Cornell Outdoor Education welcomes new members to its Advisory Board. Most members of the Advisory Board are Cornell alumni, however we welcome passionate educators and outdoor enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds. The consistent factor is a strong belief in the efficacy of outdoor and experiential education.
The purpose of the COE Advisory Board is to support and to help guide one of the premier collegiate outdoor education programs in the country. The Advisory Board assists COE financially, strategically, and politically. It plays a critical role in allowing COE to annually serve over 10,000 participants and to be a place where any student can find a positive outdoor experience, connect to classmates and Cornell, and learn about leadership, teamwork, and personal growth.
The COE Advisory Board meets twice a year. Generally the Fall meeting is on campus and the Spring meeting is at a location where outdoor activities can be mixed with the more formal business meeting. The business portion of the meetings generally lasts half a day.
Realizing that Advisory Board members lead extremely busy lives, it is expected that members can make at least one meeting a year. In between meetings Advisory Board members are asked to help promote COE on campus to upper administration and throughout the alumni and/or business community. Advisory Board members are expected to contribute or to raise a minimum annual gift of $3500 (arrangements can be made for members, particularly younger ones, who might not have the financial wherewithal to make gifts at that level). Depending on expertise, individual Board members may also be occasionally asked to serve on task groups addressing such issues as risk management, strategic planning, marketing, IT, etc.
The rewards of serving on the COE Advisory Board are many. Foremost is the satisfaction of seeing the growth and success of COE in helping students learn about themselves, their fellow students, and their environment. Advisory Board members are invited to join COE on invitational adventure trips around the world. Past trips have gone to places such as Alaska, the Alps, Yosemite, Baja, New Zealand, and the Wind River Mountains.
At the annual Spring Advisory Board meeting, members and their families have the opportunity to practice or learn new outdoor skills including rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, fly fishing, mountain biking, and hiking. Finally, Board members find that serving with a group of like-minded, sharp, and adventure-loving colleagues is fun and inspiring in and of itself.
ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
Jon Lindseth ’56 was one of the original COE Advisory Board members. Jon received a bachelor’s degree from the School of Engineering in 1956 and went on to earn a master’s degree the next year. He joined the Board on trips to the Sierras, the Winds, and Alaska. Jon has run a number of companies from his home town of Cleveland, Ohio. Jon and Ginny, who grew up in Ithaca, generously funded the climbing wall that bears their name and the endowed the first director of outdoor education position in the country. They are avid outdoors people having climbed all over the world including Greenland, Antarctica, Yosemite, and Alaska.
Hirschel Abelson ’55 is a long time member of the COE Advisory Board. While at Cornell he studied in the Hotel School, earning a BS in 1955 and going on to earn an MBA in 1956. Herschel and his wife, a retired faculty member, are world travelers. They live in New York City where Herschel is a financial manager. Herschel has served Cornell in a variety of capacities including on Council and as a Trustee.
Peter Guggenheimer (emeritus) joined the COE Board after meeting Dan Tillemans and helping to design the Phillps Outdoor Program Center and Bartels Hall. Peter is a recently retired architect living in the New York City area. He has joined us on a number of Board trips including New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Thailand. Peter is an avid outdoorsman enjoying winter camping, peak scrambling, desert sojourns, and backpacking, as well as car racing. Peter’s two children are both Cornell grads.
Bob Hoffman ’58 was raised in Ithaca, where his father was a professor of pomology. He graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1958 and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard. Bob played hockey and lacrosse (in which he was named to the All-Ivy Team) at Cornell and remains a strong supporter of Big Red lacrosse. Bob served as an executive with several Fortune 500 companies, retiring as Vice Chairman of Monsanto and subsequently as Chairman of Joy Global. In addition to his long time service on the COE Advisory Board, Bob was an early Board member of NOLS. Bob and his wife Janet live in Florida, spending their summers in the Rockies or Alps. He and Janet donated the money for Hoffman Challenge Course at Mt. Pleasant and Barton Hall.
