North Cascades Institute Staff

Our Staff

saul photo Saul Weisberg
Executive Director
Saul  is executive director and co-founder of North Cascades Institute. He is an ecologist, naturalist and writer who has explored the mountains and rivers of the Pacific Northwest for more than 30 years. Saul worked throughout the Northwest as a field biologist, fire lookout, commercial fisherman and National Park Service climbing ranger before starting the Institute in 1986. He has authored Headwaters: Poems & Field NotesFrom the Mountains to the Sea, North Cascades: The Story behind the Scenery, Teaching for Wilderness, and Living with Mountains. Saul serves on the board of directors of the Association of Nature Center Administrators, the Natural History Network, and the Environmental Education Association of Washington. He is adjunct faculty at Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. Saul and his family live near the shores of the Salish Sea in Bellingham, Washington.

Registration Coordinator
Kayla­ is a Washington native who spent most of her childhood outdoors with the kids on her cul-de-sac, or inside practicing different instruments. After toying with the idea of becoming a music teacher, she eventually graduated with her BS in Geology from Western Washington University, and has made Bellingham her home ever since. She brings her love for the outdoors, youth education and data entry to the North Cascades Institute as the Registration Assistant. Living in such a beautiful place has given her endless opportunities to try every type of outdoor activity possible. Her free time is currently spent rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, playing music, reading, cross-stitching or planning for the Girl Scout troop she co-leads. 

Marketing and Design Coordinator
Self-taught in graphic design and marketing, Kiley has a natural curiosity and passion for lifelong education. She brings diverse marketing and educational program experience from both the public and private sectors - having worked as a Product Marketing Manager for Watson Furniture and serving as an Education & Outreach Park Ranger at Olympic National Park. In 2011, Kiley completed a BA in Planning and Environmental Policy from Huxley College on the Peninsulas. In her free time, she enjoys learning new skills, kayaking and lengthy road trips.
Paula-Berg Paula Berg
Development Coordinator
In 2014, Paula joined North Cascades Institute with more than 10 years of experience serving foundations and nonprofit organizations in various fundraising capacities. She is passionate about working with groups who contribute to the vitality of local communities through educational opportunities engaging children and families, the arts and the environment.   Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Paula’s love for nature developed at a very young age and was cultivated by many years of family camping trips and outdoor adventures. She now enjoys sharing her love of this place with her husband, daughter and the international students they host. She especially enjoys road trips, nature walks, hiking, reading and art.
Jodi-Broughton Jodi Broughton
Development and Marketing Director
Jodi joined the Institute in 2014, bringing with her 14 years of conservation nonprofit experience, including fundraising consultation, grant writing, membership acquisition, donor relations, event planning and senior management. She has a B.S. in Environmental Policy from Huxley College. Jodi is dedicated to helping conservation supporters achieve their goals and keep nonprofit organizations running smoothly. Based in Bellingham, she spends as much of her spare time as possible enjoying the outdoors – whether gardening, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, or just exploring, she’s always happiest being at one with nature.
Amy Brown Amy Brown
Program Manager
Amy manages the Institute's Youth Leadership Adventures and Community and Neighborhood programs in addition to leading the Institute’s Diversity Committee and Pathways for Youth Initiative. She started working for the Institute in 2006 after earning her Master’s degree in Environmental Education through North Cascades Institute's graduate residency program and Western Washington University. She has more than 15 years of experience taking youth and adults outdoors, including working as a whitewater kayaking instructor and raft guide, adventure travel leader in Central America and interpretive park ranger in Utah. In her free time, Amy enjoys whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, hiking, birding, traveling, thimbleberries, alpenglow, the song of the hermit thrush and making up silly songs. Amy lives in Bellingham with her husband and young daughter near the shores of Lake Whatcom. 
Kimber Burrows
Program Coordinator
Kimber’s connection to the North Cascades began during a NOLS semester course in 1996. That course launched her 18-year career as an environmental educator, middle school science teacher and nonprofit administrator. Kimber received her B.S. in earth science (secondary education), environmental studies and recreation from Western Michigan University. While teaching middle school science and working as a program director, she earned a M.Ed. in Science Education. After spending the past five years in Denali National Park in Alaska, Kimber and her husband Rob are excited to be back in the North Cascades. In their free time, you’ll find them exploring the mountains and rivers that they consider home.

