Peter has been a successful leader, pioneer and innovator in mountain sports programs for the last 35 years. He has started three innovative businesses: CityRock, Yosemite Guides, and Gateway Mountain Center, through which he has designed and delivered creative and successful outdoor educational programs for thousands of California youth. Peter has served as Chief Guide for the Yosemite Mountaineering School, and as Chief Examiner for the Professional Ski Instructors Association (Far West). As the founder and General Partner of CityRock Gym, the first large urban climbing gym, Peter was a catalyst for the growth of indoor climbing in North America. As a consultant Peter has designed and developed adventure programs for Disney, Discovery Communications, and Posades Resorts. As a creative mountaineer Peter has succeeded on first ascents on Yosemite’s El Captain and Half Dome, climbed new routes in Peru, Patagonia, and the Alaska Range, and pioneered difficult snow board descents. In addition, Peter has competed in sport climbing World Cups, Cross Country Skiing US Nationals, and performed for ten years with the aerial dance/climbing troupe, Project Bandaloop.
Sharon comes to Gateway after a long career of volunteer work and her most recent professional post as a Business Manager in Incline Village. As a volunteer, Sharon was most recently the President of the Incline High School Boosters where her team broke fundraising records two years in a row in order to provide every Incline High School student with a laptop during their tenure at the school. With a multitude of previous stints at various school related volunteer organizations in the Chicagoland Area as well as her native San Francisco Bay Area, Sharon was ready to devote her full-time energy to the Gateway mission of helping youth learn, heal and thrive! In her spare time, Sharon likes to hike and snowshoe with her dogs and family. She is also currently an inaugural volunteer with the NV Promise Scholarship.
Whole Hearts Director
Daniel started his career in the mental health field at an outdoor based residential treatment center in Alaska in 2014. As a Recreational Specialist in a residential treatment setting, Daniel facilitated evidence-based psychoeducational group therapy and experiential modalities for adolescent teens with various behavioral and emotional disorders.Using the Alaskan wilderness as a therapeutic setting, Daniel saw firsthand the profound impact of incorporating adventure-based therapeutic intervention in nature had on improving self-efficacy and resilience in adolescents. Daniel began managing the program in 2018 and was extensively involved in training both new and experienced staff in group facilitation (psychoeducational, experiential, and processing), adventure therapy, crisis interventions and verbal de-escalation. Before joining the Gateway team, Daniel was the Program Director at Willow Springs Center where he provided program development and oversight. Daniel is excited to support the mission of the Whole Hearts Mind & Body program and the Gateway Method of growing a human. He has experienced the importance of integrating authentic relationships, community engagement, peak experiences and nature in a client’s journey to heal, grow and thrive!
WHMB Clinical Director
Denise believes that the unfolding of the human being is most effective when rooted in connection to the natural world. Both professionally and personally, she integrates a holistic approach as a lens for facilitating self knowledge. With over 15 years experience in the mental health community in California, Denise is well-versed in its multiple facets having served as a volunteer, a practicing clinician, Program Director, Quality Assurance Director, and Director of Clinical Operations for both adult and children’s programs. Her experiences as well as her enthusiasm for supporting and training clinicians led her to earn her American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Approved Supervisor Designation and become a co-trainer for the AAMFT Transformed Supervisor training. In 2012 she established ownership of a private practice and, most recently, she served as the Clinical Program Planner for a program that provides funding for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder and a Lead Therapist for an adolescent residential treatment program. Denise’s appreciation for embodied practices is reflected through her experience as a Teacher Trainer for Cloud Nine Yoga, as well as her long standing love for dancing Hula. As an avid hiker, world traveler, and advocate for Earth’s creatures big and small, Denise is thrilled to be a part of the Gateway community.
4Roots Wellness Director
With an M.A. in Holistic Health Education, Nancy has been our Wellness Program Director since 2009. With a B.A. in Communications, she facilitates communications and the integration of our vision/mission, culture, and core values across our organization. Nancy builds curricula, programming and provides staff trainings.
In Wellness, she guides students in connecting with their innate well-being, igniting the joy and empowerment of self-discovery. She specializes in customizing wellness or healing plans for youth, adults, or families engaged in growth and healing.
Certifications: Trauma-Informed Professional, Mindfulschools.org, Mindfulness-based Substance Abuse Treatment, Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Pranayama, Massage/body-work.
Multi-year mentorships/studies: Gestalt Awareness Practice, Somatic Experiencing, Continuum, Healing Arts, Sound Healing, (NVC) Non-Violent Communication, Transpersonal Psychology, Vipassana, and Nutrition. She’s a senior teacher in Angela Farmer’s Inner Body yoga.