Robin Mills ’69 MBA is past Chair of the COE Advisory Board. He and his wife, Jan Mills ’69, split their time between Florida and California. Robin is a retired senior executive who worked in a number of fields. He helped organize Board trips to his past homes in New Zealand and South Africa and he also joined COE for trips to Alaska, Costa Rica, the Sierras, and Thailand. Robin is an avid sail and power boater. He’s served on Outward Bound and many other national and community boards.
Kristen Rupert ‘74 is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, John Foote, Engineering ’74, live in Boston. Kristen is an alumna of Voyageur Outward Bound. She and John enjoy kayaking, sailing and hiking, mostly in Maine, Oregon and the Adirondacks. They are avid bird-watchers and have traveled to Panama, Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas and Utah with Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology. Kristen is active in Cornell alumni affairs, having served as President of the Cornell Alumni Association, co-chair of several capital campaigns, President of the Cornell Club of Boston, President and Reunion Chair for her Class, and an Advisory Board member of Plantations and Cornell Athletics. Work-wise, Kristen is Executive Director of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts International Business Council, which helps small businesses engage in international trade. Kristen served as COE Advisory Board Chair from 2006 to 2011.
David Bessey ’79 was one of the first Wilderness Reflections (now Outdoor Odyssey) coordinators "back in the day" and taught climbing and winter camping courses with many current board members. David graduated in 1979 from the Engineering School. A favorite memory is ice climbing Ithaca Falls with Mark Mendel. David and his wife Kitty are also one of the original WR couples, as she was Coordinator the year before he was. He has climbed and skied throughout New England, the West, and Alaska. David is currently an Emerging Market portfolio manager for Prudential Financial, and resides in Montclair NJ with Kitty and their three children.
Monty Cerf ’79 is a Managing Director with Barclays. After earning his degree in Government he went on to earn an MS from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Yale University. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. Monty sits on the Darrow Foundation which supports a wilderness tripping camp in Maine/Canada. His favorite outdoor activity is whitewater canoeing in Quebec and Labrador, which he has been doing for the past 40 years. Recently Monty has been climbing Mt. Washington each February and doing century rides around his home state of New Jersey. Monty is married and the father of three “perfect” children!
Tilly Dorsey joined the COE Advisory Board after doing a rappel with Dan Tillemans as part of a CAU program in 1988. She enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and desert sojourns. Tilly has joined COE on trips to the Winds, Yosemite, Thailand, and Boundary Waters (dog mushing). When not adventuring in the outdoors, she is outside raising alpacas on her Maryland farm.
Betty Eng ’92 is the director of IT for Conde Nast Publications. She is a graduate of Human Ecology. Betty is active in Cornell circles, serving as co-chair of Asian-American Alumni Association, as a member of Cornell Council, and as Chair of the Public Relations Committee of Cornell Council. Betty, her husband, and new baby Abby, live in New York City.
Craig Ewing ’71 had a distinguished career at IBM with various management positions in sales, marketing, and distribution channels management. Living in Franklin Lakes, NJ, he is the founder of Ewing Consulting, a marketing and consulting services firm helping companies to grow through competitive advantages. Craig earned his undergrad degree from the Engineering College and an MBA at the Johnson School. He is the proud father of three daughters all of whom attended (or are attending) Cornell. Craig enjoys skiing and other outdoor activities.
Erin Flinn ’00 lives in Southern California where she writes and produces trashy reality TV shows, most recently a weight loss documentary series for A & E called Heavy. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Erin still travels home several times a year to see her Steelers and Penguins play, and the Pirates just because the park is nice. She graduated from Arts & Sciences as a College Scholar with concentrations in Biology and Creative Writing, and later earned an MFA in screenwriting and prose from USC. While an undergrad at Cornell, Erin was a very active student leader teaching rock climbing and team building. Erin continues to be an active skier, climber, and surfer (when the water is warm enough)—living the Southern California lifestyle and dream to the max!
