Meet our amazing staff of seasoned travel professionals who are here to help you unlock the wonders of adventure travel! Collectively they have lived, worked, trekked, rafted, climbed, kayaked, and cycled on every one of the seven continents. Quite simply, they love adventure and can't wait to create yours.
Julie McCormack, Director of Asia Programs
Julie is an avid traveler and lover of all things Asian. She has lived in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia, speaks passable Chinese and has traveled to many of the forgotten corners of Asia. Frantically trying to stay ahead of her age in the number of countries she’s visited, she is always looking for her next adventure—usually with her husband Michael and two teenagers in tow! Julie plans to live abroad again, she is just not sure when or where.
Laura Parent, Director of Polar, Galapagos, Cuba, Belize, Costa Rica Programs
Saltwater runs deep in Laura’s veins! Growing up in sunny South Florida, she was influenced by her father's career as a ship's officer and harbor pilot, and at 17 took her first job on the water, quickly realizing that working on boats would be her ticket to see the world. Achieving her captain's license at a young age, she has since logged over 20,000 nautical miles in offshore passages as crew or watch officer on boats ranging from traditional sailing schooners & racing yachts, to expedition ships, to pulling boats with no engines. Laura eventually dropped anchor in the SF Bay Area, where she is very happy heading up sales for MTS’s Alaska & North America, Galápagos and Polar programs. An avid photographer and surfer, she has a degree in Ecology & Evolution and a penchant for marine mammals.
Tanya Rinaldi, Director of Africa, Middle East, Pacific and North America Programs
A native of Australia, Tanya has been designing and running adventure programs in the Pacific and Africa for over a decade. She is a true global explorer, with more than 54 countries under her belt and a commercial pilot's license to boot! She has also climbed Kilimanjaro 9 times, rafted multiple times down the Zambezi river, rode a camel across the Sahara, explored the ancient land of Nubian kingdoms, danced with Zulu Warriors and trekked through the 'Impenetrable' forest to see mountain gorillas. Her local expertise shines through in the breadth of unique adventures she has brought to the MTS line up.
Anne Wood, Director of Europe Programs
Anne is an Italian and German American who has traveled throughout Europe—often in hiking boots—regularly for over 20 years. Having explored nearly 30 countries in Western and Eastern Europe so far, Anne often jokes that she has seen more of Europe than most Europeans have. Anne has been working for MTS since 2001, and spends several weeks out of each year personally scouting and fine-tuning our European adventures. "Off duty" you'll find Anne in the outdoors hiking, running, and mountain biking.
Alicia Zablocki, Director of Latin America Programs
Alicia was born in México City and began exploring the countries of Latin America as a teenager. On her first trip to South America, she fell in love with the wildlife and mysterious ruins of early civilizations. Alicia joined MTS in 1990, enticed by the company's reputation as the first tour operator to bring adventure groups to Peru and Patagonia. In the intervening years she has wandered every corner of her native continent in search of new and exciting adventures to share at MTS—from trekking in the cloud forests of Colombia to tracking wild jaguars in Brazil.
Julia Hendershot, Europe Director
Julia's career in active travel truly began years ago as a guide in the U.S and Canada. She has lived in Brittany and Provence, France, and has traveled throughout Spain, Portugal, and Germany. Her husband is from London and she visits the British Isles annually both to visit family and explore the outdoors.
John Baston, Special Operations for Alaska and North America
A naturalist, former National Park ranger, and veteran Alaska guide, John brings an incredible wealth of hands-on experience and perspective to his job. The wilderness is where he feels most at home, having worked for the National Park Service in Yosemite, Glacier Bay, Mount Rainier, Kenai Fjords, Point Reyes and the Golden Gate.In addition to being a world-class guide, John is also an avid photographer and herpetologist, so if you're on a trip with John and see a snake or lizard you want to know more about, John is your man!
Lauren Frei, Director of Sales and Services
Lauren’s love of adventure traces back to her formative years in her hometown of Bend, Oregon—a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Her adventure experiences include rafting a portion of the Grand Canyon, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, fishing in Alaska, scuba diving in Mexico, jungle trekking to Tikal, kayaking in the Galápagos and completing an outdoor survival course in the White Mountains. Lauren has traveled throughout Latin America (Galápagos, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Easter Island and Brazil), Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, Morocco, and Alaska. Outside of the office, she is usually skiing, running, playing basketball and dodgeball, or exploring the Bay Area.
Brian Allen, Asia Regional Specialist
Brian is a native of the Bay Area with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Over the years he has spent time working in sales, operations, and management for several adventure travel companies and also worked as a guide leading clients on adventures throughout Hawaii and camping trips in Yosemite National Park. He has traveled around the world studying Spanish in Cuba, practicing meditation in India, free-diving the reefs of the Coral Triangle, and climbing to the summit of Kilimanjaro among other adventures.
