Speaker Biographies


Aber.jpg Courtney Aber

Courtney Aber is the national director of YMCA BOLD & GOLD focusing on expanding the program and working with local Ys to balance mission, risk, and logistics.  BOLD & GOLD brings youth from all backgrounds together for 1-3-week expeditions. Courtney has been involved with outdoor programming since 1992 when she decided to take a summer “off” before getting a real job. Since then she has led trips on 3 continents, in 5 countries, and throughout the United States.

Laurel_Ady.jpg Laurel Ady

Laurel Ady has worked in environmental and outdoor education nonprofits for over 10 years in Maryland, North Carolina, and the Pacific Northwest. She has a B.A. in outdoor leadership studies from Warren Wilson College, and 2015 she earned her M.Ed and Certificate in nonprofit management from Island Wood and the University of Washington. She currently works as safety and training coordinator for the Student Conservation Association. Laurel believes that active listening is the most important aspect of leadership. She is most excited to get people connected to the natural world around them. 

Brian Anderson.jpeg Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson has been an outdoor guide for 20 years. He brings experience from the field to his role at the Sierra Club as the national outings training and development manager. He received his degree from Western Colorado University in outdoor recreation and education with a minor in business, then received his masters from Regis University in nonprofit management. Brian has been a white water and rock climbing trainer for different companies. 

Amber Barnett.png Amber Barnett

Amber Barnett is currently the training and curriculum manager for Colorado Outward Bound. Starting with Outward Bound in 2006, Amber has worked for multiple schools both nationally and internationally including a long stint with Outward Bound Australia as an instructor, trainer, and training manger. These combined roles have supported her to think critically about training's role in risk management and student outcomes. 

Walter Bezha.JPG Walter Bezha

Walter Bezha spent most of his early years on Mother Earth out on the land with all of his grandfathers, travelling and learning the Dene traditions of Sahtú (Great Bear Lake) in the Northwest Territories. After 32 years in the resource development field with both the federal and territorial governments, he switched to working with Indigenous governance organizations. Walter is a research associate with Ɂehdzo Got’ı̨nę Gots’ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board) and the lead for Ɂǫhdakǝ (Elders Council) with the Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government. Now semi-retired, Walter has more time to spend with his grandchildren on their traditional lands and documenting Dene history. 

Brett Billings.jpeg Brett Billings

Brett Billings is the expedition coordinator and Concord, N.H. outreach worker for the Mayhew Program. In these roles, he leads summertime backpacking, canoeing, and mountain biking trips throughout New England. During the school year, he serves as a full-time, community-based mentor for under-served boys, ages 10-16.  He is also a graduate student in school psychology at Plymouth State University.

Misty Blakesley.jpg Misty Blakesley

Misty Blakesley works at the Mountain Center with Native American communities, survivors of trauma, folks in recovery, and people in the juvenile justice system. She encourages healing and growth through connection with the natural world. She is a mentor with the Tracking Project, a 500+hr yoga teacher, and the head rock climbing trainer at the Mountain Center. Her thesis work at the Institute of American Indian Arts was on tracking, mapping, and humans’ connection to nature.

Eric Boggs.jpg Eric Boggs

Eric Boggs serves as an instructor of leadership in the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business. In the classroom, he draws from his decades of experience leading wilderness expeditions for NOLS and the integration of scenario-based learning he gained teaching for NOLS Wilderness Medicine. From the fusion of these work-experiences, Eric draws on the power of storytelling to develop leadership skills and attitudes in the face of adversity.

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Sarah Carpenter headshot by fisher.jpeg

Sarah Carpenter

Sarah Carpenter is one of three owners of the American Avalanche Institute.  She has worked in the outdoor industry since 1998, when she began her career as a ski patroller at Bridger Bowl.  Sarah has worked as a ski patroller, a NOLS instructor, a guide, an avalanche educator and a ski guide.  Managing risk and communicating this risk assessment and management has been a focus and an interest throughout her career.  As an owner of AAI, Sarah’s focus includes training staff on risk management, decision-making and communication.

Tyler Carroll.jpg Tyler Carroll

Tyler Carroll is originally from Birmingham, Alabama but attended college in South Carolina where he received his degree in psychology and sociology. After college, Tyler moved to Utah where he fell in love with the mountains and was lead guide at Aspiro Adventure for three years. Tyler now runs the risk management department at Aspiro with his border collie side kick Braxton. 

Reuben Chinana

Reuben Chinana is a Pueblo (Zia, Jemez) artist and educator who is employed at The Mountain Center as an emergence and therapeutic adventure program coordinator. His work promotes social justice among various populations in New Mexico—with an emphasis on Pueblo communities. Reuben implements social justice through a range of skills and experiences which include but are not limited to: mediation, facilitation (including diverse, “at risk,” and vulnerable populations), cultural competency, artistic collaborations (poetry, woodwork, leather craft, drawing, printmaking, guitar, origami, story telling, calligraphy/lettering), athleticism (total body conditioning, Tai Chi, hiking, rock climbing, skateboarding, running), wilderness education (primitive/survival skills, fire building, flint knapping, natural cordage), research/computer skills, and written & oral communication skills. Reuben holds a BFA in creative writing and is certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, and administering CPR, Epinephrine Auto-injector, & NARCAN (naloxone hydrochloride injection).

Scott Christy

Scott Christy has served as an administrator at NOLS Southwest and NOLS Rocky Mountain and worked in non-profit conservation as the Wyoming coordinator for Trout Unlimited. As NOLS faculty he has accumulated nearly 200 weeks in the field educating students and worked with clients such as the US Navy, NASA, the USMC, and Google. When not working NOLS Custom Education courses, Scott practices the art of audio storytelling for Yellowstone National Park’s science podcast “Telemetry.”

