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Cornell University

Our Team

A backpacking team at an Appalachian Trail trailhead

Student and Community Instructors

Cornell Outdoor Education would not be possible without the hundreds of student instructors and community members who teach our classes and staff our facilities. Often graduates of the PE classes themselves, students receive extensive training in "hard" skills, like advanced paddling strokes and rescues, as well as the "soft" skills that are necessary to teach and lead students through their experiences. Our instructors are the heart and soul of these program and we are truly grateful for their contributions.

Full Time Staff

Mark Holton


B01 Bartels Hall

Mark considers himself an honorary Ithaca local. Originally from NH, Mark came to Cornell for graduate studies in Chemistry. While he did eventually graduate, Mark spent a good deal of his early years in Ithaca teaching rock climbing and skiing for COE. In October 2001, Mark finally decided to follow his heart and teach outdoor education full time. 

Karel Hilversum

Co-Director, Cornell Outdoor Education. The Dan Tillemans Director, Cornell Team & Leadership Center

B01 Bartels Hall

Karel joined COE in 2016, coming directly from his native Puerto Rico. From there, he designed and delivered hundreds of challenge course programming, outdoor adventure education courses, and leadership & team development workshops for over 20 years to groups across the Americas and the world.

Elizabeth Anderson

Challenge Course Manager

B01 Bartels Hall

Originally from Alexandria, VA, Elizabeth came to COE all the way from California. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at Radford University. She holds a current ACCT Level 2 Facilitator Certification and has worked in the outdoor education and experiential learning industry for nearly a decade. Elizabeth enjoys skydiving, rafting, backpacking, climbing up trees.

Ben Blakeley

Outfitting Manager

B01 Bartels Hall

A true local, Ben grew up in the hills surrounding Ithaca, but it wasn't until his senior year at Cornell, 1997, that he became involved with COE. Ben quickly resolved to make up for lost time and started by being a teaching assistant for basic rock climbing. He now teaches climbing, mountain biking, trail running, backpacking, sea kayaking, caving, and cross-country skiing. As Outfitting Manager, Ben manages course issue, and student and public rentals.  Ben is also in charge of COE's Wilderness Medicine program. 

Marcus Brooks

Cornell Team & Leadership Center Coordinator

B01 Bartels Hall

Marcus comes to us from New York City where he earned both his Bachelors degree and MBA from Columbia University. He uniquely combines his formal business skill sets in leadership, organizational development, entrepreneurship, strategy and finance with his deep passion for human development through the great outdoors and experiential learning. He is an accomplished wilderness guide having lead international trips to destinations as far away as Kilimanjaro. Marcus holds an AMGA-CWI and EMT certification.

Rob Cook

Biking, Paddling & Skiing Programs Coordinator

B01 Bartels Hall

Originally from the strip malls of Long Island, Rob came to Ithaca in pursuit of music. Very quickly he fell in love with the area and found himself exploring the gorges and backpacking instead of practicing his bass. He graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and has previously worked in wilderness therapy, conservation and nature education. Rob enjoys Nordic skiing, paddling, rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking and he can make a fire by rubbing sticks together. 

Danni Ford

Office Manager and Registrar

B01 Bartels Hall

Danni grew up in Western New York, in the town of Le Roy and completed her Masters of Science in Recreation Management at SUNY Cortland in 2015. Before finding her way over to Cornell Outdoor Education, she worked at the Noyes Community Recreation Center in the recreational services world. Danni has two dogs and spends her free time hiking, reading, visiting family and watching the Buffalo Bills (even when they are giving her heart palpitations). 

Josh Giblin

Lindseth Climbing Center Manager

B01 Bartels Hall

Josh’s roundabout route to COE includes work as a graphic designer, camp counselor, woodworker, produce clerk, and customer service manager, not necessarily in that order and sometimes all at once. Although he has always loved adventuring, it wasn’t until his boss took him to the Gunks in 2003 that climbing became a focus of his energy. These days, Josh is always itching to get off the ground, but will happily give you a belay if you ask.

Chris Leeming

Land Programs Coordinator

B01 Bartels Hall

Born and raised in Ithaca, Chris spent his summers working at camps along Cayuga Lake. After college (BA in psychology) Chris started working for the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School. Chris found his passion instructing 30 day wilderness courses with adjudicated students in the scenic, but hot, humid, and buggy swamps of Florida. Chris accumulated over 1800 field days as an Instructor and Course Director from Florida to Maine and stops in between.

Andrew McLaughlin

Climbing Program Coordinator

Believing that experience is the best way to learn, Andrew likes to jump in feet first. He has been backpacking since he couldn't carry a helpful load and started to experience the snow bundled in a pulk behind his parents. While studying Geological Sciences at University of Oregon, he fell in love with rock climbing and has worked in challenge course and industrial rope access settings so that he can look out on beautiful scenery with great people ever since.

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