Hilary Walters – Africa, Belize, Cuba, Costa Rica and Pacific Regional Specialist
Although I’ve lived abroad in both Europe and Asia and have traveled in over 30 countries around the world, I lost my heart to Africa long ago on my first visit to Morocco over a dozen years ago. I’ve since returned to further explore Southern Africa and East Africa, exploring national parks and concessions to find the best camps, guides, and wildlife-rich areas. A close second to being out on a game drive, I absolutely love working with travelers to craft the perfect Africa experience, whether it be relaxing on the beaches of Zanzibar after a tough Kilimanjaro climb, tasting wines in the Cape, tracking the big cats in the Serengeti and Masai Mara, or exploring the Sahara Desert on camelback. Making your Africa adventure dreams a reality is what it’s all about! Over the last year I experienced life-changing safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, and Botswana, and in 2017 I hope to canoe down the Zambezi River on our fantastic Return of Zimbabwe adventure. I can’t wait to share these experiences with you!
Tanya Rao, Latin America Regional Specialist
Born and raised in India, Tanya's love for travel and adventure was nurtured on a year-long solo backpacking trip around the world in 2006. While hiking in the Peruvian Andes, backpacking in Patagonia, white-water rafting down the Zambezi and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Tanya discovered that her true passion and life purpose lay in bringing similar life-changing experiences in nature to others. Inspired by a quote by Howard Thurman—"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." —Tanya embarked on a career transition from a software engineer to outdoor educator and adventure planner. Tanya is excited to work with clients in finding the best adventure to suit their interest in South America and beyond. She is a certified yoga teacher and also runs a small business teaching Indian cooking classes in her free time. Outside the office, she enjoys rock climbing, biking, photography and playing the ukelele around a campfire.
Samantha Bromberg, Latin America Regional Specialist
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Samantha solidified her love for all things Latin American at the tender age of 16 while volunteering in Nicaragua. Since then she has traveled to over 20 different countries, procured a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies, and has worked her way around the world right back to her home here in the Bay Area. Along the way she’s had the good fortune to hike to the magnificent Machu Picchu, trek around the famous Torres del Paine, road trip through the desolate Australian outback, bathe elephants in the Sumatran jungle, eat endless sushi at Tokyo’s Tsujiki fish market, and tick 4 out of the 10 great walks of New Zealand off her bucket list. Outside of the office Samantha can usually be found out hiking, cooking, or dancing the night away at the nearest salsa club.
Barrett Chapman, Adventure Coordinator
Barrett coordinates trips for both the Asia and North America regions. Before joining Mountain Travel Sobek in April 2015 she worked in the building materials industry for several years where she honed her project management, communication and coordinating skills. Her adventure travel experience started in her teenage years with trips spanning six continents. Barrett’s first introduction to Mountain Travel Sobek was through a 2014 trip to Uganda and Rwanda to see the rare wild mountain gorillas. While in college, Barrett interned abroad in Dublin, Ireland and saved up her summer job money to volunteer as a teacher in Arusha, Tanzania. When not in the office, Barrett can be found surfing at the beach, hiking local trails or busy planning her next adventure!
Debbie Driggers, Adventure Coordinator
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Debbie spent summers as a child exploring the parks of the western U.S. with her family. With a degree in geography, a career in the travel industry seemed a natural fit. After a decade in corporate travel, she found her way to adventure travel. Her first trip outside of North America was a visit to Ecuador’s Amazon Basin; one sighting of a sloth confirmed she’d made the right career move. Debbie has visited all seven continents and has a great fondness for wildlife adventures, especially any sort in a rainforest, the Galapagos and southern Africa. An avid diver, much of her travel these days is focused on experiencing underwater wildlife around the world and in her favorite dive spots: the cold waters close to home in Monterey Bay.
Virginia Myers, Adventure Coordinator
Virginia grew up in London, England but was born in Boston, MA and spent the first year of her life traveling through the US and Canada in a campervan, sparking her adventurous spirit! Vacations took Virginia all over Europe growing, up including over 20 trips to France! Before embarking on a Geography degree she took a year out and spent 5 months on a tiny island in Fiji, drove around New Zealand for 2 months and traveled extensively around Australia and Morocco. Ready for a bigger adventure in 2014, Virginia and her husband moved to San Francisco and are enjoying exploring the West coast and further afield.
Susannah Starr, Adventure Coordinator
Susannah coordinates adventures throughout Europe. As a Bay Area native she was able to camp and road trip around the western United States while her lifelong love for European history and culture shaped her studies in college. She earned her degree in British History and was able to live and study in Brighton, England as well as participate in an archaeological dig in North-Eastern Poland. While studying in Europe Susannah took every opportunity to travel around the UK and continental Europe. After graduating she working in anthropology museums, caring for artifacts from all over the world. In her free time she enjoys cooking, hiking, and sampling the all amazing restaurants in the Bay Area. A food tour of Japan is next on her list of adventures.
