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WHO WE ARE 

BAWT staff, interns, and instructors all work together to support more youth leaders every year. For any questions or inquiries for staff, feel free to reach out through our Contact page or email us at info@bawt.org. 

staff

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Erika Bruno, Program Coordinator

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Erika was born and raised in the South Bay (Area) but has spent time living on the North Coast and overseas. As a young child, she was introduced to nature through hiking and camping at various regional and state parks around California through her schooling. After a few years of disconnect during her high school years, Erika relocated to the land of old-growth redwoods as a student of Humboldt State University. Living in this region caused her to reconnect with nature through hiking and backpacking. She also gained more awareness of the area’s indigenous communities, encouraging her to better understand those who historically have been stuck in the periphery.

During her pursuit of a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Global Cultural concentration, she explored different parts of the world. Such travels continued post-undergrad, in which she became exposed to varying groups of people and their relationship with flora and fauna in their regions. Such an experience taught her how to become a member of distinct communities across age groups, interests, and cultures.

Also, during this time, she became engrossed in the world of rock climbing. She heavily pursued the sport to the point where she attended many technically focused courses in conjunction with classes on movement. She even obtained a Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) certification to teach peers and mentees some basic yet necessary skills. One day, her goal is to become certified as a Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) and teach valuable life lessons on the rock.

After returning to the U.S., Erika started to notice the inequities experienced within the world of the outdoor industry. While working in outdoor gear rentals and sales, she began to reflect upon outdoor recreation’s demographic dynamic. Wanting to see changes, this led her to search for affinity groups starting with rock climbing. Such groups further emphasized discussing topics, such as accessibility and inclusion, from an intersectional standpoint. These connections partly influenced her to obtain some Restorative Justice (RJ) and Non-Violent Communication (NVC) training.

Fast forwarding, Erika is looking to continue her education outside of being knowledgeable about gear and its uses. In the Fall of 2020, she began her MA in Human Rights Education at the University of San Francisco with the hopes of creating a positive impact and systemic change. Additionally, she is looking to learn further about guiding larger groups. In short, Erika hopes to build a strong sense of community by fostering a safe place for dialogue, conversation, and growth. After all, nature is both a nurturing and healing space. Everyone deserves the right to feel a connection to the earth beneath their feet.

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Lindsay Zapata, Development Manager

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Lindsay is a true desert dweller coming from the high temperatures of Phoenix, Arizona. Graduating from Arizona State University with her degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Lindsay has dedicated her career to learning the ins and outs of fundraising. Outside of work, Lindsay has spent countless hours exploring her favorite Arizona trails around the Sedona Red Rocks and kayaking on the desert’s many lakes. Inspired by the wonder of Grand Canyon National Park – her favorite spot in the West, Lindsay believes every child deserves the opportunity to connect with wild sceneries that awes and empowers them.  Understanding the system of oppression that prevents youth of color from exploring the outdoors, Lindsay is motivated for her start at BAWT! 

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Liza Dadiomov, Co-Executive Director - Programs

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Liza spent her childhood exploring the beaches and deserts of Israel, and later relocating to the lush and mountainous Pacific Northwest. She fell in love with the outdoors on Orcas Island, where she spent her summers as a camper, later joining as a staff member during summers in college, and then returning as an outdoor educator after graduating from Santa Clara University. From then on, she was hooked on creating access to the outdoors to all youth. She went on to teach outdoor education to 5th graders, lead middle and high school students on backpacking trips, and spend a year in the North Cascades National Park as a resident in a graduate program focusing on environmental education and non-profit administration. Liza then returned to the Bay Area, working at several non-profit organizations in environmental education, most recently as a Program Manager at Education Outside, greening schoolyards in San Francisco elementary schools. Liza is passionate about skiing, backpacking, reading, food, and spending time with friends and family. She is trained as a Wilderness First Responder.

