Team

  • Chris Stakich

    Chief Executive Officer

    Committed to developing future leaders who embody compassion and global understanding, Chris has worked at the intersection of education, community service, and student travel his entire career. Since joining Rustic Pathways in 2002, he has worked in virtually all areas of the organization, from running programs in Costa Rica to managing the global team. A graduate of Harvard University, Chris now lives in San Francisco with his wife and three young sons.

  • Oscar Hackett

    Chief Financial Officer

    A former Rustic Pathways student, Oscar “Oz” returns to us as our chief financial officer. With extensive experience in finance, business, and law, he applies his expertise to streamline and grow Rustic Pathways’ business operations. Oz earned his bachelor’s degree in science, technology, and international affairs from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and received his juris doctor from Harvard Law School. Oz enjoys traveling and outdoor activities with his wife and son.

  • Brent Watkins

    Vice President of Program Operations

    Brent holds a master’s in education from Johns Hopkins University where he is also an adjunct faculty member. Before Rustic Pathways, Brent managed the training and preparation of new classroom teachers for Teach For America. With extensive experience in learning development and teacher training, Brent ensures the highest level of quality across our programming. He works with our staff around the world to develop powerful curricula for all of our programs.

  • Ryan Gibbons

    Vice President of Business Operations

    With a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Ryan brings his brilliant talent in design, photography, and marketing to Rustic Pathways. Originally a Costa Rica program leader, Ryan spent four years in our marketing department before taking over our Business Operations. Prior to joining Rustic, Ryan worked for NPR in Washington, D.C. A professional photographer himself, Ryan spends his free time scuba diving around the world.

  • Anna Lugosch-Ecker

    Vice President of Group Travel

    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.

  • Erin Murphy

    Director of Student Impact

    After graduating from Notre Dame, Erin spent three years in northeastern Thailand teaching business English at Khon Kaen University through a Princeton in Asia Fellowship. Erin earned her master’s in education at Harvard and brings great energy to our team of educators. In 2014, Erin managed our programs at the Rustic Pathways’ Children’s Home and jumps at the chance to lead programs in Thailand where she shares her love for Thai food, language, and people.

  • Kevin Porter

    Global Program Operations Director

    Kevin has directed our global program operations the past four years after serving as Ghana Country Director for three years. Based in Boston, he manages our team of diverse country directors and ensures the quality of the programs we deliver on the ground. Prior to joining Rustic Pathways, Kevin worked with development organizations in East Africa, completed research for the United Nations in South Korea, and oversaw wilderness leadership programs while attending Harvard University.

  • Dave Dennis

    Safety and Risk Management Director

    Dave has a master’s degree in risk management and more than 20 years of experience in the adventure and student travel industry. Prior to joining us, he owned a consulting firm that specialized in implementing risk management and emergency response programs for both domestic and global tour operators. He works with our operations team and local country leadership to ensure the quality and consistency of all programs. Dave lives in Colorado with his wife and children.

  • Pete Brown

    Global Risk and Safety Manager

    A graduate of St John’s University in Minnesota, Pete developed his first love of travel studying abroad in New Zealand and Australia. That experience kicked off an 18-year career in the travel industry. Pete has guided groups across the United States, Canada, the Yukon Terrority and way up north to Alaska. Through this vast experience he has focused his career on Risk and Safety. Pete and his wife continue to travel all over the world and currently live in NYC with their two beautiful daughters.

  • Lauren DeAngelis Alvarez

    School Partnerships Manager

    Our School Partnerships Manager, Lauren has a variety of experience across Rustic Pathways’ sales and operations, including as our USA Country Director, since joining us in 2008. She lives between two Caribbean cities—New Orleans and Santo—and spends time by the ocean in New England where she grew up. She is a Temple University alumnus and non-fiction reader. You can usually find her hosting unexpected parties, exploring cities, or hiking the bayous with her family.

  • Emily Sanders

    Costa Rica Program Manager

    Emily first encountered Rustic as a student, traveling to Asia and South America. Emily’s positive personality and leadership skills made her an integral part of the Costa Rica team before moving to our Program Staffing team. Emily is a graduate of Florida State University with a degree in anthropology. Her mastery of icebreaker games, talented singing voice and love of sloths make her a favorite. Always looking for a challenge, Emily also completed the Camino de Santiago, a 510 mile trek across Spain.

