Advisory Board Members
Scott Sklar ’80 taught numerous COE courses in the early days of the program including Rock Climbing, Backpacking, and Outdoor Leadership Training. After graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1980 Scott was an instructor for the Dartmouth and Hurricane Island Outward Bound Schools and the Appalachian School of Experience. He and Dave Moriah once lead an “urban outdoor adventure trip” to NYC which featured an exposed bivouac for ten on his parents' terrace high up a formidable NYC big wall apartment building. Scott continues to enjoy kayaking, skiing, and climbing with his daughter. He worked as an executive for L.L. Bean before founding The TravelSmith Catalog. Scott currently is an investor and advisor in specialty retail/internet/direct marketing and serves as the Board Chair of The Marin Horizon School. He and his family live in Mill Valley, California.
Ellen Tohn ’81 was a WR Coordinator, WR Guide and taught a number of different COE classes including winter camping and hiking. When not leading trips for COE, Ellen studied in the College of Arts and Sciences, graduating in 1981. One of her favorite memories is leading an orientation trip in Maine that endured days of rain but ended up on the sunny peak of Mt. Katahdin. Ellen is the founder and principal of Tohn Environmental Strategies and a nationally recognized expert in housing-based environmental health threats, healthy housing, indoor air quality, and lead poisoning prevention. She is an active skier and cyclist. Ellen, her husband John, and their three children live in Wayland, MA.
Scott and Ellen currently serve as COE Advisory Board Co-Chairs
Hirschel Abelson ’55 is a long time member of the COE Advisory Board. While at Cornell he studied in the Hotel School, earning a BS in 1955 and going on to earn an MBA in 1956. Herschel and his wife, a retired faculty member, are world travelers. They live in New York City where Herschel is a financial manager. Herschel has served Cornell in a variety of capacities including on Council and as a Trustee.
Dori Albert ‘57 began her COE experiences at age 60, during the Gorgeous Gorges of Ithaca course. It was then that she fell in love with rappelling. Enjoying rock climbing and Outdoor Thrills and Skills with David Moriah gave her more challenges and instilled more confidence in her abilities. Rappelling off the stadium, winter cross-country skiing and high ropes courses all added to the exhilaration in many of life's activities. Dori went on to take another CAU course - the introduction to rowing - which led to a new love, and to her eventual coaching of rowing in a large high school Club team. Dori began her COE experiences a bit later in life, and is quick to say it's never too late to challenge oneself in new ways (but you don’t have to wait so long to start)!
David Bessey ’79 was one of the first Wilderness Reflections (now Outdoor Odyssey) coordinators "back in the day" and taught climbing and winter camping courses with many current board members. David graduated in 1979 from the Engineering School. A favorite memory is ice climbing Ithaca Falls with Mark Mendel. David and his wife Kitty are also one of the original WR couples, as she was Coordinator the year before he was. He has climbed and skied throughout New England, the West, and Alaska. David is currently an Emerging Market portfolio manager for Prudential Financial and resides in Montclair NJ with Kitty and their three children.
Monty Cerf ’79 is a Managing Director with Barclays. After earning his degree in Government he went on to earn an MS from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Yale University. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. Monty sits on the Darrow Foundation which supports a wilderness tripping camp in Maine/Canada. His favorite outdoor activity is whitewater canoeing in Quebec and Labrador, which he has been doing for the past 40 years. Recently Monty has been climbing Mt. Washington each February and doing century rides around his home state of New Jersey. Monty is married and the father of three “perfect” children!
Ed Colloton, Arts ’83, was captain of the Cornell sailing team and helped overhaul and sail two Navy sailboats (China Doll and Alliance) during his undergrad time in Ithaca. After stints in the Navy onboard USS Boulder and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ed attended Harvard Law School, practiced law in NYC and then worked in private equity at JP Morgan. In 2001, Ed joined the VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners. Ed lives in Mill Valley outside San Francisco where he rows, bikes (mountain and road), runs and hikes. Ed hung out with Outward Bound staff on Hurricane Island in Maine where his uncle was the island caretaker and then met his wife on an Outward Bound trip. He currently serves on the board of Outward Bound California and is chair of the investment committee at the Urban School of San Francisco.
Betty Eng ’92 is the director of IT for Conde Nast Publications. She is a graduate of Human Ecology. Betty is active in Cornell circles, serving as co-chair of Asian-American Alumni Association, as a member of Cornell Council, and as Chair of the Public Relations Committee of Cornell Council. Betty, her husband, and new baby Abby, live in New York City.