JoshuaCole.jpg Joshua Cole

Joshua Cole is an owner and guide at North Cascades Mountain Guides based in Mazama, Washington. He has more than 20 years of experience working in outdoor education, commercial guiding, the ski industry, and secondary education. In addition to his work in the field, he has experience as an administrator having served as Washington program director for Northwest Outward Bound School for eight years. Josh has given trainings and presentations on wilderness risk management for numerous organizations and also supports outdoor programs with risk management expertise as an Associate Consultant with Experiential Consulting, LLC. Josh is an American Mountain Guides Association certified ski guide, single-pitch instructor, and assistant rock and alpine guide.

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Leah Corrigan

Leah Corrigan, J.D., is a lawyer who advises and defends outdoor recreation businesses. She is an experienced litigator and the founder of Recreation Law Center, LLC, based out of Jackson, Wyoming. The Recreation Law Center provides comprehensive legal and risk management services, including lawsuit defense, to outdoor recreation businesses. 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.

Tom Costley.jpg Tom Costley

Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984. Over his career, Tom has guided Overland from its modest beginnings through 35 years of growth and maturation. Along the way, he’s made every possible mistake and tried to learn from all of them. 

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Monique Jeffers-Dailey.jpg Monique Dailey

Monique Dailey is the program director at City Kids Wilderness Project, providing strategic leadership for and management of City Kids programs. She provides organizational leadership for program and grants management, full time staff training, risk management, and curriculum development. Prior to City Kids, Monique worked for six years at the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in various roles including the D.C. Area programs manager and the national director of member experience at SCA. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer and spent two years serving in the Philippines as a coastal resource management volunteer.

Clare Dallat.jpg Clare Dallat

Dr. Clare Dallat is the executive director of The Outdoor Education Foundation and Research at The Outdoor Education Group (OEG), Australia. OEG’s 400 staff work with almost 50,000 young people annually on led outdoor education programs across Australia. Clare also leads Risk Resolve; an organisation that provides proactive and reactive risk management services for organisations across Australia and internationally. She has a PhD in human factors and an MSc. in risk, crisis and disaster management and is an adjunct research fellow with the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems at The University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

Sam Daume2.jpg Sam Daume

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 a client executive in January of 2009 and is the co-leader of the firm’s Outdoor + Adventure Practice. His experience includes 30 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 numerous well known outdoor experiential educational organizations.

Dave Dennis.jpg Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis is the global safety & risk management director at Rustic Pathways. He has a master’s degree in risk management and 23 years of experience in the adventure and student travel industry. Dave also owns a consulting firm specializing in the development and implementation of risk management and emergency response programs for both domestic and global tour operators. Dave is an active speaker and remains passionate about safeguarding travelers while preserving life-changing experiences. 

2016-06-29 Athlete Portraits Kit Deslauriers Clayton Boyd10574 (2).jpg Kit DesLauriers

Kit DesLauriers is the first person to ski from the highest mountain on each continent, aka the Seven Summits, as well as a 2015 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and a two time World Freeskiing Women’s Champion. A member of The North Face Global Athlete Team since 2005, Kit has led expeditions around the world including to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the Brooks Range of Alaska where she made several first ski descents of the highest peaks and contributed to a scientific mapping project in the region. Kit lives in Teton Village, WY with her husband and two daughters.

Tony Dixon

Tony Dixon has been working in the field of therapeutic adventure for fourteen years and serves as the executive director for The Mountain Center in New Mexico. Over the years he has overseen risk management, training, operations, and programs for the center and for the last five years he has been a part of the leadership team for The Mountain Center. Tony has been a site reviewer for accreditation for the Association for Experiential Education for adventure and outdoor behavioral healthcare programs. He serves on the International Adventure Therapy Committee as a representative for the USA and for the Outdoor Behavioral Health Council.

Kristen Dowling.png Kristen Dowling

Kristen Dowling has spent the past 11 years working in non-profit and small business administration, focusing on international and domestic travel programs. She joined World Learning in 2016 and currently works as the youth exchange operations officer, focusing on logistical and risk management planning for the organization’s international and domestic youth exchanges for over 1,200 participants per year. She received her bachelor's degree in mass communication and Spanish language from Boston University.

Madison Dressler

Madison Dressler is a high school senior and co-president of the Bosque School Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). She has taken the lead responsibility for engaging the Bosque School MRC student membership in community health care and related activities. She coordinates MRC student members participating in off-campus activities where they use their medical skills in both emergency and non-emergency public health initiatives. 

Paul Dreyer.jpg Paul Dreyer

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 Todd Duncan

Todd Duncan has managed and directed adventure, research, and educational programs around the world. This includes leading research expeditions for the Wildlife Conservation Society, working as a wilderness guide on multiple continents, and serving as safety director for the School For Field Studies. Currently Todd is the director of safety, security and emergency preparedness for the Sierra Club. He currently serves on the WRMC Steering Committee.

Jess Dunkin.jpg Jess Dunkin

Jess Dunkin is the director of research and innovation at the NWT Recreation and Parks Association. She was previously the director of On the Land Programs. Jess is based in Sǫ̀mba K’è (Yellowknife, NWT) in Akaitcho Territory (Treaty 8), homeland of the Yellowknives Dene, though she works with Dene, Inuvialuit, and Métis communities and organizations across the NWT. Jess holds a Bachelor of Education from Trent University and a PhD in the history of recreation from Carleton University.