Dr. Flavio Gaudio ’86 is an emergency room physician and faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical College. As an undergrad Flavio took the Wind River leadership and mountaineering class with Dan Tillemans. He helped co-found the unique Cornell Wilderness & Environmental Medicine collaboration between Weill and COE. As part of the collaboration Dr. Gaudio has co-led wilderness medicine electives to Alaska, Utah, Arizona, the Adirondacks, and Costa Rica. Flavio spent a year studying traditional medicine in China and he retains an avid interest in medicinal plants. He lives with his wife and two children in Connecticut.
Bob Gravani, PhD is Professor of Food Science at Cornell. Bob has personal knowledge of COE through his work as former chair of the Cornell Faculty Advisory Committee on Athletics and Physical Education (FACAPE), as well as from designing and teaching a Food Science leadership course that uses the Team & Leadership Center as a required part of the class. In addition to offering us a view from the faculty, Bob provides a parents perspective with two Cornell students. Bob is an Eagle Scout, involved in community activities through Rotary, and is active in outdoor activities including biking, running, kayaking, and downhill and cross country skiing.
Eva Immergut ’81 joined the Board after a COE-Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM) Adirondacks Leadership Skills program. Eva earned a BS from the Hotel School in 1981 and her MBA in 1993. She worked in marketing for American Express before moving to Sweden with her family. After 5 years of being a full time mom, she rejoined American Express in 2006 as a Manager in Business Travel in Stockholm. Eva and her family enjoy biking, hiking and skiing in Sweden.
Bill Kay ‘51 is a long time COE Advisory Board member from Pennsylvania. Bill studied in the College of Industrial and Labor Relations while at Cornell, graduating in 1951. He and his wife Britt joined the Board for the Haute Route ski traverse in the heart of the Alps. Bill is a role model to many, holding the record for the oldest ascent of the Lindseth Climbing Wall. He is land developer in the Philadelphia area. Bill’s generosity funded the Kay Bouldering Wall in the new Noyes Recreation Center.
Dr. Mark Mendel ’83 was a WR coordinator, WR guide, and taught PE courses including lead climbing, ice climbing, backpacking, winter camping and bicycle touring. When he wasn’t leading programs for COE, Mark was in the Engineering College, graduating in 1983. After a decade as a venture capitalist focusing on health care Mark is currently working as an invention capitalist. In 2008 Mark did his first big wall climb, a multi-day climb of Prodigal Son in Zion National Park and he has recently started learning how to surf. Mark lives in Seattle, Washington, close to the mountains he loves.
David Moriah ’72 was the founding director of COE. With his Outward Bound background and alternative education philosophy, David built a firm foundation for the program, inspiring a whole generation of student leaders. He graduated in 1972 from the College of Industrial & Labor Relations. After leaving Cornell, David went on to create one of Outward Bound’s first urban centers in Minneapolis-St. Paul, to work as a management consultant, and to serve as Executive Director of Princeton University's Blairstown Center. David and his wife Deborah (Class of ’74) live in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Their daughter Kira (Class of '03) continued the family tradition and participated in COE classes and served as a COE instructor herself. The Moriah Student Leadership Award and the Moriah Fund are named in honor of David’s pioneering and dedicated COE work.
Bill Phillips ’51 was a member of the original Board and was its first Chair. Bill continues to be an avid outdoorsman and athlete as an octogenarian, enjoying downhill skiing and tennis on a regular basis. He graduated in 1951 from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Before retiring Bill served as Chairman of Oglivy and Mather. He and his wife Barbara live in Connecticut. The home of COE, the Phillips Outdoor Program Center, is named in Bill’s honor. In addition to long time service to Cornell and COE, Bill has served as Chair of the Outward Bound International Board of Directors. He still keeps an office at Ogilvy and does pro bono work for New York City Outward Bound, the Florence Griswold Museum, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame, focusing on education, adventure, and values.
