Think Outside. No Box Required.

Boojum Institute Staff

Carol Popejoy Davis, Executive Director

Carol may be reached at: cpopejoy@boojum.org.

Gayle Hilgris, Director of Program

Gayle started with Boojum in the fall of 2009 as an intern; during her internship she worked with the administration and field staff to facilitate successful programs throughout the fall season. Gayle has a B.A in Management and Organization from the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business; her focus was in non-profit management. Gayle has worked with Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Miracle Network, Uptown Bill’s Small Mall and Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois. She has experience in non-profit development and special event planning: coordinating multiple fundraisers and programs. She has previous outdoor experience with a Venturing Crew in Florida and Leadership in the Outdoors at Iowa. In addition, Gayle is a Jazzercise franchisee and teaches classes weekly! Gayle may be reached at: ghilgris@boojum.org.

Elena Mafla, Partnership Development Director

Elena comes to Boojum Institute with over 25 years of marketing experience working for both small and large organizations. Elena has been working as the Partnership & Program Development Manager for Boojum Institute for the past four years. Elena exemplifies customer service. She credits her ability to strengthen and deepen partnerships to active listening to our partner’s goals and objectives, and translates that to the staff that delivers our high quality education programs in the field. Elena may be reached at: emafla@boojum.org.

Jerry Bailey, Staff and Training Coordinator

Education: M.S. in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado
Originally from: Anza, California
Been with Boojum since: Jerry has been working for Boojum since spring 2014 as the Logistic Coordinator and now as the Staff and Training Coordinator. He works hard to make sure that each Boojum program is fully staffed with the most experienced and well-trained outdoor educators. His attention to detail has worked for the success of Boojum’s programs and staff members. His expertise is in education and recreation and has a M.S. in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado. Before coming to Boojum, his past experience was in teaching outdoor education at other organizations, challenge course facilitation and management, and teaching physical education in public schools. Originally from Anza, California, he has been living and working throughout California and Colorado since his high school. Jerry may be reached at jbailey@boojum.org.

Hailey McCommons, Program Coordinator

Raisa Stebbins, Logistics Coordinator 

Education: B.A. in Theatre from Whitman College

Been with Boojum since: Raisa started at Boojum in the spring of 2015 as an intern.  She was pretty good at that, so Boojum let her come back to be an instructor, a course director, and finally admitted her into the lofty ranks of Boojum administrative staff.  Raisa holds a B.A. in Theatre from Whitman College, with a specialization in technical theatre, particularly lighting design, and where she acquired all sorts of useful life skills that make her Boojum’s Renaissance Woman-in-Residence.  Raisa has worked for a number of theatres across the United States including the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, the Powerhouse Theatre in Walla Walla, Washington, Olney Theatre Center and Studio Theatre in Washington D.C.  She taught English in Northern Japan for two years where she organized outdoor adventures for locals.  She also works for Adventure Treks during the summer.  At Boojum, Raisa works to ensure the management, maintenance, and deployment of Boojum equipment.  Raisa can be reached at rstebbins@boojum.org

Instructor Staff

With one of the highest staff retention rates in the nation, the Boojum Institute is proving that the Boojum Experience is just as powerful for the staff as it is for the students. Boojum’s dedicated staff is among the most experienced, best trained and gifted experiential education teachers in the field. Boojum’s passionate staff has introduced thousands of young people and adults to new ways of looking at the world. We have over 90 field staff who bring their time and enthusiasm – share a part of themselves – to make the Boojum Experience a life-shaping event for our students and program partners. Year after year our program partners return to Boojum because of the outstanding work of these wonderful professional educators. Below are the profiles of some of our field staff.

Alex Metter

Education: B.S. Philosophy, Loyola University, 2012
Originally from: East Coast
Been with Boojum since: Although she originally grew up on the east coast, Alex now spends her time bouncing between California, Alaska, and wherever her winter travels may take her. Immediately after graduating from Loyola University in 2012 (with a degree in Philosophy), Alex began her career in outdoor education. She has taught outdoor education all over the globe, including Hong Kong and several locations in southeast Asia.  She returned to the United States shortly thereafter and began working for Boojum in the Spring of 2015, and has been with us ever since! Her favorite programs to lead are backpacks in Joshua Tree National Park and river trips on the Colorado River because she loves being in the desert and exploring all the unique adaptations that plants have. When Alex isn’t exploring deserts in southern California, she loves kayaking, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee games, and eating dumplings.
This instructor is super stoked to be able to share all of her favorite course locations with you!