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Norman Elizondo.jpeg Norman Elizondo

Norman Elizondo began his career in wilderness therapy as a field instructor in 1998 at Aspen Achievement Academy. During his time at the Academy he served as field director, education director and was trained and certified as an EMT as well as becoming a trainer for crisis communication, de-escalation through Positive Control Systems. As a part of Open Sky’s founding team, Norman served as the first field guide for Open Sky and is now the Family Wellness Counselor. The focus on family systems and parallel process with parents has been an inspiration and driving force in Norman’s work at Open Sky. He helped create the programming for the Wellness Weekends and has facilitated these weekend intensives since the very first one in 2006. In addition, he facilitates the parent support calls, graduations, meditation instruction, field guide trainings and Aegis, crisis communication, and de-escalation.

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Kate Farthing

Kate Farthing is in her thirteenth year at Broadreach and currently acts as the director, which includes overseeing both general and program specific risk management practices. Her perspective ranges from being a field instructor for many years to coordinating and scouting programs to her current position overseeing the team at Broadreach. Kate has attended the WRMC numerous times and this will be her second time presenting.

Emily Ferrell.jpg Emily Ferrell

Emily Ferrell has been a part of Overland in a variety of roles - first as a leader guiding students on cross-continent bicycle trips and currently in admissions - since 2007. Emily holds a J.D. from University of Colorado and also attended Pomona College. Emily splits her time between Boulder, Colorado and Williamstown, Massachusetts. 

Cathy Fornaris.jpg Cathy Fornaris

Cathy Fornaris has spent over 25 years working in the outdoor industry and gained valuable perspective and experience in the realm of risk management. Having instructed and guided over 15 years of field time in all skill sets, she brings real life experience to her current work. Today, combining her past experiences she is able to support the Colorado Outward Bound School to take their safety practices to the next level.

Colleen Fox

Colleen Fox is a program manager for the Therapeutic Adventure Program at The Mountain Center, working predominantly with adjudicated youth, survivors of trauma, people in recovery, and youth in foster care. She has worked at a wide breadth of organizations in the experiential education field for 12+ years including Outward Bound, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Wolftree, and Naturalists at Large. She is a certified teacher with a degree from The University of Michigan. Colleen is a staff trainer and rock climbing instructor at the The Mountain Center. She is an avid rock climber and enjoys time in nature with her daughter, Wren and dog, Rooster.

Bill Frederick.jpg Bill Frederick

Bill Frederick is the founder of Lodestone Safety International specializing in health, safety, and security for educational/service organizations operating abroad. Previously he was the director of safety at the School for Field Studies and an instructor/program director for 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 Certificate in Travel Health from the International Society of Travel Medicine.

Kirstin French.jpeg Kirstin French

Kirstin French (she, her, hers) is a youth program professional who specializes in risk management, staff training, and program logistics. Kirstin has been managing international youth programs at World Learning and The Experiment in International Living since 2011. Prior to World Learning, she worked as a program manager for youth programs focusing on service learning and social justice in Central Appalachia. She has an M.A. in youth program leadership from SIT Graduate Institute.

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Rory Gawler

Rory Gawler is the assistant director of Dartmouth Outdoor Programs and the general manager of the Dartmouth Outing Club. He advises more than 150 student leaders, leading more than 500 trips per year, including whitewater kayaking, rock and ice climbing, and hunting and fishing. He also coaches the the Woodsmen's Team. Rory is responsible for training student leaders and has helped develop seminars in group dynamics, risk management, and a variety of outdoor skills.

Misha_Golfman.jpg Misha Golfman

Misha Golfman is a co-founder of Kroka Expeditions, a farm-based wilderness expedition school in Marlow, N.H. He was raised in Russia in an outdoor tradition foraging for sustenance and enjoying long winters at a ski-in cabin. Misha and his wife Lynne raised their four children on long expeditions and the nature-connected homestead. He continues to lead remote trips including those in Canadian north. Before starting Kroka in 1996 Misha was a school teacher and worked at Mahoosuc Guide Service and Outward Bound.

Wilma Gray.jpg Wilma Grey

Wilma Grey, born in Ontario, Canada, received her B.A. from Queen’s University in 1984 and J.D. in law from New College of California in 1996. In practice since being admitted to the California Bar in 1997, joined the McNamara Law Firm and became a partner in 2005. She is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Board of Trial Advocates, the International Society of Barristers, American Bar Association the Contra Costa County Bar Association and the 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. Winter recreation time is spent volunteering at “Achieve Tahoe,” an adaptive ski school at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.

reb_gregg_use this.jpg Reb Gregg

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.

David Gregory.jpg David Gregory

David Gregory is an experienced outdoor education teacher from Australia who has worked on various domestic and international programs for over 18 years. David has planned and led outdoor education programs for students from primary age, right up to senior school. From a second grader’s first overnight experience to immersive six month long residential programs, David has worked with a diverse range of students in their pastoral and social development, focusing on personal growth, teamwork, and leadership.

Darren Gruetze

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.

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Amberleigh 2018.JPG Amberleigh Hammond

Amberleigh Hammond comes to the Sierra Club from The Student Conservation Association and Outward Bound and has deep experience in operational risk management, outdoor education, and training. Amberleigh is an EMT, Outdoor Emergency Care instructor, ski patroller, Leave No Trace master educator, and Mental Health First Aid instructor. Mornings, evenings, and weekends she can be found playing ultimate, fastpacking, ski mountaineering, mountain biking, and training for ultramarathons. She currently serves on the WRMC Steering Committee.

CathHansen-Stamp.jpg Catherine Hansen-Stamp

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.

Melissa Harper

Melissa Harper is a clinical and program manager for the Therapeutic Adventure and Counseling Services Programs at The Mountain Center, working predominately with youth and adults struggling with substance use, trauma, and other co-occurring diagnoses. Melissa has a background in secondary education, an MA in counseling from Southwestern College of Santa Fe, and studies Gestalt Equine Therapy at the Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies. She is a horse rider and enjoys time with dog, Scout, and horse, Sunny.

