BJ Allen has an MA in Social work and extensive experience integrating equity, inclusion, and social justice into staff training, programming, and administrative practices. She leads Outward Bound California’s work around equity and inclusion and is participating in projects on the local and national level to support growth and collaboration across the outdoor education industry.
Reid Anderson, former boarding school teacher, rowing coach, and counselor, is the director of Wilderness Tripping and the risk management team coordinator for Kieve-Wavus Education. KWE is a non-profit organization with two summer camps serving 1,100 campers with nearly 13,000 person-trip-days each summer, experiential programs serving 7,000 middle schoolers and their teachers each year, and several other smaller programs. Reid is a Registered Maine Guide, an ACA L3 canoe instructor, and a firefighter.
Leslie Arutunian, after sixteen years in higher education, became the director and owner of Wildlands Studies in 2008. Operating in sixteen countries, with 42 faculty and 230 students, Wildlands Studies’ enrollment has increased 200% with above industry standards in risk management, academic accountability, faculty hiring standards, and insurance coverage. The result of living abroad and travel to 40 countries, Leslie’s personal interests lie in experiential education with a focus on the outdoors as a medium for personal empowerment.
Joe Austin is the health review manager for NOLS, overseeing the review process of student and faculty health forms. Previously, he served as the associate director of Admissions as well as the field staff manager following his work as an instructor with 140 weeks in the field. Before joining NOLS in 1983, Joe worked for the Outdoor Education Center of the Houston School District in Texas and guided canoe trips in Maine for four summers. Joe is concluding his ninth year on the Accreditation Council of AEE and recently co-edited the Manual of Accreditation Standards for Adventure Programs.
Andrew Bailey is an associate professor of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. His research agenda addresses enhanced quality of life through the improvement of life experience. He has worked in camping, guiding, tourism, and academia. When not teaching, he can be found exploring the trails and crags around Chattanooga with his wife and 6-year old girl.
Aaron Ball, climber, mountaineer, skier, rafter, and mountain biker, owns Southwest Rescue where he sponsors and teaches WMTC wilderness medicine courses and Rescue 3 International swiftwater rescue courses. Aaron also works year round for San Juan Mountain Guides where he guides rock climbing, alpine mountaineering, and backcountry skiing trips and teaches Level 1 and Level 2 avalanche courses. Aaron is an American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education instructor trainer, a full-time lecturer at Fort Lewis College, and a member of the La Plata County Search and Rescue team.
Holly Barrass, originally from New Zealand, holds a degree in adventure and outdoor education, AMGA SPI, and has completed her AMGA rock guide course. With over 400 field days of outdoor instructing, Holly has worked in adventure tour guiding, wilderness expeditions, backpacking courses, canoe trips, and rock climbing courses. Holly has worked at Colorado Mountain Club for 3.5 years first as the youth education director and now the education director.
Walter Bezha spent most of his early years on Mother Earth out on the land with all of his grandfathers, traveling and learning the Dene traditions of Sahtú (Great Bear Lake) in the Northwest Territories. After thirty-two years in the resource development field with both the federal and territorial governments, he switched to working with Indigenous governance organizations. Walter is currently semi-retired, which gives him more time with his grandchildren on their traditional lands. Walter will continue his involvement with traditional knowledge projects; documenting this history has long been a priority for hım.
Eric Boggs is a leadership development professional with 20 years of facilitating experiential learning, wilderness expeditions, and service learning adventures. He uses storytelling as tool for meaning making and professional development with college students and c-suite executives alike. He is a University of Oregon instructor of leadership and management and NOLS Expedition and Wilderness Medicine faculty.
Rick Braschler is a senior risk consultant and the director of risk management for Kanakuk Kamps in Branson, Missouri. Rick's 25 year career has centered on protecting and empowering youth safety throughout the world. Rick’s blend of education and experiences offer him a unique perspective on balancing opportunities with risk in a recreational setting. Rick is the author of the nationally recognized “Kanakuk Child Protection Plan" and has provided over 500 hours of instruction to over 1,200 youth leaders.