Erin Flinn ’00 lives in Southern California where she writes and produces trashy reality TV shows, most recently a weight loss documentary series for A & E called Heavy. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Erin still travels home several times a year to see her Steelers and Penguins play, and the Pirates just because the park is nice. She graduated from Arts & Sciences as a College Scholar with concentrations in Biology and Creative Writing, and later earned an MFA in screenwriting and prose from USC. While an undergrad at Cornell, Erin was a very active student leader teaching rock climbing and team building. Erin continues to be an active skier, climber, and surfer (when the water is warm enough)—living the Southern California lifestyle and dream to the max!
Dr. Flavio Gaudio ’86 is an emergency room physician and faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical College. As an undergrad Flavio took the Wind River leadership and mountaineering class with Dan Tillemans. He helped co-found the unique Cornell Wilderness & Environmental Medicine collaboration between Weill and COE. As part of the collaboration Dr. Gaudio has co-led wilderness medicine electives to Alaska, Utah, Arizona, the Adirondacks, and Costa Rica. Flavio spent a year studying traditional medicine in China and he retains an avid interest in medicinal plants. He lives with his wife and two children in Connecticut.
Bob Gravani, PhD is Professor of Food Science at Cornell. Bob has personal knowledge of COE through his work as former chair of the Cornell Faculty Advisory Committee on Athletics and Physical Education (FACAPE), as well as from designing and teaching a Food Science leadership course that uses the Team & Leadership Center as a required part of the class. In addition to offering us a view from the faculty, Bob provides a parents perspective with two Cornell students. Bob is an Eagle Scout, involved in community activities through Rotary, and is active in outdoor activities including biking, running, kayaking, and downhill and cross country skiing.
Lauren Hefferon '83. After graduating in anthropology from Cornell University, Lauren studied fine arts in Florence and cycled over 35,000 miles throughout Europe. In 1988 she founded Ciclismo Classico, a specialized boutique bicycle tour operator, and is considered a pioneer in the bicycle travel world. She is a travel visionary who drives all aspects of the company, from itinerary design and tour leader training to marketing and company strategy. Commuting everywhere by bike Hefferon supports cycling causes, such as Rails to Trails, Bikes Belong, Pan Mass Challenge and Mass Bike. Lauren has been an advisor to the Adventure Travel World Summit, a panelist at the annual National Bike Summit Panel on Tourism, and founded the annual Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival. Under Hefferon’s leadership, Ciclismo Classico has blossomed into one of the top companies in the adventure travel industry, garnering awards from Outside magazine and National Geographic Traveler, and named one of Boston’s top 100 woman-Led businesses three years running. Hefferon has been profiled by Entrepreneur magazine, and her tours have been featured in an array of media outlets, ranging from Inc. Magazine, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, to Bicycling, CNN.com, and Forbes.
Bob Hoffman ’58 was raised in Ithaca, where his father was a professor of pomology. He graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1958 and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard. Bob played hockey and lacrosse (in which he was named to the All-Ivy Team) at Cornell and remains a strong supporter of Big Red lacrosse. Bob served as an executive with several Fortune 500 companies, retiring as Vice Chairman of Monsanto and subsequently as Chairman of Joy Global. In addition to his long time service on the COE Advisory Board, Bob was an early Board member of NOLS. Bob and his wife Janet live in Florida, spending their summers in the Rockies or Alps. He and Janet donated the money for Hoffman Challenge Course at Mt. Pleasant and Barton Hall.
Eva Immergut ’81 joined the Board after a COE-Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM) Adirondacks Leadership Skills program. Eva earned a BS from the Hotel School in 1981 and her MBA in 1993. She worked in marketing for American Express before moving to Sweden with her family. After 5 years of being a full time mom, she rejoined American Express in 2006 as a Manager in Business Travel in Stockholm. Eva and her family enjoy biking, hiking and skiing in Sweden.
Alison Leschen ’81 (A&S) attended and led Freshman Orientation trips, and taught a number of PE classes including Backpacking and Outdoor Leadership. She’s a happily retired Marine Scientist living on Cape Cod with her husband Scott and enjoying too-infrequent visits from their two grown and wonderful daughters. Wilderness Reflections (former name of COE) was the pivotal part of her Cornell experience, with friendships formed that have lasted a lifetime, including with some of her fellow Board members. She is still an avid hiker, biker (road and mountain) and cross-country skier. After years of vacations abroad (where the first order of business was always to find rental bikes and somewhere to swim), she and her husband are now finally exploring this country - mostly the National Parks/Monuments and other amazingly spectacular lands out west.
