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Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of the NIA consists of eight to twelve members serving two year terms. Every boreal fall we hold an election for six of these positions. Having passionate and active Board members is essential to our continued progress.

The primary role of a Board member is to guide the strategy of the NIA. Board members participate in ongoing conversations via a Google Group, as well as quarterly conference calls. We represent the creative ideas and pressing concerns of the NOLS employees to the Board of Trustees and Executive Director Team. We maintain this website as a clearing house for employee information about the school, and moderate a conversation on our Facebook group that includes an ongoing discussion of our curriculum and tracking broader trends in education.

Each member contributes in different ways depending on their teaching schedule and location. Most Board members eventually take on an individual 
leadership role (treasurer, secretary, webmaster, visibility, etc.). When not in the field, board members typically spend at least six hours per month on NIA related projects. Learn more about Board member roles and expectations here.

Elena Chin

President Term ending December 2022

Elena is from San Francisco, California, and is pretty sure there's some saying about not being able to take the city out of your heart. She hikes and rock climbs for NOLS and for fun, and most recently has returned to a beginner's mindset to try to learn to ski. Since taking her IC in 2013, Elena has worked hard to make NOLS a place where the instructors and students most vulnerable to systems of oppression can thrive in wilderness spaces. Elena loves sleeping in after long backcountry expeditions, cat GIFs, and eating vegetables.


Julia "Pieps" Pieper

Treasurer Term ending December 2022

Pieps first came to NOLS as a student on a Year in Patagonia in 2007. After a brief hiatus to study engineering, she returned for an IC in 2013. Since then Pieps has worked Backpacking, Canoeing, Canyoneering, and Winter courses. When not working in the field, she resides in the Teton Valley and spends free time aspiring to become a packrafter. 


Ira Slomski-Pritz

Expedition Instructor Membership Coordinator Term ending December 2021

After growing up backpacking in the Winds, Ira took his IC in Alaska in 2014. Since then he has worked mountaineering and hiking courses in Alaska, Wyoming, and Patagonia. He is continually impressed by the experience, resourcefulness, and intelligence of NOLS faculty, and hopes to ensure their perspectives inform school-wide decision-making. 


Drew Seitz

Flamingo Fund Administrator Term ending December 2021

Born in West Virginia, Drew is a Mountaineer by birth and vocation.  Since taking his IC in 2006, he's accumulated 130 weeks Backpacking, Climbing, Mountaineering, and Caving.  Drew has also worked for the Rocky Mountain Facilities Dept. and as a "solar roughneck" from his home base in Lander.  He took the ITC in 2013 and teaches WFRs & WFAs.


Marissa Bieger

Mentorship Coordinator Term ending December 2021

Marissa took her IC in 2013 and has spent recent years instructing mountaineering, hiking, climbing, and kayaking. She often splits her time between Alaska and Patagonia and when not in the field enjoys yoga, dance, and whitewater kayaking. She is excited to advocate for the community that has brought depth and vibrancy to her work and life.


Caio Poletti

In-town Membership Coordinator Term ending December 2021

Caio has worked for NOLS for 9 years, and has 150 weeks in the field canoeing, sea kayaking, and hiking. He's a Program Supervisor at NOLS Northeast and has supervised for three seasons at NOLS Mexico.  Last but not least, Caio is a Lifetime Member of the NIA.  