Perry Cohen is a trans man and a seasoned facilitator of (trans)gender diversity trainings and the founder and executive director of The Venture Out Project where he leads backpacking trips for members of the LGBTQ+ community. In support of Venture Out’s mission to make both outdoor and traditional education settings more affirming of trans and gender diverse folks, Perry works with colleges, schools, camps, and other organization to develop and deliver comprehensive and progressive workshops around gender diversity.
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.
Dr. Loel Collins is a senior lecturer in the institute for coaching and performance at the University of Central Lancashire. Prior to a career as an academic he worked in adventure education for over 30 years, formerly as director of the National White-water Centre in the UK and as head of the paddle sport department at the National Mountain Centre. He is a British Canoe Union Level 5 coach in all recreational disciplines (white-water, sea and surf kayak, and canoe) and a telemark skiing and mountaineering instructor. He is a member of the Outward Bound Trust risk management committee in the UK, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and technical adviser for British Explore. He is a prolific author and his research interests lie in investigated the specific of coaching and leadership education in adventure sports and complex judgement and decision making in dynamic environments.
Leah Corrigan is a lawyer who advises and defends outdoor recreation businesses. She is an experienced litigator and the founder of Western Recreation Law Center, based out of Jackson, Wyoming. Leah spent ten 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.
Daniela Cross is the coordinator of risk management and special projects at Associated Students, California State University, Northridge, Inc., where her work often concerns risk management advisement for outdoor recreation and spot club programs. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Recreation Management from California State University, Northridge, and focused her graduate internship on risk management in the college setting. It was there that she has had the opportunity to teach graduate level courses concerning law, risk management, and ethics in recreation. Daniela also has 10 years’ experience in the municipal recreation field. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.
Rick Curtis has been director of the Outdoor Action program at Princeton University for 37 years, running one of the largest college outdoor orientation programs in the US. He is the founder and of OutdoorEd.com, 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 IncidentAnalytixSystem, a standard for incident data collection in the outdoor industry.
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 27 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 28 years with two 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.
Valeria de Casas serves as a program coordinator for SCA’s Houston Community program, an urban conservation service program for local Houston youth. In her own words: “I was named Valeria because it means strength. I remind myself this every time I feel weak. I am a Mexican American woman changing the conservationist stereotype. I like to think of myself as a poetic taco junkie with an unconditional love for trees, mangos and self expression. I have worked with the Student Conservation Association throughout my high school career. I am now a sophomore in college and I can honestly say that if it were not for my adventures in the SCA working and visiting places like Golden Gate, Yosemite, Sumter, and parks near the Houston area I would have not evolved into this environmentally-aware individual that I am today. I have realized nature is the secret tonic of creativity. I have learned the importance of preserving and admiring forest and parks. That is why I plan on continuing my education towards Environmental Justice; I feel we have a duty to protect cultural and historical wilderness areas. I will utilize my knowledge in the best way possible and that is by teaching our youth and molding them into the next generation of conservation leaders.”
Josiah Downey currently works as director for education at Student Conservation Association, where he is interested in applying organizational learning to existing programs. He does this by developing and implementing training of all team leaders, designing content and program curricula, and assisting in the annual updates to safety policies and procedures. Downey has an M.S. in Environmental Science with a focus on program design and environmental education from Antioch University New England.
Paul Dreyer, a self-proclaimed "mercenary educator," has had the opportunity to work with numerous organizations, including NOLS, Where There Be Dragons, HMI, and Watershed School. Paul has worked as a facilitator, curriculum designer, coach, expeditionary leader, risk management consultant, staff trainer, and team builder. Currently, Paul is the CEO of Avid4 Adventure, helping support the mission to empower kids to lead active and healthy lifestyles outdoors.
Todd Duncan has managed and directed adventure, research, and education programs on six continents. He specializes in developing new programs and has been creating and running programs in Hawaii and Belize for 10 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), Todd now helps administer operations as the director of safety for the Sierra Club.