Sierra Experience Director
James is an environmental science educator and experienced wilderness medicine professional. His passions include finding connection in the outdoors through peak experiences and STEM education. James’ university studies focused on Biological and Earth Systems Science and he loves sharing his wonderment in the complexity and symmetry of nature. He has worked in wilderness and urban emergency medicine settings and as an academic tutor in Seattle, WA. James believes in Gateway’s method of nature-based learning and wellness adventures to help promote physically and emotionally healthy kids. He sees it as vital to expand accessibility to the outdoors for underrepresented people to inspire the next generation of activists to confront the social and environmental challenges of the future. In his free time, you can find him skiing, mountain biking, and fly fishing out in the Sierra backcountry. James is a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician and is currently working towards a Masters degree in science education and a California teaching credential.
Bay Area Outreach Coordinator
Nature Health Ambassador Program Manager
Merrill is a teacher at Verde K-8 School in Richmond, CA. She landed at Verde in 2013 as a Teach for America corps member. Before that, she graduated from the University of Denver. Merrill is a field trip enthusiast, and for the past two years, she orchestrated an overnight snow field trip for her students with Gateway. Merrill joined the Gateway team in an effort to provide more East Bay youth, who have historically been denied access, with transformative outdoor experiences. Merrill loves to be active outside in every capacity, especially biking, sailing, and roller skating.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kurt is a Managing Director of TrailRunner International, a global strategic communications firm based in Truckee, CA. In his time at TrailRunner, he has managed reputational issues for corporations and foundations, guided clients through disruptive organizational restructurings, and advised on international strategy. Prior to joining TrailRunner, Kurt served as a Managing Director at JPMorgan, leading JPMorgan’s sales and trading in the western region. His clients included some of the largest asset managers, pension funds, and hedge funds in the world. Previously, Kurt spent twelve years at ITG Inc., first as a trader in New York, then running their western region team in California for eight years. Before ITG, Kurt spent two years as a manager in the Strategic Planning Group at American Express, where he provided counsel to various internal business lines engaged in M&A transactions, the launch of new financial products, and the pursuit of new merchant partnerships or customer channels. Kurt holds a degree from Harvard University (BA, Literature), where he played football as a freshman and baseball all four years. He is an avid sports enthusiast who enjoys playing basketball and golf, hiking, skiing, and strumming guitar. Kurt is also deeply engaged in the community, and serves on the advisory board for Gateway Mountain Center, an organization dedicated to transforming the lives of youth through nature-based learning and wellness adventures. Kurt lives in northern California with his wife Kat and their two young children, Josie and Theo.
Mike has been coming to Tahoe for over 40 years and brings some level of financial and business experience to our board. Not only is he a CPA but he has been the president of a number of different companies in San Francisco. He served on the board of the Tahoe Truckee community foundation for almost 10 years and currently also serves on the Truckee Donner land trust. He has worked with young people mentoring and giving guidance for many years
Kristi has a background in Finance and Management Consulting, with degrees from UC Berkeley and Columbia University. Since moving to Truckee, her focus has been on helping nonprofit organizations build strong financial systems, policies and procedures. She has recently worked on projects with the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Truckee Donner Land Trust, and North Tahoe Arts along with serving on the board of several local organizations. She was raised in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and has lived in Truckee with her husband and two teenage daughters for more than 15 years. She is thrilled to be serving Gateway and its mission to help youth of all backgrounds learn, heal and thrive.
Marco has worked with children of all ages ranging from kindergarten to high school for 21 years. He began his career in 1998 as a tutor and mentor for inner city at-risk kids for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Youth Foundation. Marco holds a B.A. degree in Behavioral Science with a minor in Criminal Justice from Cal Poly Pomona. He earned his M.A. in School Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential from Loyola Marymount University. Currently Marco works for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District as a School guidance counselor where he spends his time helping students with social, emotional and academic support. In addition to counseling, Marco was also the co-director for the Tahoe/Truckee Aim High program and also served on the board for Learning Bridge of the Sierra. When Marco is not busy fulfilling his many extensive professional roles, you can find him at the local plant nursery, as he is a Bonsai enthusiast. He also loves doing anything outdoors with his dog, Nickel and going on off-roading adventures.
Mark Servis, MD
Mark Servis, M.D. is Vice Dean for Medical Education at the UC Davis School of Medicine, with responsibility for all undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education.He is also a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He has occupied the Roy Brophy Endowed Chair for 12 years. Mark has won several national awards for his teaching and mentoring, has served in a variety of leadership roles at the National Board of Medical Examiners, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training, and American Association of Medical Colleges, and has published over 70 peer reviewed articles and book chapters on medical education and in the field of psychosomatic medicine.
