Jenna Topper (She/They)
California Program Manager
Jenna Topper joined the BCM team in 2020 and holds the role of cultivating partner relationships, trip planning, and managing the CA regional program. She was drawn to BCM because of their efforts to make programming accessible to youth development partner agencies and the students they serve. Jenna grew up in Sacramento, and always had a love for nature but it wasn’t till college that she started participating in outdoor activities the way she does today. After earning an Environmental Studies degree from Sonoma State University, she was drawn to pursuing opportunities in the outdoor-based youth development field. She has instructed and coordinated outdoor trips for several organizations including; Earth Team, Bay Area Wilderness Training, YES Nature to Neighborhoods, Eastside College Prep, YMCA, Bridges Rock Gym, and more.
Jenna is guided by values of equity, authenticity, and continued learning which informs the way she leads, manages, and builds relationships with partners and students. She holds deep admiration and respect for the partners she works with and looks forward to working closely with them to ensure everyone has the opportunity to experience joy, healing, and feelings of belonging in outdoor spaces. Jenna’s self-care practices include; having her rescued fur baby Zodi by her side at all times, chasing down sunsets with music blasting, taking deep breaths, and fleeing for nearly any spontaneous adventure.
Jalen Bazile (He/Him)
Colorado Program Manager
Jalen is an outdoor facilitator, organizer, and outdoorsman, dedicated to creating spaces that welcome and affirm Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the outdoors. His background is in outdoor education and positive youth development and has supported and mentored young people for a number of outdoor youth organizations. Jalen organizes nature-based community events in the Front Range of Colorado such as climbing, cycling, and hiking day trips. He is an ultra-athlete in running and cycling and a member of The Black Foxes – an international collective of Black outdoors people creating and owning our narratives in the outdoors. Jalen is currently finishing his degree in psychology with hopes of becoming a therapist/psychologist in the near future.
He has a love for all things nature-based and is passionate about supporting young people in connecting with the natural world.
Scott Myers (He/Him)
New England Program Manager
Scott came to Big City Mountaineers after working with the Chill Foundation, teaching core values and life skills to underrepresented youth through snowboarding and other board sports. He is a native New Englander and grew up on the north shore of Boston. Being centrally located close to the coast and within a short drive to the northern New England states, he was able to explore the region and many of its outdoor activities.
Growing up, Scott was involved with a Boy Scout program Packs ‘N’ Paddles that gave youth opportunities to progressively grow in the outdoors. He later continued his outdoor enthusiasm as a college student leader in Adventure Bound, and as a professional instructor for Outward Bound, Moxie Outdoor Adventures, ERBA and a YMCA Wilderness School. Scott has a background in student development, working with youth as a therapeutic mentor from ages of 4 to 22, and also worked with City Year/Americorps in various service learning and community service opportunities.
Scott will be expanding Big City Mountaineers programming to the East Coast and New England, starting with overnight camps and day hikes to expose more youth to the vast array of diverse natural resources that New England offers.
Through Scott’s work at BCM he is committed to make a difference in the lives of others and motivated by the powerful transformative experiences the outdoor experiences provide New England youth.
Scott is also planning to soon have a furry friend to take along on his outdoor adventures.
Anne Hayward (She/Her)
Pacific Northwest Program Manager
Anne was nine years old when she went on her first backpacking trip with her dad, sister, and cousin, and while she hated that first experience—think epic amounts of mosquitos—she never gave it up. Since then she has section-hiked portions of the PCT, walked the Camino de Santiago with her mom, and finds reasons to sleep under the stars as often as possible.
Anne came to Big City Mountaineers first as a trip agency leader and then as an expedition instructor. She had amazing experiences with BCM youth and fell in love with the expedition model and curriculum. Through her 10 years’ working with youth outdoors as a wilderness therapy instructor and conservation leader, she has seen youth persevere through tough mental and physical challenges and then bring those life lessons home. She is excited to get to provide those experiences to BCM youth in the PNW.