Head Chef
Justin began work as Sous Chef at the Environmental Learning Center and was promoted to Head Chef in September 2016. Justin began cooking for himself at age 7 and hasn't stopped since. He brings 20 years of professional cooking experience to the Institute, including 6 years at a Palestinian soul food restaurant, a year at a sushi bar in Boise, owning and operating a farm-to-table catering business and a smattering of positions in fine dining restaurants between here and his hometown Kansas City, Missouri. Justin is passionate about food and feels fortunate for the opportunity to share that passion with the guests and staff at the Environmental Learning Center. He currently resides in Marblemount with his faithful dog Cecil and couldn't be happier.
Matt-Duett Matt Duett
Information Systems Administrator
Matt  brings over 20 years of experience to help plan and manage the various computer and network systems at NCI. Matt is a New Orleans native who served as a Communication/Data Systems Officer in the United States Marine Corps, based in Virginia, Okinawa and Hawaii. He graduated from Tulane University with a degree in English. He is an avid fly fisherman and sea kayaker. His wife and 3 children enjoy spending time in the mountains, beaches and islands whenever possible.
Graduate Outreach Assistant
Chelsea's passion for the world's wild places and excitement for sharing that with others is what brought her to North Cascades Institute as a graduate student in 2014. She now brings her personal story about how the graduate program has impacted her life and career path to her job at the Institute. She loves being able to help connect future and current graduate students with this place and organization. Chelsea is originally from Savannah, GA — where playing in marsh grass and live oaks nursed her love for the natural world —  and earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She loves adventuring in the rugged terrain of the North Cascades and calls the Pacific Northwest "home."
Will George Will George
Naturalist
Jeff_Giesen Jeff Giesen
Associate Director
Jeff was hired as a nine-month seasonal Program Assistant in 1998 and spent the first day of his employment building his own desk. Since then he has had eight different job titles before becoming the Institute's Associate Director in 2012. Jeff oversees the internal operations including programs, finance, human resources and Learning Center operations. Jeff has a Bachelor's degree in environmental education from Western Washington University, a Master's Degree in Science and twenty years of experience, including positions at residential centers in Ohio and Georgia. He lives in Bellingham with his wife Janet, daughter Kate and son Will and has recently rediscovered the joy of skiing at Mount Baker.
Kristofer Gilje
Learning Center Director
Kristofer has been with NCI operations since 2007. For the previous ten years, Kristofer served as operations manager for Holden Village, a remote Lutheran retreat center in the North Cascades. For more than twenty years before that he worked as a building contractor and carpenter in Bonners Ferry Idaho, Minnesota, and California. Kristofer blends 35 years of experience in construction, maintenance and risk management with a philosophy degree from the Paracollege at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Kristofer divides his time between the Learning Center campus and his home in Bellingham where he and his wife Kristen are restoring their hundred year old home. Their grown daughters Kaia and Johanna are off exploring the world.
Codi Hamblin
School Outreach Coordinator
Codi works to connect people with the North Cascades by promoting and sharing the Institute's work through various outreach avenues and works closely with Mountain School and SnowSchool. A passion for connecting people with the natural world originally brought Codi to North Cascades Institute as a graduate student where she lived, studied and taught Institute programs at the Environmental Learning Center. Prior to graduate school, Codi received her B.A. in Environmental Journalism at Huxley College and wrote for the weekly and daily Skagit County newspapers. Codi enjoys frigid dips in mountain waters, playing in the snow, and taking natural history notes along the way.
Evan Holmstrom Evan Holmstrom
Lead Naturalist
Evan hails from the remote Alaskan town of Chugiak. Since childhood, his life's themes include falconry, foreign languages and art. He travels to Japan from time to time, writes poems, cycles long distances and climbs vertical stonescapes. Evan has been fortunate to work as a field leader and educator in the austere wilderness of Montana and the moss-engulfed forests of Washington. He is thrilled to work as the Senior Naturalist this year, among the gifted crew at the Environmental Learning Center. Look for him smiling in the company of naturalists, graduate students and staff or nestled into a forest tussock treating his ears to the pure, flutelike song of the varied thrush.
Anne_Hubka Anne Hubka
Learning Center Administrative Assistant
Anne came to the North Cascades after more than twenty years of living on the south side of Mt Rainier in the southern Washington Cascades. Her whole life has involved spending time exploring nature, and as a child she was an avid rock collector and lover of snakes, as well as being fascinated by all other things flora and fauna. In a long life, she’s done a wide variety of things, including teaching, cooking, and climbing telephone poles, though being a full-time mom was her favorite employment. Now, working at Learning Center provides plenty of opportunity to enjoy her passion for nature. She lives next to Diobsud Creek in Marblemount with her cat and dog. 
