We all came together at BCM because we believe in one thing: The power of wilderness to change lives. We’re the staff members who think the smiles of urban teens are more important than a big paycheck, the Board of Directors who volunteer their time for a cause they believe in, and our Sponsors who use their successes in the business world to power miracles in the nonprofit world.
Colorado Headquarters Staff
Executive Director – Bryan Martin
Bryan brings over 15 years of experience in the recreation and conservation space as both a practitioner and an advocate. Bryan began his career working for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, D.C. and in Colorado. He then went on to become the Field Operations Manager for the Continental Divide Trail Alliance, and later, Director of Conservation for The Colorado Mountain Club. Most recently, he was the Western External Relations Officer for the Land Trust Alliance, the national convener, strategist and representative of more than 1,200 land trusts across America. He is deeply passionate about the outdoors and what outdoor experiences mean for kids. He believes that meaningful experiences in nature have tangible benefits for communities all over the country. Whether it’s a walk in the city park or an extended backcountry experience in Wilderness, the outdoors has the potential to change your life for the better.
Corporate Relations Director – Doug Sandok
Born and raised in Minnesota Doug’s first outdoor experiences were canoeing and camping in the Boundary Waters. He has a B.A. in Sociology from Colorado College and a minor in Urban Studies. Doug has built his life around being in the outdoors, traveling the world, and creating opportunities for others to learn and grow from challenge and adventure.
Since early, pre Gore-tex, backpacking trips in the Rockies, to guiding and instructing in the Himalayas and South America, Doug has been shaped by the wild places and the people he shares those experiences with. “There is no substitute for a wilderness experience – the growth that comes from being completely exhausted after a hard day moving through challenging terrain, and then having to melt snow to cook your dinner or have something to drink. It can be as simple as sleeping on the ground under the stars and exploring your own backyard. Those are the elements that foster personal growth and deep friendship.”
Doug’s professional background includes Instructor, Course Director and Trainer for Outward Bound, Professional Mountain Guide, Program Director and Risk Management Director for Where There Be Dragons, Wilderness Program Director for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, Executive Director of Paradox Sports, and a number of years providing emergency medical relief in remote places around the globe. Doug takes his skills learned in these experiences and puts them to work empowering organizations to have greater impact through improving systems and program delivery, and through effective partnerships with supporters.
His personal passions are being active in the outdoors, experiencing different landscapes, cultures, and ways of life, music, and learning through experience.
Director of Programs – Elizabeth Williams
Elizabeth grew up exploring her local creeks and forests as a child, but truly discovered the power of the outdoors while leading teens on backpacking and climbing programs during summers while in college. After graduating with a degree in Social Science and Communications, Elizabeth ran adventure programs at a residential camp before spending a year traveling and teaching in India and Nepal. Elizabeth started at Big City Mountaineers as the Marketing and Development Intern, but quickly returned to her experiential education roots by taking over as the Colorado Programs Manager. Currently the Director of Programs, Elizabeth leads program and field staff to deliver safe and transformative outdoor experiences to BCM youth. When not at work, Elizabeth is an avid skier, climber, and mountain adventurer.
Summit for Someone Program Manager – Rachel Sapp
Rachel comes to BCM with a unique range of experiences and a background in creative arts, technical, and medical fields. She is a passionate outdoor educator and medical professional with program development, community outreach and outdoor leadership experience.She feels it’s a constant source of inspiration to be a part of an organization that enriches lives, creates transformation and provides opportunities to help others succeed.
Rachel is active in Mountain Rescue and is a certified AMGA SPI and Rope Rescue Technician. Rumor has it she is always up for a good ‘ol fashioned alpine sufferfest if cookies are involved. In her spare time, you can find her prancing around with her four-year-old twin daughters who are always a guaranteed source of risk management and adventure.
