OUR TEAM

“I am continually inspired by our ARCC students and the positive impacts they have on the communities, places and environments we visit in their growth as global citizens.”

—George Hoch, ARCC Executive Director

MEET OUR FULL-TIME STAFF

Throughout the year, ARCC full-time staff members are shaping the programs for the upcoming season. This group of former trip leaders, educators, world travelers, triathletes, and moms and dads, spend their days orchestrating and arranging the hundreds and hundreds of details necessary to operate ARCC programs in some of the most remote locations on earth. Regional and Gap Directors spend thousands of hours planning the programs in intimate detail so that our Program Leaders and Gap Instructors can focus their attention on their students, instead of on trip logistics. Directors are your “go to” resources when you have questions about specific trips or programs. They are fully involved with staff hiring, staff training, and trip support when programs are in the field. They are all united by their love of travel and adventure, and the desire to create positive experiences for young people.

George Hoch

Executive Director

George grew up on the East Coast and has always been passionate about the outdoors and travel, especially when exploring new places and experiencing unique cultures. After graduating with a degree in finance and international business from Georgetown University, he spent many years working in finance in New York City and San Francisco. His love of the outdoors drew him to the Tahoe area and eventually to Bend, OR, where he now lives. The desire to give back to his community led him to become a volunteer ski patroller and an avalanche course instructor. Through ARCC’s experiential education programs, George hopes to inspire others by providing access to life-changing opportunities. When not supporting the amazing team and operations of ARCC, George can be found skiing, mountain biking, hiking or camping with his dog Ajax, and is always looking for the next place in the world to expand his own horizons.

What is your favorite place to have visited?

It is nearly impossible to choose just one. Bhutan is a country that holds a very special place for me, and the people, culture and majesty of the Himalayan country leave an indelible impression.

What is your favorite ARCC Program?

The next one!

What’s on your bucket list?

It has been a goal of mine to climb and ski Denali.

Sophia Weeks

Executive Director of Gap Programs

Sophia joined our Staff Full-time in 2011 after leading eight ARCC trips in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, including our East Africa Gap semester. Hailing from the East Coast, her passion for international relations and development brought her to Washington, D.C. for a number of years, before she moved West. A huge proponent of the gap year, Sophia spent her gap year volunteering in a city high school in Philadelphia as a corps member for City Year Americorps. This was one of the most impactful experiences of her life and confirmed her belief in the power of experiential education, real-world experience, meaningful service, personal growth, and skills development prior to attending college. Sophia’s gap year eventually led her to ARCC where she had the opportunity to be a part of developing ARCC’s Gap Programs. When not traveling, Sophia can be found exploring the PNW with her husband and dog, is an avid cyclist, tennis player, baker, non-fiction reader, and all-around outdoor enthusiast.

Contact Sophia Weeks

What is your favorite place to have visited?

Cuba. It’s a hidden gem! I felt like I had stepped back in time 60 years. The welcoming people, the vibrant colors, the antique cars, the sleepy town squares, the famous Malecon, the politics, everything… it was fascinating.

What is your favorite ARCC Program?

That is such a hard question, but I’ve got to go with East Africa Gap. It’s so rich in culture, in adventure and in incredible projects, ranging from working with inspiring high school girls, to monitoring rhinos, to rafting on the Nile (woohoo!), and so much more! Take me back.

What’s on your bucket list?

In 2016 I checked a huge item off my bucket list… 18 days rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon! It’s still on my bucket list though… I’m sure it gets more beautiful every time.

Bryan Salyer

Director of Custom Programs
Senior Regional Summer Director

Bryan has a passion for education and working with young adults. He spent two years in the classroom before jumping into the experiential education field. His passion and work have taken him all over the globe leading education and community service trips throughout the U.S., Central America, and Asia. Bryan is passionate about creating an environment for life-changing experiences and hopes for each student to realize their potential to impact the world in which they live.

Contact Bryan Salyer

What is your favorite place to have visited?

Each place I have visited has taken a piece of my heart, has changed the person I am today, but I think my time living and traveling through Central America really opened my eyes to the world beyond my personal bubble and set me on my current path of exploration.

What is your favorite ARCC Program?

Peru has always been at the top of my bucket list so I think right now the Peru program has the most intrigue for me.

What was your last job before ARCC?

I was planning and running outdoor education, cultural immersion, and service programs for international schools throughout Asia. I lived in Hong Kong and traveled to just about every Asian country you can think of.

Margo Brookfield

Gap Director
Margo Brookfield

Margo was born and raised in the Midwest but has spent most of the past decade enjoying the beauty and expanse of the West Coast. She developed her deep passion for experiential and outdoor education through early experiences abroad, which led her to study International Comparative Development in college with a focus on francophone Africa. Margo started with ARCC as a trip leader in 2015, and joined the team full time in the office after leading numerous summer and gap programs for ARCC. She could not be more thrilled to continue supporting students in their journey to realize their potential, learn through travel and open their eyes to all the world has to offer.

Contact Margo Brookfield

What are you passionate about?

