Our Team

Our Team

The Walking Tree Travel team is made up of truly exceptional individuals who are committed to guiding the next generation of global leaders. Our international staff has an intimate understanding of the local environment, language and culture of our host destinations, helping to ensure that our adventures are as smooth, safe, and authentic as possible. Our Program Leaders have traveled extensively and hail from the world’s top colleges and universities. They are extraordinary guides, teachers, mentors and friends. Read more about who we are below!

Our Team On Average…


Are first aid & CPR certified


Worked for non-profits


Worked in higher education


Worked in K-12 education


Languages spoken


countries visited


Age started traveling

Leaders Have Attended

  • Amherst College
  • Boston University
  • Brown University
  • Colby College
  • College of William and Mary
  • Colorado College
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Earlham College
  • Emory University
  • Fordham University
  • Georgetown University
  • Grinnell College
  • Harvard University
  • Heilongjiang University
  • Indiana University
  • Keene State College
  • King’s College
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • London School of Economics
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Middlebury College
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Peking University
  • Santa Clara University
  • Scripps College
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Skidmore College
  • Stanford University
  • The New School
  • Universidad de Barcelona
  • Universidad de Buenos Aires
  • Universidad de Costa Rica
  • Universidad de Complutense
  • Universidad de El Salvador
  • Universidad de Granada
  • Universidad de Palermo
  • Universidad San Francisco de Quito
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Denver
  • University of Kansas
  • University of London
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Walden University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Wheaton College
  • Williams College
  • Yale University
  • Luke Mueller Co-Founder

    Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

    During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

    • Paul Laurie Co-Founder

      Santa Clara University – B.A. Marketing and International Business

      Santa Clara University – B.A. Marketing and International Business

      During college, Paul spent a semester abroad studying Spanish and European Commerce in Madrid, Spain. After graduation, he embarked on a three-year journey that took him all over the world. He traveled from Times Square to Tierra del Fuego and from Siberia to Singapore, enjoying distinct cultures, great food and meeting lifelong friends every step of the way. Among other positions, Paul worked as a fashion photographer and on Wall Street before returning to his real passion for student travel. Paul has traveled to more than 80 countries in pursuit of the best meal under $5 and making additions to his antique globe collection.

      • Gabriel Duncan Co-Founder

        Colby College – B.A. International Relations and Government

        While at Colby, Gabriel spent a semester in Spain at the University of Salamanca studying contemporary Spanish politics and Spanish language. He also lettered for four-years on Colby’s lacrosse team and earned All-American honors. After graduating, Gabriel hit the road. He fished commercially in Alaska, taught in Chile and China, led programs for students in Spain and Costa Rica, and traveled to over 50 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Regardless of where Gabriel is located, he is constantly haunted by his naive faith and unconditional love for Denver sports teams.

        • Becca Sheffield Admissions Manager

          Colorado State University – B.A. Communication Studies and Spanish
          Middlebury Institute of International Studies – M.A. International Education Management

          After her first study abroad experience in Lima, Peru in 2007, Becca knew she had found her passion for helping others have meaningful experiences across cultures. After teaching Spanish to learners of all ages and working in the non-profit sector, Becca decided to pursue her Master’s degree in International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Now she is pursuing her dream of helping students have incredible experiences abroad, when she isn’t hiking, salsa dancing, or quoting movie lines.

          • Brooke Hopkins Educator Partner Team

            University of California, Irvine – B.A. in Spanish, Elementary Education Bilingual Teaching Credential, M.A. in Teaching

            Throughout her teaching career in both public and private schools, Brooke had the pleasure of teaching every single grade level, from preschool students all the way to high school seniors and she enjoyed traveling internationally with several different groups during her time as a teacher. Brooke is especially tickled to join the Walking Tree Travel team, as her favorite educational travel experience (by far) was with WTT in 2012 in Peru. After leaving the classroom, Brooke’s career in education continued as an administrator, and most recently she was a Head of School of a small primary school. In her free time, Brooke enjoys walking her dogs, cuddling her cats, practicing yoga, traveling with her husband and daughters, reading, and making the spaces around her more beautiful.

            • Esteban Arguedas Country Operations Manager, Costa Rica Country Director

              Earlham College – B.A. Non-Profit and Business Administration, Minor in French

              Born and raised in Costa Rica, Esteban has spent the last seven years of his life traveling around the world and fostering his education in the U.S. Esteban has a strong background in cross-cultural education and developing business projects that strive for sustainable and social development. While attending college in Indiana, Esteban spent a semester abroad in France. During his free time Esteban loves reading, playing soccer, surfing, hiking, drinking a good cup of coffee and dancing to Latino rhythms. These days Esteban has moved back to Costa Rica and loves leading awesome SSA programs in his home country!

              • Jordan Sparrow Country Operations Director

                University of Kansas – B.A. Latin American Studies; Global and International Studies, Minor in Brazilian Studies

                Jordan is a Midwesterner at heart, born and raised in Kansas City.  He spent his first summer after high school in Guatemala where he began learning Spanish and cultivated a deep interest in everything Latin America.  In college, Jordan spent almost half of his university career studying abroad in both Costa Rica and Brazil.  During that time, he mastered language skills in both Spanish and Portuguese, spent a lot of time at the beach and met the love of his life in Costa Rica. After college, he moved to Costa Rica where he taught Portuguese to Costa Ricans and began his career in student travel.  After almost six years of living in Costa Rica, Jordan, his partner and their two dogs moved to Denver where they currently live.  As with the rest of the SSA team, Jordan has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.  Jordan is passionate about languages, history, social justice and eating great food.