TracieJohanson.jpg Tracie Johannessen
Education Director
Tracie is an educator who has worked in the field of environmental education and outreach in northwest Washington State for over 25 years. She began her career at the Institute in 1991 as the first coordinator of Mountain School and went on to design and manage many other Institute programs and co-author several Institute curriculum guides. During a six-year hiatus from the Institute, Tracie expanded her experience in program design and assessment by starting her own consulting business, EE Outcomes, and serving for three years as Program Manager at the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Foundation. Returning to the Institute in 2014, Tracie now oversees organizational and program evaluation and assessment efforts and teaches curriculum and assessment in the graduate program. A fourth generation northwest Washingtonian, Tracie loves culture and music, travel, being a mom and spending time outside.
NCI-Staff-Bio-Calvin.png Calvin Laatsch
Conference and Retreat Coordinator
Calvin works with a wide variety of groups to bring new and creative programs to the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. Calvin’s professional life has been largely inspired by the outdoor “friluftsliv” school he attended in Norway. In 2008, he earned a bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation and tourism from Western Washington University. Calvin has spent the last decade facilitating intimate experiences with nature through his work as an educator and program coordinator. Most of his free time is spent rock climbing and thinking about rock climbing. He also enjoys watching kung fu movies, eating, and laughing.
Orawan_Layne Orawan Layne
Bookkeeper
Orawan was born and raised in Thailand. She has a BA in Accounting from Ramkhamhang University, Bangkok. She moved to the US in 1988. Since moving to the US, she has been living along I-5 from the South to the North: San Diego, CA, Eugene, OR, and now Bellingham, WA. She was a YMCA certified aerobics instructor and has taught Step and Kickboxing classes since 1996. Now she gets up at 5 am and uses an elliptical machine at home before she comes to work. She likes gardening, running, and hiking.
Cindy Lee
Human Resources Manager
Cindy was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska and spent most of her life there. She moved to to Bellingham for 5 years in 2000 and later returned to this area in 2012 because of its natural beauty, friendly people and outdoor activities. She has an extensive background in Human Resources with the State of Alaska, the National Park Service (Glacier Bay NP and North Cascades NP) and Goldbelt, an Alaska Native Corporation. She is a member of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska. Cindy enjoys spending time with family, playing with her beagle dog Bender and gardening.
Darcie Lloyd
Registration Assistant
Darcie joined the Institute in Spring 2012 as a seasonal to support Skagit Tours registration and has continued on doing everything from administrative work to housekeeping to program support. As a native Washingtonian, she has spent much time camping and exploring the state with her family, and feels blessed to have such a wonderful area to explore and play in in the North Cascades. She enjoy being outside with her husband and son camping, hiking, biking and just enjoying what nature has to offer.
Emma MacDonald
Youth Leadership Naturalist
Growing up in Western Washington, Emma was raised on a healthy diet of steep trails, alpine lakes and snow-capped views. In 2013, she earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management through Portland State University. Since then, Emma has enjoyed traveling and working around the western hemisphere: volunteering in Manu National Park in Peru, teaching in Costa Rica, working as a backcountry ranger in Olympic National Park, botanizing across Oregon, monitoring sea turtles in Hawaii and chasing Murrelets up and down the coast. Emma is excited to share her experiences and wonder of the natural world to the next generation of environmental stewards. When she’s not camping, Emma loves skiing, snowboarding, mushroom hunting and is excited to test out her green thumb in her first-ever garden. 
Lindsey MacDonald Lindsey MacDonald
Graduate Program Coordinator
With experience directing a university outdoor program, building and maintaining campus farms within higher education institutions, teaching environmental education and campus sustainability, guiding trips and researching and supporting sustainability leadership programs around the world, Lindsey brings a unique set of skills to the Institute's Graduate M.Ed. Program.  After completing her M.S. in conservation ecology at the University of Michigan, she moved west in search of mountains and passion-filled work. If you don’t find her at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, she’s probably cross-country skiing, playing in her garden or cooking.  
