2023 New Board Member Applicants

The CRAG-VT Board of Directors has three (3) open board seats to appoint for 2023. The current Board of Directors has nominated a slate of candidates for the membership to consider and vote on during the Annual Meeting on December 6th. We have a working board and board members are vital in both steering the direction of our work and accomplishing the tasks necessary to achieve our mission.

The current Board is particularly interested in adding individuals with fundraising, writing, event planning, and landowner / government relationship building experience or interest. Please see to review the 2023 candidates. All current members in attendance at our Annual meeting are eligible to vote. 

Matt Bresler (He/Him)

Tell Us About Yourself: I’m a Richmond resident, parent, and education/training professional. I’ve come to a few board meetings in the past, helped out at some trail days, and worked as a guide/instructor at Petra. I’ve been climbing for about 30 years and have lived in Vermont since 1997. I think of myself as an all-around climber. My favorite parts of climbing are introducing new people to the sport and feeling its mindful essence/flow state/whatever you want to call it…

What is your knowledge of or prior involvement with CRAG-VT? I’m a sustaining member. I’ve attended a few board meetings and trail days over the years. I’ve known several board members in varying capacities. I’m confident I could table for Crag tomorrow if needed.

Why do you want to join the CRAG-VT Board of Directors? I’d like to give back to the community that has given so much to me over the past 25 years. My specific interests include community outreach and promoting effective risk management practices.

Please detail your experience here: I’ve done some design work for educational materials, and I did some marketing for the AAC when I worked at the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch. I write and edit in a professional capacity. I wrote and won a statewide grant from Samsung for $25K-ish for my middle school team. I’m a landowner and come from a real estate family, so I’m somewhat familiar with the associated complexities there. I’m not a JEDI although I’ve applied these concepts to both my personal and professional lives. I’ve delivered JEDI-informed curriculum and collaborated to design/implement inclusive educational materials and practices in both K-12 and higher ed. environments. I’ve worked with a team to plan and execute school graduations. I’m also real good at grant writin’ (and spottin’ typos).

Share any other relevant skills here: I’m interested in how collaboration works. As in, I don’t believe that putting a bunch of smart/passionate people in a room together makes magic happen. I’d like to find and implement collaborative structures (such as decision-making frameworks or meeting protocols) to encourage growth in the board’s productivity and efficient use of time.

Gene O. Desideraggio (He/Him)

Tell Us About Yourself: I started climbing in high school when I knew I wanted a sport that would make me able to move my body and feel strong and capable, but no other sport was fun for me. While I wasn’t initially very good at climbing I had grown up in a rock-filled town in CT and was always enamored with 3D landscapes, good views and scrambling and exploring what’s around the next corner of talus fields and thick forests. I had a friend with some gear and a we found a small crag down the street from my house. After climbing outside a couple times I knew climbing would be an outlet for my energy, a way to work out and get strong, and a lifelong hobby. I moved to Vermont for college because I knew there would be more opportunities to climb and after a couple years I started working at Petra Cliffs Climbing Center which opened my eyes to the large and new (to me) world of indoor climbing as well as the greater climbing community. I’ve worked there in various roles for 5+ years learning more about different aspects of climbing. During this time I’ve been figuring out how to utilize my passion for outdoor stewardship and conservation, which came hand in hand with my forestry degree, with the need for more education and conservation of our climbing areas. Now I coach one of our youth climbing teams, lead educational nature programs and manage the routesetting at Petra Cliffs. I’ve been looking to get more involved with CRAG for years and started committing some of my time to attending meetings and volunteering consistently as of about a year ago. It has been validating and stimulating to meet so many climbers psyched on supporting the climbing community and working towards conservation and access to climbing resources.

What is your knowledge of or prior involvement with CRAG-VT? I have attended work days and am on two committees, stewardship and events, I have helped put on an educational talk helping climbers to understand more about geology and I do a fair amount of running around the woods of Vermont often doing some boulder development or poking around rocky areas far from the road. While I don’t have much suit-and-tie non-profit experience (grant writing, graphic design, event planning etc) I am stoked about climbing and would love to be helpful in stewardship, education about natural areas, conservation work, negotiating access, building relationships with and showing gratitude to landowners, and doing whatever I can to use my energy to build up the Vt Climbing community.