Seth Hawkins.jpg Seth Collings Hawkins

Dr. Seth Collings Hawkins, anthropologist, writer, and physician, holds dual board certification in emergency medicine and EMS. He currently serves as medical advisor for REI and NC Outward Bound School. He is executive editor of Wilderness Medicine Magazine, co-author of Vertical Aid: Essential Wilderness Medicine for Climbers, Trekkers, and Mountaineers, editor of the textbook Wilderness EMS, and founder of multiple wilderness medicine organizations. He is the first physician designated as a Master Fellow by both the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and the Adventurers & Explorers Guild.

Katja Hurt.jpeg Katjarina Hurt

Katjarina "Katja" Hurt is an outdoorsy nerdette with a penchant for volunteering and trying to make the world a better place. In 2018, Katja left her six years in law enforcement to launch Wilderness Chaplains, a nonprofit providing education and crisis support to wilderness first responders. She wrote "Breaking the Halo," a presentation-turned-publication on empowering students to confront heuristic traps in outdoor education. Katja's degrees include crisis and disaster management, communication studies, and a master's in pastoral studies...but she prefers to be known for her work as a police and fire chaplain, Outdoor Emergency Care instructor and 12+ years volunteering with the National Ski Patrol.

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jonathan igoe.jpg Jonathan Igoe

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.

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Jeff Jackson2.jpg Jeff Jackson

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.

Mike Jensen

Mike Jensen has spent more than 32 years working with communities and volunteers through the Cooperative Extension Service in Michigan, Florida, and Washington State. He researches and presents on community issues focused on risk management, wildland fire, emergency response and regularly presents in person and through national webinars and meetings on these important topics.  

anna-johnson.jpg Anna Johnson

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 20 summers working for ActionQuest with roles including operational director, head EMT, trip update manager, food coordinator, and photographer. During the year, Anna lives in D.C. and spends her free time volunteering with a dog rescue organization and training for running races.

Kai Johnson.jpeg Kai Johnson

Kai Johnson spent the past decade working as a leader and director in the international and experiential education segment of the field. Through his experience and his observations of fellow leaders, he came to understand the deep challenges which leaders can face in this field. In 2017 he founded Act Normal, a company created to identify and address these industry challenges.

Mark Johnson.jpg Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is currently senior manager of standards for Tim Horton’s Foundation Camps, based in St. George, Ontario. He has been facilitating experiential education programs at camps and wilderness centers since 1982. He started leading wilderness trips back when the risk management plan consisted of a map and a baggie of change for a phone call. He and his family moved from Kentucky to Ontario in late 2012, primarily so he could get more curling in.

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Victoria Kerr.jpeg Victoria Kerr

Victoria Kerr, originally from Scotland, was lured to Colorado by the promise of endless blue skies and alpine lakes. 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 and communication, Vic transitioned into her current role as human resource and operations director for Colorado Outward Bound School where she oversees the safety, programming, staffing, and training vision for over 200 staff. Vic is drawn to the challenge of balancing operational and individual needs through innovating organizational and cultural strengths and capacity. When not exploring the inner workings of the Affordable Care Act, Vic enjoys traveling with her husband and toddler in an Airstream and taking very slow walks.

nadia-kimmel.jpg Nadia Kimmel 

Nadia Kimmel, M.S., RN, is the founder and executive director of Desert Mountain Medicine (DMM). She teaches wilderness medicine, trains staff, develops course curricula, and consults outdoor recreation organizations in wilderness risk management. Nadia has 22 years experience as an outdoor educator for Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Outward Bound. Nadia splits her time as an outdoor professional with working in various emergency departments first as an EMT and later as an RN. She currently manages DMM in Wilson, Wyoming.

Skip King 2.JPG Skip King

Skip King has 30 years of public relations, crisis management, media training and marketing communications experience. Skip offers a rare combination of skillsets in providing crisis communications training and counsel: he has dealt with numerous crises from both operational and communications perspectives. In 2002 he founded the award-winning Reputation Strategies, LLC, a public relations consultancy. His company has successfully managed major business interruption stories, catastrophic accident cases with international reach, environmental and land use issues, and a wide range of other challenges. His practice focuses on high-risk outdoor organizations, including experiential education programs including Outward Bound USA. He works extensively with the ski industry and also serves water parks and challenge course operators.

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Kristin Kirschner

Kristin Kirschner is the branch chief of Wilderness and Emergency Services at Olympic National Park. In this capacity, she oversees Search and Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, and Incident Management as well as the Wilderness patrol, education, and permitting functions for the park. She has been with the NPS since 1999 and worked in a variety of parks including Yellowstone, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Yosemite. As a member of the Western Incident Management Team since 2012, she has responded to incidents ranging from the Presidential visits to stabilization efforts following hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. Kristin is currently an All-Hazard Type-2 Plans Section Chief and is training to become a Type-2 Incident Commander.

Tracy Knutson.jpg Tracey Knutson

Tracey Knutson's law practice is completely focused on defense of recreation entities (commercial operators, non-profits, public land administrators, educators, insurers, etc.) so she sees risk management issues from both the proactive stance (drafting releases, permit applications, operations plans, legislation, in-house training, etc.) to the reactive stance (dealing with litigation and defense of actual claims made against operators). She has been speaking publicly in the arena of recreation risk management for 15+ years and has spoken both nationally and internationally to groups that range from the emerging Commercial Human Spaceflight industry to the America Outdoors Association to the Colorado River Outfitters Association to the Dude Ranchers Association, WRMC, etc. She serves as general counsel to large entities like the American Alpine Club, O.A.R.S., etc. and is regularly hired by insurance companies both to defend lawsuits and to look at underwriting standards for recreational insurance products.

