Staff

Headquarters

Andrew Taber, Ph.D., Executive Director, started his professional career at the Wildlife Conservation Society where he worked for eighteen years in South America, eventually directing their Latin American and Caribbean Program.  He then went on to serve as Executive Vice President at Wildlife Trust.  Most recently, he was based in Bogor, Indonesia working for the Center for International Forestry Research as Deputy Director General overseeing programs on climate change, biodiversity, forest management, and livelihoods of forest peoples. He studied at UC-Santa Cruz, and holds a doctorate from Oxford University where he attended Balliol College.  Dr. Taber played a key role in creating protected space in Bolivia's Gran Chaco National Park, one of the Western Hemisphere’s largest reserves.

Alton Byers, Ph.D., Director of Science and Exploration is a mountain geographer and climber specializing in applied research, alpine conservation and restoration programs, climate change impacts, highland-lowland interactive conservation, and mountain photography. He received his doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1987. He joined The Mountain Institute in 1990 and has since lived and worked in Nepal, Peru and West Virginia directing various programs for the organization.  He is the recipient of the Association of American Geographer's Distinguished Career Award from the Mountain Geographer Specialty Group, David Brower Conservation Award from the American Alpine Club, and Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal from the Nepali NGO Mountain Legacy.

Brian PenistonDirector of Moutnain Livelihoods and Innovation worked for The Mountain Institute in Nepal for 16 years before relocating back to the United States in 2012.  He has designed integrated conservation and development projects in Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia and Central Asia and has also worked in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Peru.  He helped establish The Mountain Institute – India, an independent sister organization of The Mountain Institute.  Mr. Peniston has Masters Degrees in Forestry (Yale University, 1992) and Public Health (University of Hawaii, 1983) and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (Connecticut College, 1974). 

Kelly Metz, Controller, has nearly twenty years of accounting and finance experience in various capacities and industries, including the hospitality, real estate, and advertising industries, as well as in the NGO community. For nine years, Ms. Metz worked at Marriott International, Inc.’s global headquarters in Bethesda, MD, where her responsibilities were many and varied. In addition to her positions at Marriott, Ms. Metz has held the positions of Controller of Kaleidoscope Sports & Entertainment, Finance Manager at IFES, and Chief Accounting Officer of Bresler & Reiner, Inc. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Ms. Metz is a native of Western Pennsylvania and currently lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
 
Safaa Aladham, Senior Accountant
 

Himalayan Program

Dr. Meeta Pradhan

Meeta S. Pradhan, Ph.D., Director, Himalaya Program began her career with The Mountain Institute as the Women’s Development Officer with the Makalu-Barun Conservation Project.  Since then she has worked in technical and senior management positions including serving as Program Development Coordinator for CARE Nepal, and working on project monitoring and evaluation for UNICEF. She has produced a number of highly regarded technical and analytical reports and publications examining development impacts on poverty, social inclusion, and gender.  Dr. Pradhan received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan concentrating on Social Exclusion and Social Change, examining the barriers that prevent local communities from fully participating in local development initiatives.

Ang Rita Sherpa, Senior Program Manager is a native of Khunde, a village in the Khumbu region of Nepal.  He has 18 years of experience in protected area management, eco-tourism, and sustainable development; he has facilitated numerous international workshops on these topics.  He has a Master's degree in Protected Landscape Management from the University of Wales, UK, and a Bachelor’s degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from Lincoln University, New Zealand.  He has also served as a volunteer for the National Parks Service in the United States where he spent nine months working in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

 
Purushotam Bhattarai, Regional Finance and Administrative Officer
Chet Kumar Khatri, Engineer
Karma Bhutia, Regional Livelihoods Coordinator
Bheem Raj Rai, District Program Coordinator, Humla
Shiva Basnet, Office Assistant
Diki Sherpa, Receptionist
Phurba Sherpa, High Mountain Project Assistant
Dambur Thapa, High Mountain Project Consultant
 

Andean Program

Jorge Recharte, Ph.D., Director, Andes Program is based in Huaraz and Lima, Peru, and holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University, 1989. He joined The Mountain Institute in 1997 after spending three years in Ecuador working for the Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO) designing and heading the graduate education and research program in Mountain Societies and Sustainable Development.  Between 1980-1981 and 1990-1993 he was an associate researcher at the International Potato Center where he developed participatory research methodologies in agriculture.  He currently serves on the Board of The Common Good Institute and is a member of the Andes Chapter of the International Mountain Society (IMS).

Miriam Torres Angeles, Conservation Specialist joined The Mountain Institute in 1995. She graduated from the National Parks and Wildlife Management program of Peru's National Agrarian University in 1987. From 1988-1995 she was a staff member at Pro Naturaleza working with mountain protected areas in Peru, particularly conducting participatory management plans.  She helped produce the first management plan for Huascaran National Park in 1990, led the development of its eco-tourism plan in 1997, and led the second management plan initiative and the National Master Plan for the Peruvian protected areas system in 1995.  She is a member of the Andes Chapter of the International Mountain Society (IMS) and the IUCN Commission on Protected Areas, Mountain Areas and Non-Material Values.

Manuel Asencios, Director of Finances
Vidal Rondan Ramirez, Environmental Education Program Officer
Florencia Zapata, Cultural Heritage Program Officer
Doris Chavez, Rangeland Management Project Officer
Cristina Giraud, Adaptation Project Officer
Laura Trejo, Adaptation Project Officer
Junior Gil, Adaptation Project Officer
Milena Huerta, Administrative Assistant
Gabriela Lopez Sotomayor, Rural Development Specialist
Juan Sanchez, Field Staff
Donato Sanchez Lirio, Driver
 

Appalachian Program

Vicki Fenwick-Judy

Vicki Fenwick-Judy, Director, Appalachian Program, is a lifelong resident of West Virginia. She returned to TMI in 2014 to lead the Appalachian program's ongoing environmental, watershed, and wilderness education. She had previously worked as a Field Instructor at Spruce Knob, and holds a MA in Psychology from Marshall University. She serves as a representative on the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Education Workgroup, and has worked with the West Virginia Department of Education and the Canaan Valley Institute to develop environmental education. 

 

Dave Martin, Program Coordinator has a BA in American Studies from Hampshire College.  Prior to his current position at The Mountain Institute he worked as a climbing guide at Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides.  He has been with TMI in several different roles since 1993.

 

 

 

 

Kellee Waddell, Education Coordinator has been exploring the backcountry and instructing environmental and adventure-based programs for over a decade. She has a degree in English from Slippery Rock University and in Natural Resources from Garrett College.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Melinda Brooks, Course Director
Jeff DeBellis, Course Director
Shannon Gaffey, Course Director
 

Jeremy Spoon, Ph.D., Research Associate is an Assistant Professor of Applied Anthropology at Portland State University.  His research focuses on the influence of political economy on local ecological knowledge in and around protected areas.  He has conducted research with the Khumbu Sherpa inside Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park, Nepal; the Southern Paiute/Chemehuevi around the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada; the Keekonyokie Maasai and Dorobo around Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya; and Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) around Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. He has 12 years of experience collaborating with international NGOs on participatory interpretation/education and environmental management in Nepal, the United States, and Kenya.