The Road Less Traveled is defined by its leadership. Great leaders make great adventures. They are also the primary catalysts for fun. The leaders of our expeditions (some having more than a decade of experience with RLT) are, quite simply, the best. RLT demands the ultimate responsibility in life; more than just leaders, they are guardians, in the most genuine sense of the word – essentially a parent to every child. Our leaders are up to the task and find there is nothing more challenging or rewarding.
Genuine, spirited, friendly, athletic, well-educated and well-traveled, our leaders are experts in wilderness adventure, service learning, culture and language. They are responsible, committed to those around them, purposeful and bold. Each leader is selected personally for their ability to prevent and solve problems, their capacity to relate to and enjoy our young people, their language skills and travel experience, and their knowledge and love of the places we visit. Our leaders take care of all the details, but more importantly, they take good care of you. The following are just some of the extraordinary people who lead our programs. Best of all, they’re the kind of people with whom you want to spend your summer.
Get to know some of our leaders:
|Evan Kramer, Colgate University. Evan loves witnessing adolescents' spark for learning. From cooking tamales in Costa Rica to paddling in Ecuador to kicking it with the Hadza in Tanzania, Evan loves it all! When he's not out on the road, Evan can be found exploring the natural splendor of the American northeast. In 2010, Evan was a leader on our Hujambo program. He has also lead for RLT in Costa Rica and Ecuador.|
|Sara Benge, Willamette University. A small town farm girl at heart with a passion for adventure and travel, Sara loves to dance whenever the mood strikes. When not working for RLT, she can be found teaching outdoor education and exploring New England. You may have met Sara this winter while she was on the road for RLT presenting our programs to families and schools all over the U.S. Sara is famous as one of the faces of our blog (see the top image).|
|Brian Neufeld, James Madison University, B.A., University of Maine, M.Ed. When he’s not leading RLT trips, Brian can be found teaching middle school science in our nation’s capitol. In his free time, Brian can be found roaming Virginia’s mountains, rebuilding the engine of his 1962 Mustang, playing bocce and talking about how he's run a marathon (and will likely never do so again!). In 2010, Brian led our inaugural service learning program to Namibia, Wapenduka.|
|Lilly Fink Shapiro, Wesleyan University. Known around the world for her foreign language skills and infamous purple pants, Lilly’s stupendous enthusiasm and famously warm personality make her the gal everyone wants to be near. When she’s not working in the outdoors, you can find her baking bread, dancing, and speaking French with her students in the Bay Area. Lily was thrilled to see Machu Picchu last summer while leading our Pachamama trip.|
|Matt Hart, Prescott College. In between guiding trips for students of Prescott College and his professional photography business, Matt can be found poring over guidebooks of the world's most remote places, dreaming up the next big trip. Besides being one of our most skilled expedition leaders, he has a soft spot for romantic comedies starring Meg Ryan. If you've got a tent problem, call Matt. No distance is too far to travel. See Matt last summer leading Namaste, our service learning program in India.|
|Amelia Hintzen, Carleton College B.A., University of Miami, PhD. Amelia is a PhD student in history at the University of Miami, where she focuses her research on Modern Caribbean and Latin American History. In her free time, she enjoys biking around Miami, spending time at the beach, and searching for the best Cuban sandwich in South Florida. In 2010 she lent her expertise to our Sigue No Mas trip.|
|Jake Runestad, Winona State University, B.S., Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, M.M. Jake had had performances of his arrangements performed across the U.S. When he isn't composing or harmonizing or tuning his tuning fork, Jake dreams of travel. He loves learning about new cultures and, most importantly, searching for the world's tastiest donut. In 2010 Jake lent his expertise to our Andalucia Mia trip.|
|Rachel Ellis, Prescott College. Spending time in the high mountains of the Western U.S. and on four continents has cemented Rachel’s love and appreciation for the natural world. Her loves beyond this – meditation, Anusana yoga, challenging systems of oppression, exploring and cultivating peace, education, guitar, singing... and a serious passion for dancing to 80’s music. Rachel trekked through Colorado and Utah with our Ridges and Rapids group in 2010.|
|Whitney Hall, New York University, B.A., Columbia University, M.S.W. An avid traveler, Whitney spent 2009 volunteering as an art teacher and general caregiver at a children's home in Moshi, Tanzania. Originally from California, Whitney loves being outside, exploring new cultures, finding great swimming holes and being in the African bush. In 2010, Whitney was half of the Hujambo dream team for RLT.|
|Ellie Moore, With a zest for new experiences, she is circumnavigating the globe, one state, one country, one trail and one mountain at a time. A lover of all things poetic, she enjoys the ocean at sunrise, carrying her home on her back over long distances, making music and laughing until her stomach hurts. Read her blog post!|
|Chris Emme, Stanford University. Chris is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys sharing his love of nature with people of all ages. Now a graduate student on Bainbridge Island in Washington, he's a sucker for dance parties, writing and making music with friends, and of course travel. Chris' goal on RLT: to build a foundation of experiences that allows participants to make a strong, positive impact on environmental issues.|
Matt Vaughan, Middlebury College. When he's not on a wild adventure with RLT, you can probably find Matt frolicking through the Adirondack Mountains of New York, playing music in a Vermont coffee shop or on a farm sampling local cheeses. You can also bet that he can't wait for summer to roll around again.
|Jeffrey “Mooie” Davis, Ohio Wesleyan University. Whether it’s a blue bird powder day or raining cats and dogs, you can find Mooie out on the slopes making turns. When not helping someone off the hill, he is working to further understand snow science, helping train avalanche dogs or pra
cticing with his avalanche beacon.
This team of remarkable, tireless, and compassionate individuals is what allows The Road Less Traveled to provide life-changing travel experiences to young people. Supporting our field staff in the summer, our office staff strategizes during the rest of the year to improve our programs. Without this core, The Road Less Traveled would not be what it has been to so many.
Katia Brandt, Universidade Anhembi-Morumbi.
RLT’s Business Manager and a native of Brazil, Katia brings her knack for detail to our office. She spends her time outside of the office swimming or listening to Brazilian music with her family. She also enjoys yoga and is a member of a Brazilian percussion group in Chicago.
Mike Connor, Plattsburgh State.
After a few years of traveling the world, Mike has settled down in Chicago and is the newest addition to the RLT Logistics Team. After graduating college with a degree in Expeditionary Studies and International Business, Mike organized an expedition to Aconcagua (South America’s highest mountain), which he completed solo in February 2012. When he’s not working, Mike loves to go climbing and skiing (although that proves to be hard to find out in the Midwest!).
Casey Hudetz, DePaul University.
This former educator, bee keeper and IT director loves working for The Road Less Traveled. While leading our 2012 El Sendero trip to Costa Rica, he was reminded exactly why he got into this line of work: the love of travel, spending time with youth, speaking Spanish and practicing alternative forms of education. When he’s not in the office performing his duties as the Associate Director, you’ll find him training for a variety of athletic events, riding his bike around the city or trying to teach himself “Hey Ya” by Outkast on any instrument he can find (look out, xylophone!).
Jill Meade, Hope College.
Jill is our Director of Admissions. After two years in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps working in a health department, often without electricity, Jill is quite content having an L-shaped desk to call her own at RLT HQ. What she does miss is her morning walk to work alongside uniformed Ethiopian school children and the occasional herd of goats (a 15 minute bike ride through Chicago traffic just doesn’t hold the same charm). When she’s not at her desk, she’s usually dancing - or appreciating dance - across the city. Jill led our Namaste program in 2011 and spent time in New Orleans in 2012.