Reconnect Earth founder Nick Engelfried first became an activist in college. He has been involved in successful campaigns to keep liquefied natural gas pipelines out of Oregon, transition the Northwest away from coal power, protect public lands, and defeat a massive new coal mine in Montana. More recently Nick has co-led backcountry trips for students through the North Cascades Institute, Wild Whatcom–and of course, Reconnect Earth. He received an MS in Environmental Studies from University of Montana in 2013, and an M.Ed. in Environmental Education from Western Washington University in 2018.
Board of Directors
Ash Kunz is a devoted outdoor enthusiast based out of the Wenatchee Valley. She currently coordinates STEM programming for the North Central Regional Library and runs a Youth Climbing Program for Leavenworth Mountain Association, and is on the Board of Directors for Hand in Hand Immigration Services. Ash is dedicated to providing access and inclusion in outdoor recreation, and creating a community where diversity is celebrated and valued. Her work centers on queer inclusion and dignity, as well as other marginalized populations. When free time allows she loves climbing, SUP, mtn biking, skiing and trail running (especially after her crazy pup, Sagebrush!).
Ashley Hill received a B.S. in Environmental Science and an M.Ed. in Environmental Education from Western Washington University. In her education and previous professional experience, she spent time SCUBA diving and falling in love with coral reefs. During her time living and working in North Cascades National Park, Ashley deepened her knowledge of the social and cultural aspects of the Washington landscape. Now she is a consultant educator dedicated to engaging young people in environmentalism, critical thinking, and land/water-centered pedagogy. Cats, plants, and reading are a few of Ashley’s favorite things. She loves being on boats, smelling the salty ocean air, and sharing meals with people she loves.
Alexei Desmarais is a Missoula-based environmental educator and program leader, currently residing on the traditional homelands of the Seliš, Qlispé, and Ktunaxa peoples. He manages Ecology Project International’s programming in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, though his formative professional experience was all based in the Pacific Northwest. Alexei believes deeply in the transformative potential of field education. Specifically, he is committed to providing opportunities for youth to build connections to one another, to the land—while grappling with the complex stories the land holds—and to concrete ways they can take action toward ecological and community health (i.e., to their power as community-builders and change-makers). Alexei loves playing fiddle and guitar, trail running, ski-mountaineering, and cultivating his small vegetable garden.
Rachael Grasso lives and works in the foothills of the North Cascades. Her professional work is focused on increasing access to outdoor experiences through her current roles with community programming at Mt. Baker Ski Area and Camp Saturna. Rachael brings over a decade of experience in outdoor education and recreation to the Reconnect Earth Board of Directors. She enjoys volunteering with community science projects, observing phenological changes in her yard, eating seasonally through community-supported agriculture and embarking on long solo hikes through subalpine meadows.