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Sierra Lawe, Co-Executive Director - Development

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Sierra was born in Santa Clara and spent her childhood and adolescent years shuffling around Northern California. A member of the Karuk Tribe, she attended Haskell Indian Nations University, majoring in American Indian Studies before transferring to the University of Kansas and completing a degree in Political Science. Her passion for civic engagement and serving her community led her to complete a master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management. A lifelong adventure seeker, she’s moved up and down the Pacific Coast, most recently living in Seattle, WA before returning to the Bay Area. She’s an avid outdoorswoman and previously worked as a rock-climbing instructor, hike leader, and is currently certified as a Wilderness First Responder. What brings her to Bay Area Wilderness Training is her commitment to dismantling structural racism, her desire to see marginalized folks experience the transformative power of the outdoors on their own terms, and to celebrate authentic diversity in all spaces but most especially in the outdoors.

interns

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Taylor Kim

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Taylor grew up in Seattle, WA before moving to the Bay Area to attend Santa Clara University where she is majoring in Environmental Studies and Business Management. When she was younger, Taylor and her family often road-tripped to visit national parks and this sparked her interest in getting outdoors on her own. After gaining experience with her high school’s outdoor club and receiving her Wilderness First Aid certification, Taylor decided to connect her love of the outdoors and her past experience of working with youth by spending a summer as a Gear Logistician for YMCA Bold and Gold in Seattle. She loved helping kids of all backgrounds be able to experience the outdoors, and became interested in finding other ways to increase outdoor accessibility through her own education and other activities. This position helped her gain lots of youth leadership and outdoor skills that she has now applied to her own adventures all around California. It also helped lead her to her current internship at BAWT, where she is thrilled to be learning more about social justice and equity in the outdoors! 
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Kendall You Mak

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Kendall is a San Francisco native. They were introduced into the outdoors as a child, playing on the beach and embarking on camping trips in Yosemite. In high school they began pursuing longer adventures in the backcountry and have since started dabbling in more outdoors sports such as mountain biking, rock climbing, surfing, and whitewater paddling. Kendall recently graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in geosciences. They have spent the last three summers as an instructor at Avid4 Adventure in the Bay Area, introducing youth to various outdoor sports. Kendall believes that every single person deserves an opportunity to experience the outdoors and build a connection with the planet that we all inhabit.

Faculty Instructors

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Aaron Byrd

Aaron grew up in Highland Park, IL where he explored ravines and swam in Lake Michigan.  Most of his outdoor recreation during childhood was on baseball diamonds in Northern Illinois. His first time sleeping under the stars was at age 19 in the Mojave dessert, and his first backpacking trip was that same year in Yosemite.  Since moving to California for college, Aaron has traded his bat and glove for hiking boots and a backpack.  In 2006 he reluctantly participated in BAWT’s Wilderness Leadership Training so that he could get free gear for his San Francisco-based youth program.  But he got hooked.  In 2007 he became and instructor and from 2011 to 2018 he was the program director at BAWT.  He is proud to have been of the staff and board team that worked with the BAWT community to increase the organization’s commitment to championing diversity, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice.  Aaron, lives in Oakland with his partner and youth child, and he is studying to become a nurse.

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Andrea Fraume
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Chris Hawthorne

Chris grew up on the East coast and now resides in the Monterey area. Chris has been working in public education for the greater part of a decade, and now runs the Makerspace at Seaside High School. In his role there he encourages youth to explore their creativity in the classroom and to explore the wilds of the central coast. He serves on the board of The Outdoor Collective, a project of the Children Are Our Future Foundation that like BAWT, works to train youth workers and leaders to get young people outdoors. He is honored to be a part of this outstanding community of leaders, and looks forward to continuing to run trips with BAWT.

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Christian Lamonea
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Freddy Mesa

Frederick Douglass Mesa has worked in the field of youth development and education for 18 years. Frederick is passionately dedicated to youth empowerment and leadership, cultural awareness and appreciation, and social justice and change. The multiculturalism and commitment to community that Frederick brings supports his community to feel respected and valued.  As a father of five, Frederick understands the importance of positive male role models of color for all youth despite race, ethnicity, gender or social status. As an inner-city urban youth of color raised by a single mother, he brings experience and insight to the issues facing the young people he serves.