Why do you want to join the CRAG-VT Board of Directors? I want to continue volunteering my time and from what I’ve heard CRAG needs more board members who are able to consistently volunteer their time. I’m happy to keep helping out without the title or voting rights but if its helpful for the structure of CRAG for me to be on the board then put me in coach!

Please detail your experience here: I haven’t done any fundraising or grant writing, I’m not the best at grammar and editing, but I’m a friendly and fairly level-headed guy who’s listened in on marketing-related conversations at Petra and I am keen on figuring out how I can help support others in many of the above roles while acquiring those skills for myself for the future. I think I could be good at landowner relations since I’m a pretty friendly person and I am really passionate about stewardship and access and I have spent a lot of time running around the local climbing areas and digging into the ANR Natural Resource Atlas to learn about landowners.

Share any other relevant skills here: I have a BS in forestry from UVM where I minored in Geology, I’m no Pete Clark in terms of my understanding of climbing/cliff-specific ecology, but Pete WAS my TA freshman year! I love teaching people about the outdoors, my specialties are Tree ID and greater landform processes/ natural history, and I put on a mean Rock Talk (geology for climbers). I think that doing more educational signage/ events is something that a large portion of climbers in our community would be interested in and it would likely lead to them building a stronger connection to the landscape and then becoming more likely to see the impacts our sport has on it which will make them more psyched to help out with CRAG initiatives and be better about LNT.

As a fairly avid boulderer I could be helpful in chipping away at access projects that are bouldering specific and have been less of a priority for CRAG board members in the past. While it is not the most historic climbing practice, bouldering is the fastest growing part of the sport with bouldering-only gyms opening up all over the place and tons of climbers looking to take their newly acquired ropeless climbing skills outside. There’s a TON of bouldering in Vt and unfortunately a lot of what is developed and popular is on private property. I’d like to start building relationships with the landowners and seeing how we can support/ manage the use of their climbing resources more and mitigate the negative impacts of climbing on the environment. I’d also like to help CRAG to popularize the use of and increase the access/ trails to the boulders that are on state land but are a bit further of a hike, with good directions and trails people will hike 10 or 15 minutes to a boulder. A lot of crags are that far or farther and a trad rack is heavier than a crash pad so I think that with clearer access and more guidance we can disperse the crowds from the over-used roadside private-property gray-area-access boulders.

Joey Catania (He/Him)

Tell Us About Yourself:My wife and I moved to VT four and a half years ago. I quickly took up climbing after one of her new co-workers told me to join her one night at Petra. Climbing has brought me some of my closest friends and a rock solid (see what I did there) community. My career has been in compliance, starting out in politics and now at UVM where I work in student finances. This career has allowed me to have a analytical mindset where the rules are king, and it’s my job to navigate them while moving projects forward. Keeping things light but making tangible strides is the way I operate in my work and life. Through climbing, I’ve been able to explore every corner of VT and have had some of my best memories in odd corners of the state trying to find some obscure route because, ya know, adventure!

What is your knowledge of or prior involvement with CRAG-VT? Been a Crag member since I started climbing 4 years ago. I attend every event I can. Tend to bring trail maintenance gear when I go to the crag to make sure I can clear out anything I notice. Try to encourage all climbers I meet to join Crag for the community and conservation of our outdoor rock.

Why do you want to join the CRAG-VT Board of Directors? In the 4 years that I have been climbing in VT, I’ve seen so much growth in the climbing community and infrastructure. I want to continue to nourish that growth by being a solid go to member of the Board who people can turn to to get a job done. I also want to try and bring new ideas to help expand our community to welcome a more diverse population of climbers to our schisty rock. I pride myself in making people feel comfortable and welcome, and I think that’s one of the best things I’ve noticed about much of the current Board and I hope to continue that trend. I have a deep love for climbing in VT and want to play an active role in its preservation and expansion.

Please detail your experience here: Lead on several Crag trail days, outreach to Bone MT land owners to ensure access, Climbing fest volunteer coordinator. In the 9-5 world, I’m currently the Asst. Director of Compliance at UVM and previously worked in campaign finance compliance for both the government and a private consulting firm.