Courtney Dunagan, Adventure Coordinator
An avid traveler from an early age, Courtney's first plane flight came at only two months old. Since then, she's traveled to 52 countries and 36 U.S. states. Before joining the travel industry, she spent time exploring her other passions by working at NASA and with professional sports teams. Her adventurous spirit has taken her all over the world; from climbing to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro to diving the depths of the Red Sea, from riding a camel in Petra to riding in a gondola through Venice, from the gilded palaces of Russia to the ancient castles of Scotland. Her goal has always been to follow maps to their very edges so she feels right at home working at Mountain Travel Sobek.
Kathryn Gritt, Adventure Coordinator
Kathryn is always up for an adventure, especially if it involves boots, paddles, tents, or two wheels! She has lived in southern France and spent extended time in Sweden, Chile, and Japan. One of her top travel experiences (so far) has been snorkeling in the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu. She is fluent in French and speaks some Spanish, German and Japanese. Kathryn has a Masters of Fine Art in Photography from California College of the Arts and a BA in Cultural Anthropology & French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the Surfrider Foundation and the International Dark Sky Association, and currently enjoys exploring the hills and waterways of Northern California.
Luis Saravia, Adventure Coordinator
Born in El Salvador Luis has been able to pursue his passion for the outdoors through backpacking, skiing, cycling, rafting, and of course, trekking and traveling. Prior to joining the Mountain Travel Sobek team, he worked in marketing and retail management for the outdoors industry where he gained invaluable experience outfitting and providing recommendations to travelers going on adventures all over the world. As an avid traveler for the past 30 years, Luis has visited some of the world’s most beautiful natural places and cities. In particular, he is fond of highlands of Peru and Patagonia, where the natural beauty of the land meets the welcoming warmth of its people!
Chris Bettencourt, Art Director
Chris has been the "artsy" side of MTS since 1999, when he was lured out of a freelance graphic design and photography career by the promise of working for a company he "never imagined I'd have a chance to work with." He learned of MTS while running the gallery of a respected mountaineer and adventure photographer whose work had been published in the MTS catalog, and was awestruck by the amazing world he saw in its pages. Working for MTS has given Chris the opportunity to travel most of the places on the "must go someday" list he compiled as a boy while reading through his father's steamer trunk full of National Geographic magazines. Chris has carted bags of film (and now memory cards!) to numerous countries on 6 of the 7 continents ("Australia, here I come!"), been to the top of Kilimanjaro and the bottom of the globe, and in 2011 had the great fortune to marry his wife Denise in a very traditional Maasai wedding ceremony near the Ngorongoro Crater. He recommends the experience highly!
Heather Howard, Director of Communications
The Alaskan wilderness first beckoned Heather to adventure travel back in 1999, sparking a love of both the U.S. and adventure travel writing. After many years as an editor, writer, and guidebook publisher for Lonely Planet, Heather joined Mountain Travel Sobek’s marketing team to bring its intrepid itineraries and powerful stories of adventure to life—a dream job! If you don’t find Heather on her laptop writing about every corner of the globe, she’s combing the beaches and trails of Sonoma County with her three-year-old daughter, or dreaming about the time she saw wild chimps at legendary Greystoke Mahale in Tanzania.
Thomas (T.Mac) Lee, Marketing Analyst
T.Mac caught the adventure spirit at a young age while curiously paging through his parents National Geographic collection. He has enjoyed traveling around the world to places like Kenya, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, and throughout Europe. His short list of places to see includes Patagonia, Easter Island, and Australia.
Allie Roqueta, Marketing Manager
Born and raised in the coastal town of San Clemente, California, Allie has always been a beach baby. Her love for travel sparked when she did her first foreign exchange at thirteen, living with a local family in the rural village of Vijia in Costa Rica. Since then she's lived in Italy and Spain and backpacked throughout Europe. Allie studied Anthropology at Cornell University, where her interest in learning about different cultures inspired her to pursue a career in the travel industry. At MTS she wants to help inspire others to travel and gain a new perspective on life. If she's not planning her next adventure, Allie's either catching a wave at the nearest surf break, or snapping away at her camera!
Monte Andreasen, Information Systems Manager
Gisele Camozzi, Controller
Gayle Price, Documents Specialist
Paul Vesper, Equipment Manager
Jim Kennick, CFO
Jim is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. His passion for travel has developed over the years with an emphasis on the many fascinating and historic places in Europe. His decade-plus tenure with Mountain Travel has not only enhanced his appreciation for travel but broadened his attitude on travel beyond the “vacation” element so many people associate with travel. His work experience has carried him from public accounting, where he earned his CPA, to working with a worldwide mineral, oil & gas conglomerate, through a number of technology companies to his eventual arrival at Mountain Travel in 2004.