I am of course passionate about travel and adventure, but I also have a deep love for cooking (particularly my mom’s family recipes), learning languages, experiencing just about anything outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.

What’s on your bucket list?

Despite having led two separate trips to Tanzania through ARCC, I have always had a dream to summit Mount Kilimanjaro and reach the “roof of Africa”. Therefore this is still one of the top on my bucket list!

What is your favorite place to have visited?

I think one of my favorite places I have ever been is Guatemala. The beauty of the landscape, the richness of the culture, the amazing food, and the resiliency of the people have stuck with me for years and I look forward to the day that I can go back and rediscover this incredible country!

Mara Isbell

Admissions Director

Mara’s two greatest passions are travel and being active in the outdoors, so she is thrilled to help students find their own passions while they are on our programs! She caught the travel bug early, and has traveled widely around the world to 36 countries. Mara studied Anthropology in college and still finds the study of, and immersion in, other cultures deeply rewarding. Closer to home in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find her running and hiking on trails and near the water as much as possible. She’s the proud mother of two daughters, which makes adventuring all the more fun.

Contact Mara Isbell

What is your favorite place to have visited?

Cuba is close to my heart, I honeymooned there and was in awe of the sights of the country and how different it is from home. Thailand seems to be the place I think of most often (I crave those mango smoothies even now!). Overall though, New Zealand will always be my favorite place- it’s a perfect country for outdoor adventures and beautifully scenic road trips that anyone would fall in love with!

What is on your bucket list?

Right now the top of my bucket list is to hike the Annapurna Circuit, a 100+ mile trek in Nepal. One day I’d also like to make it to Antarctica- it will be my 7th continent. For now, with two little ones I’m most excited about taking them on their first international trip.

What are you passionate about?

Travel, nature, sustainability, public lands, and good coffee. Finding non-harmful ways to achieve those passions is something I think about a lot so that, for example, I can recreate in ways that will still keep our natural areas intact and wild.

Brent Anderson

Senior Regional Summer Director

Brent was born and raised in the upper Midwest and grew up exploring the rivers, ponds, and forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota. He worked for over a decade teaching environmental education for middle and high school students around the country, including both the east and west coasts. Brent started as a trip leader with ARCC in 2008 and has had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Belize, Hawaii, East Africa, and southern Europe with ARCC programs. As a Regional Director, he now gets to plan these same amazing trips for future students and leaders!

Contact Brent Anderson

What is your favorite place to have visited?

In college I studied abroad in Australia, New Zealand & Fiji. Australia was amazing! The landscape and wildlife are so unique, and the people are so friendly. Plus SCUBA diving on the Great Barrier Reef is a once in a lifetime experience! I’ve been wanting to go back ever since.

What is on your bucket list?

Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. It’s one of the best spots in the world to cage dive with great white sharks.

What are you passionate about?

Wildlife and the environment, especially marine conservation. I studied marine biology in college and it’s always been a passion of mine.

Emily Rosser

Gap Director
Emily Rosser

Born and raised in Colorado, Emily grew up playing sports and exploring the Rocky Mountains. A passion for marine biology took her to the East Coast and opened up new spaces to explore and learn from. Emily’s experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, a gap year Program Leader with Thinking Beyond Borders, and a marine science educator in southeastern Louisiana have shaped the way she interacts with the world. She is excited to join the ARCC Gap Team and to find new adventures in Bend!

Contact Emily Rosser

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about travel, cultural immersion, marine science (fish in particular) and global environmental issues like climate change, land loss, and overfishing.

What is your favorite place to have visited?

I don’t think I can pick just one as each place has made a unique impact on my life but I’d say my top three are Mozambique, Rwanda, and Thailand.

What is on your bucket list?

Antarctica! It has always been a place I wanted to visit although ideally I want to go as a part of a research expedition.

Marisa Abrahams

Regional Summer Director

Marisa began her ARCC adventure in 2015 leading a Thailand trip. She studied outdoor education at the University of New Hampshire, and is currently working on an MA in adventure education at Prescott College. She has led wilderness trips all over the continental US. When not working, Marisa can be found exploring mountain trails with her dog, Tuck.

Contact Marisa Abrahams

What are you passionate about?

Teaching wilderness skills, and empowering people to get outside and explore!

What is your favorite place to have visited?

Tanzania. When I was 17 I had the opportunity to go on a teen summer program, and I fell in love. With a diverse landscape, beautiful culture, and ample opportunity for adventure, I can’t wait to go back and explore more.

What is your favorite ARCC Program?

Thailand. There is so much packed into one trip. I can lead the Thailand trip over and over, and always find new wonderful things about it. Feeding elephants is a highlight!

Sierra Derke

Gap Director

Sierra joined the ARCC office team in 2022 after numerous years leading experiential education programs stateside and abroad. Her passion for different cultures started young while learning new languages, and encouraged her to travel to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Fiji. She is excited for the new adventure of supporting families and students as they broaden their worldview through programs with ARCC. When not at work she spends her time backpacking, painting, and constantly looking for sunny places to enjoy in the backcountry.

Contact Sierra Derke

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about travel, the intersection of environmental issues and social justice, sunshine, and creating art in as many forms as I can.