Debra East

Director Term ending December 2022

Hike, ride or paddle an arc of time with me. Starting in 1978, hired to reopen a state field office for a state environmental group, Lander was selected. Friends were made, including NOLS field instructors, who are friends to this day. In the intervening 28 years, community empowerment was my activist home/heart base as a direct job or volunteer. The action platform ranged from legislative lobbying to community organizing in environmental and energy conservation, abortion rights, women's rights, LGBTQ public safety and rights, collaboration with Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone People and programs for home heating, voting rights, and the intersection of racism and colonialism. The 1998 vigil and death of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the university in Laramie, WY, launched action in Wind River Country and Wyoming for diversity and inclusion training, community engagement and movement. The nonprofit, Wind River Country Initiate for Youth for outreach for LGBTQ and Two Spirit, a rare collaboration provided training and action awareness through 2005. In 2006 I joined NOLS Wilderness Medicine Admissions for full time employment. Since that time, collaborative innovation created actions and accountability to diversity, equality and inclusion in business and student support systems. I am gratified to be able to offer this range of lived and professional experience to the NIA as response to NOLS staff in multiple countries on Indigenous lands, with communities of people and centering the learning question, “What are my habits and assumptions causing me not to see?” This is a radical means of creating change in the arc of time we are all committed to improve.


Isi Llarena

Director Term ending December 2022

Isi came to Nols as a Patagonia Year student in 2013. Shortly after she entered the IIT program, and then took her IC in Alaska in 2015. Since then she's worked mostly out of the Patagonia branch, working at times in AK and PNW during the boreal summer. Even though she's been a full time field instructor since her IC, she recently joined the Field Staffing office, and she's really enjoying the novelty of having a home (which is not a truck). 


Nadine Lehner

Director Term ending December 2022

Born and raised in New York City, Nadine took a student course in the Yukon in 2004 and then returned for an IC in 2010. She's worked on and off for NOLS over the past decade as a hiking and mountaineering instructor, and splits her time between Patagonia and Alaska. She's deeply appreciative of the wisdom, energy and range of NOLS employees, and looks forward to helping this community build forward. 


John Sims

Director Term ending December 2022

John first came to NOLS as a student in 2013 on a Wind River Mountaineering course. After some time away, he found his way back to Lander through a summer seasonal rations position, with a desire to stay in Lander and continue working for NOLS he eventually became the current RM rations manager. He has recently begun working towards becoming an instructor.


Aaron Divine

Director Emeritus

Aaron began working in-town in Alaska in 1998 and took the AKIC in 2000.  He still works mountaineering courses each summer.  The rest of the year he teaches Parks & Recreation Management at Northern Arizona University, specializing in Program Planning and Outdoor Education and Leadership.  He represents the seasonal staff perspective.  akdivine@gmail.com

Fabio Raimo de Oliveira

Director Emeritus

A field instructor and proud NIA member since 1998, Fabio has worked more than 200 weeks in hiking, mountaineering, climbing, sea kayaking, and canoeing.  He spends most of his NOLS working life far from Lander, and strives to bring an international perspective to NOLS decisions via the NIA.   


Summers Eatmon Williams

President Emeritus

Summers grew up skiing and hiking in Vermont. She took a Sonoran Desert semester in 2004 which solidified her dreams of working for NOLS. She later returned as a WOE student before taking her IC in 2011. When not in the field serves as a Trustee for a start-up independent school in Ludlow, VT and is a new mom. 


Sean Williams

President Emeritus 

Sean took his IC in 2003 and has since worked over 200 weeks hiking, mountaineering, and sea kayaking, primarily in Alaska, New Zealand, and Patagonia. He now lives in Andover, Vermont and runs a freelance translation business, recently giving up his urban life for a farmhouse. Sean hopes to keep the NIA focused, moving fast, and thinking big.  


Nominations and Elections

It is important to have a diverse group representative of as many individuals as possible. NOLS has many niches, and we think it's important that the administration hears from all of them from senior staff to Instructors coming off their first course, seasonal issue room staff to full time transportation drivers. If you've got energy to devote to the cause, then we'd encourage you to run. 

Candidates are self-nominated, and must be current NIA members. Post your nomination on the NIA Facebook Group, including a brief description of the issues at NOLS you're passionate about, and how you might like to contribute. If you're not a Facebook user, you can email Marissa Bieger to nominate yourself. 

Elections run during November and December each year, and are conducted on nolsinstructorassociation.org. All current NIA Members are eligible to vote. New members may join once the election has begun.  

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