                • Lacey Merkel Admissions Director

                  University of Arizona – B.S. in Spanish and Portuguese, Minor in Business

                  Lacey is originally from Flagstaff, Arizona but has been spending her summers in Denver since she was a kid. Originally a business major, she decided to spend her sophomore year studying in Viña Del Mar, Chile. This is where she truly found her passion for travel and learning about other cultures. When she returned to Arizona, she changed her focus to learning Spanish and Portuguese and decided to pursue her TEFL certificate. After graduation, Lacey moved to Fortaleza, Brazil and taught English to high school students, pilots and doctors. She then moved to Denver and continued teaching English. In her free time she enjoys live music, snowboarding, traveling and of course eating amazing “hole-in-the-wall” food.

                  • Lauren Collins Educational Partner Team

                    University of Colorado at Boulder – B.A. in International Affairs and Chinese Language and Civilization
                    University of Washington Seattle – M.A. in China Studies
                    University of Denver –  PhD candidate in 
                    Higher Education

                    During her senior year of high school, Lauren traveled on a program to Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. That experience expanded her world in ways she never imagined and is what she considers the root of her journey to understand the many ways in which citizens of North America, Asia, and ultimately the entire world are intimately connected. As a scholar practitioner of transformative learning experiences, Lauren is convinced that getting students out of the bounded spaces where we form routines and into the unscripted messiness of the wider world is the best way to grow. Lauren has lived in Japan as a child, Taipei as a student, Beijing working for UNESCO, Macau as a Fulbright Scholar, and travelled many miles by train in-between. A serial hobbyist, Lauren’s current obsession is cricket farming.

                    • Morrison Mast Conservation Program Director

                      College of William and Mary – B.S. Biology and Environmental Science & Policy

                      Morrison is an obsessive and experienced traveler, having been to more than  50 countries in pursuit of the life-changing experiences offered by the wild places of the world. Fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and broken French, he is an avid wildlife photographer whose favorite subjects are beetles, spiders and the oft overlooked microcosms they inhabit. Morrison is a percussionist at heart and has performed nationally and internationally with groups ranging in style from symphonic to experimental rock and traditional Turkish music. During his undergraduate years, Morrison conducted research in Brazil and Madagascar with conservation organizations that are actively working with communities to strike a sustainable balance between humans and the ecosystems that support them. Education is surely the most rewarding aspect of his work; Morrison constantly strives to inspire positive change by communicating his overwhelming awe of the natural world to others. Morrison hopes to build a career in biodiversity conservation and is currently in charge of developing and implementing new Conservation Expeditions.

                      • Yusra Saleh Operations

                        Earlham College – B.A. Peace & Global Studies 
                        Indiana University – M.P.A. International Development and Nonprofit Management

                        Born and raised in Kuwait, Yusra traveled to the United States to pursue a B.A. in Peace and Global Studies at Earlham College with a focus on Conflict Transformation. Since then, she has been involved in several leadership positions (including working for a start- up peace museum) and actively seeks to help individuals challenge and learn from the world around them. Growing up in a household with a Father who was a Pilot and a Mother who was a Flight Attendant, Yusra began traveling as soon as she could walk and enjoys engaging the world through travel and interaction. She is passionate about social justice issues, grassroots movements and individual empowerment. In her free time, Yusra enjoys exploring new cities by bike, drawing and getting lost in libraries and bookstores.

                        • Craig Turley
                          Craig Turley UK and Ireland Country Director

                          University of Exeter – BSc Zoology

                          Born and raised in the South of England, Craig’s early passion for animals and the natural world has grown and developed to this day. He has traveled to over 35 countries in search of natural, educational and cultural experiences and believes traveling with a purpose makes for a much more wholesome experience. During his studies, he volunteered on a turtle project in North Cyprus and has since gone on to work with sea turtles in The Cayman Islands and Oman. Upon graduating Craig spent a year living and working in Bali, Indonesia, planning and booking bespoke live-aboard dive trips. He has spent the last two years living and working on Masirah Island, Oman, managing the turtle monitoring program and pioneering a community fisheries program. After witnessing the impacts of fisheries first hand in The Middle East, his focus has shifted to sustainable fisheries and their alternatives. His hobbies include surfing and kite surfing which often help guide his choice of travel destinations. Craig speaks conversational Arabic and basic Bahasa Indonesia.

                          • Said Ait Said
                            Said Ait Said Program Leader and Morocco Country Director

                            Said was born in Marrakech, Morocco and was raised in the old Medina as well as an off the grid Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains. He enjoys camping, taking road trips and carpentry projects. 2012 he graduated in IT Development and started working as a freelance contractor for Technical Specifications Development. A year later he started managing accommodations and excursions for travelers in Morocco, where he met his wife, who is American. They are a combination of Berber, Moroccan and American; speaking English, French, Arabic and Tamazighit. He also has a two year old son, named Solomon. Said and his family are currently living in Marrakech, embracing their multi-cultural lifestyle!