Jon Lindseth ’56 was one of the original COE Advisory Board members. Jon received a bachelor’s degree from the School of Engineering in 1956 and went on to earn a master’s degree the next year. He joined the Board on trips to the Sierras, the Winds, and Alaska. Jon has run a number of companies from his home town of Cleveland, Ohio. Jon and Ginny, who grew up in Ithaca, generously funded the climbing wall that bears their name and the endowed the first director of outdoor education position in the country. They are avid outdoors people having climbed all over the world including Greenland, Antarctica, Yosemite, and Alaska.
Dr. Mark Mendel ’83 was a WR coordinator, WR guide, and taught PE courses including lead climbing, ice climbing, backpacking, winter camping and bicycle touring. When he wasn’t leading programs for COE, Mark was in the Engineering College, graduating in 1983. After a decade as a venture capitalist focusing on health care Mark is currently working as an invention capitalist. In 2008 Mark did his first big wall climb, a multi-day climb of Prodigal Son in Zion National Park and he has recently started learning how to surf. Mark lives in Seattle, Washington, close to the mountains he loves.
David Moriah ’72 was the founding director of COE. With his Outward Bound background and alternative education philosophy, David built a firm foundation for the program, inspiring a whole generation of student leaders. He graduated in 1972 from the College of Industrial & Labor Relations. After leaving Cornell, David went on to create one of Outward Bound’s first urban centers in Minneapolis-St. Paul, to work as a management consultant, and to serve as Executive Director of Princeton University's Blairstown Center. David and his wife Deborah (Class of ’74) live in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Their daughter Kira (Class of '03) continued the family tradition and participated in COE classes and served as a COE instructor herself. The Moriah Student Leadership Award and the Moriah Fund are named in honor of David’s pioneering and dedicated COE work.
Kristen Rupert ‘74 is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, John Foote, Engineering ’74, live in Boston. Kristen is an alumna of Voyageur Outward Bound. She and John enjoy kayaking, sailing and hiking, mostly in Maine, Oregon and the Adirondacks. They are avid bird-watchers and have traveled to Panama, Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas and Utah with Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology. Kristen is active in Cornell alumni affairs, having served as President of the Cornell Alumni Association, co-chair of several capital campaigns, President of the Cornell Club of Boston, President and Reunion Chair for her Class, and an Advisory Board member of Plantations and Cornell Athletics. Work-wise, Kristen is Executive Director of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts International Business Council, which helps small businesses engage in international trade. Kristen served as COE Advisory Board Chair from 2006 to 2011.
Richard (Rick) Saltz ’73, ’74 became familiar with COE through the Outdoor Thrills and Skills course at CAU. In fact, Rick and his wife, Lynn ’75, liked it so much they took the course a second time. Currently the CFO at Choate Rosemary Hall, an independent high school in Wallingford, CT, Rick has previously been in corporate financial management in both large and small companies. Raised in New York City (and an avid Yankee fan), Rick’s view of the great outdoors was limited to Central Park until attending Cornell. Rick was one of the original founders the Cornell Concert Commission in 1970 and now volunteers his time on the Cornell University Council and as Vice President of the Class of ‘73. Rick and Lynn like to travel and recently hiked in Tierra del Fuego Park in Argentina and Arcadia National Park in Maine. They have three children, two of which attended Cornell and participated in COE activities. Besides family, passions include the outdoors, traveling, hiking and walking along with enjoying good food and wine.
Ruth Silman ’90 taught rock climbing and lead backpacking trips for COE. After graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences, Ruth spent a season in Colorado skiing and snowshoeing and working part-time for the National Park Service. Now she dreams of those days while sitting in her office at Nixon Peabody where she specializes in energy and environmental law. Ruth and her husband, Tim, live with their two girls in Harvard, Massachusetts. They spend as much time as they can outdoors – hiking, paddling, skiing, skating and gardening.
