Board of Directors
Fran, Sonja, and Chris remain on the board of directors along with following:
Catherine (Cassie) Rivkin
Catherine is a lifelong supporter of those in need. Whether she’s serving as a mentor for the Dreamcatcher Foundation, advocating for women’s economic empowerment, or joining Habitat for Humanity builds, her unwavering attention to under-resourced groups is visible wherever she goes. Moreover, between a history of communications management, financial planning, and fundraising experience, Catherine’s career reflects her savvy for maximizing a non-profit’s community impact. She currently remains partnered with the UCLA Bruin Guardian Scholarship as a career-skills coach for UCLA students that were formerly in foster care.
REI Sales Lead, Outdoor School Coordinator
Allie is an outdoor instructor utilizing her training in therapy and psychology along with her teaching and curriculum development skills to share and foster a passion for the responsible and healing use of the outdoors with the next generation. Allie is a surf instructor for a company that offers private lessons summer camps and competitive coaching to elementary, middle and high school aged youth. She has a master in Social Work from UCLA. At REI Allison currently works as a Sales Lead and Coordinator for in-store Outdoor School events and classes.
Founders / Staff
Co-Founder, Instructor & Staff Director of Front-country Programs and Community Outreach
Sonja has been educating LAUSD students in math, science and art for the past seventeen years, fifteen of which were spent working at Carver Middle School, a Title 1 school that is now partnered with WYLD. During her time at Carver, Sonja began working with the Sierra Club and OBA to get her own classes on outdoor excursions regularly over the years. Upon co-founding WYLD, she created and directs the Farm-to-Forest garden program on the Carver campus, as well as orchestrating the monthly day hikes and curriculum. Sonja also handles community outreach opportunities, connections and partnerships. Sonja holds a BA in History from UC Santa Barbara and an MA in Urban School Administration from CSU Dominguez Hills.
Co-Founder, Instructor & Staff Director of Backcountry Programs
Fran is an expert wilderness instructor, ceramics teacher, and social activist from East and South Los Angeles. After earning a Sociology BA at CSU Los Angeles, Fran launched her passionate adventure leadership, activism, and ceramics career in service to the next generations. She’s now continuing her 20 year career serving in various local, national, and international outdoor educational agencies, and she directs WYLD’s backcountry programs. Fran also earned a Master’s degree in Studio Ceramics from CSULA.
Co-Founder, Instructor & Staff Director of Development, Operations & Other Hats
Chris’ desire to found and serve in WYLD stems from his passion for youth, the backcountry wilderness, and his roots in Los Angeles spanning back six generations. Chris fell in love with wilderness education through a freshmen pre-orientation backcountry trip in Pisgah National Forest in Western North Carolina. Chris has worked as a wilderness instructor for various agencies over the last 15 years and is philanthropically engaged throughout Los Angeles and California, especially with regard to education reform and sustainable living. He has served on various boards and funding committees, including Synergy Academy Charter Schools and the Downtown LA Music Center's 50th 'Next 50,' initiative. Chris holds a BA in Public Policy from Duke University and an MA in Public Policy with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from UCLA.
Co-Founder & Board of Advisors
Meghan started her environmental education career teaching Tibetan refugee children in India while pursuing her BS in Environmental Studies from UNC Asheville. This experience inspired her to further her education with a MA degree in Environmental Education from CSU San Bernardino. Since then, Meghan has worked at a senior management level for nonprofits dedicated to wilderness and conservation education. She grew up in North Carolina where nature was always a refuge for her; but it was a 23-day wilderness course in the Canyonlands of Utah that opened her heart to the world of experiential education. She is a certified Arborist and trained mindfulness educator. She recently moved home to North Carolina to raise her two daughters near family, but remains dedicated to providing guidance and support to achieve WYLD’s mission.
Board of Advisors
Carrie Truong - Garden Instructor
Carrie’s love for the outdoors and youth education began during her college years. Coming from a hardworking and under-resourced immigrant community, she never thought she’d backpack glaciers in Peru, spend a semester in Baja Mexico as a marine biology surveyor, and pass her passion along to other first-generation American students. She began volunteering at Outward Bound Adventures in 2006, and continued working as a staff instructor at OBA and Outward Bound National leading trips in the Sierras and running the family-oriented Teach Me To Camp program. An undergraduate at UCLA, Carrie worked at the high ropes Challenge Course, learning hard and soft skills for leadership and environmental education, and eventually working her way up to be the facility’s lead manager. With a dual B.S. in Geology and Environmental Science, Carrie now coordinates the garden program at Carver, a popular class that meets weekly during school hours. She teaches students plant science and gardening, and she plays an integral role in keeping garden students connected to and excited about WYLD’s more extensive and long-term opportunities.
Atem Kuol - US Military Veterans and Youth Mentorship Program Manager
Atem’s passion for education and outdoor activities was ignited in a refugee camp in Western Ethiopia, when his journey started under a tree instead of a conventional classroom. During a chapter in his life’s journey, Atem walked/hiked/migrated more than 450 miles on foot from Ethiopia to Southern Sudan. He believes that while his reasons for hiking back in those days was different than his reasons now, the methodology remains the same. As a US Marine with five years active duty service he enjoyed running, hiking and walking as activities that stimulate learning and fun. Atem believes every person should have the opportunity to engage in sports, nature, and a strong education beginning at an early age. Atem holds a BS in Psychology from Campbell University and MS in Organizational Leadership & Graduate Certificate in Project Management from Boston University.
Sarah Moreno, WYLD’s Program and Administrative Coordinator
Sarah recently graduated from UCLA where she majored in Psychology and was involved in youth mentoring and mental health education. Prior to joining LA WYLD, Sarah volunteered for UCLA UniCamp, a non-profit organization that facilitates a residential summer camp for underserved youths from LA. Her fascination with outdoor education also grew during her study abroad experience in Australia. There, she had some of her most memorable outdoor adventures while hiking through Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia's outback and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.