Meet the Team Viristar Leadership Team April Grisetti Instructor Naada Nag Consultant / Trainer Stephanie McNeil Senior Manager, Info Systems & Tech Dr. Nima Namgyal Sherpa Instructor Kaelan Young Communications Manager Lao Ka Lai 劉嘉麗 Consultant / Trainer Annie Linhart Outreach and Operations Manager Peng Hsiao-Chi Instructor Jeff Baierlein Director Julie Marie Anderson Instructor Laura Helfman, M.D. FACEP Instructor Dr. Krystle Collins Instructor Kristina Vateva Education Specialist Beh Miinhan Instructor Nancy Odom Bookkeeper Amit Arora Instructor Karen Warren, Ph.D. Consultant Priscilla McKenney Consultant Richard Thornton Consultant Carl Blondell Instructor Deborah Hayes Instructor Rick D'Atre Instructor April Grisetti Instructor April Grisetti (pronouns: she/her) instructs wilderness medicine courses with Viristar. Shas been a nationally certified Physician Assistant since 2006, has taught wilderness medicine courses since 2009, and is an actively practicing urgent care clinician in Port Townsend, Washington, USA. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine through the Wilderness Medical Society. She managed a medical clinic in Ghana, and volunteers with Portland Street Medicine and Team Rubicon, doing disaster and humanitarian relief, most recently to Great Abaco (Bahamas), Texas and Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Dorian, Harvey and Maria. Prior to this she held her practice in Portland, Oregon USA, and spent many years practicing primary and urgent care medicine in Santa Fe, New Mexico USA where she also managed patients in the Aid Room for Santa Fe Ski Patrol and volunteered for many years with Search and Rescue. Her extracurricular passions include hiking, yoga and various water and snow sports. Naada Nag Consultant / Trainer Naada Nag (pronouns: she/her) renounced her 10-year long career as a software engineer in 2017 after she experienced the life-changing impact of the outdoors. Her love for backpacking brought her to trip leading in the Himalayas, where she started her professional career in outdoor education. She worked as a trip leader in the Himalayas and western ghat mountains in India. Naada currently works as an outdoor educator with Outward Bound Vietnam, where she designs and leads educational programs, and focuses on achieving age-appropriate learning outcomes through outdoor activities. She loves anything to do with group processing, and facilitates creating a safe learning environment for students. Naada is also pursuing a master’s degree in Experiential Learning and Development from Plymouth State University, USA. Stephanie McNeil Senior Manager, Info Systems & Tech Stephanie McNeil (pronouns: she/her) is Viristar’s Senior Manager, Information Systems & Technology. She is a proven IT leader with over nine years of expertise in guiding technological transformations. Stephanie’s experience spans diverse non-profit sectors, including homelessness, LGBTQI+, and higher education. Stephanie’s fields of expertise include strategic planning, vendor management, and process improvement. Her professional background includes successfully revamping network configurations, negotiating significant cost savings, and constructing a comprehensive five-year technology roadmap. Stephanie has a Communication Studies degree from the University of Houston, an M.S. in Interdisciplinary Sciences from the University of North Texas, and professional certifications in IT Management and Leadership. She has been an instructor at local community colleges. Stephanie brings her wealth of experience to support and advance Viristar’s technology strategy. As a world traveler and architectural design enthusiast, her diverse interests add a distinctive flavor to her approach in the tech industry. Dr. Nima Namgyal Sherpa Instructor Dr. Nima Namgyal Sherpa (pronouns: he/him) is an accomplished expedition & rescue doctor, mountaineer, expedition operator, and wilderness medicine and outdoor education Instructor. He instructs wilderness and remote medicine courses with Viristar. Dr. Sherpa has worked in the capacity of expedition doctor, basecamp manager and leader of numerous mountaineering expeditions, including successfully summiting Mt. Everest (8848m), Mt. Manaslu (8163m), Mt. Amadablam (6812m), Denali (6191m), Lobuche East (6150m) and Island Peak (6189m). He holds a postgraduate DiMM Diploma in Mountain Medicine from ISMM/MMSN Nepal, and a DiMEM International Diploma in Mountain Emergency Medicine from EURAC Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine. Dr. Sherpa has been involved in major mountain rescue missions, including on Mt. Everest, Mt. Manaslu, and Mt. Dhaulagiri. He is associated with UIAA MEDCOM, the Mountain Medicine Society of Nepal, the Nepal Medical