Our seasonal instructors are highly trained facilitators with expertise in outdoor adventure education and the unique needs of diverse adolescents.
Our instructors have an average of seven years of outdoor education experience. All our staff are Wilderness First Aid trained, and there is always at least one Wilderness First Responder certified instructor on each course. A significant portion of instructor training is dedicated to GirlVentures’ unique leadership, social-emotional learning, and inclusion curriculum.
Grace lives in Lander, Wyoming and has been working with GirlVentures since 2014. In addition to working for GirlVentures' she also instructs for NOLS and Balanced Rock. Grace's mission is to share her outdoor knowledge, skills and resources with folks from communities that have been underrepresented in the mainstream outdoor narrative. When she isn't playing in the dirt, she can be found on her bike, binge reading books or hosting parties.
Jael grew up in the Mission District in San Francisco, CA. Jael graduated from Pitzer College with a BA in English: Creative Writing and Art in May 2016. She is currently working for Patagonia and Stanford's Outdoor Center and Adventure Programs. She is one of the leaders for Brown Girls Climb, a community and movement of climbers of color aiming to promote and increase visibility and diversity in climbing. She loves to rock climb, backpack, make/drink chai tea, write, swim in alpine lakes (or wade in hot springs) and read by the fire. She has worked with GirlVentures for almost two years as a field instructor, logistics staff, mentor and coordinator for the Girls Climb On after-school program. She finds that these courses provide a space for healing, growth, exploration of self and confidence-building, which are essential for youth development, especially female-identifying youth. She is returning this year for her third season with GirlVentures.
Michelle has a passion for food, farming, and experiential education. Her adventures have taken her to the Alaskan wilderness, to chocolate farms, and rivers in South and Central America, to islands off the coast of Eastern Canada, and to tropical fruit farms in Southern Florida. She loves growing food, eating food, and making food (especially chocolate!). She is most drawn to water and loves swimming in oceans and rivers and multi-day kayaking and rafting expeditions. She is a Wilderness First Responder and certified in Yin Yoga. Michelle is passionate about women and girl’s expeditions and the ability of wilderness experiences to strengthen confidence and courage.
Susie is passionate about girls' and women's empowerment, and most enthusiastically, empowerment through outdoor adventures! She has been working/volunteering with children and youth since she was in 7th grade (over 20 years!). Susie's professional experience includes developing young women's empowerment programs, from Lazy F Camp & Retreat Center in Washington state to the United States Peace Corps in rural South Africa. Susie has been thrilled to work with GirlVentures in a variety of roles since 2010, including Logistics Coordinator, Instructor, and Program Manager. Now living in Bellingham, Washington, Susie currently works with the Girl Scouts as a Community Engagement Specialist, but her heart brings her back to GirlVentures whenever she is available. Susie is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS, 2011) and she maintains a current Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certificate. She has two degrees in Outdoor Recreation: a B.A. from Western Washington University (2002) and an M.S. from San Francisco State University (2012). Susie's graduate research on the influence of outdoor adventure on body image in adolescent girls is published in the Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership (2016). Her favorite pastimes including hiking and climbing with her partner, playing with their four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter, doing Zumba and yoga, baking, and hosting parties for their cohousing community!
Albia is a Southern California chica who loves the beauty of the outdoors. Graduated from San Francisco State University in May 2017, she received a B.S. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism and came to work for GirlVentures full-time! Albia has had the opportunity to go backpacking in Wyoming, Washington and along the Lost Coast of California and recently graduated from the Fall 2017 cohort of OEI, a program for POC folks in the Bay Area hosted by Youth Outside.
She is determined to share the wonders of the outdoors with more people of color, as well as share the social responsibility for stewardship and equity access for all people. She loves practicing yoga, soaking up sun (the snippets SF graciously gives), and eating frozen yogurt. You can find her in the office editing the website, drafting social media or gambling with Salesforce.