Accounting Manager – Kandace Soiland
A native of Denver, Kandace spent her childhood exploring the great outdoors with her family. Kandace is delighted to work for an organization that offers outdoor experiences for children who may not have the opportunities she did. ‘My earliest and best memories are exploring the forest with my grandmother. The greatest gift she ever gave me was a love of nature.’ Kandace’s career includes raising two children while creating and growing a business and volunteering with various community organizations. Kandace holds a technical degree in Computer Information Systems and is currently studying finance at Regis University.
Donor Relations Manager – Theresa Simcic
Theresa comes to us from Allentown, Pennsylvania by way of Lexington, Kentucky. She grew up camping, hiking, swimming, and boating on the east coast. She has a passion for working with under-resourced youth and has a deep desire for every child to have access to the same opportunities for growth, learning and ultimately success in life. She believes that nature is the most dynamic tool for teaching and one of the greatest sources of inspiration. She is excited to be part of a team that is harnessing the power of the outdoors to provide a transformational experience for one of our most vulnerable yet promising populations.
Theresa has a B.A. from Shippensburg University in Psychology with minors in Anthropology and International Studies. She holds masters in Experimental Psychology and Public Policy from the University of Kentucky. She has previous professional experience building a nonprofit program that helps early-stage entrepreneurs. In her personal time, Theresa enjoys any fitness challenge, traveling, experiencing and learning new things, and exploring with her dog Dakotah.
Regional Program Staff
Colorado Program Manager – Bix Firer
Bix has worked with BCM’s Overnight Program for 4 seasons and has worked with schools and non-profits delivering and developing outdoor experiential education programming in Alaska, Colorado and Wisconsin. These experiences have taught him that the greatest personal growth comes from the challenges and joys of learning outside. Bix has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MA from University of Chicago. When not working with students outdoors, Bix is most likely climbing, eating, backcountry skiing and running in Colorado’s mountains.
Pacific Northwest Program Manager – Mike Gundlach
Mike started backpacking at the age of 7 and has been an avid backpacker and outdoor sports enthusiast ever since. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest and considers this part of the country home. Mike has been working with under-resourced youth in a variety of outdoor capacities since 2003 and was originally introduced to BCM as a volunteer in 2012. Prior to working for BCM he was the Operations Coordinator for Northwest Service Academy. Time spent outdoors in nature has had a profound effect on Mike and he is passionate about sharing the transformational power of the outdoors with youth that may otherwise not have an opportunity to participate in this life-changing activity. When not working for BCM Mike can be found volunteering with local youth organizations, mountain biking, hiking, or enjoying a yoga class.
Minnesota Program Manager – Andrew Benda
Hailing from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Andrew recalls his most formative moments as those involving saunas and Lake Superior in his hometown of Houghton. Andrew moved to Minneapolis shortly after his first backpacking trip on Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail. Prior to this he spent several seasons leading trips and handling logistics for Camp Manito-wish YMCA in the Northwoods of WI. Andrew is an amateur filmmaker and musician, and enjoys field-recording while on the trail.
4 Legged Staff
No longer the youngest member of the BCM dog crew, Bodhi has been hiking and watching his people climb since he was 8 weeks old. He is passionate about moose poop, fetch and bunnies. While at work, Bodhi loves to keep Willa in line and see what food has been dropped in the kitchen. Bodhi cannot wait until the end of summer so his people have more time to play fetch and go running. Bodhi prefers to be reached by rotary phone.
Willa is the current puppy of the BCM crew. Born in Montana, this little lady is quickly learning not to be afraid of walks, how to hassle Bodhi, and that naps in the sun spot on the office floor are the best. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to love skiing. Willa can be reached solely through Instagram.
Dakotah is KY born and raised (he bleeds blue – Go Cats!) but is loving his new CO lifestyle. If he’s not busy smelling everything CO has to offer, he can be found searching his co-worker’s trash cans for food scraps, making sure Willa keeps a safe distance from him, or cuddling by his mom’s side. Dakotah prefers all communication go through his assistant, Theresa.