Our exceptional staff members are the backbone of our organization. Their incredibly diverse backgrounds provide us with a profound understanding of the destinations we visit and offer our students one-of-a-kind experiences.
Rustic Pathways spans the globe! Most of our staff members are based outside the United States. While the cultural traditions of our team vary from country to country, the shared values that define Rustic Pathways and make them exceptional extend across all borders. Country Operations teams include international and local staff who work together to ensure Rustic students have fun, empowering, and safe experiences with us.
Exceptional Program Leaders
Our Program Leaders have backgrounds in teaching, experiential education, service learning, wilderness training, international development, and other outdoor and educational fields. Each year, we hold in-country training sessions for both new and returning staff to ensure we maintain our standards in safety, student learning, community service, and the overall Rustic Pathways student experience. Program Leaders are incredible role models for students and, most importantly, they are all dedicated to creating the best possible programs for students.
Anna is an alumna of School Year Abroad and has a dual degree in geoscience and Mandarin from Dartmouth. Anna’s passion for experiential education and travel was sparked in high school and furthered in college. She now applies this passion at Rustic Pathways, providing opportunities for teachers and students to immerse themselves in new surroundings and engage powerfully with other cultures. Anna was previously director of our China operations and now resides in San Francisco.
Patrick began his career in experiential education as a Harvard student, managing the University’s First-Year Outdoor Program. After graduating with high honors from the Social Studies Department, Patrick continued his passion for social enterprise as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He now brings his strong leadership skills, love of the outdoors, and experience as Country Director in Mongolia and Tanzania to our team of Personal Travel Advisors in Ohio. Patrick’s immense dedication to community partnerships and passion for creating meaningful student experiences continue to shine through in our customer service.
Focusing his academic research on Genocide studies, Zack graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Sociology. Prior to Rustic, with a lifelong passion for travel and education, Zack worked as a high school English teacher in Japan and a historical tour guide in his hometown of New York City. In his time off, Zack has backpacked extensively throughout Europe and Asia, visiting over fifty-five countries thus far. Zack may be spotted running through the park or dancing at a local music festival. A trained Emergency Medical Technician, Zack uses his expertise to keep our students and staff safe throughout their program experience.
Dr. Will Smith is a recognized leader in wilderness medicine who joined Rustic Pathways in 2015. He practices emergency medicine in Jackson, Wyoming, and is clinical faculty for the University of Washington School of Medicine, as well as the Medical Director for the National Park Service. Locally, he serves as the Co-Medical Director for Grand Teton National Park, Teton County Search & Rescue, Bridger Teton National Forest, and Jackson Hole Fire / EMS.
With a gift for organization and a calm, compassionate personality, Carly has supported students traveling with our growing Gap Year division since 2012. After earning her degree in international studies from Miami University of Ohio, she spent several years in New York City before returning to the Cleveland area. From her own adventures in Europe, Morocco, and Costa Rica, Carly knows firsthand how powerful and life-changing world travel can be, and she loves helping to provide similar opportunities to young people on the threshold of adulthood. She also enjoys working on home improvement projects, reading novels, and taking nature walks with her young daughter.
Heather is a graduate of Cleveland State University with a degree in Psychology. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, her desire to learn new cultures is always satiated with each day working at Rustic Pathways. Her first international travel was with Rustic and helped her be brave enough to travel alone to Ireland and Scotland. When not working, she enjoys reading, taking nature walks and exploring all parts of Ohio.
Originally from Portland, Oregon in the states, Evan’s travel bug was bit when she studied abroad in Kenya, Tanzania, and Israel in college studying both Biology and Film Studies. She says that photography is what brought her abroad initially, but it’s the people she meets around the world that keep her traveling. She began Program Leading with Rustic in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and Vietnam in 2015, and has since then called a village in Bali her home base in Southeast Asia.
Matija completed an undergraduate degree at Northeastern University, then went on to earn a master’s degree from Harvard. Her expertise in leadership training and recruitment has enabled her to achieve great success within the Rustic Pathways Group Travel division. Her highest priority is that educators and students walk away completely satisfied and fulfilled from their incredible experience. In her free time, Matija enjoys reading, working out, running, and practicing power vinyasa yoga.
Cody is a graduate of University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. He fell in love with the ocean and the water at a very young age. He was a nationally ranked swimmer and bodyboarder, as well as, the team captain of the university’s swim program his senior year. Since he was five, he’s always wanted to protect the marine ecosystems around the world. Cody is an avid scuba diver, surfer, bodyboarder, and free diver. Cody program led in Fiji, was an outreach coordinator in the Midwest US, and now is working to help pick out the best program for you and your family. He loves live music and all types of foods.
Emily fell in love with travel and experiential learning after high school while taking a gap year in Bolivia and Peru. During her time at the University of Denver, Emily continued to seek out travel programs and opportunities while double majoring in Geography and International Studies. She was grateful for the opportunity to do coursework in Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Mexico, and Nicaragua! Since then she has worked in a variety of jobs including outdoor education, refugee services, ESL teaching, and as a Rustic Pathways Program Leader. Emily currently lives in Costa Rica and is passionate about animals (especially turtles!), rock climbing, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.
Candice is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace College in Ohio with a degree in business administration, and she recently earned her MBA from Lake Erie College. Candice brings her expertise, kindness, and attention to detail to our human resources department. She assists with the on-boarding of all staff and manages staff benefits and professional development.
Scott joined the Rustic team in 2018. He has been passionate about travel and sustainable development since he was bitten with the travel bug in college. He spent 5 years working in Japan, first as an English teacher and then pursuing an MA in International Development. He has led gap year programs that circumnavigated the world but now gets to spend a little less time in airports and focus on sharing the value and importance of intentional Rustic Pathways travel experiences to families. On his next travel adventure, he wants to go to Namibia.
Born and raised in Southern California, a stone’s throw away from the original Disneyland. Janette spent an unforgettable summer in western Europe and Florence on a study abroad program during her time at Cal State Fullerton. In 2016 she moved to Manchester and worked for a craft magazine publisher as a professional crafter and later at a marketing agency that specializes in life science and biotech businesses as a social media manager. She connected deeply with Rustic’s mission of philanthropy, travel, and training students to build the skills they need to create impact.
With a degree in Global Studies and Spanish from Pennsylvania State University, Michael has a passion for learning about new cultures and integrating with communities at a local level. While serving as a TEFL volunteer in the Peace Corps in Colombia, he learned that education can bring people together from all around the world. Volunteering in small communities throughout South America has allowed him to connect with people from different cultures, lifestyles and customs. Even though we speak a different language, eat different foods and listen to different music, we all appreciate each other’s kindness, intelligence and humor. Rustic Pathways feels like a perfect fit where Michael can help students have the same rewarding experiences that he has had.
Mary began her career in the international media, where she met people from all over the globe. She particularly enjoyed working with journalists from developing nations who were expanding news coverage in their countries. After this job, Mary helped open a new school that offers the International Baccalaureate Program for younger students and was involved in other educational ventures. She now relishes the opportunity to share information about Rustic travel programs that enable students to gain an international perspective. In her free time, she enjoys musical theater, basketball, track, soccer, and hiking.