                            • Stafford Jackson
                              Stafford Jackson Morocco Country Director

                              Stafford was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana and then graduated High School in Dallas, Texas. After attending the University of Arizona, she set off traveling with her sister through Southeast Asia, Europe and Northern Africa in 2013. After traveling through Morocco, she decided to make it her home a year later and started an online shop, selling artisanal handicrafts from Morocco back to the States. While living in Tangier, she met her husband in 2014 while she was traveling through Marrakech. He learned to speak English for her and she moved to Marrakech for him. They now have small wholesale company together and both work of Walking Tree Travel! She enjoys photography, decorating and taking family vacations to small Moroccan villages on the Atlantic coast.

                              • Casey Champion
                                Casey Champion Cuba Country Director

                                University of Chicago – MBA and MA in International Education.

                                Casey, a licensed attorney who holds an MBA and an MA in International Education, serves as Chief Legal Officer and Education Specialist of CHACO Travel LLC.

                                Casey’s passion for education and travel is clear:

                                Out of law school, Casey began his career as an immigration attorney, but he soon turned his attention towards education.  He has over a decade of experience in education policy and classroom teaching, having taught courses at the high school and university levels.  He is certified to teach Spanish, Social Studies, English, and ESL.  Throughout his career, Casey has been an outspoken advocate for educational travel.

                                Casey has experience working, studying, and traveling in over 35 countries on six continents.  He has lived in Mexico and Spain, where he studied Spanish and International Law.  Over the years, his travels have taken him to places like Tibet, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Morocco, Sweden, Brazil, and Trinidad & Tobago. In recent years, Casey has spent much of his time in China, basing his travels from his wife’s home in rural Hunan province.

                                • Devin Toletti
                                  Devin Toletti Germany Country Director

                                  Bologna University – B.A. Political Science and International Relations

                                  Born to an Italian father and a Canadian-Austrian mother, Devin grew up in Varese which is in Northern Italy between Milan and Switzerland. He grew up with a love for winter sports, dividing his winters between
                                  hockey and skiing. In summer he would enjoy mountain biking around the Alps and try to water ski as much as possible. After finishing school, in the English section of the European School, he went to Bologna University and achieved a B.A in Political Science and International Relations. In Bologna he also discovered his passion for
                                  food and teaching. Devin is now living in the exciting capital of Germany, Berlin, where he is a bike tour guide, part time cook, and English teacher.

                                  • Esteban Arguedas Country Operations Manager, Costa Rica Country Director

                                    Earlham College – B.A. Non-Profit and Business Administration, Minor in French

                                    Born and raised in Costa Rica, Esteban has spent the last seven years of his life traveling around the world and fostering his education in the U.S. Esteban has a strong background in cross-cultural education and developing business projects that strive for sustainable and social development. While attending college in Indiana, Esteban spent a semester abroad in France. During his free time Esteban loves reading, playing soccer, surfing, hiking, drinking a good cup of coffee and dancing to Latino rhythms. These days Esteban has moved back to Costa Rica and loves leading awesome SSA programs in his home country!

                                    • Fabiola Hudicourt Canada Country Director

                                      University of Montreal – B.S. International Relations
                                      Institute of Development Studies in Switzerland – Masters in Development Studies 

                                      Fabiola grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, until she was eighteen. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Montreal, Canada, and a Master’s in Development Studies from the Institute of International Relations and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Fabiola has been traveling since she was five years old but her passion for traveling started when she spent time in Barcelona to study Spanish. She has been travelling ever since on a regular basis and has been to 20+ countries, across Canada and the U.S. She has volunteered for many organizations, including the Canadian Council for International Relations in Montreal, the Canadian Red Cross and Ten Thousand Villages in Vancouver. She has worked as a fair trade development agent in Quebec City and as a project manager for development projects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She has a passion for languages and speaks fluently French, English, Haitian Creole and conversational Spanish. She is currently learning German, too! A mother of two, she is looking forward to discover the world with her children.

                                      • Gregg Brill South Africa Country Director

                                        Rhodes University – Bsc in Environmental Science and Icthyology
                                        Stellenbosch University – MSc in Environmental Science
                                        University of Cape Town – PhD in Environmental Science

                                        Gregg Brill was born in the Eastern Cape, South Africa and spent much of his childhood brought up on a dairy farm. It was here that a keen interest in nature was foundered. Gregg has undertaken numerous environmental and social projects around the world, including turtle conservation in Madagascar, coral reef rehabilitation in the Seychelles, revegetation initiatives in Thailand and South Africa, as well as wildlife management and conservation in South Africa and Australia. Gregg has travelled to over 50 countries across six continents, and has lived in four of them.

                                        • Guillermo Montoya Guatemala Country Director

                                          Universidad Rafael Landivar – B.A. Marketing with emphasis on Advertising
                                          Postgraduate studies in Business Management, Costa Rica and India

                                          Guillermo was born and raised in Guatemala. He has traveled throughout North and Central America, and parts of Europe and India. His first intercultural experience took place in North Dakota and Canada as an exchange student. He then volunteered with an international organization in Guatemala that provides educational opportunities to young students. Through this organization, he became a guide for a Latin American student group in Norway and Denmark, giving him the opportunity to explore several European countries and find his traveler spirit. Guillermo lives in Antigua, Guatemala, where he works to support independent coffee farmers and an artisan community and leads programs throughout Central America. He speaks both Spanish and English and enjoys adventure travel, photography and history.

