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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 technical skills, like advanced paddling strokes and rescues, as well as the interpersonal 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

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.

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. 

Chris Bode

Paddle, Bike & Ski Coordinator

B01 Bartels Hall

Bode grew up out in the mountains of Washington State. He did his undergrad at the University of Redlands in Southern California where he found his love for Outdoor Leadership. In his Junior year there he switched from Pre-Med to Environmental Science and Psychology. He took a break after undergrad to lead trips full time getting to play in around 20 US states, 4 Canadian provinces, Central and South America. After a few years he went back for his Masters in Environmental and Outdoor Education at SUNY Cortland.

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.

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.

Karel Hilversum

Lindseth Co-Director of 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.

Linnea Sunti

Front Office Manager and Registrar

Sunti previously worked on Capitol Hill, in the U.S. immigration system as a legal advocate, on the U.S/Mexico border as an organizer, as a human rights delegate around NAFTA in Oaxaca, and in the K-12 public education system in America’s South as a social worker/student leadership coordinator. Sunti earned her BA in Latin American Studies with a focus on Immigration and Human Rights, and brings more than 10 years of administrative and project management experience to this role. She grew up in Washington D.C., she’s visited every state in the U.S.

Matt Kager

Challenge Course Coordinator

Matt Kager has been leading outdoor adventures for over twenty years. He has been a lead facilitator for CTLC since 2015. Matt enjoys paddling, hiking, sailing, skiing, snorkeling, fishing, games of any kind! Matt holds many certifications including facilitation for the EQi 2.0 Emotional Intelligence suite of assessment tools. He is passionate about bringing people together and motivating groups to work in unity.

Mark Holton

Lindseth Co-Director of Cornell Outdoor Education

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. 

Sylvie Froncek

Interim Director of the Cornell Team and Leadership Center

B01 Bartels Hall

Sylvie started working with Cornell’s Team and Leadership Center at the age of 15. Since then she has worked as an outdoor adventure guide for the Claremont Colleges in California, a rock climbing instructor in Colorado, a bicycle tour guide in New Zealand and the Northeastern USA, and a mountain instructor for the North Carolina Outward Bound School. Bicycling, canoeing, backpacking, rock climbing and organic farming are Sylvie’s primary outdoor activities.

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