Javier Meléndez

Javier Meléndez graduated from Andrews University in 2015 with both a Master of Social Work and Master of Arts in Youth and Young Adult Ministry. He now works as a Behavioral Health Clinician serving mainly high school aged youth who have emigrated from various Central American countries. Javier’s therapeutic philosophy and practice aims to reconnect client’s to their Emotions, to their Body, to Others, to Nature, and to the Divine. As a result, he has an affinity towards Nature-based therapies, where Nature becomes a co-facilitator for the therapeutic process and allows clients to experience a more holistic sense of healing and well-being. Because Javier believes reconnection to nature can bring emotional, physical, and spiritual healing, he aims to incorporate outdoor experiences in both his professional and personal life every chance he gets. 

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Jen Antonuccio

Jen is a Middle School counselor at Willard in Berkeley. She loves combining outdoor education with her work as a school counselor where she prioritizes getting kids outdoors whenever possible. She has been on the BAWT Faculty since 2002 and has experience instructing all of BAWT’s courses. Jen is Wilderness First Aid certified. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, backpacking, camping, kite boarding, and climbing.  

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Jenna Topper

Jenna graduated from Sonoma State in 2016 with a degree in Environmental Studies. She began facilitating youth in the outdoors as a young teen, and over the years she has developed a strong skill set and comprehensive understanding of what it takes to ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for participants in the outdoors. Jenna has expertise in environmental education using informal learning settings and immersive experiences. She coordinates kayaking, rafting, backpacking, hiking, zip lining, and camping trips for high school youth. Jenna is Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder Certified and has been a participant in all of BAWT’s educator trainings. Jenna is constantly seeking adventure, new experiences, and new relationships. She looks forward to exploring the outdoors and learning together with you! 

Jill Greenblatt

Jill has traveled several interconnected pathways in the world of nonprofits, following her passion for building more sustainable, connected, and just communities. Much of her work has focused on equitable access to higher education and experiences in nature. She has taught wilderness leadership, skills, and awareness for youth and adults for more than 20 years. On the BAWT faculty since 2001, she has also served as a previous Program Director and Advisor, and helped to launch the Outdoors Empowered Network as Program Director there. She loves facilitating learning for groups with a wide range of knowledge and experience, teaching across multiple levels to help each person grow and succeed. These days she works as a grants, data, and project management consultant, and loves to explore wild places.

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Kyle Macdonald

Kyle grew up in Somerville, MA and Ann Arbor, MI where he kindled a love of the outdoors. His favorite activities include hiking, camping, skateboarding, tele- and cross- country skiing, and snowshoeing. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Outdoors Empowered Network (OEN) after having served as Founder and CEO of Bay Area Wilderness Training for more than 13 years. Kyle has instructed over 30 WLT and FLT training courses with BAWT and continues to be involved as a Faculty member.  His passions include sharing the BAWT model (train and support) with the world and watching his kids Sofia and Miles learn and grow.

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Logan Falley

Since a young age, Logan has romped around seeking adventure and connection.  Growing up in the Midwest fostered good family values, but also encouraged him to branch out and explore abroad.

With lessons learned and degrees earned, Logan found himself teaching in Peru and developing experiential learning curriculum for high school students. His far-reaching involvement in the community was stimulated by his growing passion to help youth discover their true potential both in and out of the classroom.  He found that hiking with students, taking them out onto the land, and giving them the space they needed was wonderful medicine.

Eventually, Logan left the classroom and moved to California where he continues to work with youth across the Americas working for a cultural exchange non-profit.  Logan enjoys connecting with educators who are making an impact in their students’ lives and feels inspired by them.  Collaboration, shared visions, and beautiful stories all mixed together in the raw vessel of nature is his fuel.

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Mayra Vega

Mayra currently works as a Student Advisor and Associate Director of High School Programs at Peninsula Bridge. Her favorite activities include hiking, kayaking, camping, and dancing. She grew up in the Bay Area frequently traveling to the Central Valley and small towns in Mexico to visit her family. These visits were often filled with beautiful hikes and camping trips with family. Attending a High School that invested in having their youth explore the outdoors served as a formative experience for her and she is now passionate about helping other youth leaders alike provide those experiences for youth in their communities. 