Liana has a background in educational nonprofits and technology product management, with ten years of experience working in technology roles in Silicon Valley. Since moving to northern Nevada from the Bay Area she has worked as a strategic consultant with the Tahoe Expedition Academy in Truckee, CA as well as tech organizations in the Reno area. She is currently working on starting a new nonprofit based in Truckee, focused on curricular programming for middle school students in building adaptability and perseverance. She grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts and spent ten years living in the Bay Area. She has an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. She currently resides in Reno, Nevada with her husband and twin son and daughter.
Robert H. Hambrecht
Bob Hambrecht is a Partner at Allotrope Partners, a merchant bank primarily focused on making and nurturing small direct investments in development platforms and projects in the low carbon and resource efficiency space. He is presently deeply involved in developing solutions that promote sustainable forest management and address California’s forest fire crisis. Mr. Hambrecht has been deeply involved in the emerging “Cleantech” business community as an investor and investment banker for many years. Mr. Hambrecht has served, over the years, on the boards of directors of a number of public and private companies as well a number of environmental non-profit organizations. He is presently on the board and Treasurer of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, an organization that provides technical and political support for smart transportation policies in cities around the world. Mr. Hambrecht has a Masters of Public Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s of Science from University of California, Berkeley. He is married and lives on Donner Summer with his wife, with three children and a dog.
Whole Hearts Minds Bodies Clinical Supervision
Whole Hearts Minds & Bodies
Shelby has been working in the field of mental health for the past twenty years. As a clinical social work intern and with a masters degree in a social work, Shelby has worked in a variety of settings and with various populations including children in the foster care system, teenagers emancipating from the foster care system, child protective services, and Nevada County Wraparound Program. Most recently, Shelby worked at Sierra Mental Wellness Group as a mental health clinician. For nearly six years, Shelby provided therapy for adults, children, couples, and families. It was during this time that she was able to focus on her clinical skills and interest in the treatment of trauma, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. Shelby has been residing in the Tahoe area since 2005 and enjoys hiking, skiing, running, and spending time with her family. Shelby is thrilled to join the team at Gateway Mountain Center and strongly believes that forming relationships and connecting with others frequently occurs in the outdoors.
Whole Hearts Minds & Bodies
Shawn has been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist since January 1998. For the past 20 + years she has had a passion to effect positive change in the lives of families and children. After completing an internship with Placer County Mental Health she worked for Sierra Family Services in Tahoe City for 14 years, twelve of which she was the Clinical Supervisor. In addition to providing clinical staff supervision she provided psychotherapy for adults, children, groups and families. Other duties included drug and alcohol assessment and treatment as well as crisis intervention. Shawn then became the Children’s Therapist for Nevada County Behavioral Health in Truckee were she was able to focus on her interest in disorders beginning in infancy, childhood and adolescents; treatment of trauma and anxiety as well as mood and eating disorders. Currently, she has been working as contracted provider for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District within the Special Education Department working with students who have emotional support needs. She enjoys the work she does with Gateway Mountain Center as a Clinical Support Person to the program and mentors. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, skiing, mountain biking and camping.
Case Manager / Mentor
Gamalier A. Gonzales, began his career as a Personal Care Assistant assisting patients of all ages. Growing up with a younger brother with disabilities, he realized his calling to help those in need. After five years, Gami went back to school. After receiving his Associates of Occupational Studies of Medical Assisting, he worked for Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services for 2 years as a Mental Health Technician. He continued to work with the severely mentally ill in various institutions including high security facilities. Gami is currently enrolled in school perusing a BS in Nursing with a minor in Psychology and is currently working in a Wellness office caring for Medicare patients. Gami’s unltimate goal is heal those in need; be that need physical or mental.
Whole Hearts Minds & Bodies
Jair was born and raised in Reno Nevada. He attended Saint Louis University where he graduated with a B.A. in Public Health. He is now pursuing his Master’s in Public Health at the University of Nevada Reno. Before joining the Gateway team, Jair started his career as a Youth Counselor at Rite of Passage. He realized the impact that evidence-based practice, positive skill development, combined with supportive/therapeutic approaches had on troubled and at-risk youth. The following year Jair joined the Adjunctive Therapy team at Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. He enjoyed using leisure activities to help others improve their skills, overall health, and emotional well-being. Jair has worked with a diverse set of individuals ranging in age and ethnic backgrounds. This has been eye-opening and has allowed him to gain a genuine understanding of the public health issues within the community. In the future, Jair hopes to work with the public on both an individual and community level to address physical and mental health problems from a universal perspective. In his free time, he manages to balance his physical and mental health by spending time with his family, taking his rescue dog to the park, and going to the gym. Jair is excited to be part of the Whole Hearts Mind & Body program.