What is your favorite place to have visited?

Soaking in the sun just above the tree line on a mountain surrounded by chirping marmots is my heaven on earth. If I could spend every summer day there, I couldn’t be happier.

What is your favorite ARCC Program?

As this was the program that brought me to the ARCC team, South America Gap holds a special place in my heart. The magnitude of the mountains and the striking blue of the rivers in Chile took my breath away.

Amy Coolidge

Regional Summer Director

Growing up in the Colorado foothills, interacting in the outdoors was second nature for Amy. After graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in Sociology, she made the leap to embark on her first solo trip abroad. The nearly four year exploration of Australasia proved enlightening and life-changing for Amy. It was through these experiences that she developed a passion for travel and a thirst for a greater understanding of the world around her. Returning to the U.S, she was introduced to the field of Wilderness Therapy where she gained a passion for utilizing nature as a catalyst for growth and wellness. Though rooted, at this point, in SW Utah she continued to find opportunities to travel to Latin America where she guided backpacking trips in the Guatemalan highlands to raise money with a volunteer project that sponsors a safe home and quality education for rural children. With a ceaseless passion for travel, nature, exploration, and service, it is no surprise that Amy found her place at ARCC where she hopes to have a hand in facilitating other young people’s life-changing adventures!

Contact Amy Coolidge

What are you passionate about?

Would you believe me if I said I’m passionate about travel?!?! My journeys have created invaluable growth opportunities for me that have founded many integral values I hold near and dear in adulthood. Not only did I gain knowledge about the places I visited on a more intimate level, I discovered my own grit, resourcefulness, and adaptability along the way.

What is your favorite place to have visited?

This seems to be the impossible answer for any traveler! Everywhere I’ve been has left me longing for more and intrigued for what I have yet to learn and discover. What stands out in my mind today is Colombia. A country that many find to have a scary reputation and some of the most lovely people I have ever met. It is a truly humbling and beautiful thing to witness, these people rebuilding and thriving despite years of war and terror and all with a genuine love for life and all those they encounter. Colombia also has such a diverse countryside ranging from the Caribbean, Colombian Andes, Amazon, and a very special and rare ecosystem system called Paramo.

What’s on your bucket list?

Another question that is constantly evolving, and a list that seems to be never ending. I would love to travel, slowly, through Europe by bicycle. I have seen only a touch of that vast region and imagine pedaling through vineyards and farmlands, just seeing where the road takes me.

Ellen Jacobs

Business Operations Coordinator

After graduating from Duke in 2018 with a degree in Public Policy Studies and Environmental Science, Ellen moved straight to Oregon and began working for ARCC as a trip leader. She has led trips to Hawaii, the Southwest United States, and Northern California with ARCC. Ellen has also led numerous wilderness trips in the Northeastern United States. Ellen loves to help get young people outdoors and reach their fullest potential through experiential learning and the occasional sprinkle of bad weather.

Contact Ellen Jacobs

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about creating a world where we allow young people to recognize and reach their fullest potential. Young adults can change the world.

What is your favorite place to have visited?

Hawaii! I’ve led two ARCC trips there and am always blown away by the diversity of the landscapes. Believe it or not, there are some days where you can snowboard and surf on the Big Island.

What’s on your bucket list?

Bike packing all over Ecuador!

Scott von Eschen

Senior Advisor

Scott has a diverse background in international travel, business, and adventure travel. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology as well as an MBA from Dartmouth College. He has lived in Spain, Japan and Guatemala. Scott’s passion for the out-of-doors is reflected in his love of fly fishing and whitewater kayaking. He lives in Bend, Oregon with his wife, Kristin. They have two daughters: Campbell and Andie.

What is your favorite place to have visited?

I guess I’d have to say the last place I visited, which was Nepal.

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve been a geologist, a garbage man, a lifeguard and an investment banker prior to joining ARCC, but I’ve been doing this job for 29 years and this is by far the best I’ve had.

What was your first year at ARCC?

1993

Gary Robinson, Ed.D., LMHC

Psychological Consultant

Gary has dedicated himself for over 30 years to helping high school and college-aged students to maximize their potential and overcome barriers to learning. His clinical specialties have included stress management, mood and anxiety disorders, and life coaching/mentoring. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the State University of New York. Gary has served in a variety of professional counseling roles in several university and college settings and currently holds the post of Director of Counseling Services at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, a position he has enjoyed for the last twenty years. As co-founder of P3 Mental Health Advisors, a consulting group formed in 2014, Gary conducts staff training, admissions screening policy reviews and on-call mental health crisis management for Study Abroad, Gap Year, Adventure-based, Experiential Education, Service-Learning and Volunteer programs both domestically and abroad. He is the co-author (Outskirts Press, 2018) of The Daily Brew: A 365-Day Guided Journal.

What is your favorite place to have visited?

My favorite place on the earth is northern Thailand. I visited first for work and have traveled there several times on my own.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about the life-changing impact of traveling to places and studying cultures different from our own.

What’s on your bucket list?

To hike the Appalachian Trail!