                                          • Hassana Hedrick Diallo Assistant Senegal Country Director

                                            The Evergreen State College – Business Management and Entrepreneurship

                                            Hassana graduated from The Evergreen State College in Washington state, with a degree focusing on business management and entrepreneurship. He was born in the rural community of Dindefelo, in southeastern Senegal and lived there until the age of 10, when he was adopted by Peace Corps Volunteers who had served in his village and who brought him back to the U.S.. He learned English and attended school in Olympia, Washington and Washington, D.C., where he attended The Maret Schooland graduating from Olympia High School. He returned every year or two to Senegal, never losing his native languages or his connection with Senegalese culture. After graduating from college, he worked in two positions in the Washington state government focused on customer relations and training.
A year after his father returned to Senegal to become the Peace Corps Country Director, he also returned to Senegal to start a new venture focused on the agricultural supply chain. While doing this, he has worked with and mentored several Peace Corps Volunteers in the Kedougou region. Hassana has traveled throughout West Africa and some parts of Europe. He speaks English, French, Pulaar and Wolof.

                                            • Jillian Schultz China Country Director, Program Leader

                                              Columbia University – B.A. in Art History and Asian Studies
                                              Columbia University – M.A. Art History

                                              Jillian hails from Chicago and recently relocated to Los Angeles after five years in Beijing. She studied art history and Asian studies as an undergrad and received her M.A. in Art History from Columbia University. Before relocating to China, she spent five years working in the Asian Art Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. While in Beijing, she served as the Director of International Programs at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. She has curated and produced exhibitions and educational programing in China, the U.K., Europe, and most recently, Ethiopia. Jillian is an avid yogi and completed a 200 hour intensive teacher training in Bali. Jillian loves seeing live music, biking, being in/near the ocean, and making the people around her laugh. She never feels more alive than when she’s navigating the streets of China, sampling local delicacies and seeking out the best bargains she can find.

                                              • Kaitlyn Jackson Chile Country Director

                                                University of Oregon- B.S. Human Physiology and minor in Spanish

                                                Kaitlyn, a current resident of Santiago Chile, has spent her years post-graduation focused on global
                                                learning opportunities. Originally from Seattle Washington, her love for the pacific northwest,
                                                mountains, and the outdoors led her to the University of Oregon where she became a major Ducks football fan. After spending a semester in Seville Spain studying Spanish and the following summer summiting Seattle’s famous volcano Mt. Rainier, and finally backpacking through Southeast Asia, the true seed of adventure was planted and there to stay. She decided to pursue her passion for the Spanish language and moved to Santiago as an English professor, embracing this new culture, quickly making this foreign country her second home. She currently works for a Chilean non-profit and spends her free time discovering the geographical wonders of Chile, hiking in the nearby Andes Mountain Range, testing out new gourmet burger restaurants, playing soccer, dancing to Latin rhythms, and wandering La Vega, Santiago’s local open-air produce market.

                                                • Kender Reece Japan Country Director

                                                  Earlham College – B.A. in Neuroscience

                                                  Kender is a native of Brooklyn, NY. Raised by immigrant parents she has always been fascinated by different cultures and how they shape one’s personality. From the age of ten she participated in an academic summer camp program that took her throughout the US, South America, Europe and Asia. She graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, in 2013, where she majored in Neuroscience. At Earlham, Kender was able to form close relationships with several international students fuelling her passion for learning about and experiencing different cultures. She was also reminded of her time in Asia and longed to return. In 2014 she returned to Japan as a member of the JET program. Presently she is teaching English at a high school in west Tokyo. Starting as an attempt to learn Japanese, Kender has become an active member of her community. She enjoys walking around her charming old town getting to know all of its inhabitants. When she isn’t struggling to climb mountains with her local pals, she is playing local festivals with her city’s Japanese drum team, doing Jujutsu or enjoying a lazy Sunday at an onsen.

                                                  • Laurene Heuguelot Thailand Country Director

                                                    The International Film & Television School in Paris – B.S. in Video Editing

                                                    Born and raised in Paris, after working for a couple of years in the television industry, Laurene decided to volunteer with elephants in Thailand. After few months, she was offered the position of volunteer coordinator. She learned everything about the animal welfare issue within the Southeast Asia context. She worked for four years in several wildlife rescue centers in Thailand, and raised awareness to hundreds of young international volunteers about this matter. Laurene lives now in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, where she loves living amongst the local people, helping animals in need, and educating local communities and also foreigners about humane care of stray animals. Aside from her passion for animal welfare, she loves the Thai culture and delicious Thai food, and volunteers to help the Thai children who are victims of trafficking.