Whole Hearts Minds & Bodies
Lisa Steckert is a Clinical Social Worker in the North Tahoe/Truck area. She has lived in the region for twenty years and worked in a variety of settings including as Medical Social Worker at Renown Regional Medical Center and Tahoe Forest Hospital, and Crisis Worker for Sierra Mental Wellness Group. Prior to working as a social worker she taught yoga classes and full day enrichment camps to children and adolescents. It was through this work Lisa was inspired to complete her Masters Degree and clinical license in Social Work so she could expand her work with youth in the community. Lisa’s academic studies, clinical training, yoga practice and motherhood has shaped her work with adolescents and adults.
Guides and Mentors
Mentor / Grant Manager
Cody grew up in Reno, Nevada as an only child playing many sports including soccer, baseball, basketball, and skiing. He started becoming interested in nature through his experience with Boy Scouts. In college, service learning, travel, and outdoor education became his passion. Since graduating he has taught English and worked with high school students abroad in Europe and South America. Cody also spent time hiking, climbing, and exploring Utah as a wilderness therapy instructor. He is excited to be able to share his appreciation of nature and the world at large with others back home in the Reno/ Tahoe area.
Mentor / Wellness Staff / MBSAT Teacher
Paige Lundquest has always felt a deep calling towards facilitating healing within herself and others. Her primary goal when working with others is to honor their autonomy and help guide them toward their own inner wisdom. Paige holds a B.A. in Psychology, a 200-hour Yoga Teacher certification from Rishikesh, India, and an 18-hour Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher certification with Street Yoga. When she isn’t mentoring or teaching MBSAT, you can find her teaching yoga to at-risk youth in Reno, NV. She recognizes combining therapeutic services with mindfulness and immersing oneself in nature can have a profound impact on the psyche. Her work as a Therapeutic Mentor at Gateway has inspired her to pursue her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University. Paige’s deep love for the outdoors brought her to the Truckee Tahoe region in 2017; she recognizes that nature has an innate power to transform the consciousness of those who dwell in it. When Paige isn’t studying or working, her down time is spent hiking, paddle boarding, snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling, and appreciating live music.
Mentor / Admin Assistant
Isaac Landman recently moved to the Tahoe area after graduating college in New York City to pursue a life in the outdoors. Isaac has worked many summers as a camp counselor, as a tutor for kids in elementary, middle and high school, and has taught early literacy skills to pre-schoolers. In his free time, Isaac loves to rock climb, ski, hike and swim – he’s really excited to explore the amazing outdoors that Tahoe has to offer.
Mentor / Guide / Admin Assistant
Originally from Virginia, Hannah moved to Truckee to explore her passion for new adventures and the outdoors. She loves to travel, swim, hike, and play soccer among many other things. Hannah graduated with a B.S. in Psychology in 2020 and is working on continuing her education. Her several years of experience in childcare include volunteering in her hometown schools and non-profits. She also has spent time working in nurseries and as an after school teacher. Hannah is passionate about mental and physical wellness and she believes that all our youth should have access to positive experiences in nature and learning. She is very excited to be working at Gateway Mountain Center helping children learn about themselves and nature so that they may live happily and healthily.
My love of adaptive sports had led me to seek a profession in Recreational Therapy. I received a Bachelors from San Jose State University in Therapeutic Recreation and hold a national license as a Certified Therapeutic Reactional Specialist. I have experience with city sponsored wheelchair sports programs, therapeutic husbandry programs through the VA in Palo Alto, and in the winter months I volunteer with Achieve Tahoe, an adaptive snow sports program based out of Alpine Meadows. Being an adaptive snowboard instructor allows me to share my passion of snowboarding and assist in creating an inclusive, potentially life changing, recreational opportunity in our community. In my free time I can be found on my snowboard, snowmobile, hiking, swimming, almost anything the outdoors has to offer!
Nicole loves to share her delight for life. With 20 years of experience working in experiential education (Outward Bound and Yosemite Institute) and leading organizations in the Sierra (Sierra Business Council), she is passionate about making a positive impact. Nicole loves to learn and grow. She holds a Masters in Business and Sustainability, a Masters in Teaching (plus two teaching credentials), and a Bachelors of Science. Passionate about balanced healthy living, she also is a certified Integrative Holistic Health Coach, Optimal Living Coach, and has studied Compassionate Communication. At a young age, Nicole became hooked on outdoor adventure and sharing it with others, as she realized its power to provide challenge, joy, achievement, and a powerful vehicle for personal growth and discovery. Nicole loves to spend time with her two young girls and husband, bike, climb, back-country ski, and jump in alpine lakes!