Jess Dunkin, originally from eastern Ontario, has called Yellowknife, NWT, home since 2015. When she isn’t working with NWT communities to support land-based programs, Jess can be found paddling, skiing, or writing/tweeting about life in the #SpectacularNWT. Jess holds a Bachelor of Education from Trent University and a Ph.D. in the history of recreation from Carleton University.
Claire Dzierzak is a program director for YMCA Camp Menogyn. She has worked for several outdoor industry leaders and loves being involved in the development of risk management policy and curriculum. Menogyn leads wilderness trips all across North America and Claire’s role is to help ensure those trips are executed safely. Throughout the off season she has the opportunity to work with other YMCA staff members, board members, and community members to enrich the all around experience at Camp Menogyn.
Jo Ellis is the director of Education Outreach at Bay Area Lyme Foundation. She has over 20 years of experience developing and marketing educational programming for schools, nonprofits, and corporations. A native of the UK, Jo received her BA/MA from Cambridge University and a post-graduate high-school teaching certification from the University of London. Jo is a nationally recognized educator through Johns Hopkins University.
Bix Firer (MA University of Chicago, BA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) has worked in experiential and adventure education with national nonprofits and school districts in Chicago, Milwaukee, Colorado, and Alaska since 2007. Bix has primarily worked with students who are traditionally under-represented in outdoor education. Bix is currently the director of programs for Big City Mountaineers. His passion is facilitating challenging and fun experiences that help participants approach themselves and each other with excitement, empathy, and a sense of adventure. While not working, Bix can be found exploring the high country of Colorado and the Canyonlands of Utah by his own power with his wife Emma and dog Bodhi.
Kathleen Floberg is a program director for YMCA Camp Widjiwagan. Part of her duties include working with the camp board and staff to develop effective risk management practices for Widjiwagan’s wilderness trips. She spent many seasons leading trips for Y camps and received a Master’s of Environmental Education degree from the University of MN, Duluth. Her role keeps her at a desk most days but the wilderness still plays a significant role in her life.
Luanne Freer, M.D. opened the world’s highest medical clinic in 2003, at Mount Everest Base Camp. Her work on Everest now makes her one of the world’s foremost experts on high-altitude medicine and is highlighted in several documentary films, chronicling life and death adventures as she faces high-altitude medical emergencies, helicopter evacuations, sudden violent storms, gender discrimination, multinational cultures and poverty while operating the first and only emergency room on the world’s highest mountain. She is a board certified emergency physician who practices as the medical director for Yellowstone NationalPark, and is the past president of the Wilderness Medical Society. She returns to volunteer and direct the clinic in Nepal every spring.
Kim Glodek is the associate program director for Education and Outreach at the Philadelphia Outward Bound School. She oversees education and outreach strategies for school and community partners. She is a field instructor and designer and facilitator of professional development for Outward Bound and youth serving organizations throughout the Philadelphia area. As an outdoor and experiential learning professional, Kim is an advocate for providing appropriate, quality, and standards-based training for the field.
Reb Gregg is a Houston, Texas attorney specializing in outdoor adventure and education law. He is a member of the Accreditation Council of the Association for Experiential Education and the Risk Management Committees of SCA and 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 Award, established by the Wilderness Risk Management Conference in 2009.
Darren Gruetze has occupied a wide range of roles within the conservation and wilderness therapy industries over the last 10 years. Currently he manages Pittsburgh based programming for the Student Conservation Association. He approaches leadership and management from a bottom-up perspective, believing that those he leads know best what will facilitate their growth, and that it is his job to provide a safe and supportive structure in which they can achieve it.
Joshua Hall is the outdoor program manager for Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission. He most happy when he is teaching in the outdoors and sharing his knowledge with both youth and adults. His coaching adventures have taken him all over the continental US, Hawaii, Europe and Japan. Josh’s credentials include American Canoe Association (ACA) L5 Advanced Open Water Instructor Trainer Educator, ACA L3 SUP (coastal & surf) Instructor Trainer Educator, ACA L4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor, and L-2 Canoe Instructor Trainer.