Association, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Himalayan Trust Nepal, and Khumbu Climbing Center, among others. Dr. Sherpa is acclaimed for his contributions to society and the mountaineering industry, and has been featured in international media for his work in the mountains. Kaelan Young Communications Manager Kaelan Young (pronouns: she/her) brings her passion for the outdoors and a rich background in outdoor and experiential education to her role as Communications Manager at Viristar. With a degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, Kaelan has seamlessly woven her experiences as an outdoor educator and her expertise in marketing and operations for outdoor education organizations into her professional journey. Outside of her work, Kaelan finds solace and joy in nature. An intrepid traveler and dedicated backpacker, she finds fulfillment in discovering new landscapes and immersing herself in the wonders of the natural world. Whether she's blazing trails, designing content, or crafting compelling narratives, Kaelan approaches each endeavor with boundless enthusiasm and a profound reverence for the beauty of our world. Lao Ka Lai 劉嘉麗 Consultant / Trainer Lao Ka Lai (pronouns: she/her) has over 20 years’ experience in outdoor, experiential, and adventure education and related disciplines, as an instructor, trainer, and manager. Based in Hong Kong, her professional work has brought her to China, Australia, Vietnam, Singapore, Europe and North America. KaLai was instrumental in bringing Viristar programmes to Hong Kong in the earliest years of the organization’s history. Her deep knowledge of the industry in multiple roles and across multiple continents helps ensure the consulting and training services she provides to Viristar clients are of outstanding quality and value. Kalai has professional qualifications in sailing (including Master and Engineer Grade 1), windsurfing, ropes course management, beach life saving, SUP, and wilderness medicine. She has extensive experience in international sailing expeditions, adventure racing, and organizing trainings and experiential learning programs around the world. Annie Linhart Outreach and Operations Manager Annie Linhart (pronouns: she/her) is the Outreach and Operations Manager with Viristar. Annie has a proven track record of leadership in the outdoor industry, working in the experiential and adventure education industry. She attended Southern Illinois University for her B.S. in Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management and obtained her M.S. in Outdoor Recreation at Indiana University. Some of Annie’s work experience includes instructing outdoor technical skills programs as well as experiential facilitation programs for collegiate outdoor programs, nonprofits, and instructing for Outward Bound California as well as the Colorado Outward Bound School. She most recently served as the Assistant Director for a nonprofit outdoor recreation and education center in Northern Michigan. Annie is an EMT, a wilderness medicine instructor, an American Canoe Association L2 Kayak Instructor, a Leave No Trace Master Educator Trainer, and a Wilderness Lifeguard with Starfish Aquatics. Annie currently resides in Northern Michigan, a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. Her passions outside of work include snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, and throwing clay in the pottery studio. Peng Hsiao-Chi Instructor Hsiao-Chi (pronouns: she/her) instructs wilderness medicine courses with Viristar. She has extensive experience with outdoor education, adventure therapy, wilderness rescue and emergency medicine. She has worked as an instructor with Outward Bound Taiwan and other outdoor education organizations since 2005, and as an adventure therapist with multiple populations. Hsiao-Chi has an undergraduate degree from the National College of Physical Education and Sports (Taiwan), and two Masters degrees, in Social Work and Adventure Therapy, from the University of New Hampshire (USA). She is an EMT and has instructed wilderness medical courses since 2011, and has taught outdoor education classes at the college level. Jeff Baierlein Director Jeff A. Baierlein (pronouns: he/him) founded Viristar to provide the very best in consulting and training services to help outdoor and informal education organizations ignite their full potential. Jeff has over 30 years of experience with outdoor education, environmental education, adventure education and experiential education organizations in the US and around the world. He led remote wilderness expeditions, worked as a naturalist-educator, served as an Emergency Medical Technician with ambulance services, led search and rescue missions, and was appointed to the Washington State Governor’s Council on Environmental