Jason is deeply committed to the profession of helping and encouraging young people to live their best lives. Having worked with students and young people for over 15 years with organizations both large and small he knows, first hand, what it takes to see young people empowered to implement change in their own lives. He earned a BGS degree from the University of Nevada Reno with a minor in Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment and has facilitated mindfulness-based stress relief practices at the universities on-campus recovery communities. He shares a love of the outdoors and encourages those he mentors to embrace curiosity and discovery —discovering nature and one’s self.
Daniel was born and lived near Los Angeles until he moved to the Eastern Sierra as a teenager. The mountains rejuvenated Daniel and he spent many years exploring every peak and plumbing the depths of every valley. Daniel trained with Olympic snowboard coaches and developed into an avid backcountry enthusiast both by touring and by snowmobiling. Daniel’s foot was critically injured while snowboarding and this led him to develop a great love for cycling in its many forms. Daniel is very grateful for yoga and has travelled extensively to train under and learn from different accomplished yogis. Daniel said goodbye to his home deep in the Eastern Sierra and returned to school graduating with a B.S. degree in Geological Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno in the summer of 2019. Daniel used his degree to complete several research projects focused on snow stability and avalanche prediction. Most recently, Daniel began guest teaching in WCSD and teaching snowboarding at Mt. Rose on the weekends. Guest teaching at a myriad of schools throughout Washoe County impressed upon Daniel how underserved many children are and he hopes to change that. Daniel finds that when working with kids they often have more to teach him than vice versa. Currently, Daniel is pursuing a Masters in Education and working towards acquiring his own class.
Growing up in the Great Plains of Nebraska, Griffin’s gaze always seemed to wonder towards the mountains. Throughout his time studying at the University of Nebraska he developed a deep passion for climbing and spending time in the outdoors. This passion led him to participate in a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) mountaineering and sea-kayaking program in Patagonia, Chile in the fall of 2018. After graduating from university, Griffin moved to the Truckee area to spend time exploring the mountains that provide a different beauty and stark contrast to the plains of Nebraska. He believes that spending time in the outdoors helps people live a more present life and cultivates a love and compassion for the environment and all who inhabit it. It is Griffin’s hope that through the Whole Hearts, Minds, and Bodies program he will be able to spread an appreciation for the outdoors while helping to provide support to the youth as they move through this this beautiful world.
Taylor Zehren is an outdoor enthusiast and environmental advocate that lives her life seeking adventures with purpose. After graduating from University of Portland with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Spanish, she departed on an 11 month overland trip, driving to the Southern reaches of South America. Along the way she performed an independent research project examining environmental and human rights issues. Landing in Bariloche, Argentina for two years, she completed a Fulbright scholarship, taught English, science, and outdoor education, and explored the expansive wilderness of Patagonia. Finally, she returned to Lake Tahoe two years ago to co-found the nonprofit Do Good Sh*t, on a mission to implement environmentally safe and equitable sanitation services around the globe. In her free time she enjoys climbing, skiing, mountaineering, trail-running, trekking, yoga, painting, and playing with her dog.
My name is Andorra Fierro and I grew up in San Diego, often found outside, playing softball, playing with my dogs, playing in the sand and water at the beach. I love the ocean and have always found peaceful moments when I am outside and near water, liquid and frozen alike. The mountains and Lake Tahoe have been a tremendous blessing for my family and myself since moving here in 2002. My husband, our two dogs and cat are happily nestled in the woods of Tahoma, spending as much time outside as possible hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, disc golfing, paddle boarding, swimming, snowboarding and split boarding. The resources to create a healthy and balanced lifestyle here are boundless. Everyone should have the opportunities afforded to us and know where to find those resources. I got my Masters in Education and a Kindergarten through 8th grade teaching credential because I see the rewards and joy kids garner from new experiences, new skills, and greater knowledge of how they experience the world. Confidence, humor, connectedness with family, friends and their environment, curiosity, overcoming fears and uncertainties to persevere, are all eureka moments that kids deserve to have daily. My goal as a mentor is to foster authentic relationships with kids and help guide them towards these eureka moments.