Amberleigh Hammond is a Safety and Systems manager and functions as the national medical screener for the Student Conservation Association (SCA). Her primary focus is screening, leader training, compliance with field standards, and incident management/response. Prior to the SCA, Amberleigh worked at Outward Bound for six years as the national senior medical screener for OBUSA. Amberleigh is an Outdoor Emergency Care instructor, teaches wilderness medicine courses, and is an EMT, ski patroller, and Mental Health First Aid instructor. She currently serves on the WRMC Steering Committee.
Catherine Hansen-Stamp is an attorney in Golden, Colorado and a current member of the WRMC 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 with Where There Be Dragons in Bolivia, Boulder, and Nepal since 2005 as an instructor, program director, curriculum developer, staff trainer and, currently, as director of risk management. Previously he worked for Outward Bound between 2002 and 2012 as an instructor, course director, and staff trainer in Colorado, Alaska, and Patagonia. A passionate educator, Tim believes that experiential and outdoor education are great tools for understanding our place in the world and learning to live a creative, compassionate, and authentic life, and that healthy engagement with risk is essential to that learning.
Ava Holliday is a researcher and practitioner of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a PhD candidate at the University of Washington in the Anthropology department, she explores how diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are designed and implemented, as well as their successes and sticking points. She puts her research into practice as a founding partner of the Avarna Group, an organization that provides resources and insights for organizations implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Jonathan Igoe has worked with students in schools, recreation programs, and summer camps for the past twenty years. A 1997 graduate of Yale, Jonathan is a director at Overland. Prior to Overland, Jonathan taught for five years at independent schools in Baltimore and New York City and served as the executive director of the Williamstown Youth Center. Jonathan has presented at the Wilderness Risk Management Conference and the ACA New England Conference. He is on the Board of Directors at YMCA Camp Belknap and serves as the Chair of the Risk Management Committee. Jonathan lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts with his wife and three children.
Jeff Jackson, PhD, is an award-winning educator and longtime contributor to the WRMC, introducing concepts such as sensemaking and systems planning. Jeff is a professor and coordinator of Algonquin College's Outdoor Adventure guide training diploma, where he oversees 10,000 student field days per year. He is the author of Managing Risk: Systems Planning for Outdoor Adventure Programs. His PhD research is in safety culture, peer influence, and internalizing safety values.
Anna Johnson's introduction to wilderness environments began at a traditional summer camp and continued as a student with ActionQuest aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean. In addition to several years working on tall ships in remote environments, she has spent 19 summers working for ActionQuest with roles including operational director, head EMT, trip update manager, food coordinator, and photographer. During the year, Anna lives in DC and spends her free time volunteering with a dog rescue organization and training for running races.
John Kelley has worked in outdoor and experiential education for the last 15 years. He is currently the Assistant Head of School at the Verde Valley School, in Sedona, AZ. 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 Verde Valley, John teaches periodically at Prescott College and works as a climbing guide in a variety of locations.
Victoria Kerr, originally from Scotland, was lured to Colorado by the promise of endless blue skies and Noosa yogurt. Instructing for Outward Bound and college programs, she spent over a decade teaching avalanche, snow, and mountaineering courses throughout Colorado, Utah, Alaska and Ecuador. Gaining valuable knowledge of group dynamics, leadership, conflict resolution, and risk management, she often draws on those skills in her current role as Human Resource director for Colorado Outward Bound School. Vic directs the staffing, training, and development vision for over 200 staff and manages program operations and safety. Vic is drawn to the challenge of balancing the organizational and operational needs through a lens of professional and organizational development and evolving cultural strengths. When not exploring the inner workings of the Affordable Care Act and competency-based promotion structures, Vic enjoys traveling with her husband and toddler in an airstream and taking very slow walks.