Education. He served as Executive Director of both the Boojum Institute for Experiential Education and the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center. His writing and lectures have been translated into Russian, Vietnamese, and Chinese. Julie Marie Anderson Instructor Julie Anderson (pronouns: she/her) instructs wilderness and remote medicine courses with Viristar. Julie is a Remote Registered Nurse/Certified Emergency Nurse and Flight Nurse in Alaska, where she is also an EMS and Clinical Instructor for ACLS, PALS and other courses. Julie previously worked as a Flight Paramedic/Instructor in remote Alaska with a critical care air ambulance service, and served as Volunteer Firefighter and Rescue Team member, COBRA (Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological) team member, and FEMA DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) member. Julie also serves as the EMS Director for Haines (AK) Emergency Medical Services. Julie has been a member of the Alaska Governor’s Advisory Council for Emergency Medical Services, a Testing Certifying Officer for the Southeast Region Emergency Medical Services Council, a Risk Management Committee Member for Charleston County Parks and Recreation, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. In addition, Julie is a Hazardous Materials Technician, Limited Radiographer, and Med-Dive Specialist. Julie is the primary co-author of the Alaska Emergency Trauma Technician Textbook, 9th Ed. She has been teaching wilderness medicine courses since 2002. Julie was recognized as the Asa Godowns EMS Professional of the Year in 2001, received the Alaska Governor’s Melissa Ann Peters Memorial Award for EMS in 2011, and was recognized as the Alaska Governor’s Alaska Emergency Medical Services Educator of the Year in 2021. She is completing a Master of Health Professions Education degree, and has obtained a Bachelor’s degree, and two Associate degrees (Nursing & Paramedicine). Julie enjoys hiking, sea kayaking, yoga, and writing creative nonfiction works, which have been published in several periodicals. Laura Helfman, M.D. FACEP Instructor Dr. Laura Helfman (pronouns: she/her) teaches wilderness medicine courses with Viristar. Laura has been working as an Emergency Physician since 1986, and has been instructing wilderness medical classes since 1997. Laura trains pediatric and family practice residents in the hospital setting, and sits on the faculty at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, where she trains EMT and paramedic students in the EMS division. She is a member of the Tennessee DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team), and has worked in international health and women’s health in La Paz, Bolivia. Laura is active as a professional whitewater river guide on the French Broad, Ocoee and Arkansas rivers in the southeastern USA. Laura is Board Certified in emergency medicine, and certified as an ACLS, PALS, and ATLS Provider and Instructor, as well as in Wilderness Advanced Life Support. She is a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Wilderness Medical Society, American Medical Women’s Association, and Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine. Dr. Krystle Collins Instructor Dr. Krystle Collins (pronouns: she/her) instructs wilderness medicine courses with Viristar. Krystle is a general surgeon completing her last year(s) of training at a busy level one trauma center in Portland, Oregon. She has an interest in disaster medicine--when the frontcountry becomes the backcountry. She volunteers with the Portland Neighborhood Emergency Team and the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Oregon. Krystle has served as an adventure guide for local organizations including Wild Diversity. Krystle received her BA in Psychological Anthropology from UCLA and medical degree from Columbia University. She holds an unlimited medical license in the state of Oregon. She is certified in ATLS, ACLS, BLS, and WFR. She is a member of multiple surgical and oncologic organizations as well as a Fellow Candidate of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine through the Wilderness Medical Society. She enjoys trail running, off-roading/overlanding, backpacking with her dog and husband when she can convince him to join. She lives in Portland, OR and can be found honing her climbing and mountaineering skills. While she has extensive teaching experience up through the medical school level, she is most excited to teach wilderness medicine and merge her passion for medicine with her love of the outdoors. Kristina Vateva Education Specialist Kristina Vateva (pronouns: she/her) is a Zoom tech with Viristar, assisting with running the behind-the-scenes of Zoom sessions for Viristar’s training courses. Kristina