Michael spent much of his free time as a youth getting lost in the hills surrounding his childhood home in the Bay Area. Daytime trips out to the coast with friends and weekends spent backpacking the Sierra instilled a deep love of nature that only grew with age. After graduating high school he moved to Colorado to pursue a degree in Natural Resource Recreation from Colorado State University. In 2014 he moved to Truckee in order to be closer to family while still enabling him to maintain an active mountain lifestyle that he feels is essential to health and wellbeing. Michael believes that time spent in nature provides opportunities to create experiences that challenge oneself. These experiences can be used to cultivate growth in many other aspects of one’s life. It is Michael’s goal as a mentor to provide youth with opportunities and perspectives that will enable them to overcome the many challenges that life may throw their way.
I am currently a student entering my 4th year at the University of Nevada, Reno. My is major is Philosophy with an emphasis in ethics, law and politics and double minoring in psychology and political science with a specialization in public administration. I am originally from Elko, NV. Currently in my education, I am researching Alzheimer’s Disease and other memory loss mental illnesses in the parameters of philosophy of mind and the effects it has on others. I am currently a Student Coordinator at Our Lady of Wisdom Newman Center, planning and helping students with their spirituality and university life. I enjoy four wheeling, the snow and hanging with good friends. I love expanding my mind and helping others grow. I am a very big fan of reading books and watching engaging TV shows/movies.
Michaela Webb graduated from the University of Arizona in 2018 where she studied journalism and Spanish. Since then, she has worked in various outdoor education settings including a summer at Outward Bound Colorado, two summers for ARC, an integrated literacy and wilderness program in the Sierra, and a fall as a wilderness therapy Field Mentor. Michaela grew up backpacking, skiing, running, mountain biking, rafting, and climbing in the wild places of the western US. She feels a deep connection to these places, and enjoys introducing young people to them. In addition to adventuring outside, Michaela loves to play the guitar, read, write, cook, and eat. She is so excited to be living in her favorite mountain range, and aims to learn to identify as many Sierra Nevada plants and animals as possible over the next couple years.
Born and raised in Virginia, Lee grew up climbing trees down by the creek and skateboarding with friends around the neighborhood. Over time, this simple joy of playing outside developed into a lifelong appreciation of the beauty and wonder the natural world has to offer. A restless soul and avid learner, Lee loves exploring every outdoor activity out there from backpacking and rock climbing, to whitewater kayaking and backcountry snowboarding. Thankful for the way these experiences have impacted and shaped his life, Lee is excited to help others grow and challenge themselves in the great outdoors. Lee truly believes that one is capable of achieving any goal with hard work, determination, and a little grit.
Iris is originally from Nevada City, California but has lived throughout the Sierras, working as a wildlife biologist. She enjoys spotting animals, identifying trees, and looking at snowflakes. She loves to pass on her naturalist knowledge to kids of all ages, as well as her enthusiasm for a good old fashioned mountain scramble. Iris is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara in environmental science. When she’s not writing papers, you can find her enjoying all that mountain living has to offer.
Jared has been engaged with children for over 17 years in variety of professional settings that include: an acute psychiatric inpatient & residential lock-down hospital for adolescents, an outpatient wraparound program for the State of PA, the Fitzsimon Middle School in north Philadelphia, an orphanage in Kathmandu Nepal, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Children’s’ Center, a preschool in Doylestown PA, some remote villages & nomadic tribes of northern Mali, West Africa. In addition to serving as an outdoor education guide and rehabilitation mental health specialist, Jared enjoys relating to children & youth as a professional AASI Snowboarding coach, mentor and instructor as well as engaging children as a rock climbing instructor, coach and USA Climbing judge.
Neill studied at the University of Illinois receiving his BA in Speech Communications and a Master’s of Education specializing in Organization Development. He then lived and worked in Chicago for the better part of 12 years as a management consultant, advising Fortune 500 leadership on how to engage with their employees during times of rapid and widespread organization transformation. This was how he defined himself, until it wasn’t. Like many, he knew there was more to life than job, title, success, material wealth, possessions, and consumption – but he had placed himself firmly on that path. So he decided to see what life was like on the outside, leaving the glass and steel office buildings behind, selling his home along with most possessions and hitting the road. His travels took him to 41 states, 24 national parks, 11 countries on 2 continents and countless experiences of awe and growth. Along the way he rediscovered himself – love for the outdoors, adventure, people, learning, discovery, service. He found some courage to know and overcome his fears of breaking with a more ‘traditional’ path and embarked on a more intentional, meaningful and fulfilling life in the Reno/Tahoe area – doing the things he loves for a living. Neill started a business as a career evolution and leadership development coach, facilitator and consultant, he became a certified professional ski instructor, made his love of the outdoors and service a priority and is always working on crafting the life he wants to live – something he believes we all have the ability to do for ourselves, despite whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. It’s not always easy, but it is possible. He’s excited to work with the Gateway Mountain Center as an agent of positive growth and development – so that we may all live more meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Joshua Abrahams has been involved in the outdoors his entire life. Growing up in Mammoth Lakes, he was given the opportunity to form a connection to nature, which he hopes to share with others through Gateway. This connection is something that has both been deeply grounding and meaningful to him. Alongside studying psychology in college, Josh has more than 5 years of experience working as a climbing instructor and coach. As an avid climber, he was drawn to the beautiful granite cliffs of Lake Tahoe. When moving to Truckee, his dream was to find a way to mesh his love of the outdoors with his passion for teaching and mentoring youth. He is enthusiastic about the perfect opportunity Gateway Mountain Center offers for this dream to take shape.