                                                    • Martin Wilson Spain Country Director, Morocco Country Director

                                                      Lewis & Clark College – B.A. Psychology, major course study in Spanish

                                                      Martín’s thirst for adventure began when, as a boy growing up in rural New Mexico, his parents would pack up their ‘70s vintage Suburban and head south to the coastal regions of Old Mexico. He later spent his junior year in Seville, Spain while studying Psychology at Lewis and Clark College, which is world-renowned for its overseas experiences. Ten years later the opportunity popped up for him to return to Spain and he jumped at the chance. Seven years later and still going strong, Martín uses Madrid as his base, and when he’s not organizing trips for students or teaching at the Universidad Europea de Madrid, he spends his time ticking off European and north African countries from his list of “must visits” and, as often as possible, skiing the back-country, surfing atrociously, and sailing the Cantabrian sea.


                                                      • Maximillian Mishkin East Coast Director

                                                        College of William and Mary – B.A. Public Policy & Sculptural Art

                                                        Max is a long-distance hiker, conservation land manager and professional photographer. While he loves international travel, Max’s ideal trip is long-term and culturally-immersive. Max started his professional life in political and legal organizing. Having worked for a senator, a state political party, a governor and a US president, Max decided to pursue his passion for enjoying and protecting great natural spaces. In 2014, Max quit his job in a Connecticut legal firm, opted-out of law school and hiked the Appalachian Trail. His 2185.3 mile journey from Georgia to Maine took five months and transformed his life. Upon completing his pilgrimage, Max began working in Appalachian Trail management. Max believes that our greatest responsibility in a complex and global community is to better our understanding of other people and our environment. To that end, Max has collectively spent well over 15,000 hours in the backcountry of the United States, traversing over 4000 miles of trails and meeting thousands of adventurers along the way.

                                                        • Micheal McKeon Manchester Italy Country Director

                                                          Lewis and Clark College – B.A. in Communications

                                                          Born in Denver, Colorado Mike earned a B.A. in Communications from Lewis and Clark College. After college Mike moved to Siena, Italy where he had studied abroad. In 2004 he co-founded the study abroad program Siena Italian Studies where he is a program coordinator and Service-Learning coordinator. He also founded an English language program for the Siena public elementary schools and kindergartens and is on the board of directors for the city’s “Le Mura” organization that protects, maintains, and promotes Siena’s medieval walls. He is an experienced translator having worked with the AC Siena professional soccer team and a local culinary school. Mike has traveled extensively throughout Italy and Europe. He is fluent in Italian and can converse in Spanish and French. When not working with students you can probably find Mike in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes or somewhere outside enjoying fresh air.

                                                          • Natalia Angel Ecuador Country Director

                                                            International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus Rotterdam University – M.A. Development Studies, Environment and Sustainable Development

                                                            Born in Cali, Colombia, nestled in a family-oriented, tropical environment surrounded by dance and nature, Natalia grew up between two countries during her childhood and youth: Ecuador and Colombia. From a very young age she developed strong skills in intercultural understanding, particularly between Latin American sister nations. Through her passion and talent in athletics, she has had opportunities to travel to many different countries and cities in South America. Natalia studied at a university in Germany, which allowed her to travel around Europe, where she experienced a vast array of countries and Western cultures. She later pursued a master’s degree in social studies in Holland, focusing on environmental studies. She completed research on natural biosphere reserves in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the issues facing indigenous communities there. After many adventures and experiences, Natalia fell in love with Ecuador’s natural and cultural diversity and has lived and worked in several different places along the coast, highlands, mountains and Amazon regions of the country.

                                                            • Natalia Boquet Argentina Country Director

                                                              College Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)- Degree in Lettres, Technical degree in Film Directing

                                                              Natalia was born and has always lived in Buenos Aires, where she graduated from Universidad de Buenos Aires with a degree in Lettres and from CIEVYC with a technical degree in Film Directing.
                                                              She co-founded a Spanish School when she was 24, just after her first solo travel, which started a long saga that took her to more than 20 countries in South America, Europe and Asia.
                                                              Natalia lives with a beautiful white cat that loves hunting doves to offer them up to her. She loves plants, red wine, sci-fi movies, thai food, live music, biking, cooking, reading and, of course, traveling.

                                                              • Rebecca Hughes Program Leader

                                                                University of Oregon – B.A. International Studies

                                                                Rebecca grew up spending most of her summers in Oslo, Norway with her mother’s family. This coupled with speaking Norwegian made her curious to explore other languages and cultures. After studying French in high school, Rebecca took a gap year and spent two months navigating the busy souks of Morocco. This inspired her to major in International Studies at the University of Oregon where she studied abroad in both France and Senegal. Rebecca loved living in francophone Africa and exploring the Senegalese countryside so much that she returned to Senegal after college to work at the American School. Rebecca also manages a business where she works with local artisans to create accessories and home decor out of handmade textiles. She now resides in London where she is pursuing her masters degree.

                                                                • Sarah Hofmann France Country Director

                                                                  Carnegie Mellon University, B.A. Francophone Studies and Anthropology; Columbia University, M.A. Cultural Studies

                                                                  Born in Tokyo, Sarah was raised in an Ecuadorian-American family in Singapore, Paris and the D.C. suburbs. Basically, she had no choice : she was going to be an implicated world citizen whether she liked it or not. After finishing a self-defined undergraduate major in Francophone literature, Anthropology and Painting – with a semester-long stint in Bamako, Mali squeezed in – she continued to study, travel and work in the francophone world. Since completing her undergraduate studies she has lived in the French antilles, worked in Haiti, completed a Masters in Paris, braved the mean streets of NYC, and taught French in Dakar, Senegal. She has now landed in Bordeaux in the south of France where she has learned that biking along the Garonne River can, in fact, give a person a whole other take on life.