Kate Koons.jpg Kate Koons

Kate began her career in outdoor education when she was 19. Over the past 23 years, Kate has worked in a variety of capacities in the outdoor industry. After years of working with a few small outdoor education and wilderness companies, she started her work at NOLS, where she still works on occasion. Kate continues to work for NOLS teaching risk management trainings and instructor seminars. In between field contracts and through the years, Kate worked in Antarctica managing risk at small camps and accompanying scientists on expeditions for five seasons, as well as guiding throughout the Himalayas. For seven years, Kate managed the winter program for NOLS, training instructors, and creating curriculum for both avalanche and backcountry touring. In 2017, Kate transitioned to working for the American Avalanche Association as the pro training coordinator, managing professional avalanche education within the US, as well as ski guiding, and teaching avalanche courses across the west. When not working, Kate can be found in Victor, Idaho with her husband and two dogs wandering in the mountains, cooking food, and dreaming up the next adventure.

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Christine Lagattolla.jpg Christine Lagattolla

Christine Lagattolla has worked in adventure recreation and education programming at a university setting since 2006. She has a B.S. in physical education and M.S. in educational psychology from Northern Illinois University. A Marine Corps combat veteran, yoga teacher, and first aid instructor, she currently serves as the outdoor program director at Northern Illinois University.  She enjoys training her staff to lead trips and benefit from the important learning that comes from outdoor experiences.

Emily Ledingham.jpg Emily Ledingham

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.

Renae Lee

Renae Lee is Diné of the Salt Clan, originally from Kayenta, Arizona, and currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Renae specializes in the experiential practice of purposeful learning through team building activities and outdoor education. She is currently a Program Coordinator at The Mountain Center, where she designs and facilitates cognitive problem solving and team building initiatives to safely prepare students/clients/groups for hikes, rock climbing, rappelling, front and backcountry camping, snowshoeing, and various rope course elements. Renae has been working with children, teenagers, and young adults for nearly a decade across the country with various tribal nations, public schools, and non-profit organizations. Renae has led an evidence-based program for a nationally recognized collaborative, multiple outdoor group excursions, and multiple summer camps for Native and non-Native youth. She is CPR certified and is a current Wilderness First Responder.

Drew Leemon_2014.jpg Drew Leemon

Drew 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 chair of the WRMC. Drew has published papers on wilderness injury and incident data, is co-editor of the Manual of Accreditation Standards for Adventure Programming, and co-authored Risk Management for Outdoor Leaders.

Eric Levy

Eric Levy started fighting fire in 2001 with a volunteer fire department. He quickly realized wildland fire was an opportunity to work outdoors, and has been doing that every since. He has worked on engines and helicopters but his passion is with handcrews. He has led hotshot crews and traveled extensively throughout the western United States and Alaska camping, traveling, fighting fires in the backcountry, and training others to do so.

Mariah Loftin.jpg

Mariah Loftin

Mariah Loftin is a clinical therapist at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. She has spent the last 25 years working with complex individuals with developmental disabilities, in foster care, and the criminal justice system. Mariah holds an undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of California-Santa Cruz, an M.A. in transpersonal counseling psychology with an emphasis in art therapy from Naropa University, and a post-graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis from the University of North Texas.

Mike Lucas

Mike Lucas has over 30  years in the insurance industry working as a risk management consultant and insurance broker for clients in manufacturing, engineering, public and independent schools, conservation, and experiential education.  As one of the founders and leaders of the Outdoor + Adventure Practice at Fred C. Church Insurance, he has gained in depth experience and deep appreciation for the world of experiential education working with current clients that range from Aerie Backcountry Medicine to World Leadership School, SCA, NOLS, and Outward Bound. Mike also brings invaluable work experience as an engineer in fire protection, safety and industrial operations as well as on the line as a lumber yard worker and textile weaver. A father of four grown children, Mike lives in Keene, New Hampshire with his wife Jamie where hiking, skiing, biking, snowshoeing, and kayaking are all enjoyed right outside the back door. 

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Mel Mac Innis.jpg Mel Mac Innis

Mel Mac Innis (she/hers) is a whitewater raft guide, a walker, and a sometimes open water swimmer. As director of Sierra Club Outdoor Activities, Mel trains and supports volunteers and staff across the country to connect ALL people to meaningful outdoor experiences. Mel’s introduction to the outdoors took place when she was 23 as a participant on a Sierra Club Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) rafting trip. Mel's passion for the environment, people, and herself was realized after becoming a volunteer ICO leader. 

Brendan Madden2.jpg Brendan Madden

Brendan Madden is the 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 Center in Vermont. Brendan continues to be fascinated by the confluence of systems thinking and human-factor elements in outdoor risk management.

IMG_7256.JPG Julia Makowski

Julia Makowski started working with the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School over 15 years ago as a field instructor in the sea program.  She currently serves as the school’s safety director and associate director of education and innovation.  She still loves to get out in the field and finds inspiration in working directly with students and staff.  Julia spends her summers in Maine where she likes to swim every day and winters in Colorado where she works part time as a ski patroller and strives to get out on the hill as much as possible.

Will Marling_NEW.jpg Will Marling

Dr. Will Marling earned his undergraduate (1986), graduate (1989) and post-graduate (1997) degrees in a variety of disciplines. In 2000 he was trained by the National Organization for Victim Assistance© (NOVA) and added to his skill set and experience base in responding to people in crisis. His praxis has been informed as a responder to a variety of national and international events from violent crimes to natural disasters.