holds a degree from USC and has spent several years working in consulting. Outside of the corporate world, she enjoys spending most of her time outdoors. She’s an avid backpacker, kayaker, car camper, and mountaineer. She grew up exploring the Sierras in California and now resides in the Pacific Northwest—a tad rainier but that doesn’t stop her from getting outdoors. She also has experience as a WFR-certified guide, leading college students on trips at USC and later working for Overland, guiding teens on trips in Alaska. Beh Miinhan Instructor Beh Miinhan (pronouns: he/him) instructs wilderness medicine courses with Viristar. In addition to teaching emergency medicine and wilderness rescue classes with Viristar, Beh serves as Training Manager with Insight Adventures, one of the pioneers of outdoor education in China. Besides designing and running trainings for individuals who share his passion for the outdoors, Beh leads outdoor adventure education trips across China, from the stunning karsts and rivers in Yangshuo, to the ancient cultural civilization in Beijing and Xi’an. As Beh is driven to spend his life as an advocate for outdoor education, he is highly passionate about contributing to the first aid standards in the overall wilderness environment. Nancy Odom Bookkeeper Nancy Odom (pronouns: she/her) is Viristar’s full-charge bookkeeper, overseeing finance and accounting for the organization, including payroll, HR benefits management, banking, and accounts payable and receivable. Nancy has over 30 years’ experience in bookkeeping and accounting, including with non-profit and for-profit organizations in the outdoor, wilderness, adventure, education and experiential fields. Nancy is an expert in SME accounting, with an extensive background in multi-state bookkeeping, financial audit preparation, and complex reporting and forecasting procedures. Born in the Philippines and having attended high school in Colombia, Nancy came to the USA for college. She enjoys hiking, baking and gardening. Nancy lives with her family in Anza, California USA. Amit Arora Instructor Amit Arora (pronouns: he/him) has been working in the field of outdoor education for over 15 years. He has lived and worked in the Himalayas, the USA and South East Asia, working as an instructor for Outward Bound, NOLS and other outdoor education programs. Amit’s interest was sparked in medicine in 2016, and he received his Wilderness EMT and National Registry EMT (USA) certifications in 2017. Amit has a passion for teaching outdoor leadership and wilderness medicine, and is developing self sustained expedition models for leading groups in the wilderness. He has a keen interest in writing about wilderness medicine. Amit holds a postgraduate degree in marketing management, and is part of a handful of EMTs in this field in India. Karen Warren, Ph.D. Consultant Karen Warren, Ph.D., has taught courses in experiential education, outdoor leadership, wilderness studies, social justice, and many outdoor adventure activities at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA since 1983. Her books include Women’s Voices in Experiential Education, The Theory of Experiential Education, Theory and Practice of Experiential Education and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Field Guide. Based on her research on race, gender and class sensitive outdoor leadership, Karen has written and spoken extensively on social justice issues in outdoor adventure and experiential education. Karen has almost 50 years’ experience in outdoor adventure program development and management. This includes educational planning, safety and risk management, complex logistical details, and group development while leading multi-day local, national, and international wilderness expeditions. She was on the AEE Board of Directors that created the accreditation process initially and currently serves as a reviewer for field programs seeking AEE accreditation. In addition, Karen is enjoying retirement with wide-ranging travel and working in her tiny house on writing projects including her outdoor travel blog, www.outdooradventuresampler.com. Priscilla McKenney Consultant Priscilla McKenney, M.A., has a rich professional history of guiding in the Himalayas, teaching climbing and mountaineering in the North Cascades and California, and leading sea kayak expeditions in Alaska and Baja. Starting with Outward Bound and Woodswomen in the 80’s, she has worked with a broad spectrum of groups from college students and adults to youth, as director, trainer and instructor. Much of her work has focused on supporting and directing outdoor programs for women and girls. Her eight years as Program Director for GirlVentures established her reputation as an influential leader in girls’ outdoor programs and