                                                                  • Simone Mangili Italy Country Director

                                                                    Bard College – B.A. Community, Regional and Environmental Studies
                                                                    Cornell University – M.A. Regional Planning

                                                                    Having completed numerous service-learning, travel and study abroad programs himself, Simone has worked at a leadership camp, lead service-learning programs, served as facilitator and mentor in study abroad programs, and taught college-level courses in urban planning and sustainability in cities worldwide. His professional experience is international and ranges from designing participatory planning processes to developing public spaces and green infrastructure. From managing long-term planning to real estate consulting and development. He is currently the Project and Operations Manager at Torino Strategica where he is managing the development of a 10-year Strategic Plan for the City of Turin and its metropolitan area.

                                                                    • Sol Alba Argentina Country Director

                                                                      Instituto Universitario Nacional de Artes – M.A. Dramatic Arts 

                                                                      Sol, daughter of an Argentinean mother and Uruguayan father was born in Cali, Colombia where she spent the first three years of her life. She spent the rest of her childhood in Ciudad de La Plata in Argentina before making the move to Buenos Aires for her university studies. Sol has her masters in Dramatic Arts (acting) and is currently an actress in Buenos Aires. She has done theatrical performances, short film and TV commercials in Argentina and in other parts of the world. She has also worked for eight years as a theatre producer for several shows. 

                                                                      Outside of her career, Sol enjoys practicing yoga, running and writing.  She loves cooking, nature, traveling, listening to music, reading, creating things with her hands, and hanging out with her pet turtle. 

                                                                      • Tomas Kavanagh UK/Ireland Country Director

                                                                        Trinity College – BSc Environmental Science

                                                                        Tomas moved to USA at 17 to attend high school at the United World College in New Mexico. He took a year after graduating from high school to work on a farm outside Mexico City and travel around South America. He returned to the US to attend college in Connecticut and spent a semester studying ecology in Costa Rica. He captained his college rugby team and also founded the International House on his college campus, a space for cross-cultural experiences and performance. Upon graduation, Tomas returned to travelling across the United States and South America and set-up a home gardening business in Bloomington, Indiana before returning to Ireland. Tomas is passionate about history, growing food and Gaelic football – and sport he’ll be glad to teach you all about!

                                                                        • Tommy Tyson Peru Country Director

                                                                          University of Denver – B.A. Spanish, Minors in History and Hebrew

                                                                          Tommy graduated from the University of Denver with B.A in Spanish and minored in History and Hebrew studies. His hobbies include camping, basketball, studying history, traveling and learning languages. Fluent in both Spanish and Hebrew, Tommy first developed his love of languages and Latin American culture at the age of ten on a mission trip in Mexico. This experience and the subsequent trips to follow inspired him to study Spanish in school and to pursue more development work in other areas of Latin America as well. During a semester abroad in college in Cusco, Peru, Tommy had the pleasure of working alongside ProWorld Peru in rural communities like Ocurruro, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. Before becoming our Peru Country Director, Tommy spent time building houses in El Salvador with Habitat for Humanity.

                                                                          • Tyler Hansbrough Mexico Country Director, Program Leader

                                                                            Santa Clara University – B.A. Spanish Studies, Middlebury College – M.A. Spanish Language

                                                                            Tyler was born in Eugene, Oregon, into the family of the original Ringling Brothers Circus founders. He attended a bilingual immersion school from 1st to 12th grade and spent extended time in Costa Rica and Mexico before graduating high school. His path led him to Santa Clara University in Northern California, during which time he worked in East San Jose with immigrants and studied abroad in Madrid. After college, he stayed in San Jose and worked as a Spanish teacher and tennis coach at a prestigious all-boys Jesuit high school for 12 years. During his time teaching, Tyler founded two powerful immersion trips for his students to both East Los Angeles and Mexico, through which his love of service and travel became infectious and he fell deeply in love with the beautiful country of Mexico. In June 2016 he moved permanently to Mexico City where he currently rents an apartment in the gorgeous Condesa neighborhood. He works for Walking Tree as the Mexico Country Director and also runs his own private food tours for visitors hoping to taste the best tacos in the world, something he struggles to resist each day on his return from the gym!

                                                                            • William Loh Oceania Country Director

                                                                              The University of Sydney- BSc. (Hons), PhD. Marine Biology

                                                                              William’s love of Nature began in Malaysia where he was born, and nurtured in Australia where he grew up from the age of 13. Since graduating from Sydney University, he has worked as a national park officer, research station officer, marine biologist, geneticist, microbiologist and an educator. William has published research papers on corals, sponges, seagrass, algae, fishes, sea-slugs, clams and the effects of climate change on coral reefs. He has a passion for being a hands-on, knee-deep in mud teacher and has led field programs in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji for students from Australia, the USA, Germany and Japan. He has traveled extensively in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Japan, the USA, South East Asia, southern Africa and other parts of the world. In his spare time, William can be found stalking marine and terrestrial wildlife for his hobby of Nature photography. Because of his upbringing in two countries, William speaks three languages (English, Malay/Indonesian and Cantonese Chinese).