Preferred pronouns: She/Her/Hers
McKenzie hails from the soggy streets and rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest. Born and raised in Portland, OR, she's supposedly a grown-up now but she still loves to play outside. While attending Portland State University she worked as a trip leader for the school's outdoor program leading backpacking, climbing, and hiking trips. She has coached big kids who pull hard on plastic at a rock gym in Portland, and taught little kids how to ski in Tahoe. Each spring she leads backpacking trips for schools in East Palo Alto and Seattle. Last summer she worked with Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, showing folks both the main attractions and the hidden wonders of Yosemite that can be accessed by putting on a backpack. McKenzie considers herself a perpetual student and she learns more from listening to the people she meets than she ever did from reading a textbook. She believes that every single person deserves to feel powerful, respected, and have access to the same opportunities. No exceptions. She also thinks that there is still a lot of work we need do to make this happen. She believes in the good in people and in the ability of the outdoors to bring out our best selves. When she is not leading GirlVentures trips, she also loves to go rock climbing, read stories, write stories, ride her bicycle through rainstorms, paint sloppy watercolors of beautiful places, eat whole grapefruits like an orange, pull the weeds out of the garden, and sing really loud alone in the car.
Qayyuma grow up deeply rooted in nature, on a dirt road in the rolling hills of upstate NY. Through out the years this personal connection to the natural world has gown into a passionate desire to share the experience with others, especially young woman. Qayyuma believes strongly in creating authentic, inclusive community spaces where everyone can truly be them selves and shine! She has been involved in the GirlVentures community since 2011, starting as a mentor for GCO and quickly getting more engaged. When she is not in the field Qayyuma can be found hanging with her daughter, creating potions, rock climbing and exploring new ways of being.
GirlVentures became my foundation for realizing what it means to be a part of creating a supportive, uplifting and inclusive community. I spent the past two years working as an environmental educator just north of San Francisco in the beautiful coastal redwoods. Currently, I dabble in many things in work and life. I am rediscovering the magic of making things with your hands and recently started to learn felting. I love to play outside rain or shine and consider chasing sunsets serious business. My spirit is rooted in the land. My heart is ever-expanding as I do my best to remain open to the miracles of ordinary life. I am continually inspired by the courageous, heart-centered beings of our times who are speaking truths and living the change. No matter where life takes me I am always striving to create authentic, inclusive community that upholds the inherent dignity and value of all beings.
Nina grew up in Berkeley and loved her family getaways to camp in Point Reyes, and Hendy Woods, or hike around in Tilden Park. In college she started guiding fellow students in the outdoors – introducing them to sunrises, constellations, and Good Old Raisins and Peanuts. After grad school, Nina decided to take up outdoor education full time, and currently works for GirlVentures, Outward Bound, and REI’s Outdoor School. She loves being outdoors – weather it’s a pee with a view or the smell of fresh pine, Nina is forever grateful for what nature has to offer. She started working for GirlVentures in 2016, instructing On The Rise, and then moved into the Course Director role for OTR in 2017. She is happy to back again as Course Director for OTR in 2018, mentoring instructors, supporting the whole crew, and making sure the participants have all that they need for a transformative trip. Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself – and there’s nothing like a tough trail, good company, and wondrous views to help create who you want to be.
Narinda joined the GirlVentures community in Fall 2013 as a mentor for Girlz Climb On East Bay. She worked as an Admissions Associate for the 2014 season, during which she also became a field instructor. She's since worked community and summer courses for GirlVentures as well as wilderness courses with NOLS, Eagle Rock School, and Dunn School. Prior to work as an outdoor educator, Narinda graduated from UC Irvine with a BA in English literature in 2007 and worked in the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles 2007-2012. Narinda recently joined the Stanford Adventure Program as part-time and field staff. When not working in outdoor education, she spends her time rock climbing, writing, and making pottery.
Growing up in Houston, Katrina’s love for the outdoors began in her backyard, biking on the monkey trails in the bayou and climbing trees in her neighborhood. As a competitive swimmer for over 12 years, she is a strong believer in the power of exercise in youth, whether in a pool or the outdoors. She’s since traded in her Lifeguard certification for a Wilderness First Responder, and hopes to use her experience as a swim coach, instructor, and volunteer coordinator to empower and mentor youths as they connect to the outdoors. Katrina mentored with GirlVentures for two semesters before becoming the Logistics Coordinator in Summer 2018.