Sara Martin.JPG Sara Martin

Sara Martin (she, her, hers) currently sails as the chief mate aboard Maine Maritime Academy’s sail training vessel, the Schooner Bowdoin. Before joining the Bowdoin Sara served as the participant medical officer for The Experiment in International Living, worked as an expedition guide in SE Alaska, and sailed for Sea Education Association, Thompson Island Outward Bound, as well as various other sail training programs around the U.S. She holds a master’s in education from Harvard University and a merchant mariner’s license from the USCG. Sara loves teaching on, through, and for the sea.

Ann McCollum.png Ann McCollum

Ann McCollum is a New Mexico based attorney and risk management consultant working with schools and camps throughout the country. Her consulting and law practice is informed by 20+ years in independent schools and summer camps, as well as work in adolescent counseling (M.Ed.) and education, tort, and criminal defense law.  Ann is a two-time NOLS graduate (Alaska Mountaineering and Instructor Course), has been certified in WEMT and WFR, served on the ACA National Standards Commission, and has 100+ weeks of backcountry leadership experience in backpacking, hiking, climbing, kayaking, and rafting.  Ann has trekked extensively in the Nepal and Indian Himalaya, and most recently cycled 1000 kms from Lhasa, Tibet to Nepal.

Laura McGladrey1.JPG Laura McGladrey

Laura McGladrey has instructed for the NOLS Wilderness Medicine for the past 20  years and is a nurse practitioner with dual certification, practicing both emergency medicine and psychiatry across the lifespan. She currently in the Emergency Department and the Stress Trauma Adversity Research and Treatment (START) Center, providing trauma support for Emergency and Wilderness Responders. She has a background in international and relief work and continues to work teaching courses to teach wilderness medicine to providers and lectures nationally on psychological first aid and stress injuries. She is the stress and resilience advisor for Portland Mountain Rescue, Colorado Outward Bound, and Eldora Ski Patrol.

Allison McGuire

Allison McGuire is a high school senior and co-president of the Bosque School Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). As a New Mexico licensed medical first responder, she oversees a 45 person (all high school student) medical response organization that functions under physician medical control and provides medical care in school and wilderness settings. She also co-leads a high school organization that lobbies for and provides peer education concerning reducing youth risk from gun violence and sexual assault. 

Colleen McHugh.png Colleen McHugh

Colleen McHugh is the Wyoming site director for City Kids Wilderness Project, serving as an organizational leader in program management, staff training, risk management, and curriculum development. She has been with City Kids since 2009 in a variety of roles. Colleen began her outdoor career serving on trail crews, wilderness therapy, and as an educator on historic boats.  She is also a Wilderness EMT and teaches wilderness medicine for NOLS. 

Traci McKee.jpg Traci McKee

Traci McKee is a Florida lawyer who specializes in defending organizations and schools related to their care of children in their custody. Traci has defended numerous organizations in lawsuits and claims brought against them, arising out of allegations of sexual assault, death and personal injury. As part of her practice, she counsels organizations on avoiding and limiting these risks, as well as best practices for managing risks once an an allegation or claim arises.

David Mepham.png David Mepham

David Mepham is a professor in the Outdoor Leadership Educational Unit at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC). He is also the director of the Outdoor Research and Expertise Laboratory. David’s main fields of expertise are wilderness first aid and risk management. David actively contributes to the development of several areas of Québec’s outdoor adventure field by conducting research projects and by providing professional training. He was director for the bachelor’s degree in outdoor leadership for eight years and is the risk manager for the program.

Katie Baum Mettenbrink.jpg Katie Baum Mettenbrink

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 Mock2.jpg Frances Mock

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, SCA, L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, 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 more than ten years.  Frances worked as a Class V whitewater rafting guide, was a volunteer cross country skiing instructor for special needs populations, was trained as a WFR, and worked in the outdoor industry for about ten years before becoming an attorney. 

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Marquel Musgrave

Marquel Musgrave (Thamu Tsan) is from the Pueblo of Nambe and is a therapeutic adventure and emergence project coordinator with The Mountain Center. She focuses on resilience building and reclaiming indigenous knowledge systems. Marquel has B.A. in business administration and served an elected term as Tribal Council Secretary. Marquel is passionate about cultural and language revitalization and preservation. Marquel is a creative director for the online magazine, Indigenous Goddess Gang. 

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steve neal.jpg Steve Neal

Steve Neal is the risk management officer for Outward Bound USA and a member of the WRMC Steering Committee. Steve 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; nine 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 six 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_NEW.png Paul Nicolazzo

Paul Nicolazzo is the director of the Wilderness Medicine Training Center International. He began his outdoor career in 1978 as a river and climbing guide. In subsequent years he worked for numerous outfitters including 22 years with Outward Bound as an instructor, course director, staff trainer, and program director. He has numerous first descents by kayak, canoe, and ski—and a few first ascents of chossy climbing routes that no one in their right mind should ever repeat—in his resume. He is the author of numerous books and articles on wilderness medicine and outdoor program risk management.

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Chad Olcott.jpg

Chad Olcott

Chad Olcott is an attorney and director at Pinnacle Risk Strategies, with deep expertise in outdoor risk management. He has been a director at Apogee Adventures for a decade and has served as the company’s in-house general counsel. Previously, Chad served as a litigator and command advisor in San Diego and Sardinia, Italy, while serving in the U.S. Navy. Chad lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife and their twin daughters.

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Mike Pigg.jpg Mike Pigg

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; and a member of the OB International Risk Management Committee, the AEE Accreditation Council, and the WRMC Steering Committee.

