Team

Chris Stakich
Chief Executive Officer

An expert on travel and service-based education, Chris leads Rustic Pathways with an eye for innovation and excellence. Since graduating from Harvard in 2001, Chris has worked in virtually all areas of our organization, from running programs in Costa Rica to managing our global team. He works diligently with our team to develop future leaders who embody a broad perspective and compassion for the world. Chris lives in San Francisco with his wife and three young sons.

Oscar Hackett
Chief Financial Officer

A former Rustic Pathways student, Oscar “Oz” returns to us as our chief financial officer. With extensive experience in finance, business, and law, Oz applies his expertise to streamline and grow Rustic Pathways’ business operations. Oz earned his bachelor’s degree in science, technology, and international affairs from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and received his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. In his free time, Oz enjoys sharing his passion for adventure and travel with his wife and young son.

Brent Watkins
Vice President of Program Operations

Brent holds a master’s in teaching from Johns Hopkins University where he is also on the adjunct faculty at the Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining Rustic Pathways, Brent managed the training and preparation of new classroom teachers for Teach For America – Baltimore. With extensive experience in learning development and teacher training, Brent ensures the highest level of quality across our programming.

Anna Beckerman
Vice President of Sales

Anna is an alumna of School Year Abroad and has a dual degree in geoscience and Mandarin from Dartmouth. Anna’s passion for experiential education and travel was sparked in high school and furthered in college. She now applies this passion at Rustic Pathways, providing opportunities for teachers and students to immerse themselves in new surroundings and engage powerfully with other cultures. Anna was previously director of our China operations and now resides in San Francisco.

Ryan Gibbons
Vice President of Business Operations

With a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Ryan brings his talent in marketing, photography, and design to Rustic Pathways. Originally a Costa Rica program leader, Ryan spent four years building our creative team before taking over Business Operations. Ryan now focuses on creating a world-class client experience for each and every family at Rustic. Prior to joining Rustic, Ryan worked for NPR in Washington D.C.

Kevin Porter
Global Program Operations Director

Kevin has been  directing our global program operations since 2014, after serving as Ghana Country Director for three years. Now based in Boston, he manages our team of diverse country directors and ensures the quality of the programs we deliver on the ground. Prior to joining us, Kevin worked with development organizations in East Africa, completed research for the United Nations in South Korea, and oversaw wilderness leadership programs while attending Harvard University.

Dave Dennis
Safety and Risk Management Director

Dave has a master’s degree in risk management and more than 20 years of experience in the adventure and student travel industry. Prior to joining us, he owned a consulting firm that specialized in implementing risk management and emergency response programs for both domestic and global tour operators. He works with our operations team and local country leadership to ensure the quality and consistency of all Rustic Pathways’ programs worldwide. Dave lives in Colorado with his wife and children.

Erin Murphy
Student Impact Director

Erin is passionate about Rustic Pathways’ vision of a world where travel is an essential part of every student’s education. After graduating from Notre Dame, Erin spent three years in northeastern Thailand teaching business English at Khon Kaen University through a Princeton in Asia Fellowship. Erin earned her master’s in education at Harvard and brings great energy to our team of educators. Though Erin bounces from country to country quite a lot, there is still no place like home in Virginia.

Brielle Friedman
Marketing Director

A Rustic Pathways alum, Brielle returned to us after earning a degree in international relations and creative writing from Brown University. She now channels her passion for travel, writing, and design as brand manager and works with the creative team to spread the word about Rustic. Brielle founded a dance-cardio company in Providence, Rhode Island and took first place for her business plan. Her love of travel led her to a small town in Guatemala’s highlands where she discovered salsa dancing. She now competes and and performs across the United States.

Lauren Anderson
Program Staffing and Training Manager

Lauren joined Rustic Pathways after graduating from Emory University. She spent her first six years in Costa Rica overseeing our operations and seasonal staff. She then formed our Alumni Association where she developed programs for continuing student involvement. She now uses her extensive skill set to continue to improve the hiring and training of all program leaders across the globe. Lauren lives in Chicago, travels often, and enjoys maintaining her Spanish fluency

Matija Paunovski
Regional Recruitment Director-International

Matija completed an undergraduate degree at Northeastern University, then went on to earn a master’s degree from Harvard. Her expertise in leadership training and recruitment has enabled her to achieve great success within the Rustic Pathways Group Travel division. Her highest priority is that educators and students walk away completely satisfied and fulfilled from their incredible experience. In her free time, Matija enjoys reading, working out, running, and practicing power vinyasa yoga.

Lauren DeAngelis Àlvarez
Regional Development Manager

Our Regional Sales Manager, Lauren brings experience from across Rustic Pathways’ sales and operations, including as our Strategic Partnerships Manager and USA Country Director. She lives between two Caribbean cities – New Orleans and Santo Domingo – and spends time by the ocean in New England where she grew up. She is a Temple University alumnus and non-fiction reader. You can usually find her hosting unexpected parties, exploring cities, or hiking the bayous with her family.

Dustin Aschenbeck
Regional Development Manager

Dustin joined Rustic Pathways in 2010 as the Director of India operations. Whether he is busy working on the river guiding trips in the mountains of Colorado or sharing stories of his many global adventures, Dustin believes that his life’s journey should never be a destination but a journey of careful observation and intentional living. When not traveling throughout the world, Dustin enjoys playing classical piano and kayaking with his friends.

Jared Kahan
Regional Development Manager

Originally from the DC area, Jared has a strong love of international travel and community service. He has a diverse background, including stints as an AmeriCorps team member in New Orleans, tour guide in Italy and 2 years spent managing our Ricefields Service Base in Thailand. Jared has a degree in Global Studies: Violence, Conflict and Human Rights from Arizona State University and is an avid DC sports fan.

Sammy Gacsi
Senior Program Coordinator

Sammy has a degree in sociolinguistics from the University of Szeged in Hungary which is where he was born and raised. During his many years working with Rustic Pathways, his enthusiasm, creativity, and leadership skills have made him an integral member of our global team. Sammy takes great pleasure in sharing his passion for education and travel with our teachers and their students.

Brandon Hartman
Group Travel Program Coordinator

Brandon joined Rustic Pathways in 2013 as a personal travel advisor before transitioning to the Group Travel team. He studied finance at Miami University, and has a background in banking. Brandon takes pride in customer service, and has employed those skills for the past three years as a group travel program coordinator. Brandon has a beautiful wife and two adorable sons. He is a passionate Ohio State and Cleveland sports fan, and looks forward to teaching his sons about his favorite teams.

David Gormley
Group Travel Program Coordinator

David has had a passion for travel since a young age. As a child he spent the summers exploring Maine’s rocky coastal islands, and at the age of 11, departed with his family for a year of sailing down the east coast and crossing the Gulf of Mexico to explore Central America by boat. David graduated from Champlain College’s Stiller School of Business with a B.S. in International Business. He is an avid outdoorsman and spent two years exploring the North Cascades before joining Rustic as a Program Leader in Thailand.

Mary O'Connor
Group Travel Program Coordinator

Mary graduated from Boston University with degrees in photojournalism and Spanish. Mary is from the North Shore of Massachusetts. Since graduating in 2011, Mary has worked as a photographer for newspapers in Massachusetts and Vermont, taught English in Montezuma, Costa Rica, coordinated a volunteer program in Cuzco, Peru, and taught snowboarding in Lake Tahoe, California. Mary has lead and photographed Rustic Pathways programs in Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, and Peru. She is fluent in Spanish and culturally competent across the globe. Mary’s free spirit and passion for travel and photography make her a natural on Team Peru.