Tracey L. Knutson is a licensed attorney whose primary practice involves working with recreation and adventure sports commercial operators, public land administrators, and recreation oriented educational groups. An experienced trial lawyer, Tracey defends recreation companies and sports groups from liability claims, often negotiating pretrial conclusions that minimize time and expense. In addition, she provides risk management and training services. Tracey's belief, when it comes to recreational endeavors, is that risk and opportunity exist simultaneously. Learning how to maximize the opportunities in your recreational endeavors by minimizing or mitigating the risks is a key component of operating a quality adventure sport or recreational endeavor or business.
Alex Kosseff is the executive director of the American Mountain Guides Association, founder and president of the Outdoor Safety Institute, and author of the AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership. As a consultant, he has assisted over 100 outdoor education, recreation, and conservation programs in improving their risk management practices. Alex lives in Boulder, Colorado and loves climbing, skiing, packrafting, and teaching in the outdoors.
Emily Ledingham has worked as an instructor and administrator at NOLS. She has accumulated over 160 weeks of experience instructing hiking, mountaineering, whitewater, and backcountry ski courses, and has supervised faculty and risk management at a variety of NOLS locations. Emily currently serves as the field staffing director for the school.
Drew Leemon, NOLS Risk Management Director, 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.
Andy Leider is a senior consultant with the Outdoor Safety Institute. His work focuses on bridging the space between field operations and organizational management. Andy is a past director with the Orfalea Foundation, Outward Bound, Montana Yellowstone Expeditions, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and he holds a Somatic Coach certification from Strozzi Institute. Andy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he is teaching his daughter to love and protect urban and wild spaces.
Brendan Madden is director of learning and adventure 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.
Laura Maguire is a researcher at the Ohio State University where she studies human performance in complex, adaptive environments. She spent 15 years working in safety and risk management in resource industries and holds a master's degree in Human Factors and Systems Safety. She is a backcountry skier, alpinist, and mountain sport enthusiast. Despite being preoccupied with some of the most catastrophic accidents in human history, she is actually pretty fun to be around.
Dr. Will Marling earned his undergraduate (1986), graduate (1989) and post-graduate (1997) degrees in a variety of disciplines. As a trained crisis responder (2000), he has deployed to hundreds of incidents, nationally and internationally. He is an independent trainer for the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA).
Laura McGladrey is a family and psych mental health nurse practitioner, NOLS instructor, and consultant with a background in emergency, humanitarian, and wilderness medicine. As a faculty member for University of Colorado Health Emergency department, Laura is working on crisis stabilization for child and adolescent population as well as crisis response, intervention, and private practice for first responders and wilderness programs. She peaks nationally on psychological first aid and provider resilience.
Katie has worked in outdoor education since 1999. She currently leads NOLS Risk Services, which provides risk management training and consulting for organizations around the world, and chairs the WRMC Steering Committee. She is also a senior field instructor at NOLS, with 140 weeks of experience on extended wilderness expeditions. Before landing in her current role, she oversaw staffing for NOLS Custom Education, was the program manager at NOLS Alaska, taught environmental education in the Pacific Northwest, and worked for the outdoor program at Princeton. She lives in Lander, Wyoming with her partner and young son.
Frances Mock is an attorney specializing in risk management and claims management for wilderness and experiential education programs. She is counsel to NOLS, Outward Bound, LL Bean's Outdoor Discovery School, and other clients, providing advice about responding to deaths; animal attacks; sexual assaults; and other serious incidents, claims and lawsuits, medical screening, and other operational issues. She has spoken at numerous national conferences for the outdoor and study abroad industries and has been teaching at Duke Law School for ten years. Frances worked as a Class V whitewater rafting guide, was a volunteer cross country skiing instructor for special needs populations, and was trained as a WFR for about ten years before becoming an attorney.
Steve Neal, risk management officer at Outward Bound USA and a member of the WRMC Steering Committee, has been a risk management and safety professional for over 40 years. As a former 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 ski patrol, 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.
Claire Nelson is the Youth and Outreach program manager for the Mazamas in Portland, OR. Claire holds a master’s degree in Leadership for Sustainability Education and a BS in environmental studies. She has also worked as the West Coast program manager for Big City Mountaineers, program manager for Explore Austin, and as a certified climbing guide with KAF Adventures, Portland State, and Outpost Wilderness Adventures. Claire holds an SPI and her AAIRE 1.