                                                                              • Adam Schreiber
                                                                                Adam Schreiber Program Leader

                                                                                Middlebury College – B.A. in International and Global Studies (Concentrations on Latin American, Spanish language, and Sociology and Anthropology)

                                                                                Adam was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and went to the same high school as Directors Paul, Gabe, and Luke. His experience in Costa Rica as a program participant in 2008 exposed him to the joy and excitement of travel and convinced him that studying Spanish was a way of opening up a world of new experiences. Six years later, Adam is extremely excited to help give others that same opportunity. At Middlebury, Adam played rugby for four years and made trips to a number of national tournaments. He spent his Junior spring semester abroad in Tucumán, Argentina, where he was directly enrolled in courses at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. On that same trip he was able to travel to a number of other areas in Argentina as well as spend a month farming and otherwise hopping around southwestern Brazil. Adam is fluent in Spanish and has begun studying Portuguese, which he plans to continue in the future. Adam is more eager than ever to get out and explore, especially in Central and South America. He loves playing just about any sport, playing the drums, hiking, fishing, watching sunsets, swimming in the ocean and eating new foods.

                                                                                • Angela Steele
                                                                                  Angela Steele Program Leader

                                                                                  Stanford University – B.A. Cultural & Social Anthropology

                                                                                  Enrolling in Chinese on a whim freshman year, Angela never knew it would lead to years of study and a lifetime’s worth of adventures. Angela first traveled to China in 2004, spending six months studying Chinese language and culture at Capital Normal University and Peking University. She became friends with many urban artists, dancers and musicians and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Hip Hop in Beijing. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Cultural & Social Anthropology where she played Women’s Rugby and was the MVP of the 2006 National Championship Team. As a 2007-2008 Fulbright Scholar, Angela documented Hip Hop culture in 13 Chinese cities. Angela has traveled extensively in China and is always learning something new about ancient and modern Chinese culture.

                                                                                  • Bretton Rodriguez
                                                                                    Bretton Rodriguez Program Leader

                                                                                    University of Chicago – B.A. History
                                                                                    University of York – M.A. Medieval Studies
                                                                                    University of Notre Dame – Ph.D. Literature

                                                                                    As an undergraduate, Bretton made several trips to Spain, which included studying Spanish in Málaga and working on an archaeological dig outside of Segovia. After graduation, he moved to Santiago, Chile, where he taught English for almost a year before backpacking through Chile, Perú, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Argentina. Bretton then briefly returned to the United States, where he worked as a newspaper correspondent, before leaving to pursue an M.A. at the University of York in England. After receiving his degree, Bretton taught English at the Technological University of the Mixteca in Mexico.

                                                                                    Subsequently, he returned to the United States to pursue a
                                                                                    Ph.D. in Literature at the University of Notre Dame. During this period, Bretton took multiple research trips to Spain, and he travelled throughout the country. He was also a 2013-2014
                                                                                    Fulbright Fellow, which allowed him to spend a year doing research for his dissertation in Madrid. After receiving his Ph.D., Bretton accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of
                                                                                    Humanities at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.

                                                                                    • Chamby Zepeda
                                                                                      Chamby Zepeda Program Leader

                                                                                      Wheaton College – B.A. Spanish
                                                                                      Middlebury College – M.A. Spanish Language, Lit & Culture

                                                                                      Chamby was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and immigrated to the United States in 1982 at the age of four. He was raised in Maine, and then ventured to Massachusetts graduating from Wheaton College with a degree in Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies. During college, his teaching career began with a one-month experience of teaching English to Korean children at Sogang Language School, an English ski camp in Seoul. After college he worked as a research assistant in the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, and then returned to his hometown in Oakland, Maine to teach Spanish for three years. Upon beginning a two-year teaching stay at the Hotchkiss School, he enrolled at Middlebury College, where he received his Master’s in Spanish language, literature and culture. After graduating, he worked as a Spanish teacher, dorm parent, and coach at the Taft School in Watertown, CT. Over the years, he has also accrued extensive experience in volunteering abroad in places like El Salvador, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, China, Tibet, Peru, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and South Africa. Last year, he was a co-leader for a group in Costa Rica. His passions are Spanish, traveling the world, his dog Sebago, and playing guitar whenever he has time. Chamby is currently teaching Spanish at the Wilmington Friends School in Wilmington, Delaware, and is looking forward to another great summer in Costa Rica!

                                                                                      • Champion Kittiwan
                                                                                        Champion Kittiwan Program Leader

                                                                                        Payap University – B.A. English
                                                                                        Barcelona Institute of International Studies – M.A. International Relations

                                                                                        Champion is a native of Chiang Mai, Thailand. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Payap University in Chiang Mai, and it was during these undergraduate years that he was transformed into a global citizen. He majored in English and moved into the international dormitory where he met and lived with hundreds of exchange students from the Thai and Southeast Asian Studies Program while volunteering as the Program’s assistant to provide the students with language and cultural guidance in and around Northern Thailand and the Mekong River Basin. Inspired and encouraged by this amazing cross-cultural experience to go see the world himself, Champion took his turn to study for one year at the Claremont Colleges in California, before spending his last undergraduate semester in The Gambia as the first (and still the only!) Thai student. In West Africa, under a full scholarship from the Ministry of Education of Thailand, Champion worked for a non-profit and enjoyed listening to traditional Gambian music and sipping Attaya with locals, in addition to studying at the university and conducting his senior thesis.