Fred Sproat (He/Him)
National Program Director, Minnesota Program Manager
Fred is passionate about connecting young people to wild places and has been working to ensure that teens everywhere can explore our public lands for over a decade. Growing up in northern Minnesota he has been exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness his entire life. His early experiences there prepared him to guide and later organize month long canoeing and backpacking trips throughout North America.
When not supporting other’s wilderness experiences Fred has organized several bike supported backcountry ski trips in the Cascade Range, explored the Boundary Waters on ice skates.
Fred’s musings and photos from both personal and professional outdoor experiences have graced a handful of publications and websites. He’s continually interested in exploring the lessons and revelations we can learn from time spent out of doors.
Maggie Lacwasan (She/Her)
National Program Assistant
Maggie is a passionate advocate for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, especially in the outdoors. Having grown up in rural Massachusetts, being outside was integral to her childhood. She often spent time with her mixed Filipino American family walking through the woods, visiting local swimming holes and picking wild berries. After her first year of college, she took a summer job on a trail crew in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. From this experience grew a great love for being outside and
connecting with nature, as well as a 6-year career in trails. Maggie is committed to breaking down barriers to the outside spaces and supporting others in cultivating their own relationship with nature. She is excited to support all of the BCM programming that aims to do just this.
Maggie is a graduate of Brandeis University with degrees in Environmental Studies and Public Health and continues to make connections between health, wellness, and access to the outdoors. She is involved in several local groups that are working to improve representation of people of color in climbing, hiking and other outdoor sports, such as hiking, climbing, and trail running. She loves to find rest through reading, yoga, and making art.
Megan Aranow (She/Her)
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Megan began her journey with Big City Mountaineers as a volunteer adult mentor on a weeklong backpacking expedition with Denver teens. An avid believer in the power and magic of experiencing challenges in the outdoors, she is fiercely dedicated to supporting people – and teenagers in particular – in getting outside and connecting with nature. Prior to coming to BCM, Megan directed a teen leadership development program for five years through a camp in California. In her role managing strategic partnerships, she is thrilled to work creatively with both individual and brand partners to connect people with the benefits of time spent outdoors.
Hailing from Colorado, Megan grew up immersed in the Rocky Mountains and continues to seek adventure and reflection here. A graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder with degrees in Environmental Studies and Peace & Conflict Studies, she’s chosen to pursue work that is geared toward physical and mental wellness since then. She is an avid hiker, practices yoga, and is an amateur aerialist and ukulele player.
David Taus (He/Him)
David’s career has always placed him at the intersection of education, nonprofits, youth development, equity and social justice, and outdoor education. BCM speaks to his values as an educator and a person who loves the outdoors. The importance of learning about one’s world and oneself through connection with nature has been a throughline in his career and life. In so many ways, BCM represents an incredible convergence of all the things he has done thus far in his career, and he is humbled and honored to have found an opportunity to help youth find their voice and power through time spent in nature, and simultaneously make outdoor recreation a more diverse and inclusive space.
David’s career started as a counselor at a YMCA summer camp in Wisconsin, a job that would change the course of his life. Upon graduating, David taught high school science and psychology for several years in public and charter schools in Boston and San Francisco, where he founded his school’s Outdoor Club. Following his time in the classroom, David co-founded Tutorpedia Foundation, a Bay Area education nonprofit whose mission was to provide personalized academic support to deserving under-resourced students at no cost. As his interests shifted towards teacher training and preparation, David joined the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program at a critical time in the organization’s history; the work he did to improve EnCorps’ Fellowship program has since received local, state, and national recognition. David moved to Denver in 2020, and most recently held a senior leadership position at Denver Kids, one of BCM’s agency partners.