Jonathan Simon ’92 is an attorney whose practice focuses on a range of matters involving energy, environmental, and natural resources and public lands law. Among other things, Jon counsels outfitters and guides and other companies that provide visitor services in the National Parks, National Forests, and other public lands. He regularly travels to Alaska where much of his work takes place. Jon graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Economics. While there Jon was active with the Cornell Concert Commission and Class Council. Since graduation, he has served as the President of the Cornell Club of Washington, DC and in various roles for his Class, and he was recently appointed as a Director At-Large of the Cornell Alumni Association. Among other outdoor pursuits, Jon loves to canoe, ski, and scuba dive, and he is a certified PADI Divemaster. Jon resides in Chevy Chase, MD, with his wife, Diana (Maxant) ’94, and their two boys.
Dan Tillemans served as second director of Cornell Outdoor Education, from 1984 to 1999. Dan significantly grew the program with the additions of the Lindseth Climbing Center, Phillips Outdoor Program Center, and Hoffman Challenge Course. In addition, it was under his leadership that the COE Advisory Board was created. Dan lives in Ithaca and he still regularly facilitates and leads programs for COE. The endowed Tillemans Director of Teambuilding position was funded in honor of Dan’s 15 years of COE Leadership.
Julie Carter is a 1971 graduate of the College of Human Ecology, Human Development. She received a Masters degree in education from Western Connecticut State College. She taught 2nd grade for 10 years before starting a family and embarking on many moves around the United States and internationally. Julie enjoys trail riding, skiing, and hiking and just generally likes the outdoors. She is married to Jay Carter, Cornell 1971. They have 2 daughters, Jess and Jackie, Cornell 2007.
Judy Lowry ’56 is a long time COE Advisory Board member from the urban canyons of New York City. Judy studied in the College of Arts and Sciences, graduating in 1956. She and her husband, George, joined the Board for trips to the Winds and New Zealand. Judy and her sister ran a family book store, one of the leading sellers of book art, first editions and rare books in the City for years.
Clint Sidle ’74 is the director the Park Leadership Program at the Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM). Clint earned a bachelor’s and MBA at Cornell. He recently published his second book, This Hungry Spirit: Your Need for Basic Goodness. He has co-lead JGSM leadership trips with COE to the Sonoran Desert/Superstition Mountains and the Adirondacks and he regularly brings his Park Leadership fellows out to the Hoffman Challenge Course. Clint lives locally on the banks of Fall Creek in Forest Home.
Peter Guggenheimer (emeritus) joined the COE Board after meeting Dan Tillemans and helping to design the Phillps Outdoor Program Center and Bartels Hall. Peter is a recently retired architect living in the New York City area. He has joined us on a number of Board trips including New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Thailand. Peter is an avid outdoorsman enjoying winter camping, peak scrambling, desert sojourns, and backpacking, as well as car racing. Peter’s two children are both Cornell grads.
Tilly Dorsey joined the COE Advisory Board after doing a rappel with Dan Tillemans as part of a CAU program in 1988. She enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and desert sojourns. Tilly has joined COE on trips to the Winds, Yosemite, Thailand, and Boundary Waters (dog mushing). When not adventuring in the outdoors, she is outside raising alpacas on her Maryland farm.
Dr. Connie Campbell, Arts and Sciences ‘89, is a surgeon who entered Cornell as an alum of HIOBS and went on to be a WR tripper, guide, and coordinator and COE instructor (canoeing, skiing). She married fellow Wind River Range expedition mate, Tony Diehl ’90, with whom she traveled to Nepal on a COE alum trip. They live in NH where Connie has developed bariatric, robotic and breast surgery programs and still can easily hike in the White Mountains, often staging trips from their northern NH yurt. They have 2 children, Alex (ILR ’19) who is an OB/NOLS alum and Odyssey tripper, guide and COE TA and Connor (?’24) who travels the world playing soccer and is an Adventure Trekker. Connie enjoys incorporating photography as part of her outdoor adventures.
Sara Strachan ’97 is a consultant focused on natural resource based tourism, particularly within our National Park System. She has recently re-located to Providence, Rhode Island after living in the Washington, D. C. area. Sara studied in the Hotel School, graduating in 1997. She has worked for the Princeton-Blairstown Center and number of other outdoor settings. Her favorite outdoor activities include biking and hiking.
Robin Mills ’69 MBA is past Chair of the COE Advisory Board. He and his wife, Jan Mills ’69, split their time between Florida and California. Robin is a retired senior executive who worked in a number of fields. He helped organize Board trips to his past homes in New Zealand and South Africa and he also joined COE for trips to Alaska, Costa Rica, the Sierras, and Thailand. Robin is an avid sail and power boater. He’s served on Outward Bound and many other national and community boards.
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