Share any other relevant skills here: interpersonal skills, reviewing/interpreting rules and regulations, understand he legislative/ regulatory process, organized, Currently member of the UVM Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

Deane Calcagni (He/Him)

Tell Us About Yourself: I grew up in Vermont and started climbing when I was in college at the University of Maryland. I moved back after graduating and worked at Petra Cliffs as a camp counselor for a couple of summers. My early career was in social services and nonprofit management including as National Manager for the Chill Foundation (Burton Snowboards nonprofit.) I did quite a bit of fundraising, event planning, and marketing in various roles before transition to data analytics, which is my current occupation. I took a bit of a break from climbing when my daughter was born, but she is almost 7 now and our whole family has gotten back into it in a big way. We spent most weekends climbing this summer climbing as a family and I’ve also been climbing/new-routing with Alden Pellett, who was one of my main partners years ago. I have been blown away by how much CRAG VT has done lately including the Bolton Dome project and the fall climbing festival that I attended this year. I’d love to help out however I can.

What is your knowledge of or prior involvement with CRAG-VT? I have been aware of CRAG-VT for many years going back to the acquisition of the Bolton Quarry, and I’m amazed at how much has been done over the last ten years.

Why do you want to join the CRAG-VT Board of Directors? I’m super interested in helping to grow/protect the incredible climbing community we have in Vermont, recognizing that as more people get involved, conservation and stewardship become even more important.

Please detail your experience here: My early career was in nonprofit management and I have significant experience in fundraising, grant writing, and marketing. Highlights include planning week-long staff training events, major fundraising events such as $100k+ golf tournaments, grant writing, and overseeing all marketing for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.

Share any other relevant skills here: I’m a huge nerd and my current role is in data science. I have experience in coding…primarily for analytics but some web development. I’m not sure what the state of your database is but I’d be happy to help optimize that and potentially do some segmentation/analysis to increase individual fundraising outreach.

Sean Neely (He/Him)

Tell Us About Yourself: I started rock climbing with friends in 1996 at Pawtuckaway State Park, NH, after years of outdoor experience developed in Maine and New Hampshire through Scouting. After a few years on top-rope and boulders, I started sport and ice climbing in NH during college. Later, I found my real passion in multipitch trad climbing, honing those skills in the Gunks, Dacks, and Whites, with the help and support of the Syracuse University Outing Club (SUOC). I then moved to San Diego, exploring the local crags and beyond, with much time in Joshua Tree. After deciding to move back to the Northeast to be closer to family, I used geographic analysis to select a new home town. Estimating the number of climbing routes within a day trip of several small cities, it was an easy decision. With access to the White Mountains, Adirondacks, and everything in VT, as well as a great group of friends already living here, Burlington rose to the top. I moved to Vermont in 2012 and plan to stay, at least until retirement. When not climbing, I can be found hiking, snowboarding, sitting still, or laughing with friends.

 

What is your knowledge of or prior involvement with CRAG-VT? I’ve been a CRAG member for several years and started volunteering more over the course of 2022. I’ve enjoyed contributing where I can, including green up day, leading a trail crew for the summer kickoff, writing a volunteer spotlight, working to upgrade content at CRAG kiosks, volunteering at the festival, and pursuing the use of trail counters. In 2018, when CRAG-VT was looking at ways to provide parking access to Bolton Dome, I contributed some time and expertise in assessing the feasibility of building an access drive up to the Dome, along with a small parking lot. I worked with Kris Fiore during that brief time, sharing with them some suggestions to pursue a parking solution, and suggesting that it would make more sense to work with a small local engineering firm that was more suited to that scale of project than the larger firm that I work for.

Why do you want to join the CRAG-VT Board of Directors? I would like to serve on the CRAG-VT board, to give back to CRAG-VT and the VT climbing community, from whom I have received so many benefits. I hope to contribute my skills and experience wherever helpful, particularly in progressing CRAG projects of interest, and by working with landowners, the public, and government agencies to build and maintain good relationships. I am incredibly grateful for the Vermont climbing community and all of the work that CRAG-VT has done, and continues to do, to make and keep climbing accessible in Vermont. I want to give back, help protect VT climbing areas for generations to come, while promoting inclusivity, accessibility, stewardship, and positive community relations.

Please detail your experience here: As a civil engineer (on my path towards licensure), focused on sustainable transportation and land use, from longer-term planning and scoping, through all stages of design, construction, and operations, I regularly work with landowners, government agencies and others, to meet the needs of various projects and stakeholders, while minimizing impacts to the environment, property owners, and the public. I also have experience supporting communities at the interface between outdoor recreational resources and infrastructure (e.g., parking, trailheads, pedestrian/bike access and safety issues).