leadership development. She has published in various academic publications, been a regular AEE conference presenter, a member of AEE’s Program Accreditation review team and served as adjunct faculty at San Francisco State University and Prescott College. She has also been an advocate, ally and leader in addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the field of adventure education. Currently, she guides for REI’s paddle program and works as a consultant facilitator for Adventure Associates, a corporate training program. Richard Thornton Consultant Richard is an accomplished leader, consultant and Chief Executive with global experience within the outdoor education industry, working with commercial organisations, not for profits and government. Richard is currently working on a new start up outdoor education company for the Belgravia Group in Australia. He recently worked on the setup of Positive Start, located in the State of Victoria, to offer funded outdoor education camps to over 100,000 young people. Previously Richard was CEO of The Outdoor Education Group, Australia’s largest provider of outdoor education. He was also CEO of UK Sailing Academy and Deputy Director at The Prince’s Trust UK. He has worked for Outward Bound, YMCA and the University of Central Lancashire. He is Chair of Outdoors Victoria and previously chaired AIAAC, the UK’s lead body for safety in adventure activities. Richard is an absolute believer in the value of outdoor education for all young people, now more than ever. He is known for a common sense and strategic approach to risk mitigation using proven methodologies over numerous geographically dispersed and often remote sites. Carl Blondell Instructor Carl Blondell (pronouns: he/him) instructs wilderness and remote medicine courses with Viristar. He works as a paramedic in northwestern Maine USA, and has served as a paramedic in Iraq. Carl has worked for several backcountry rescue teams, and has served as a leader for a bike medical team. Carl is a Registered Maine Guide (Specialized Recreational classification), and helps people enjoy the backcountry experience. He has been involved with Emergency Medical Services since 1973, finally deciding on a permanent EMS career in 1994. Carl has been a raft guide in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, and Maine, USA. He has been a Ski Patroller (NSP-Certified, PSPA) since 1980. Carl enjoys traveling, skiing, hiking, canoeing, and biking when not working EMS. Carl’s passion is skiing, having skied at 133 ski areas in 19 countries on four continents. Carl has participated in nine EMS Memorial Bike Rides (800 km/500 mi, Boston to Virginia USA) since 2007. He has traveled to Nicaragua several times to help support an orthopedic surgical team. Deborah Hayes Instructor Deborah Hayes (pronouns: she/her) is an instructor with Viristar, teaching wilderness medicine courses for individuals working in remote, offshore, low-resource and backcountry contexts. Deborah has been leading emergency medicine and wilderness rescue trainings since 2013 around the world. She has worked as an instructor at the United States Maritime Resource Center, teaching Fatigue Management, Basic Safety, First Aid and CPR to mariners. She has extensive experience as a Program Director, faculty member, medical officer, U.S. Coast Guard Medical Person In Charge (MPIC), and Captain with maritime education programs, and worked as a risk management consultant in the sail training/tall ship field. Deborah is a US Coast Guard licensed Master, 1600 tons Oceans Auxiliary Sail and has sailed as a professional mariner since 1986. She is an Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) and is active in providing patient care as an EMT. Deborah received her B.A. in Zoology from Connecticut College. Rick D'Atre Instructor Rick D’Atre (pronouns: he/him) is an instructor with Viristar, providing emergency medicine and wilderness rescue training to outdoor professionals. Rick has 24 years' experience as the Risk Manager, Wilderness Guide/Trainer, and Program Manager for YD Adventures, overseeing an extensive program of backpacking, rock climbing, challenge course, and winter ski/camping trips up to 20 days in length. He is also a long-time snowmobile guide trainer and led backcountry and canoe expeditions in the American Northeast in the 1990s. Rick is a Wilderness EMT and Eagle Scout, and has training from the National Ski Patrol in Mountain Travel & Rescue, from the AMGA as Top Rope Site Manager, from SW VA Mountain Rescue Group in Search and Rescue, and from the Northwest Avalanche Institute in avalanche hazard management. Rick has an electrical engineering degree, five children, and volunteers for his local ambulance service. Rick lives outside of Leavenworth, Washington USA.