Katie Nelson serves as the associate program director for Safety and Delivery at the Philadelphia Outward Bound School, one of OB USA’s 11 regional schools. In this role, she oversees all aspects of program safety and staff training and development, for which she relies on her decade of experience with Outward Bound, serving as a course director and staff trainer, as well as the 60+ backpacking, paddling, climbing, and multi-element expeditions she’s instructed with a variety of participant populations. As a committed outdoor professional and risk manager, she recognizes the importance of providing tools and dynamic trainings to engage both field staff and program participants in established safety systems.
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.
Jeremy Oyen has been active in sharing his passion for the outdoors through guiding and instructing outdoor experiential programs for over 30 years. He is an active leader in the greater outdoor education and recreation industry through his positions as a manager of REI’s outdoor programs, the President of the Board of Directors for AORE, and his prior role as the director of safety, education, instruction, and outreach for the American Canoe Association.
Steve Pace serves as the director of standards development and accreditation at the Association for Experiential Education. He is also Professor Emeritus at Prescott College. During his 25 years at Prescott, he served as dean of resident degrees, director or risk management for field activities, chair of the Adventure Education program, and later, the Human Development and Counselor Education program. Before coming to Prescott College Steve worked for eleven years at the Voyageur Outward Bound School serving as a program director, safety officer, course director, and instructor. Steve's areas of expertise include outdoor education and college program administration, risk management of field activities, interpersonal and group communication, mediation and conflict resolution, and therapeutic use of adventure education.
Don Pachner is a fourth generation insurance broker and turned his outdoors and environmental organization volunteer work into insurance agency Pachner & Associates, LLC in 2003 to serve the wilderness recreation, nature and outdoor education, environmental conservation and research, and trail association community. He lives and works on a mountain ridge in the Adirondack high peaks region of New York, where he volunteers as a summit steward, trail maintainer, and outings leader.
Nettie Pardue has over 20 years of experience as a facilitator, mediator, instructor, guide, trainer, coach, and administrator in experiential education programs for Outward Bound, Outward Bound Professional, Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding, and the United World College. She has also spent time working in the field of conflict resolution at SEEDS Community Resolution Center where she acted as facilitator and trainer for communication, conflict resolution, mediation, and cultural competency courses. Nettie has an MA in Applied Behavioral Science and has presented at conferences in the US and abroad.
Mike Pigg has been involved in the experiential education industry for over 15 years as an educator, trainer, and administrator. He has a long history with Outward Bound (OB) 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. Mike joined OB in the US in 2015, first as OBUSA associate safety director and then director of operations at Colorado Outward Bound. Today Mike is the OBUSA national safety director, a member of the OB International Risk Management Committee and a member of the AEE Accreditation Council.
Tony Rango has been a staff member of the Sierra Club since 1992 and currently serves as the director of National Outings. The National Outings program offers more than 300 domestic and international trips annually, led exclusively by volunteers. In 2000, Tony created and developed the Sierra Club’s first national training program for outing leaders. Since then, the program has trained and fielded thousands of leaders and volunteers. He initially got involved with the Sierra Club because of his job, but he soon began leading for the program and training future leaders. He has led numerous Sierra Club trips including backpacking, rafting, biking, kayaking, and trekking trips.
Joel Reid owns Cascade Outdoor Education (COE) in Seattle, WA. A climber, mountaineer, and sea kayaker, Joel works for the Northwest Outward Bound School as an instructor, staff trainer, and course director when he's not working for WMTC, COE, or on his own expeditions.
Morgan Reynolds is a Master’s student in Integrated Systems Engineering at Ohio State University. She has spent 2.5 years working for the OSU Outdoor Adventure Center where she planned and led outdoor recreation trips for students. In addition, she has spent one year working in the Cognitive Systems Engineering Lab. She enjoys using her outdoor recreation experiences as work to exemplify cognitive systems concepts and using those concepts to improve her outdoor recreation risk management.