Richard (Rick) Saltz ’73, ’74 became familiar with COE through the Outdoor Thrills and Skills course at CAU. In fact, Rick and his wife, Lynn ’75, liked it so much they took the course a second time. Currently the CFO at Choate Rosemary Hall, an independent high school in Wallingford, CT, Rick has previously been in corporate financial management in both large and small companies. Raised in New York City (and an avid Yankee fan), Rick’s view of the great outdoors was limited to Central Park until attending Cornell. Rick was one of the original founders the Cornell Concert Commission in 1970 and now volunteers his time on the Cornell University Council and as Vice President of the Class of ‘73. Rick and Lynn like to travel and recently hiked in Tierra del Fuego Park in Argentina and Arcadia National Park in Maine. They have three children, two of which attended Cornell and participated in COE activities. Besides family, passions include the outdoors, traveling, hiking and walking along with enjoying good food and wine.
Shel Severinghaus ’62 graduated from Cornell (BA, Zoology), '64 (MA, French Lit) and '77 (PhD, Wildlife Management). As an undergraduate, he rowed on crew and was President of his fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi. Many members of the extended Severinghaus family have been Cornell graduates, including his father, Trustee Emeritus Leslie R. Severinghaus ('21). A grand-niece and grand-nephew are now attending Cornell. The latter is now a student instructor for COE. Shel worked all over Asia for over 40 years, including Taiwan and Mongolia where he was involved with wildlife research and conservation and then international development work with the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation. He has camped and hiked on the vast steppe and deserts of Mongolia, in the high mountains of Taiwan and Borneo, the rain forests and swamps of Southeast Asia, and in the Himalayas of northern Pakistan. His wife, Lucia, also a PhD in wildlife management from Cornell ('83), is based in Taiwan and has been doing field research on birds in Taiwan and Asia for 30 years. Together, they "commute" between their homes in San Francisco and Taipei and travel world-wide.
Ruth Silman ’90 taught rock climbing and lead backpacking trips for COE. After graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences, Ruth spent a season in Colorado skiing and snowshoeing and working part-time for the National Park Service. Now she dreams of those days while sitting in her office at Nixon Peabody where she specializes in energy and environmental law. Ruth and her husband, Tim, live with their two girls in Harvard, Massachusetts. They spend as much time as they can outdoors – hiking, paddling, skiing, skating and gardening.
Jonathan Simon ’92 is an attorney whose practice focuses on a range of matters involving energy, environmental, and natural resources and public lands law. Among other things, Jon counsels outfitters and guides and other companies that provide visitor services in the National Parks, National Forests, and other public lands. He regularly travels to Alaska where much of his work takes place. Jon graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Economics. While there Jon was active with the Cornell Concert Commission and Class Council. Since graduation, he has served as the President of the Cornell Club of Washington, DC and in various roles for his Class, and he was recently appointed as a Director At-Large of the Cornell Alumni Association. Among other outdoor pursuits, Jon loves to canoe, ski, and scuba dive, and he is a certified PADI Divemaster. Jon resides in Chevy Chase, MD, with his wife, Diana (Maxant) ’94, and their two boys.
Scott Sklar ’80 taught numerous COE courses in the early days of the program including Rock Climbing, Backpacking, and Outdoor Leadership Training. After graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1980 Scott was an instructor for the Dartmouth and Hurricane Island Outward Bound Schools and the Appalachian School of Experience. He and Dave Moriah once lead an “urban outdoor adventure trip” to NYC which featured an exposed bivouac for ten on his parents terrace high up a formidable NYC big wall apartment building. Scott continues to enjoy kayaking, skiing, and climbing with his 10 year old daughter. He worked as a executive for LL Bean before founding The TravelSmith Catalog. Scott currently is an investor and advisor in specialty retail/internet/direct marketing and serves as the Board Chair of The Marin Horizon School. He and family live in Mill Valley, California. Scott currently serves as COE Advisory Board Co-chair.