Christian_Martin Christian Martin
Communications and Marketing Manager
Since 2006, Christian has served as the lead writer and editor for Institute print and online media, the contact for media inquiries and organizer of many of the Institute's community events. In the past, he has been the features editor for the Bellingham Weekly, an English instructor at Whatcom Community College, backcountry host on the Snake River in Jackson Hole and a field educator in Alaska. Christian's freelance writing work can be found in publications throughout the Pacific Northwest and he is a contributing author to The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby. He loves to take road trips, make soup, hike, observe birds, paddle the Salish Sea, practice yoga, serve traditional oolong tea and wander the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Iris Maute-Gibson Iris Maute-Gibson
Grants Coordinator

The profound impact of connecting with nature was instilled in Iris as a child through transformative outdoor experiences. She is a product of the Institute’s belief that when people connect with nature, they will protect it. Communication is a core strength Iris brings as the Grant Coordinator: inspiring investment in shared values and helping funders experience joyful giving. Since earning her degree in Political Science and Womens Studies from Western Washington University, Iris has worked as a higher education policy advocate, campaign consultant and the Development Manager for the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center. Iris serves on Bellingham Planning Commission, Association of Fundraising Professionals regional committee and as a volunteer mediator. Hiking, canoeing and exploring the outdoors motivates Iris to empower others to connect with, and care for, the North Cascades ecosystem.
Chris Nelson
Facilities Manager
Chris is a Northwest native who grew up on Guemes Island in the San Juan Islands. Summers spent hiking, camping and boating with his parents instilled a lasting bond with the Pacific Northwest. He brings over 25 years of experience in the construction, property management and food and beverage industries to his position at the Environmental Learning Center. Chris lives on a family farm in Burlington and is an avid boater who enjoys snow skiing, dancing, camping and traveling with his wife and family.
Sarah Parker
Youth Leadership Assistant Coordinator
Sarah grew up exploring the sandy beaches and deciduous forests of New England. Upon finishing high school, she moved to Portland and earned a B.A. in Biology at Lewis & Clark College. Her training in biology, paired with her love for teaching, made environmental education the perfect career fit. Sarah has spent the past few years traveling and teaching about various public lands and their local ecosystems. In 2016, she came to the North Cascades Institute to work as a Mountain School educator and as an instructor for Youth Leadership Adventures. In 2017, Sarah is excited to deepen her engagement in this transformative program for high school students. In her free time, Sarah prioritizes skiing, swimming and enjoying beautiful, wild places!
Alex Patia Alex Patia
Naturalist
Alex was born and raised in Springfield, IL and grew up constantly exploring the outdoors looking for elusive reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Alex moved to the Pacific Northwest to study environmental science at Evergreen State College and he discovered his passion for teaching others about the wonders of the natural world. After getting his degree, Alex came to North Cascades Institute as graduate student enrolled in the Western Washington University M.Ed. residency program. Since graduating, he has spent the last four years working as an environmental educator in Oregon, Washington, California and Maine before returning to teach in the best classroom he knows: the North Cascades. Alex still spends the majority of his spare time outside watching wildlife, especially birds as he attempts a second Big Year of birding in Washington state.
Joshua Porter
Graduate Program Director
Joshua brings 20 years of experience in environmental, conservation and wilderness education to the Institute’s Graduate M.Ed. program. He has coordinated, developed and taught field based programs ranging from Alaska to Patagonia, and Puget Sound to Cobscook Bay. Since earning a M.S. from the Lesley University, Joshua has been teaching undergraduate courses for the Wild Rockies Field Institute and more recently, as adjunct faculty in the Ecological Teaching and Learning M.S. program at Lesley University. The North Cascades became home for Joshua while attending the Evergreen State College and working as a Climbing Ranger in North Cascades National Park. He is happy to be back in this familiar landscape, engaged in a learning community so committed to illuminating connection to place.
NCI-Staff-Bio-Pat.png Patrick Renau
Retail Manager
Born in Charleston, S.C., raised in British Columbia and Florida,  Pat found his way back to the Pacific Northwest 20 years ago after accepting a position in retail operations with Mt. Baker Ski Area.  Bringing that experience to the Institute has allowed him to reacquaint with his true passions: the physical environment, the wonders of wild animals and the human interaction with both. Pat acquired a Masters in Earth Science from Georgia State University and Bachelors in Business from Berry College, Ga. He has undertaken expeditions to Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories, circumnavigated Iceland and explored the Lofoten Islands off the coast of Norway. His interest include photography, music, sports and German Shepherds.  Pat and his wife maintain a self-built hobby farm / bed and breakfast near Glacier with sheep, ducks and chickens.
Katie Roloson
Program Manager
Katie uses her diverse background and creative energy to support, develop and evaluate quality educational programs at the Environmental Learning Center, including Mountain School, Skagit Tour and Adult and Family programming.  Katie earned her M.Ed. in Environmental Education through the Institute's Graduate M.Ed. residency program and has a B.A. in philosophy, theology and psychology from King's College University. She has a background in fine arts, culinary arts, sports exercise and dietetics and has experience educating youth and adults in a variety of fields including art, gymnastics, fitness, culinary arts and environmental science. Katie has a personal goal of climbing every peak she can see from the Learning Center and enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and exploring wild spaces.