Share any other relevant skills here: I am fortunate to have developed relevant skills during my bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy, with foci in community planning and geographic information systems (GIS); my masters degree in civil and environmental engineering, focused on transportation; and my certificate in graduate studies focused on sustainable transportation and planning. I am skilled in communicating and engaging with diverse groups (public speaking and facilitation); receiving, processing, and communicating input received from various stakeholders; writing, preparing maps, slides, and other presentation materials. I also have skills in budget planning and other administrative tasks, as well as event planning

CRAG Vermont
Board of Directors
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Sam Hayden

Sam grew up in Vermont exploring the hills of Pittsfield, Killington, and Chittenden. Exploration has always been what has driven him. From a very young age he was climbing, hunting for edible mushrooms, collecting rock specimens, and mountain biking the trails with his father, mother, and younger sister. When he started climbing at the age of ten, his urge to explore immediately melded with this newfound passion. Soon, every rock, ledge, and boulder was an opportunity to explore vertically. Since then, Sam has dedicated much of his time to developing climbing areas in Central Vermont and has put up first ascents in Colorado, Utah, Norway, and Puerto Rico. He loves to share his discoveries with others, especially the huge untapped bouldering potential of Vermont.

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Steve Charest

Steve is Petra Cliffs’ co-owner, Program Director and Head Guide. He has been professionally guiding rock, ice, mountaineering, and ski mountaineering programs since 2001. Steve has a degree in Outdoor Education from Johnson State College and completed a NOLS Outdoor Educators Course for Mountaineering & Rock to kickstart his career as a mountain guide and educator.  Steve is involved with the following organizations: IFMGA Aspirant (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations), AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association)

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Lauren Greco
Executive Director

Hailing from the midwest, Lauren (she/her) got her start climbing on the bullet hard sandstone of Southern Illinois 12 years ago. There, she fell in love with climbing as a movement and mental practice, a container for her closest friendships, and a way to feel a part of the landscape. Never having developed much aerial awareness, she prefers to stay on rope, and loves tip-toeing across thin crimps as well as jamming her way up cracks of all shapes and sizes. Lauren has a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.S. in Community Development & Applied Economics from the University of Vermont. She is especially motivated by the opportunity to foster a culture of stewardship within the outdoor recreation space and is overjoyed to be joining CRAG-VT as the new Executive Director!

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Kris Fiore
President

Kris (they/them) is entering their fourth year with CRAG-VT after serving two years as Vice President. A rare breed of climber, Kris hardly feels the need to leave the Green Mountain State to climb and spends most of their time weeding out new cracks and hammering in bolts in search of new first ascents. Kris is also an AMGA-certified Single Pitch Instructor and WEMT. Kris is a coach and guide at climbing at Petra Cliffs Mountaineering Center and is the Director of a youth summer camp in the Adirondacks. You will most likely find Kris and their trusty 50-pound climbing partner, Knuckles wandering in the woods up at Bone Mountain, come say hello some time and they’ll try to convince you it’s, “well worth the hour and a half stroll up to the cliff.”

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Mischa Tourin
Vice President

Mischa (he/him) found his love for climbing 20 years ago when the Burlington Rock Gym opened in Essex and his father took him to climb Thin Air on Cathedral Ledge. Since then, Mischa has pursued a career in outdoor education and continued to climb in Vermont, out West and around the world. Mischa is certified as a AMGA Single Pitch Instructor and the founder of Sterling Mountain Guides. He is a Wilderness First Responder and a NOLS Outdoor Educator. When he’s not climbing, Mischa is a teacher. Mischa’s favorite climbing memories include learning trad in Red Rock Canyon, traversing granite alpine ridges in the Wind River Range, hand jamming in Indian Creek, projecting routes in Catalunya, Spain, and exploring alongside the wonderful community of climbers in Vermont.