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Miranda Fry

Miranda is a Sierra Foothills native who came across BAWT just after her graduation from San Jose State in 2012. After reaching the summit of Mt. Shasta (a gift for fundraising +$4,000 in Climbing For Kids) in June 2012, her outdoor leadership path began. “I have become so empowered by my own experiences outdoors that I have to give it back to all communities. There’s no reason why such beauty and power should be kept from anyone, especially young people. I can be a catalyst for thousands to find themselves in the outdoors.” She has led outdoor adventures for multiple organizations in the Bay Area including honorable mentions REI Outdoor School and Blue Water Foundation nonprofit. She has also been a youth worker and teacher in the Bay area for multiple school districts, serving all youth K-21. Some highlights of her adventures in educating youth and adults in the outdoors were: teaching kids how to surf for the first time in a hail storm (no one wanted to stop they just paddled harder) and utilizing games to let adults play, have fun and learn. On her days off, you can find her SUP-ing, backpacking with her dog Argo or in the studio drawing. She is a Wilderness First Responder and active Instructor on all courses with a knack for WLT’s and Instructor Retreat curriculum. 

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Terry Williams

Terry integrates a wealth of experience in adventure-based learning, leadership and organizational development in her work with people from diverse backgrounds within schools, non-profit organizations, and corporations throughout the U.S. and internationally. Her work focused on strength-based experiential curriculum and facilitated programs emphasizing participatory processes, performance, and teamwork. She has a PhD with a specialization in Leadership. Her doctoral studies began with several intensive international community studies and service projects with the Mayan people and their villages including a 40-mile trek through the backcountry of western Guatemala and climbing the highest peak in Central America. Terry has also traveled over 15,000 miles on a bicycle, including a solo 8,000 cross-country journey for a national youth advocacy project, meeting with the President, representatives, U.S. senators, governors, mayors, and community leaders of over 24 states and 150 communities.

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Tony Passantino

Tony has been involved in watershed conservation and environmental education for the last decade all over the West. An AmeriCorps alumni, California Naturalist instructor, youth backpacking guide for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and most recently a volunteer trekking guide serving youth in a non-profit based in Western Guatemala. He is an excited gear junkie and addicted to the Sierra Nevada. He currently manages the Education program for Sonoma Ecology Center teaching in classrooms and at varied field sites, and oversees a teen “Enviroleader” program. 

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Will Hubert

Will has over a decade of experience as an outdoor leader, youth mentor, and community organizer. He earned a B.A. in Outdoor Education & Environmental Studies from California State University, Chico, and is currently pursuing a M.S. in Recreation, Parks, & Tourism at San Francisco State University. Will is passionate about supporting people in their search for meaning, connection, and empowerment. Above all, Will believes that creativity and imagination are essential practices for supporting individual and group transformation in the outdoors. Opportunities to work as an environmental education naturalist, wilderness therapy guide, river guide, backpacking guide, youth mentor, and non-profit program coordinator have been essential to his growth. Will’s recreational hobbies include skateboarding, surfing, and trail running. Will loves old-time music and is currently learning to play the fiddle!

Zotunde Morton

Zotunde Morton was born and raised in San Francisco, California.   He received an Associate Degree in Business Administration from Laney College, and after working in various public schools throughout the Bay Area, he co-founded Ujimaa Foundation.  He currently works as the Secretary and a Program Coordinator for Ujimaa Foundation. His interest of nature and human rights led to his involvement in community activism and outdoor education.  In 2012 and 2013 Zotunde completed the Triple Crown of Bay Area Wilderness Training courses by participating in the Frontcountry Leadership Training, Wilderness Leadership Training, and the Camping at the Presidio Training in one 12 month period.  Now, Zotunde is one of our top instructors with experience leading all of our courses.  Zotunde is a Wilderness First Aider.