Amy Rudko Amy Rudko
Naturalist
Amy grew up hiking and exploring around the Pacific Northwest and expanded her love for the outdoors by studying Geology at Western Washington University. After completing a B.S. in Environmental Engineering Geology, Amy moved towards a role in education. Through experiences with the Student Conservation Association at Mount St. Helens and Pinnacles National Park, Amy was inspired to bring together her passion for science with a new challenge of adult and youth education. Now as a naturalist with North Cascades Institute, Amy is thrilled about connecting people with the beautiful landscape of the North Cascades. In her time away from Diablo Lake, Amy loves hiking, climbing, eating pie and doing yoga.
jason_rulveson Jason Ruvelson
Finance Director
Jason has diverse background experience including strategic planning, auditing, financial analysis, market research and developing business plans. He has received a M.B.A. from Western Washington University, a M.A. in Contemplative Psychotherapy from The Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado and a Bachelor of Arts in Transpersonal Ecology from Fairhaven College. Jason has a deep connection to the Pacific Northwest, having lived in the region for over 30 years. He has spent significant time sailing, kayaking, scuba diving, hiking and camping throughout our region. Currently living in Sudden Valley, Jason loves to play percussion and is also involved in the study, education and practice of Tibetan Buddhist meditation, including serving on the council at the Bellingham Shambhala Center.
Mari Schramm Mari Schramm
Naturalist
Growing up in the mountains around Chelan, Mari has always loved working and playing in the North Cascades. Her love for the outdoors compelled her to study Biological Research and Environmental Studies at Gonzaga University where she graduated in 2015. Mari has generally spent her summers doing post-wildfire plant research with Forest Service crews in the eastern Cascades, while working as an outdoor educator during the school year. This year, she is excited to be working as a naturalist educator in the mountains she loves! In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, climbing, kayaking, nerding-out about plants and watching basketball.
Travis Schultz Travis Schultz
Naturalist
A playful explorer since childhood, Travis cut his teeth in the outdoors terrorizing the suburbs of Kansas by bicycle. He channeled additional energy on the soccer field through University, after which he joined the Peace Corps and became an instructor at a Bangladeshi College. Travis completed his service and taught for three more years in the Philippines and developed the first-ever curriculum for English and Computer Science at National Health and Training College in Lesotho. Seeking answers to questions about how and why we learn resulted in a Masters Degree in Sociocultural International Development Education Studies at Florida State University. During a trail trail run in Northern California, Travis decided that he wanted to explore experiential education though the outdoors -- specifically challenging what can be taught outside of a traditional classroom. When not reading voraciously, Travis can be found going up, down, around and over mountains on foot or via his trusty bike.

Youth Leadership Coordinator
Julie grew up in the wilds of Whatcom Falls Park, traversing deer trails to explore the green spaces of Bellingham, WA. She developed an appreciation for trails while hiking, skiing, running and climbing in the North Cascades. After graduating from Western Washington University, Julie started digging in the dirt and living outside while working for Montana Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps and Northwest Service Academy.  She then let her love of public lands, stewardship and connecting with youth bring her back to the North Cascades, first with the National Parks Service and now with North Cascades Institute. In her off time, Julie enjoys mushroom hunting, fishing, canning and eating her foraged goods.
College Access Coordinator
Taylor is the Institute’s first College Access Coordinator. She grew up in Bellingham, attending Squalicum High School, and went to Scripps College in Claremont, CA, majoring in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Critical Media Studies. Throughout her time at Scripps, she worked for the Scripps College Academy, an intensive, multi-year, pre-college program for high-achieving high school girls with limited resources who are determined to become the first generation in their families to attend college. Following college graduation in 2014, she worked for Morgan Stanley in Wealth Management but soon quit and bought a one-way ticket to walk the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. After six months traveling Europe, she has returned with newfound energy and passion for college access, the outdoors, and making positive waves.
Natascha Yogachandra Natascha Yogachandra
Naturalist
Born in Hong Kong and raised in western New York, Natascha moved to India at age 12 and to Thailand at age 14 after establishing an educational nonprofit with her parents as a result of the 2004 tsunami. These early travels encouraged her to study journalism and anthropology at NYU, after which Natascha ventured down to Southern Patagonia where she managed community partnerships for an environmental fund. Deeply inspired by those she met there in the outdoor field, she found her way to the Pacific Northwest and has been mesmerized by these mountains ever since. She’s thrilled to be working at NCI, and loves the community she has found here, staying busy by exploring her new home on foot or in books!