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.
Rafael Rosa directs SCA’s programs’ operations, strategy, and staff. From 2014 to 2016, he served as regional vice president for partnerships for SCA’s central region. Rafael brings to SCA more than 25 years of museum education experience at the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, most recently as vice president of education. In 2012, a program Rafael developed with community partners, Using Cultural Symbols to Introduce Monarch Conservation and Nature-Based Activities in Chicago, received the Urban Communities in Conservation Award from the US Department of Agriculture.
Elyse Rylander (she/her) has worn many hats in the outdoor industry and education worlds. Since 2006 she has taken thousands of youth and adults on outdoor adventures all over North America, and during these adventures the interrogation of equity, access and privilege played a central role. In 2011 Elyse began her journey as founder of OUT There Adventures, a 501(c)3 dedicated to further bridging the gap between the LGBTQ community and the natural world. Along this path, Elyse has worked tirelessly to reduce outdoor access barriers for all members of the LGBTQ community. This has resulted in dozens of publications, presentations, interviews, trainings and program partnerships aimed at increasing queer visibility and further complicating the narrative of who goes outside and how. Elyse’s work has appeared in places such as the Rutledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies, in print and person at industry events such as Outdoor Retailer. In March of 2018 Elyse was named a “Top Woman in Conservation and Environmental Justice” by ECODiversity Magazine, and in April she was named in Outside Magazine’s feature of the next generation of outdoor leaders. Elyse is also the co-organizer of the annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. Outside of her work, Elyse is known for her sense of humor best conveyed through perfectly timed message GIFs, and in her [rare] free time she can be found paddling through the central Salish Sea.
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, backcountry conservation service programs, and developing and promulgating effective risk management practices for NYC as well as many others.
Colby Smith has been working at Colorado Outward Bound School as the Student Services manager and head medical screener since 2013. He has been with Outward Bound, in its various iterations, for the past decade, coming aboard after receiving a master's degree in Sport Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. He currently lives with his wife and 4-year-old daughter in Colorado. When he is not thinking about safety, systems, and medical screening you can find him dreaming of steep chutes filled with deep powder and other natural wonders.
Steve Smith runs Experiential Consulting, LLC, specializing in risk management support for outdoor programs. He served as chair of the WRMC from 2014-16, has held national leadership roles at The Student Conservation Association and Outward Bound, and is a NOLS graduate. 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 chairs the school’s safety committee. He has written emergency response plans, training manuals, field manuals, designed crisis response scenarios for a wide variety of organizations, conducted safety audits, presented at over 30 professional conferences, and published articles in outdoor magazines and journals. Steve lives in Seattle and loves to explore and photograph the wildlife, mountains, and coastlines of the Pacific Northwest.
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.
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 and was the 2017 Reb Gregg Wilderness Risk Management award recipient. She serves as a reviewer for the Wilderness Medical Society's Fellowship of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. She is an active wilderness medicine instructor, risk management educator, and frequent conference presenter.
Gary Thompson believes that opportunities to lead are abundant and that everyone can participate in affecting change. He began working for the University of Idaho McCall Outdoor Science School(MOSS) in 2004. With a focus on leadership development and risk management, Gary has been a NOLS instructor, expedition leader, and guide. Consulting for Redfish, Bluefish, Inc., guiding in the Idaho backcountry and remodeling his home remind him that there is always more to learn.
Mark Tozer is a native of Wales, UK, but has made Lander, Wyoming his home since 2016. He was introduced to rock climbing on Britain’s Peak District outcrops. A school trip to North Wales ignited his passion for paddle sports and mountaineering. These also inspired his career as a qualified mountain instructor, sea kayak coach, and outdoor education teacher. Mark's PhD research is based around expedition leadership.