Elizabeth Dalley

Education: Oberlin College
Originally from: Virginia
Been with Boojum since: Elizabeth developed a joy for the outdoors growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia. After attending Oberlin College and working for the Bureau of Land Management as a youth program coordinator and firefighter, she decided to return to the field of outdoor education. She has worked as an instructor and course director with Boojum since Fall 2014. During the summer, she serves as a lead instructor with North Carolina Outward Bound School. Elizabeth strongly believes in closing the disconnect between our nation’s youth and the natural world. She strives to empower young people into self discovery through the challenges and adventures they face while hiking through the Jennie Lakes Wilderness or rock climbing on the monzogranite of Joshua Tree. While she’s not working, Elizabeth is an avid rock climber, adventurer and backcountry chef living out of her 1995 Volvo station wagon. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geology, is a Wilderness First Responder, a Leave No Trace Master Educator and recently took her AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course.

Fran Zamora

Education: California State University, Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
Originally from: California
Been with Boojum since: Franchezska has been working for Boojum since 2014. In her free time Fran enjoys running marathons, backpacking, cycling, skateboarding, dancing, eating/cooking, reading, listening to her vinyl collection, spending time with her family, taking care of my 3 huskies, and creating art. She truly enjoys the variety of programs and activities she is able to lead for Boojum; hiking, backpacking, climbing, facilitating challenge courses, team building & beach activities in places such as Joshua Tree National Park, Pinnacles National Park, Ventana Wilderness, and Malibu Creek State Park. Fran is a stellar and seasoned outdoor educator leading for more than 20 years. She is an alumnae of California State University, Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.

Jonas Cole

Education: University of Puget Sound
Originally from: Vermont
Been with Boojum since: A Vermont native, Jonas Cole made his migration to the west coast to attend the University of Puget Sound. There he was able to satisfy his love for wild places, spending every free moment in the mountains. In the fall of 2014 Jonas made the trek from the Northwest down to California to begin working for Boojum. More than two years later he continues to lead trips for Boojum and falls more deeply in love with the desert landscape with every night spent sleeping under the stars, specifically on his favorite program, the Colorado River canoe trip. When he is not working for Boojum Jonas leads trips for other schools and organizations, letting him travel to far off destinations like Alaska and Southeast Asia. In the slower parts of the year you can find him rock climbing in the desert southwest, skiing in Vermont, and hitchiking his way through South America.

Mary Kate Groark

Education: Environmental Studies in Alabama
Originally from: Alabama
Been with Boojum since: Hey Y’all, my name is Mary Kate Groark and I started working for Boojum in the spring of 2015. Upon completing my undergrad in Environmental Studies in Alabama, my home state, I traveled west to begin working in the outdoor education field. Since then, my love and appreciation for the outdoors has grown immensely. I discovered climbing and deserts, two things I knew nothin’ about ‘til I came to Boojum and that have sense taken hold of my heart. When I’m not working, you’ll find me exploring the outdoor world near and far. I enjoy cooking group meals, sleeping out under the stars, desert wanders, foreign countries, hackysack, and hammocking.

Ryan Mann

Originally from: Columbia, MD
Been with Boojum since: Ryan Mann left his hometown of Columbia, MD for an internship position with Boojum in Anza, CA in September 2014 and hasn’t looked back since. As a Boojum instructor, Ryan has hiked, paddled, climbed, and scrambled from sea to summits in course areas including Santa Cruz, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Pinnacles, Idyllwild, and the Colorado River. Ryan has spent summers leading expeditionary trips for youth in the Pacific Northwest and winters instructing skiing in Utah. When not instructing, Ryan enjoys roaming the American West in pursuit of rock climbing, funky jams, and yummy food. Ryan has received training from the National Outdoor Leadership School and is a certified Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Trainer, and AMGA Single Pitch Instructor.

Abbey Dahl
Adam Quigley
Alex McLaren
Andrew Wainwright
Blair Moxon
Cliff Rupert
Connor Maher

Danielle Sheffet
David Chernati
Dusty Reed
Gen Dron-Smith
Grant Smith
Jacob Robinson
James Darden

Jamie Tinnin
Jon Wright
John Worsham
Kaylee Capello
Kelsey Ball
Kiko Sweeney
Kyle Johnson

Matt Halliday
Randi Williams
Rebekah Israel
Rosie Nowell
Sarah Rasmussen
Shannon Reiser
Shawn Sloan
Sylvie Kaul-Anderson
Wendy Cirko
Wells Jones

boojumStaff Instructors