  • Rachel Darroch

    Personal Travel Advisor

    An avid photographer, Rachel loves exploring and documenting new locations. Her sense of adventure has taken her on road trips around the USA, backpacking through Europe and Australia, excursions to Mexico, and the Caribbean. Rachel feels at home whether she is in her small hometown in Ohio or traveling somewhere new. She thoroughly enjoys working with families to help prepare their students for life-changing experiences.

  • Michelle Michal

    Personal Travel Advisor

    A true Clevelander and a graduate of Kent State University in hospitality management, Michelle joined Rustic Pathways after working for six years as an event planner for a local winery. Her emphasis on customer satisfaction, love of travel, and desire to experience new cultures make Michelle a great fit within the Rustic family. Michelle has visited our operations in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, and in her spare time enjoys cooking and selling her own line of jam.

  • Sean Major

    Personal Travel Advisor

    Sean brings his passion for travel and an extensive background in customer service to his role as personal travel advisor for Rustic Pathways. Sean’s giving spirit and pride in his work drive his commitment to delivering caring, friendly service to everyone he meets. When he’s not working, Sean and his wife can be found enjoying the nature and culture of northeast Ohio and practicing yoga. He has traveled extensively throughout Central and South America.

  • Ashley Fox

    Personal Travel Advisor

    A proud native Clevelander, Ashley joined us in 2015 after four years in the North American travel industry. With degrees in Anthropology and International Studies, she has studied and worked abroad in the UK and Australia, and in the past few years, has traveled extensively throughout the United States exploring her numerous regional passions. In her spare time, Ashley can be found running the trails and local races, and chasing her favorite music bands across state lines.

  • Alyssa DeAngelis

    Personal Travel Advisor

    After previously working as an airport coordinator, Alyssa joined our Ohio office full- time in 2015. She holds degrees in education and liberal studies from Rowan University. Alyssa is incredibly passionate about student learning and cultural exchange. She truly enjoys building relationships with parents and students and helping them prepare for their travel experiences. Her favorite part is seeing students return home with enhanced cultural awareness.

  • Carrina Crow

    Personal Travel Advisor

    Carrina has degrees in international business, Spanish, and economics from Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania. A lifelong traveler who is passionate about helping others, her knowledge and experiences correspond well with her profession as a Personal Travel Advisor. In her spare time, Carrina enjoys a variety of activities including photography, gardening, beekeeping, and scuba diving. In 2008 she traveled to Australia to play for the USA World Softball Team.

  • Jessie Wachter

    Global Program Advisor

    Having run programs in New Orleans, India, Peru, Mongolia, and Tanzania, Jessie has an extensive knowledge of our programs and operations. After four years as Tanzania country director, Jessie now helps clients choose the perfect program to match their interests. She has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe and still ventures out from Brooklyn to lead programs. In 2016, you will find Jessie guiding alumni on the Ultimate African Adventure.

  • Connor Stowe

    Global Program Advisor

    Connor graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a triple major in journalism, art history, and cinema studies. He joined the Rustic Pathways team in 2009 and has previously worked as our China Country Director, social media manager, and full-time trip leader. He’s run over 50 different programs in ten countries with Rustic Pathways and now brings that experience advising families to perfect program choices around the globe.

  • Emily Harney

    Global Program Advisor

    Born and raised in Massachusetts, Emily joined Rustic Pathways in 2007 after earning a master’s degree in higher education. Emily is a Rustic veteran, having spent several years leading programs throughout the South Pacific. She has also led service and animal conservation programs throughout Thailand. Emily has a deep knowledge of our global program operations, and when speaking with our students and parents, she never hides her enthusiasm for travel.

  • Kristie Reznak

    Travel Administrator

    An Ohio native, Kristie is a graduate of Kent State University with a degree in business administration. As a certified travel agent, she diligently manages airline ticketing and also lends support to many different areas of our administrative operations. Kristie thrives in the dynamic, fast-paced environment of our Ohio office and rises to meet unique administrative challenges.

  • Jamie Kobylinski

    Travel Administrator

    A graduate of Cleveland State University with degrees in both nonprofit management and psychology, Jamie is a certified travel agent and the secretary-treasurer of the Rustic Pathways Foundation. Jamie has been a key member of our administrative team for seven years and helps manage flight logistics. She has extensive travel experience in Southeast Asia and the Fiji Islands.

