Who We Are

STAFF

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Nicola Wood, LMSW

nicky@outsideperspectives.org

With a decade of experience working in the outdoors with youth, Nicola found her calling introducing young people to what climbing a mountain can do for one's soul and spirit. After years of working for multiple outdoor education organizations and gaining a deeper perspective on life from traveling the globe, Nicola dreamed of jumping out and starting her own organization. She was inspired to do things a little differently after she noticed gaps of the population missing from the outdoors, observed a distancing of the younger generations from the natural world, and discovered a way to create deeper connections between youth by taking them outside.

Nicola received her Bachelors in Arts from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon in 2006 and her Masters in Social Work from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York City in 2014. She received her License in Social Work from the State of New York that same year.

When she's not working with Outside Perspectives, Nicky, as she is known by most, can be found hiking with her dog Maya in the Litchfield Hills, searching for powder during the ski season, practicing yoga, meditation, gardening or curling up on the couch for a good action movie.

Program & Development Coordinator

Liza has over two decades of experience working with youth in the outdoors. Her passion for youth work started as a 21 year old college junior interning at the DCF Wilderness School. She was forever changed when she was challenged and humbled on a winter camping expedition during her first season there. Going into the experience she considered herself a capable and experienced outdoorswoman. However, when she found herself struggling with extreme cold temperatures it was the younger students that helped her though. She realized then that the outdoors was more than just an adventure but a way to build deep connections with other people. It became clear that this was just the beginning of a long journey in the outdoors.

Liza spent her youth running free on farmland in CT and retrospectively considered herself to have had a free-range childhood. This experience has caused her to value experiential learning and she has applied what she learned then to raising her own three children, Hunter, Liam and Marley as well as working with thousands of kids at youth service bureaus and organizations.

Liza has worked at Bristol Youth Services, Pine Lake Challenge Course, she has been a part-time youth worker at Newington Human Services, and most recently she has been the Assistant Coordinator of Adventure Education and Community Engagement at the University of St. Joseph’s in Hartford, CT. To her credit, she has earned certification as a Wilderness First Responder and completed programs that include High Angle Rescue and Ropes Course Safety, C.P.R. for the Professional Rescuer, AMGA Rock Climbing Instruction Course, and the American Canoe Associations Canoeing and White Water Paddling Training, among others. She has also earned a Bachelor of Arts from University of St. Joseph’s in Hartford, CT majoring in sociology and minoring in psychology, dance, and art history. When she isn’t working for OP you can find her rock climbing with her husband Dave, baking her world famous sour dough and going on hikes with her dog Cucuy.

PROGRAM Director

Shannon Zich

shannon@outsideperspectives.org

Shannon fell in love with the outdoors as a child camping and romping through the woods of her home state of Wisconsin. As an impressionable 5-year old, a “Nature Nut” program showed her that experiences in the outdoors were connectors amongst people. As a college student, Shannon earned a degree in Recreation Management, studied abroad in Australia, completed an internship leading expeditions with people with disabilities, and experienced new cultures as often as she could. These transformative opportunities set her career path and her desire to share the outdoors with as many people as possible but especially with her young son Grayson who is already finding a deep connection to the local trails and woods. She believes whole-heartedly in the power and growth potential of time spent in wild places.

As an instructor, course director, and program coordinator at various programs across the U.S., Shannon has 15 years of experience in Outdoor Education and Therapeutic Wilderness programs working both in the field and behind the scenes. As a graduate of The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition, Shannon experientially incorporates nutrition, foraging, movement, stress management, and holistic wellness concepts into her work, seeing these as vital tools for supporting youth in reaching their full potential. Shannon is currently pursuing a Masters in Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport.

When Shannon is left with time to spare, she can be found feeding her insatiable curiosity listening to podcasts, cooking, growing veggies, foraging, building with salvaged wood, exploring the wilderness, backpacking, exploring mysterious places, lounging in a hammock with a good book, and spending quality time with friends and family.

BOARD Of Directors

Director - BOARD CHAIR

Lisa Heavner

lisa@outsideperspectives.org

Bio Coming Soon!

Director - BOARD Treasurer

James Hart

james@outsideperspectives.org

James was born in Connecticut but raised in northern New Hampshire, where his time in the White Mountains sparked a lifelong passion for the outdoors. Attending Camp Mowglis, nestled in NH’s Lakes Region, he learned to paddle, row, backpack, and to enjoy the outdoors in all forms following the principles of Leave No Trace.

James served for five years in the US Army as a Combat Engineer and upon rejoining civilian life, returned to CT to attend graduate school at the University of New Haven. Having earned an MS in Education, James began teaching in the New Haven Public School system, only to find his way back to Mowglis as their Director of Development, where he has honed his skills as a fundraiser. He also was asked to return to his alma mater, but this time as an adjunct professor, teaching undergraduate courses in American government and politics, along with graduate courses in fundraising and nonprofit management.