Climbing Guide Lead / Guide
Jared grew up in small town Indiana but knew in his heart the West was where he belonged. After earning a Bachelors Degree in Wildlife Science from Purdue University, he ventured far from home, trying to figure out where he would eventually settle down. Through good fortune, Jared found himself in beautiful Lake Tahoe, with no plans on leaving anytime soon. Jared’s passions lie in nature and the outdoors, and sharing it with others (especially our youth). From leading nature hikes and catching snakes, to rock climbing and skiing, Jared has a well-balanced skillset and a desire to pass on his knowledge and skills to the next generation.
Guide / Instructor
Cali Bowman is a happy energetic forest enthusiast who spends her time exploring various ways to enjoy her environment. After graduating from UCSB with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish Literature, she traveled extensively throughout the world before settling in the beautiful Tahoe Basin. In her free time Cali enjoys hiking the Sierra Nevada which she calls her home while looking for new potential spots to rock climb and bike in the summer and possible mountains to ski for winter adventures. During winter months she works as an EMT Ski Patroller at Sierra-at-Tahoe. During summer she guides groups of enthusiastic youths with Gateway Mountain Center and teaches yoga outdoors.
Keith is an Oakland, CA native. Since moving to Lake Tahoe in 2007, he has attended Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC) and earned a degree in Environmental Sustainability & Technology. Moving from the city to the mountains gave him a personal perspective on the benefits of being in nature and he loves to get urban youth excited about nature by leading them on educational excursions throughout the Tahoe area. He is also programs manager for The Sugar Pine Foundation, which is a non-profit who’s mission is to save the natural biodiversity of Lake Tahoe’s forest through education and hands on experiences”.
Shireen grew up in San Diego, CA, and moved up to Truckee after graduating from college. Originally Shireen moved to Truckee for an AmeriCorps job where she taught environmental education for a local non-profit. Moving up to Northern CA meant being closer to the mountains, which Shireen considers her second home. Growing up, Shireen spent countless Summer and Fall seasons in Yosemite Valley camping and hiking with her family. Over the years, her love for the mountains and nature translated into a love and ever growing passion for rock climbing; and what better place do pursue that than here in Tahoe! Having found Gateway Mountain Center, Shireen has found the perfect balance to both work with students and introduce them to the wonderful world of nature in unique and empowering ways.
Born in Reno, Nevada and having lived all over Northern California, Robb is relatively new to the program but surely no stranger to the world of nature and education. Robb has been involved in environmental education for almost 25 years and is a credentialed California science teacher. He worked for five years as a teacher and director for an American Indian education program in the Sierras. As a seasoned naturalist, Robb has learned from some of the best in the wilderness at several different programs in addition to working as an Interpretive Park Ranger with the National Park Service at Lassen Volcanic National Park. In his free time Robb is an avid snowboarder, working glass artist, rock hound, gardener, and musician. He enjoys all outdoor activities, travel, adventure, exploration, and learning. Robb has spent his life loving nature while protecting it and sharing that passion with others through educational fun! He is excited to be part of the amazing team at Gateway Mountain Center.
Jen is originally from Monterey, CA, but has traveled and lived in many places. In addition to Jen’s upbringing, her life and work experience has taught her much about childcare. This experience includes working as a nanny; volunteering at schools; receiving a BA Degree in Liberal Studies from SFSU; teaching kindergarten in Thailand; and working for various outdoor educational programs. Jen received her Master’s Degree in Education and Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from SJSU. She is currently teaching kindergarten out in the “Lost Sierra” and loves living in the mountains. Jen also has a healthy and active lifestyle, being an outdoor enthusiast. Growing up with her adventurous parents, they taught her survival skills and helped instill a love for nature at a very young age. Jen knows she will be able to apply her knowledge and experiences in a manner that will have a positive impact on children during their formative years.