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photo credit: CJ Goulding Aparna Rajagopal

Aparna Rajagopal, J.D. (she/her) is a former engineer and lawyer who shifted gears nearly a decade ago to supporting outdoor and environmental organizations with their justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) efforts. Over the years she has facilitated workshops on JEDI topics for thousands of outdoor educators, nonprofit leaders, outdoor industry professionals, land managers, conservation grantors, natural resources and environmental scholars, and conservationists. As a thought leader in the JEDI space, she has helped organizations that work on engagement, connection, caring, and management of "more than human nature" evolve to actively having difficult conversations about topics such as bias, privilege, oppression, equity, justice, and accompliceship. She and her work have been featured in California Lawyer magazine, Backpacker magazine, Outside magazine, Sierra magazine, the Adventure Gap book, and SNEWS (among others) as well as the She Explores podcast and Outdoor Voices podcast, and she has contributed to the Harvard Business Review, Earth Island Journal, the Journal of Leisure Research, and National Geographic's adventure blog.  She has also spearheaded projects that amplify stories and connections of black, indigenous, and people of color in nature, including Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors. Aparna is founding partner of the Avarna Group and co-founder of the People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and the Environment (PGM ONE) Summit.

Tracy Rekart.jpg Tracy Rekart

Tracy Rekart is a master somatic leadership coach and organizational consultant. She prepares people to lead with confidence, curiosity, and clarity. Her researched and cutting-edge approach marries brain science and body-based wisdom. Through experience, application, and practice, she teaches essential communication skills, awakens people to the power of their bodies, and anchors both in purpose. She works internationally with a range of individuals, public organizations, and Fortune 50 companies. In her down time, she explores remote mountains with her family.

Gates Richards 2.jpg Gates Richards

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.

Gary Robinson.jpg Gary Robinson

Gary Robinson has dedicated himself for over 30 years to helping high school and college-aged students to maximize their potential and overcome barriers to learning. His clinical specialties have included stress management, mood and anxiety disorders and life coaching/mentoring.  Gary was a part of the first disaster mental health team sent by the American Red Cross to New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and since has also coached many organizations in the principles and practices of critical incident stress de-briefing. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the State University of New York. Gary has served in a variety of professional counseling roles in several university and college settings and currently holds the post of director of counseling services at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, a position he has enjoyed for the last twenty years. As co-founder of P3 Mental Health Advisors, Gary conducts staff training, admissions screenings and on-call mental health crisis management for study abroad, gap year, adventure, experiential education, service learning and volunteer programs both domestically and abroad. He is the co-author (Outskirts Press, 2018) of The Daily Brew: A 365-Day Guided Journal.

Jamie Robinson.jpg Jamie Robinson

Jamie Robinson provides crisis management, training and support to the international education community in her role as mental health advisor to multiple organizations within the field. Jamie is also a psychotherapist within higher education and has held positions at The University of California, San Francisco and Notre Dame de Namur University. Jamie has a private practice based in San Francisco and is a mindfulness educator and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Jamie was a member of NAFSA’s Health and Safety Education Abroad Knowledge Sub-Committee and has presented nationally on the topic of pre-departure preparation in the field of study abroad. Jamie is bi-cultural and bi-national by birth.

Shannon Rochelle.jpg Shannon Rochelle

Shannon Rochelle, currently the NOLS research manager, has worked as a field instructor and administrator at NOLS since 1999. She lives in Lander, Wyoming with her partner and dog, and spends her free time running trails and roads.

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Suellen Sack.jpg Suellen Sack

Suellen Sack currently is the director of safety and open enrollment at Voyageur Outward Bound School. She has 15 years of management and practical experience on an emergency response team as a program director or director.

Jay Shields

Jay Shields is the chief ranger of Olympic National Park, responsible for the management, direction, and oversight of all emergency services to include Federal Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, Search and Rescue, and Fire. He has worked for the National Park Service for 26 years in nine different National Park units to include Rocky Mountain, Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Blue Ridge, Great Smoky Mountain, and Pipestone. Jay has worked on several national committees associated with emergency medicine as a tactical medic and with K-9 tactical emergency casualty care, teaching various agencies and officers in prehospital care and medicine. He co-authored the National Tactical Emergency Medical protocols for the NPS which has been assimilated to other Federal Agencies. He has worked countless numbers of search and rescues during his career in various types of terrain and complexity, in multiple disciplines, and in multiple roles. He holds memberships in various tactical, medical, and SAR groups, and maintains national certifications in these disciplines. 

Bryan Simon.jpg R. Bryan Simon

R. Bryan Simon is the senior editor for the American Alpine Club's, Accidents in North American Climbing. He is a board member for the Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team, an AMGA Certified Single Pitch instructor, a fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, and a master fellow in the Australian Adventurers and Explorers Guild. He holds a diploma in mountain medicine from the UIAA and has a master's degree in mountain medicine through the University of Leicester. 

Lorca Smetana.png Lorca Smetana

Lorca Smetana is an award-winning educator, consultant, and inspirational speaker in leadership and human resilience development, helping people and organizations design for energy, creativity, and compassion. A survivor of the 1986 school tragedy on Mount Hood, she has been teaching and learning for over thirty years about risk, personal sustainability, resilience, and joy. She is currently on the faculty of the Human Leadership Development Program at Montana State University.  

Steve Smith.jpg Steve Smith

Steve Smith is the founder of Experiential Consulting, LLC, specializing in risk management services for outdoor programs. He has written emergency response plans, training manuals, field manuals, designed crisis response scenarios, conducted risk management audits, presented at over 30 professional conferences, and published articles in outdoor magazines, podcasts and journals. He has been associated with Outward Bound in a variety of ways since 1998, first as a mountaineering instructor, then staffing manager, and eventually as a board member for the Northwest Outward Bound School, where he serves on the school’s safety committee. Steve lives in Seattle and loves to explore and photograph the wildlife, mountains, and coastlines of the Pacific Northwest.