Katrina graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Prior to joining GirlVentures, she was an agile delivery product owner of Augmented and Virtual Reality products at a consulting firm. She is curious and passionate about design, bike mechanics, woodworking, and enjoys making things with her hands.
Preferred pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Lydia grew up and went to college in Maryland, and after graduating, decided to try working in the outdoors. She started an internship with Outward Bound's At-Risk program in Florida, which showed her just how impactful outdoor experiences can be. From there, she instructed abroad, then most recently in California, where she discovered a love for the mountains. She has continued to pursue this field because she wants to help make these experiences accessible to young people where they can be challenged, encouraged, and immersed in a place away from their everyday lives. Lydia believes that everyone needs to pushed out of their comfort zones to grow. It is a dream to be able to work outside and grow as an instructor everyday, and she looks forward to learning from and leading participants through reflective, fun, and transformative experiences as well!
Lilly grew up in central California, where she sought refuge in the California coast. After many years of exploring, Lilly became passionate about the infinite potential of growth and inspiration nature provides. Lilly’s interest in leading youth in the outdoors and social activism has resulted in her moving to Prescott, AZ, where she attends Prescott College. Her degree is an interdisciplinary compilation of Adventure Education, Human Development, and Cultural Regional Studies. Lilly has institutional instruction in: AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Curriculum (including top-rope climbing management), LNT, backcountry guiding, navigation, program logistics, rafting, multi-pitch climbing, and risk management.
Lilly hopes her degree will encourage a fulfilling life of educating social awareness and self-advocacy in the outdoors. When Lilly isn’t studying or exploring, she is often painting, embroidering, practicing yoga, scoring sweet vintage clothes, or if she’s lucky- surfing. Lilly ultimate goal is to be as grounded in herself as possible, and help others do the same along the way. Lilly is tremendously humbled and excited to be apart of the GirlVentures community as one of the newest Logistics Coordinators.
Lalee is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Her name means “abundantly green/lush” in her native language Oromo. She moved to the bay about 1.5 years ago to work as a conflict resolution and peace building facilitator for 4th and 5th graders at the Mosaic Project. She also spent some time as a middle school literacy intervention teacher at Life Academy. In her free time, Lalee enjoys cooking vegan Ethiopian food, practicing improv, medicine-making, playing Sudoku and traveling a lot. She can spend all day in a Planetarium feeling like she’s in outer space. Lalee dreams to bike from Egypt to South Africa soon.
Erin grew up in the Bay Area adventuring to local open spaces with her family, and moved to the Southwest four years ago. When she was in middle school she was introduced to outdoor adventure based programming and since then her passion for the working outdoors has only grown. Erin recently graduated from Prescott College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double major in Adventure Education and Human Development. Erin sees the value in this work because the leadership, communication and personal development skills that she gleaned from her outdoor experiences as a young person are the same skills she still relies upon to work her way through life’s challenges.
Avalon is a GirlVentures baby, having grown up learning how to be outside with GirlVentures programs. As a student she has been on Project Courage, Transitions, and Girls Climb On. After GirlVentures she went on a month long NOLS course that brought her to the alpine lakes of Wyoming. She then worked as an Assistant Instructor for Transitions the summer after high school and has returned the past two years as a full instructor.
Avalon studied Anthropology at Bard College of which she is a 2018 graduate. She loves backpacking and rock climbing and wants to learn more about Kayaking. She has always felt the most comfortable spending time outside, but when she's not doing that she is playing soccer. She played on the Bard College Women's Varsity team her four years at school and continues to look for any opportunity to connect through playing. She also really loves dancing and was a member of the Latin Dance club and Step Team while at school. As much as she will miss her college experience, she is also very excited to be back in the Bay with the family and community who she loves so much. She is ready to give her whole heart to GirlVentures this summer!