In his fleeting spare time, David keeps busy by being a dad for his daughter Sydney and playing guitar in local rock bands. He has the tendency to disappear into incredibly remote sections of wilderness for days at a time with backpack, packraft, and technical canyoneering gear, and treasures every minute he can spend outdoors. David has a BA in Psychology from Brown University and an M.Ed. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Otisa Eads (She/Her)
HR & Systems Strategy
Otisa Eads is an HR & Systems Strategist Consultant to help organizations create systems that are streamline and prepare them for continued growth and expansion. In addition, Otisa loves creating strategies with start-ups, entrepreneurs, or business owners who want to expand their choices with new aligned and effective solutions to the problems in their business. In her HR expertise, she specializes in creating recruitment strategies, on-boarding systems, and management training. She enjoys planning and executing employee engagement activities for her clients. Otisa is passionate about organizational culture and DEIJ when she is working with clients and speaking at events.
Otisa holds a Bachelors of Science and Business and a Bachelors of Arts from Murray State University. She is originally from Westport, KY. Now, she has lived in Colorado for the past 5 years.
Brian Cook (He/Him)
Principal Consultant, Groundswell Change
Brian holds an AB in English and Sociology from Georgetown University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Brian began his career with Teach For America as a 7th and 8th grade teacher in an under-served community. Rising through a variety of functional roles across finance, operations and recruitment strategy, he was charged with guiding strategic efforts to bring awareness to the disparities that exist within America’s education system. After receiving his graduate degree, he pivoted to the private sector to join a global marketing development program. As head of product innovation for a leading natural products brand, he synthesized consumer insights data to build new propositions, managed large multi-functional teams from inception to factory production, and led presentations with some of the nation’s largest retailers. Brian has worked with a number of social entrepreneurs and business owners to both drive sustainable growth through sound business strategies and build thriving cultures with DEI principles that unlock creativity, productivity and collaboration. In addition to his consulting work, he has served on a number of nonprofit boards, and most recently led the board of directors for JAG Productions, Northern New England’s leading black theatre company. Having recently relocated, Brian was selected to join the Denver region’s premier leadership fellowship, Leadership Denver, through the Denver Metro Chamber’s Leadership Foundation.
Hailing from a small mountain town in Colorado, Loki fosters an avid interest in snow and weather that is sub-50 degrees. He enjoys fetch, but is honestly more interested in having you chase him while he runs away with unreasonably large sticks in his mouth. A peacekeeper among the office dogs, he is always willing to share his bones. Loki responds most readily to the sound of a squeak toy.
Ember was bred to be a sled dog in northern Minnesota but an insatiable appetite for belly rubs and an imperfect gait forced her into early retirement. Now day she spends her free time tearing up the Duluth trails.
Juniper has a hard time choosing which she likes better; running through the waves on the beach with a frisbee, catching snowballs and making snow angels, or chasing sticks into mountain lakes and rivers, as each makes her tail wag and puts a smile on her face. She truly loves every adventure the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Most days you can find Juniper lounging. She has no qualms about rearranging pillows on the couch to fit her high maintenance needs. You will likely hear her try to give her opinion during phone meetings, as she usually has something to say or an announcement to make.
Bella, the 4 year old pit/lab mix, is a goofy girl. While Bella loves outdoor adventures, her canine natural instincts are mediocre at best. Known to swim too far out into the ocean, fall off cliff sides, and crash into trees, she brings a whole lotta laughter to any adventure. Her motor skills may not be great, but that’s made up for by being a top notch cuddler. This little goofy hotdog is sure to win your heart.
Kira, the 10 yr german shepherd mix, is one of the most kind hearted pups you’ll ever meet. She loves her family more than anything, and is known to stay up all night until every single family member goes to bed. She is an adventure lover, and lights up outdoors. A well behaved pup, she will never stray too far away and always has an eye out for her loved ones. She is spoiled rotten with way too many stuffed animal toys that she has managed to take care of for years. She thinks she can talk and enjoys having conversations with obliging human friends.