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Rob Fleming
Secretary

As talented of a Secretary as Rob (he/him) is, he is far less adept at sending the webmasters of this site his biography, so we decided to just wing it. We would love to tell you more about Rob but he seems to be an elusive character who spends his time chewing granola at the climbing gym while cursing at the younger generations of climbers who can hangboard longer than he can and stroking his beard intimidatingly. When he gives us his bio, you’ll know more about our Secretary, but if he sends rock like he sends bios, don’t trust him anywhere near you. He probably topropes 5.4 with crampons while pulling on trees and complaining about his nagging back strain. This was written in 2017 and he has done nothing to update it. Let this stand now as a relic of his stubbornness.

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Phil England
Treasurer
Phil (he/him) grew up in the woods on a mountain in East Montpelier, VT where he developed his appreciation for being outside and connecting with nature. He started climbing later in life, but immediately fell in love with the activity as a mental and physical challenge, a way to build community, and a great excuse to get outside all year round. His first significant outdoor climbing was on multi-pitch ice, where he developed a great respect for skill building and risk (and rope) management. Phil loves a good long alpine day, a perfect jam, a flowy slab, and pretty much everything else to do with hanging on to rocks and ice. He’s excited to keep exploring and climbing all over the world while Vermont stays home base. Besides climbing, Phil is a registered yoga teacher, a network engineer, and a volunteer for a musical theatre company.
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Christian Skalka

Chris has been exploring the Green Mountains in various ways his whole life. Rock and ice climbing became two of the main ones a bit more than a decade ago. Although he enjoys traveling to mountains and deserts across the world, the scrappy adventure of VT rock climbing and awesome beauty of its ice cascades keeps him settled. He lives in Burlington with his wife Susan and is passing on his climbing knowledge to his two children. Chris has been a Professor at UVM since 2002 and is now Chair of the Computer Science Department.

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Paco Sandoval

Born and raised in Sinaloa, Mexico, Paco (he/him) didn’t get to enjoy climbing until moving to the US in his late twenties. His climbing journey began at the Red while living in Detroit. He then moved to Colorado to immerse himself in this passion year round with a more expansive climbing community. He has now found his home in the Green Mountain State where he is continually exploring the well kept secret that is Vermont’s unique climbing. You’ll hear Paco say that “climbing scratches the same puzzle-solving itch as software engineering.” However, he feels the biggest gift he receives from climbing is the community of awesome people who are drawn to the sport.

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Andrew Hampson

Andrew came to Vermont from Ohio in 2012. Quickly becoming enamored with the mountains and water all around Burlington. His first exposure to rock was a walk through the Gunks in the rain. Finding a love for ropes, Andrew can likely be found out on his seasons’ selection of rocks if the weather’s allowing. His favorite rock can be found in Tennessee and Mexico. Andrew is almost always found with his shy pup Ellis either swimming, skiing, at work, running, or climbing. Away from climbing Andrew is a night owl hunting stars every clear night.

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Pete Clark

Pete Clark (he/him) has been a climber in the Northeast for nearly two decades and has been involved with local climbing advocacy for about as long, having served on the board of directors for other organizations such as the Western Mass Climbers Coalition. He is a PhD candidate in natural resources and is one of only a handful of scientists who have studied cliffside ecology. Check out his semi recent paper titled The effects of rock climbing on cliff‐face vegetation. Seemingly in contrast to this, he enjoys doing first ascents and has done a few throughout Vermont and the Northeast. His dog is also named Peaty (like the moss, and the human).

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Seth Maciejowski

Seth Maciejowski (he/him) is a Vermont native who has been rock and ice climbing in New England and around the world for over 20 years.  He has a penchant for exploring the ugly, dirty and loose on both rock and ice.  Over the years he has served CRAG-VT as secretary and president.  In his non-climbing life, Seth serves as a electrical design engineer for Allearth Renewables and hikes and bikes with his wife Allaire and two kids, Phoebe and Ephraim.

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Anna Gutwin

My first experience climbing was through Outward Bound in high school. I was terrified of heights (and still am) and got totally hooked. From there I spent 6 years learning to climb in the Gunks. Having my formative years be focused on learning the art of trad climbing has given me such a great foundation and I am very grateful to my mentors. When I transitioned from trad climbing to sport I realized that I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something that initially felt impossible. I’ve been fortunate enough to chase that feeling on bouldering and sport climbing trips throughout the US. While traveling is nice, I love sinking my teeth into a quality route near home. I also ice climb occasionally in the winter and have learned how to aid climb, so all that’s left to learn is big wall climbing!