Christian Sommer

Christian Sommer is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and began working at The Mountain Center in 2013, after a several year stint living in Brooklyn wondering why people live in cities. He has a lifelong background in wandering around in the desert and in the mountains, and enjoys producing music and experiences for dancing, a few different adventure sports, and fireside niceties. He feels incredibly grateful to be working in a community that has given him so much and to have unique opportunities to connect with the people of his home. Christian is currently the field supervisor at The Mountain Center.

Jeannette Stawski 2.jpg Jeannette Stawski

Jeanette Stawski, serving as executive director for the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE), holds a master’s in non-profit administration, and a bachelor’s degree in resource policy and behavior and is also a Certified Association Executive [CAE]. She directed the University of Michigan's Outdoor Program for 11 years, and had worked as a NOLS instructor, wilderness medicine instructor, EMT, and raft guide.  Jeannette serves on the WRMC and Coalition for Outdoor Access Steering Committees.

Doug_Stevens_Flatirons_Photo.jpg Doug Stevens

Doug Stevens is a Boulder, Colorado attorney who has provided legal services to outdoor recreation and adventure travel organizations for many years. He has defended serious and high-profile personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Doug frequently assists clients with all facets of their risk management, emergency response, litigation, and contractual needs. Doug speaks and writes on these issues for outdoor professional groups throughout the country and is licensed in both Colorado and Wyoming.

Coulter Stone.jpg Coulter Stone

Coulter Stone has master's in science education from Western Governors University and is a practicing Wilderness EMT. For the last 10 years, Coulter has played tug-of-war with his passions for wilderness medicine and education, until he found his niche as the assistant health director for Open Sky Wilderness Therapy and as a faculty for NOLS Wilderness Medicine. He now sits in equilibrium, with risk management always in the forethought of his brain.

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Paul Tame.jpg Paul Tame

Paul Tame is a senior lecturer at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado, where he has worked for the last 11 years, leading expeditions both domestically and internationally, facilitating and teaching in the classroom, and serving on the schools risk management committee. Before moving to Colorado, Paul worked for Outward Bound (in six countries), NOLS,  and also worked as a consultant with Action Learning Associates.

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Ben Tettlebaum

Ben Tettlebaum is an attorney and director of Pinnacle Risk Strategies. He specializes in risk management for the outdoor industry. Ben has worked in the industry over 20 years, including as a current NOLS Wilderness Medicine instructor and W-EMT. Previously, Ben worked for a public interest law firm, launching a legal services organization for food and agriculture businesses. He also lobbied for sustainable food and energy policy, and litigated cases involving traditional and clean energy operations.

Laura Thompson

Dr. Laura Thompson, a member of the P3 team, has worked with students in university settings, both nationally and internationally, since 1994. She holds a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Nevada, Reno and a Ph.D. in counseling and counselor education from Syracuse University. While at Syracuse, Laura also completed a certificate of advanced studies in addiction studies. Laura is passionate about topics including international education, intercultural adjustment, college student mental health, and substance abuse within the college student population. For her dissertation, she conducted research with college students studying abroad and examined factors, including mental health, which impact drinking-related consequences for U.S. students participating in educational programs abroad. Prior to completing her doctoral work, Laura spent seven years working in Europe with college students attending study programs there. She has worked on three Semester at Sea voyages (most recently as a Counselor on the Spring 2019 voyage). Laura is currently working as a Counselor at Regis University in Denver.

Liz Tuohy.jpg Liz Tuohy

Liz Tuohy has worked for NOLS since 1994, serving as field instructor, admissions officer, program manager for NOLS Rocky Mountain (overseeing student outcomes and staff performance for 250 staff annually), and risk management consultant. Liz currently serves as NOLS education director.

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Mark Vermeal-wrmc-2016-161.jpg Mark Vermeal

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.

Nathan Vink.jpg Nathan Vink

Nathan Vink is the adventure senior program manager at the National Ability Center (NAC) in Park City, Utah. Before joining the NAC in March of 2018, Nathan was the assistant director of outdoor adventure at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, Florida. He spent eight years in Moab, Utah with the Colorado Outward Bound School, where he held the positions of instructor, course director, and program manager. Nathan holds a master's in educational leadership from UCF and enjoys rafting, mountain biking, and skiing among many other outdoor pursuits.

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Lyle Walkinshaw.jpeg Lyle Walkinshaw

Lyle Walkinshaw is the program manager for the Youth Leadership Program at Tim Horton’s Foundation Camps Whiteshell in Manitoba. He oversees program implementation, staffing, risk management, and field response. Lyle grew up in central Ontario where his exposure to the outdoors eventually lead him to the Outdoor Adventure Program at Algonquin College and his career with Tim Horton’s Foundation Camps. Lyle firmly believes in the power of camp and the lasting impact a wilderness trip can have on youth.

Pat Warner.jpg Pat Warner

Pat Warner is the director of public relations and external affairs for Waffle House restaurants. His duties include developing and executing strategies intended to create and uphold a positive public image for the restaurant company. A 19-year associate, Pat’s “Waffle House Experience” has included weddings, funerals, major motion pictures, Super Bowls and Shaq. A member of the corporate crisis team, he’s been involved in the Waffle House response to more than twelve hurricanes, and numerous ice storms and tornadoes. Pat is the secretary and member of the executive committee of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation which supports the brave men and women of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department. Pat also serves on the Urban Atlanta Security Initiative on the executive working group. He lives in Lawrenceville, Georgia with his wife and daughter. He is an advocate for children with dyslexia, an avid sports fan, and has been a guest dancer with the Southern Ballet Theatre.

AJ Wojtalik.jpeg AJ Wojtalik

AJ joined the Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) as marketing director in February of 2013 after an eight 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.

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David Yacubian 2017.jpg Dave Yacubian

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.

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