                                                                                        After graduation, Champion became a Buddhist monk and lived at a forest monastery outside Chiang Mai for three months during a Buddhist Lent. He then followed his global development passion by pursuing a Master’s in International Relations in Barcelona, Spain, before applying his knowledge of foreign affairs into practice by participating in the Model United Nations in Barcelona and working for the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand. Champion is fluent in English and Thai, can get around using Spanish (pretty much!), and is currently learning Chinese. He enjoys travelling, taking photos, and meeting people during his free time, and cannot wait to spend this summer on more amazing student adventures!

                                                                                        • Jillian Schultz
                                                                                          Jillian Schultz China Country Director, Program Leader

                                                                                          Columbia University – B.A. in Art History and Asian Studies
                                                                                          Columbia University – M.A. Art History

                                                                                          Jillian hails from Chicago and recently relocated to Los Angeles after five years in Beijing. She studied art history and Asian studies as an undergrad and received her M.A. in Art History from Columbia University. Before relocating to China, she spent five years working in the Asian Art Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. While in Beijing, she served as the Director of International Programs at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. She has curated and produced exhibitions and educational programing in China, the U.K., Europe, and most recently, Ethiopia. Jillian is an avid yogi and completed a 200 hour intensive teacher training in Bali. Jillian loves seeing live music, biking, being in/near the ocean, and making the people around her laugh. She never feels more alive than when she’s navigating the streets of China, sampling local delicacies and seeking out the best bargains she can find.

                                                                                          • Mairéad O’Grady
                                                                                            Mairéad O’Grady Program Leader

                                                                                            Grinnell College – B.A. Music and French

                                                                                            Mairéad is thrilled to be a part of the team as a veteran leader to Senegal and the first leader to Thailand, two of her favorite places on earth. Growing up in Milton, MA, Mairéad had the incredible opportunity to attend a public school French immersion program and was bilingual by age seven. Figuring that France was easy enough to visit on her own, Mairéad chose to spend a semester studying in Senegal in 2008, and she fell in love with the country and people within days of her arrival. (She has been back almost every year since!) While in Senegal, Mairéad taught English to a group of young Senegalese women, which inspired her to pursue teaching abroad after graduation. She spent the following year teaching English at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand as a Grinnell Corps fellow. While there, she also directed a high school musical, rode elephants, emceed a wedding in three languages, and led bicycle tours and hiking trips in and around the city. Mairéad is now the Director of Admissions and French teacher at The School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL), a semester program in Washington DC for highly motivated high school juniors to study global affairs, international relations, and ethical frameworks of leadership in our nation’s capital. She also coordinates SEGL’s summer abroad programs and runs marathons in her free time.

                                                                                            • Savannah Johnson
                                                                                              Savannah Johnson Program Leader

                                                                                              Colorado College – B.A. Sociology, Minors in Global Education and Feminist & Gender Studies

                                                                                              Savannah grew up between Boston and Chicago before earning her degree in Sociology from Colorado College where she also minored in Feminist and Gender Studies and Global Education. During college, Savannah cultivated an insatiabe travel bug that propelled her to travel extensively in Southeast Asia and South America, make documentary films in Liberia and the Occupied West Bank, and sstudy bilingual education and social movements in Santiago, Chile. Traveling for pleasure turned traveling for business (the best kind of business) after graduation when she joined the Walking Tree Team. Savannah has worked with students of all ages around the world as an apprentice for High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado, Literature faculty for Modern American School in Amman, Jordan, an Admissions Consultant for African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, Outreach Associate and Program Leader for Pacific Discovery, and, this fall, she will be teaching Literature and Composition and Global Studies as part of The Traveling School faculty. She is fluent in Spanish, currently learning Arabic, and loves to pick up as much local dialect as she can while traveling. Savannah is particularly passionate about education equity, global/experiential/wilderness education, social justice, storytelling, and West African dance forms, and she is so excited to be heading back to both Peru and Thailand for the third time with Walking Tree students this summer.

                                                                                              • Vanessa Duncan
                                                                                                Vanessa Duncan Program Leader

                                                                                                Barnard College, Columbia University – B.A. Psychology
                                                                                                Bank Street College of Education – M.S. Bilingual Special Education
                                                                                                University of Colorado – PhD candidate Cultural Diversity and Educational Equity.

                                                                                                Vanessa has been leading programs with our partner company for six years. She has led programs in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Peru and enjoys this unique opportunity to travel with students as they experience new adventures abroad. Vanessa taught English language learners with special needs for six years in New York City public schools and also spent two years teaching abroad. She will be moving to Colorado this summer with her husband and begin her doctorate studies. Vanessa also works as an adjunct professor at Bank Street’s graduate school for teachers and is a certified yoga instructor. She is currently spending time in Zihuatenajo, Mexico, and teaching an online course to future special education teachers. In addition to her travels throughout Latin America, Vanessa has spent time in Europe and parts of Asia. She is passionate about travel and helping students experience the world from a new perspective.

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