educator, and frequent conference presenter.
  Travis Taylor specializes in executive-level strategic consulting and communications services. His record of proven results rests on his extensive experience in corporate communications, media relations and training, crisis communications, community relations and public affairs, coupled with his deep commitment to building trust and reputation for clients. Travis helps clients prepare for and manage volatile situations, including natural disasters, wilderness crises, labor negotiations, activist demonstrations, product recalls, workplace accidents, land use issues, and legal actions.
  Rob Terry is the vice president of national programming at the Student Conservation Association. An educator by training, he holds an MEd from New England College. His career in the outdoors has included teaching with a number of experiential programs, including St. Albans Schools’ Voyageur program, Dartmouth College’s Outing Club, and the American Canoe Association. Coming to his work with SCA from a position leading public school reform initiatives in major urban districts has affirmed Rob's desire to help organizations, and the conservation movement in general, realign principles and practices to be more inclusive of, and ultimately relevant to, developing conservationists from all backgrounds.?

Garth Tino is the risk manager and an instructor for the Utah Valley University Outdoor Recreation Management degree program where he has been for 14 years. He has been climbing personally and professionally for 25 years, and manages policy, procedure, and equipment for his program. He has undergraduate and master's degrees in Outdoor and Adventure Education from the University of New Hampshire and Prescott College respectively.







Lindsay Venable has worked in experiential education and the outdoor industry for 13 years. This is her fourth year with Broadreach as an International Education coordinator and summer office director. Her responsibilities include developing and implementing programs for students, providing support from afar and on the ground to field staff and mentoring full-time office staff throughout the year in preparation for managing programs in the field.


Mark Vermeal, Vice President of Safety for Outward Bound, USA, is responsible for the oversight of safety management systems for all Outward Bound Charters in the US. Mark has almost 20 years of experience managing staff at organizations like the Student Conservation Association and White Mountain School. As a Wilderness EMT Mark managed emergent situations, and has been a wilderness medicine instructor and classroom teacher in anatomy and physiology. With rock, ice, and alpine guiding experience, he is a certified AMGA rock instructor and single pitch instructor provider who co-owns and guides for Mountain Sense. Mark currently serves on the Steering Committee for the WRMC and has presented at the WRMC since 2007.



Dr. Al Wright is professor and outdoor coordinator for the Recreation and Tourism Management department at California State University Northridge where he teaches courses in leadership and outdoor education. He has worked with risk management and safety management issues for outdoor programs throughout his professional career. Al supervises both land-based and water-based outdoor programs that serve over 8,000 participants a year.




Karmina Zafiro specializes in crisis communications, issues management and consumer PR. She has worked with educational institutions facing critical issues and crises related to town-gown relations, accidents, injury and death, litigation, activist action, labor negotiations, and organizational restructuring/layoffs. She has worked with outdoor education clients including NOLS, HMI and Overland, and managed crises for universities including UC Hastings College of the Law and UC Santa Cruz. Karmina also leads the analytics division at Fineman PR.







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