James is an avid ice climber, skier, hiker, and motorcyclist. James lives in New Haven, CT, where he and his wife Liz, along with their dog Boyd, enjoy exploring the myriad outdoor spaces that Connecticut has to offer. James resides in NH during the summers while he serves as the Assistant Director of Camp Mowglis in Hebron, NH.

Director - Board Secretary

Amy Kassing

amy@outsideperspectives.org

Bio Coming Soon!

Born in the north of England, Andrew Wood has travelled far and wide since his youth. He moved to Chicago in the United States in the early 1980’s with his wife and eventually found a home in New York City and Connecticut where he raised his three daughters. Andrew’s love of the outdoors began in his youth wandering the hills of Northumberland in England, but he has continued to seek out beautiful wild places in his many travels. Understanding the benefits of the outdoors, he was thrilled to help his daughter start an organization that allows access to youth who would otherwise find difficulty in finding their way into the wilderness.

Andrew has had forty years of experience in the investment real estate sector, working for companies such as Richard Ellis, The Yarmouth Group and Lend Lease; and working in regions such as the UK, Continental Europe, Asia and the US. His primary focus for the last 30 years has been private equity Funds Management. He eventually became a founding shareholder and Director of MGPA a real estate investment management business where he served as Chief Investment Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Andrew is a Counsellor of Real Estate and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Andrew retired following the sale of MGPA to Blackrock in October 2013.

Andrews interests include skiing, fishing in the Long Island Sound, attending the theatre and travelling. Andrew now resides primarily in Connecticut, USA, but will always have strong roots in England.

Director

After completing his training at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver in 1978, Michael moved to Northwest Connecticut to start his practice in Nephrology and Critical Care Medicine. An avid runner, skier and day hiker while in Colorado, he ventured onto the Appalachian Trail one weekend in the fall of that year.

That first hike on the AT along the Housatonic River between Kent and Cornwall Bridge was a transformative experience for Michael. This year, 2020, marks the 42nd year of hiking on the AT. He has logged thousands of miles in day hikes and weeks’ long section hikes over the last four decades.

In 2010, he completed a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail with his son Adam.

Everyone’s experience in the wilderness is unique. From the clapping of raindrops on your tent, the rush of wind racing through trees, to the roar of water passing over rocks at a river crossing, the outside experience changes you. Forgotten are the day-to-day worries, and the purpose becomes one foot in front of the other, experiencing the tranquility of eating snacks besides a meandering stream or listening to the soothing call of an owl at dusk. All blend together to transport you from your urban life to the wilderness experience.

Michael’s son, Adam, started backpacking at the age of 6 and is now a Triple Crowner, having completed thru-hikes on the Appalachian Trail (twice), the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.

You never know what will happen when you venture into the woods. It may change your life.

Now retired, Michael still hikes as often as possible and plans to hike the Camino de Santiago de Compostala in the spring of 2020 with his wife, Susan.

Director

Bio coming soon!

VOLUNTEERS

Lauren Humphrey

Ambassador, Social Media Expert & Marketing Consultant

lauren@outsideperspectives.org

Lauren was born and raised in CT and spent the majority of her childhood in the backyard, romping through the neighborhood and splashing in West Hill Pond in Barkhamstead. Her love for the outdoors evolved over time through vacations in Lake George, NY, hikes in the Adirondacks, snowboarding trips to Colorado and eventually her introduction to rock climbing and mountain biking. These adventure sports led to her on-going exploration of mountain ranges, forests, deserts and valleys all over this beautiful country.

Lauren is in her 9th year as a Special Education Teacher in a self-contained behavioral classroom. She has her Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Her undergraduate coursework focused on video production and graphic design which later blossomed into a love for storytelling and creating engaging content on social media platforms. Lauren truly believes in the power of transformation through challenge-based experiences outside and aims to combine her skills to provide those opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

When not in her classroom, or with Outside Perspectives, she is volunteering her time with another non-profit called Adventure Mamas, playing outside with her two children and fur-baby, or seeking her own challenge-based experiences out in the woods via foot, bike or rope!

Philippa Wood

Ambassador, Social Media Expert & Grant and Proposal Editor

philippa@outsideperspectives.org

Philippa lives and works in Austin, TX with her sweet toothless rescue cat Reese, and her over excited dog Gizmo. Philippa currently works as a Training Director for the Texas Democratic Party. Philippa graduated from George Washington University in 2008 majoring in Political Science and Journalism and is a 2012 graduate of the University of Sussex's Institute of Development Studies with a Masters in governance and development. Philippa is also a proud returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Guatemala 2009-2011). She worked as a Program Officer for Political Party Programming at the National Democratic Institute where she works to promote democracy abroad before moving to Austin in 2017.

In her free time you might find Philippa walking with her dog , exploring a winery, or enjoying a picnic with her friends in one of Austin's many parks. She's honored and excited to be a part of Outside Perspective's mission and looks forward to watching it grow.