  • Katie Ortman

    Travel Administrator

    Born and raised in the Cleveland area, and a veteran member of our Ohio office, Katie is instrumental in keeping our complex administration systems running smoothly. She is a certified travel agent, and in her spare time enjoys spending time with her friends and family. Katie is the mother of two young children and is passionate about baking and trying new recipes.

  • Ann Dunphy

    Participant Screening Manager

    Based in northern Wisconsin, Ann has been in emergency medicine for 35 years and has been a professional EMT and Wilderness First Responder instructor for decades. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education in addition to having certifications in specialized emergency medicine. When not screening our students before their programs, Ann teaches for Wilderness Medical Associates and even picks up ambulance shifts to keep her skills sharp.

  • Erik Schoon

    Gap Year Programs Manager

    Having visited more than 60 countries and lived in numerous locations across the globe, Erik might be the most well-traveled person at Rustic. With eight years under his belt with the company and several years as our global Gap Year guide, he now helps ensure that our Gap operations run smoothly. Erik is an avid skydiver, scuba diver and fisherman, and is known to be a fearless connoisseur of wild foods. He also recently completed a 3500 km road trip through Africa!

  • Casey Atchley

    Gap Year Admissions Coordinator

    Casey received his bachelor’s from Indiana University in Spanish literary translation and philosophy. Between years of undergrad, he took a gap year to volunteer as a volcano tour guide and English teacher in Nicaragua. With exceptional bilingual communication and leadership, he has managed summer programs in Costa Rica and Rustic Pathways outreach in Europe. A new member of the Gap Year team, he now works with students planning their own gap years.

  • Carly Caldrone

    Gap Year Administrator

    Carly supports our growing Rustic Pathways Gap Year division as a vital administrator. While Cleveland has always been home, she has also lived in Italy and Brooklyn, New York. She knows firsthand how powerful and life-changing world travel can be and loves that her job allows her to provide that opportunity to young people on the threshold of adulthood.

  • Jared Kahan

    Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Jared has a background rooted in international travel, community service and teenage leadership development. A former tour guide in Florence, Italy, and a lover of Southeast Asian cuisine, Jared manages the Ricefields, Monks and Smiling Children program. Jared has a degree in international human rights from Arizona State University and is an avid DC sports fan.

  • Matija Paunovsky

    Group Travel Sales Manager

    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 and working out.

  • Sammy Gacsi

    Group Travel Coordinator

    During his eight years working with Rustic Pathways, Sammy’s enthusiasm, creativity, and leadership skills, have made him a key member of our team. He has a degree in sociolinguistics from the University of Szeged in Hungary, and a great deal of firsthand educational experience. Sammy plans and facilitates programs for teachers and families for our Group Travel division.

  • Brandon Hartman

    Group Travel Coordinator

    Brandon joined Rustic Pathways in January of 2013 as a personal travel advisor. He studied finance at Miami University in Ohio, and has a background in banking. Brandon takes pride in customer service and is excited to employ his skills and experience as a group travel program coordinator. He has a beautiful new wife, Liz, who also works for Rustic Pathways.

  • Dustin Aschenbeck

    Group Travel Coordinator

    After graduating from Lee University in 2009, Dustin joined Rustic Pathways as the director of India operations. Whether he is busy working on the river guiding trips in the mountains of Colorado or sharing stories of his many global adventures, Dustin believes that his life’s journey should never be a destination but a journey of careful observation and intentional living. When not traveling throughout the world, Dustin enjoys playing classical piano and road biking with his friends.

  • Brielle Friedman

    Marketing Director

    A Rustic alum, Brielle returned to us after earning a degree in international relations and creative writing from Brown University. Prior to joining Rustic, she founded a dance-cardio company in Rhode Island. She now channels her passion for travel, writing, and design as our Marketing Director and works with the creative team to spread the word about Rustic. She discovered salsa dancing in a small town in Guatemala and now competes and performs across the United States.