Originally from Philadelphia, Dave discovered his passion for the outdoors and rock climbing in 2008 while on a NOLS course in the Southwest. Dave graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA with a focus in Outdoor Education and Adventure Leadership. Since graduating Dave has traveled all across the country, building a well balanced career in the outdoors. He has built trails in Yellowstone, led backpacking trips on the Olympic Peninsula, performed historic restoration to San Antonio Missions, taught environmental science in California’s mountains, guided rock climbing in Maine, worked as an arborist and landscaper in Pennsylvania, and has even acted like a pirate for an entire week. Dave’s preferred method of outdoor recreation is rock climbing, however he’s been known to backpack, mountain bike, fly fish, and golf. When not “getting after it” Dave is probably checking his fantasy football line-up, trying to organize a game night, or looking for the best burger and milkshakes in town.
Jack is an eco-conscious lover of all things outside, a fact he has known since an early age. He likes reading and learning new things. Jack has been pursuing endurance athleticism since he moved from his hometown, Reno, NV to Washington State to further his education. He believes in tuning into emotional, physical and academic intelligence equally and wholly. You can find him climbing, biking, skiing and running all in one day, (he hopes).
Ari was born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where she discovered and cultivated a love of being outdoors through swimming, hiking, and canoeing. She has spent much of her life in Hawai’i and beyond working with children of all ages as a tutor, babysitter, camp counselor, children’s museum volunteer, and friend. Ari is currently working on her undergraduate degree in Psychology and believes that outdoor recreation and engaging with nature are powerful tools for achieving lifelong personal wellbeing. Forever on the search for new experiences and beautiful sights, she was delighted to find both in the Lake Tahoe area and is excited to work with Gateway Mountain Center.
Cassidy has always had a passion for exploring the outdoors, whether it’s hiking, backpacking, surfing, or rock climbing. She grew up in the Bay Area and is currently completing her degree at San Diego State University in Outdoor Recreation Management while minoring in Counseling and Social Change. As a certified Interpretative Guide, Cassidy strives to connect humans with nature and provide the opportunity for others to experience nature’s beauty. She is an advocate for sustainable practices in our everyday lives to preserve nature and further link humans with the power of health and wellness in the outdoors. Cassidy previously worked for an outdoor adventure company that takes participants on backpacking and rock climbing excursions. She loves to work with youth and believes it is important to get outdoor education and experiences at a young age.
A Santa Cruz native, Connor has spent his whole life bouncing between the ocean and the mountains, always following his passion for the outdoors. Soon after attaining his degree in Environmental studies and Hydrology, Connor moved to Lake Tahoe, where he has been able to explore all the world class hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding and fishing that the region has to offer. Connor has worked in conservation and as a teacher and educator. He is grateful for the mentors that he had growing up, who introduced him to the pursuits which he has found so much joy in. And he is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with those who want to learn.
Mark has long been an avid believer in the healing power of living in the present moment. Although the present moment may be difficult to find at times with so much happening in the world, he is grateful that his experience has taught him how to find it in nature, recreational activity, meditation, and deep meaningful conversation. Mark began his career in the helping profession when he was 15 and has been actively involved in improving the lives of others ever since. He started his career working with individuals with severe cognitive disabilities and has gone on to tutor children with autism, administer psychosocial rehabilitation to at-risk youth in Reno’s foster care community, and has provided counseling for adolescents in a residential treatment center for the last 5 years. Mark received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Nevada Reno in 2015 and will be receiving his M.A. in Counseling from UNR this May. Raised in Las Vegas, Mark never truly learned to appreciate nature until he moved to Reno in 2011. He now has a passion for anything outdoors but holds a special place in his heart for lacrosse and snowboarding. In his free time, he considers himself a “self-improvement junkie” by consistently exercising his body or his mind and doing his best to live in the present moment. He believes he has found something truly special in the Gateway community and is excited to continue helping the lives of others
MBSAT Jr. Instructor
Zack is a profound young man in the transitional period from client, to MBSAT instructor and eventually mentor. Overcoming his own battles with addiction and trauma, Zack wishes to pay forward the amazing tools and resources he has gained through Whole Hearts. California native and has spent many years living on the east coast with his father as well. Being true to his heart he is back in the mountains doing the things he loves, skiing, climbing and adventuring. Through this healing journey, Zack has tapped into his intuitive healing talents and looks forward to strengthening his gifts as he offers his gift of healing to the world.