Sara Strachan ’97 is a consultant focused on natural resource based tourism, particularly within our National Park System. She has recently re-located to Providence, Rhode Island after living in the Washington, D. C. area. Sara studied in the Hotel School, graduating in 1997. She has worked for the Princeton-Blairstown Center and number of other outdoor settings. Her favorite outdoor activities include biking and hiking.
Dori Albert ‘57
Dan Tillemans served as second director of Cornell Outdoor Education, from 1984 to 1999. Dan significantly grew the program with the additions of the Lindseth Climbing Wall, Phillips Outdoor Program Center, and Hoffman Challenge Course. In addition, it was under his leadership that the COE Advisory Board was created. Dan lives in Ithaca and he still regularly facilitates and leads programs for COE. The endowed Tillemans Director of Teambuilding position was funded in honor of Dan’s 15 years of COE Leadership.
Ellen Tohn ’81 was a WR Coordinator, WR Guide and taught a number of different COE classes including winter camping and hiking. When not leading trips for COE Ellen studied in the College of Arts and Sciences, graduating in 1981. One of her favorite memories is leading an orientation trip in Maine that endured days of rain but ended up on the sunny peak of Mt. Katahdin. Ellen is the founder and principal of Tohn Environmental Strategies and a nationally recognized expert in housing based environmental health threats, healthy housing and indoor air quality, and lead poisoning prevention. She is an active skier and cyclist. Ellen, her husband John, and their three children live in Wayland, MA. Ellen currently serves as COE Advisory Board Co-chair.
Stephen D. Brinkmann ’86 became involved with COE after he and his daughter, Rhena, took a CAU-COE Parent-Teen Adventure class. Stephen graduated from the College Arts and Sciences in 1986. He is President/CEO of BrandTech Scientific, a Connecticut firm which imports lab equipment from Europe. Stephen enjoys sailing, hiking and travel.
Susan Kalus ’80 hails from Atlanta. She is currently on sabbatical as a lawyer specializing in real estate and tax law, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Pitesti, Romania, where she just experienced her first real winter since living on the Hill! Susan graduated from the Arts College in 1980 where she was a Government major. In addition to serving on the COE Advisory Board, Susan serves on the University Council.
Jay Lemery, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell. He has co-led a dozen joint Weill Cornell-COE programs in Ithaca, the Adirondacks, Arizona, and Utah. Dr. Lemery has practiced emergency medicine in Nepal, New Orleans (in response to Katrina), Haiti (in response to the recent earthquake), and in his backyard, the urban jungle of NY City. He is Secretary of the Wilderness Medical Society and when not in the ER or classroom he enjoys hiking and downhill skiing.
Judy Lowry ’56 is a long time COE Advisory Board member from the urban canyons of New York City. Judy studied in the College of Arts and Sciences, graduating in 1956. She and her husband, George, joined the Board for trips to the Winds and New Zealand. Judy and her sister ran a family book store, one of the leading sellers of book art, first editions and rare books in the City for years.
Clint Sidle ’74 is the director the Park Leadership Program at the Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM). Clint earned a bachelor’s and MBA at Cornell. He recently published his second book, This Hungry Spirit: Your Need for Basic Goodness. He has co-lead JGSM leadership trips with COE to the Sonoran Desert/Superstition Mountains and the Adirondacks and he regularly brings his Park Leadership fellows out to the Hoffman Challenge Course. Clint lives locally on the banks of Fall Creek in Forest Home.
We regret to announce the passing of our great friend and companion in adventure, Ed Berkowitz’56. A longtime member of the COE Advisory Board, Ed was universally appreciated for his wise counsel, and universally loved for his irreverent wit. Over many years he was with us, Ed and his wife Lois (Class of ’59) joined us for adventures in Alaska, the Sierras, South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, and beyond. Ed studied Government at Cornell. He was a lawyer, residing in Washington, D.C, with Lois and prized cats. Ed did many ascents in the Whites, Sierras, and the Appalachians, as well as treks in the world’s major mountain ranges. Join us in the spring for a climb up Old Rag in memory of our great friend and patron.
Advisory Board Members