  • Lauren Anderson

    Program Staffing and Training Director

    Lauren joined Rustic Pathways after graduating from Emory University. She spent her first six years in Costa Rica overseeing our operations and seasonal staff. She then formed our Alumni Association where she developed programs for continuing student involvement. She now uses her extensive skill set to continue to improve the training of all program leaders across the globe. Lauren lives in Chicago, travels often, and enjoys maintaining her Spanish fluency.

  • Erin Murphy

    Director of Student Impact

    After graduating from Notre Dame, Erin spent three years in northeastern Thailand teaching business English at Khon Kaen University through a Princeton in Asia Fellowship. Erin earned her master’s in education at Harvard and brings great energy to our team of educators. In 2014, Erin managed our programs at the Rustic Pathways’ Children’s Home and jumps at the chance to lead programs in Thailand where she shares her love for Thai food, language, and people.

  • Ami Martin

    Digital Marketing Manager

    Ami’s interest in journalism started during a gap year in Tuscany where she recognized storytelling as the universal language. With more than 15 years experience creating websites, Ami is passionate about supporting online shopping experiences with content. With two teenage children (both Rustic Pathways alumni), Ami holds real world insights about communicating digitally with teens and moms. Outside of work, she operates an urban farm in Portland called the Tiny Food Grid which is now an Airbnb destination. Ami received a BA from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communications.

  • Jack Weinstein

    Content Production Manager

    Jack has spent his professional career as a writer and editor. Before joining Rustic, he worked as a journalist in Kansas and Colorado, taught English in Swaziland, and transitioned to marketing roles in the Boston and New York startup worlds. Jack is excited to channel his love of storytelling and his appreciation for education as Rustic’s Content Production Manager. When not working, Jack can be found cheering on his Kansas City sports teams and Kansas Jayhawks. Jack and his wife, Blythe, live in Brooklyn.

  • Naomi Tao

    Graphic Designer

    A Rustic Pathways alum, Naomi returned to us in 2013 after attending the University of Southern California for fine art and marketing. Having previously worked with major retail brands across the country, Naomi brings her design expertise and artistic know-how to our creative team where she keeps the Rustic Pathways brand at the forefront of the industry. Born in London and raised in St. Louis, Naomi has now been to five continents and nearly 50 countries.

  • Emily Weiner

    Marketing Coordinator

    Emily is a Phoenix native and has a journalism degree from Northern Arizona University. Prior to joining Rustic Pathways, Emily lived in Tel Aviv as a journalist for Time Out Israel magazine. During her spare time, you will find her hiking camera-in-hand, eating Mexican food, exploring San Francisco, and writing for Time Out San Francisco online.

  • Elizabeth Cortese

    Marketing Coordinator

    Liz first developed a passion for travel while summiting Mount Kilimanjaro as a Rustic student. This taught her at an early age the importance of experiential education for students around the world. She has since graduated with a bachelor’s in marketing communications from Emerson College in Boston. When Liz is not hopping from restaurant to restaurant in San Francisco or buried in a New York Times bestseller, she can be found packing her bags to spend time with family and friends.

  • Rachel Levin

    Marketing Associate - Community Engagement

    With over four years of experience leading programs for Rustic Pathways, Rachel’s commitment to our students’ experiences is top notch. She has led programs in Costa Rica, Peru, Tanzania, and Ghana and has extensive knowledge of our programs and operations. A graduate of University of Vermont with degrees in sociology and Spanish, Rachel now focuses her love for travel, writing, and her unquenchable curiosity of our natural world as Marketing Associate in Community Engagement. Rachel is a talented ceramicist and lover of the outdoors based out of Jackson, WY.

  • Emily Greiff

    Website Coordinator

    Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Emily realized her dream of living in the mountains when she moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the fall of 2014. Prior to that, Emily lived and worked in NYC after graduating from Colgate University with a dual degree in Spanish and Environmental Studies. This is Emily’s first experience working with Rustic Pathways but has done a number of service and travel programs in the past including trips to the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Romania. Emily is passionate about playing in the mountains, yoga, cooking, and art.

  • Nopparat ‘Toy’ Boonchaliaw

    Website Manager

    Originally from Chiang Rai, Thailand, Toy’s passion for computers brought him to Chiang Mai, where he graduated from Rachamangkala University with a degree in visual communications and design. A talented designer and dedicated worker, Toy has managed our websites for many years. His unique style of design lends an eclectic flavor to our website.