Christine Upton, as an undergraduate student trip leader at Texas Tech University, knew that outdoor recreation and education was what she wanted to do with her life. She received a bachelor’s degree in Natural History and Humanities from TTU and moved to Seattle. There, she was fortunate enough to land an instructor position at a paddlesports shop where she led and explored the PNW for almost three years. Christine currently has the pleasure of working for the Outdoor Adventure program at California State University, Northridge in northern Los Angeles.
Mark Vermeal is the senior safety and risk advisor for Fred C. Church, Inc. where he works with a team of professionals dedicated to serving the unique safety, risk management, and insurance needs of the outdoor and adventure industry. With 20 years of experience as a senior-level administrator, Mark led the Outward Bound USA Safety Department overseeing the safety management systems for Outward Bound’s eleven regional schools. Mark has implemented strategies that have enhanced a culture and climate of safety at OBUSA and the SCA and served as the director of the Wilderness Skills Program at the White Mountain School, where he developed a ground up, nationally recognized outdoor education program. As a Wilderness EMT Mark managed emergent situations, and has been a wilderness medicine instructor and a 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. Mark currently serves on the Outward Bound International Risk Management Committee, Outward Bound Canada Board Risk Oversight Committee, the American Alpine Club’s Education Task Force. Mark served on the WRMC Steering Committee from 2007-2017 and been a WRMC presenter since 2007.
Jenna Westendorf graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. emphasis in education and a passion for the outdoors. She spent the next few years working as a raft guide, youth behavioral specialist, and educator in a variety of capacities. In the Spring of 2014, Jenna began instructing for Outward Bound California, where she led backpacking and rock climbing trips for youth and young adults. Jenna received her master's degree in social work from San Francisco State University, during which time she conducted extensive research into trauma-informed practices for outdoor education.
Heidi White specializes in crisis communications and issues management ranging from media and crisis training and counsel to crisis planning and preparedness, message development, and crisis response. Throughout her 25+ year career, Heidi has helped organizations navigate wilderness crises, product recalls, labor disputes and workplace issues and accidents, among many other issues. She also has in-depth experience in generating awareness and trust via impactful programs including community relations, media relations, cause marketing/CSR, social media, and other effective strategies. In her free time, you can find Heidi hiking with her dogs, on a paddleboard on Lake Tahoe, or chasing her kids down the slopes.
Helen Wilson is the curriculum publications managing editor and a field instructor for NOLS. She is on the Board of Directors and the Secretary of Qajaq USA, the American chapter of Qaannat Kattuffiat—the Greenland Kayak Association, and is the editor of Qajaq USA’s publication, The Masik. Helen is an ISKGA Coastal Guide and an ACA Instructor with an ACA Rolling Endorsement. She holds the DGI Certification (Denmark coach certification) and is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) and a Wilderness First Responder.
AJ Wojtalik joined the Colorado Outward Bound School as marketing director in February of 2013 after an 8-year stint in media, preceded by marketing in the outdoor recreation industry and roaming the Western Slope of Colorado on horseback. Now overseeing the marketing, communications, and business development team at COBS, she continues to fuse her professional background with her lifelong love of the outdoors and experiential learning. She is responsible for brand messaging, partnerships, and internal and external communications (including crisis communications), and supports the HR department and senior leadership team in developing and implementing the vision and strategy for the school. AJ graduated from Western State College (now Western State Colorado University) with a degree in English and when she’s not sprinkling marketing magic across the land, she can be found on wild adventures with her 9-year-old daughter.
Dave Yacubian has been working for NOLS in various capacities since 2000. Dave owns Ready SF, which specializes in risk management and emergency preparedness services. Previously, he was the director of risk management for NatureBridge. He sits on the risk management committees of The Crossroads School, Environmental Traveling Companions, and Outward Bound California. Dave has two daughters who bring him endless joy and continual risk management opportunities.
Lach ("Lash") Zemp advises and defends wilderness adventure operations, summer camps and outdoor adventure operations based in the southern Appalachian Mountains. With 28 years of litigation experience, his practice focuses on risk management, employment issues, contract review, and litigating catastrophic loss cases for the outdoor industry. Lach is a partner with the firm of Roberts & Stevens in Asheville, North Carolina.