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. Full Bio here.

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. Full Bio here.

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.
Jennifer Drenning, Director of Development, has 20+ years of specialized experience in raising funds and managing government and foundation grants for international development and conservation organizations both large and small.  She began her career with ACDI/VOCA as a coordinator of USAID-funded agricultural cooperative development projects and later worked for 10 years on the foundation relations team at Conservation International. She has an MA in International Development from American University in Washington, DC, and BA in International Relations from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
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.


Claire Jones, Program Officer 


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. Full Bio here.

Karma Bhutia

Karma Bhutia, Regional Livelihoods Coordinator, is a native of Chyamtang village in the Upper Arun Valley of Eastern Nepal, one of the several districts where TMI supports mountain farmers to cultivate and market high value medicinal and aromatic plants. He joined TMI in 1997 and has over 17 years experience in community development and natural resource management. He has lead the work on medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation and marketing, and has trained over 8,000 farmers to increase their income and conserve the biodiversity in mountain communities in Nepal, India (Sikkim and Darjeeling), and Bhutan. He has also supported orientations on the concepts of REDD+ and on the “Free Prior and Informed Consent” (a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous people) in mountain communities in Nepal. He has been instrumental in raising funds for community development programs in Nepal. He has attended a number of trainings and workshops in different countries around the world, and volunteered at Washington State University as well as different herbal and agricultural farms in the USA. Mr. Bhutia was a recipient of the “World Wildlife Fund Young Conservation Leaders Award” in 2007 and a “Certificate of Achievement” from ICIMOD in 2011.

Purushotam Bhattarai, Regional Finance and Administrative Officer

Shiva Basnet, Office Assistant

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). Full Bio here. 

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 Officer 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
Melinda Brooks, Course Director, is originally from the rolling hills of the Mississippi Valley. After earning a BS in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Administration from Western Illinois University, she headed east in search of more dramatic topography - first to Northern Georgia, then to West Virginia where she has been with The Mountain Institute since 2010. She lives in the North Fork Valley with her husband, dog, and a rotating menagerie of farm animals.
Shannon Gaffey, Course Director
Thomas Komir, Course Director