Meet our leaders header

Backroads Trip Leaders: Meet a Few of Our Trip Leaders



U.S. Trip Leaders

Lizelle Jackson
Lizelle Jackson
Leader since 2012

As a child growing up in Southern California, I was hard-pressed to find a summer that was not occupied by outdoor adventures and travel. My family was extremely active and always on the go, using the Southwest as our stomping ground. Whether we were hiking the Zion Narrows, kayaking down the Colorado River or mountain biking in Mexico, these were the vacations that made me want to explore more of what the world had to offer.
Read more...


 

Joey Coe
Joey Coe
Leader since 2012

I rolled past a charming red farmhouse, yellowing oak trees, old grain silos and took a deep breath of the cool fall air from the saddle of my bicycle. That's when I asked myself "should people be this happy in their job?"

I've come to decide that the answer is yes, because happy people beget happy people. What makes me happy about working with Backroads is watching how active travel and the outdoors strengthens people's connections with others and (most interestingly) with themselves. And speaking personally, it's a job that forces me to use many of my skills, and we all love putting our skills to use—it's very fulfilling. Read more...


Back to Top

 

Jayne McDonagh
Jayne McDonagh
Leader since 2003

I've always worked but somehow never really had a "regular job" as my friends call them. I got my degree in marine biology and imagined myself working alongside someone like Jacques Cousteau. But marriage and kids changed my priorities and flexibility suddenly became more important than adventure for a while. I spent the next decade and a half coaching swimming and teaching lessons in backyard pools, working for caterers, making wedding cakes, sewing active wear, guiding sea kayaking trips in San Francisco Bay, taking people on hikes and teaching kids cooking classes through the local park and rec. department and, of course, raising kids! You name it, I did it and I loved every minute of that time of my life. Read more...


 

Ed Krajsky
Ed Krajsky
Leader since 2010

I'm not what one would consider a "typical" Backroads leader. For one thing I'm older, (I got a Father's Day card from the other new leaders during training), I'm married, have a full-time job as a hotel manager and a son in college. But it works! I end up working a number of trips in the summer in an area I love and a region where I live. Read more...


 

Katie Roda
Katie Roda
Leader since 2012

I was born and raised in Southern California and spent most of my youth playing soccer or joining the family in outdoor adventures—skiing, hiking, camping, river rafting and the like. I have always found that I am happiest when I'm spending time exploring new places and cultures or getting wrapped up in a wonderful conversation. Prior to coming to Backroads, I earned my undergraduate degree in neuroscience and my graduate degree in business. I worked in various corporate environments including five years as a marketing manager at Microsoft. It wasn't until I joined Backroads that I realized you really can make a career out of doing something you love—being outdoors, staying active and engaging with people. Read more...


 


Canadian Trip Leaders

Jasmine Verrall
Jasmine Verrall
Leader since 2011

Having grown up in a mountaineering hostel in Canmore, Alberta, I was immediately immersed in the outdoor adventure culture. I was so fortunate to have an endless forest as my backyard and to be in the presence of so many travelers from around the world. A passion for adventure and travel was instilled in me when I was only five weeks old and my parents packed me up into their van and headed north to the Yukon for two months. Ever since, I have not been able to sit still and I spend as little time as possible with walls around me. Read more...


 

Ken Brushett
Ken Brushett
Leader since 1997, Trip Specialist Canadian Rockies & South Africa, Hiring & Training Specialist

I began working fulltime for Backroads almost 15 years ago and have never looked back! I think my parents noticed early on that my life path was going to be a little different from most. From about the age of 12, I started reading National Geographic magazines and spent most of my time outdoors poking around and looking for "critters." While I managed to earn degrees in Biology and Education and teach in the public school system for a while, it was on a soul-searching backpacking trip to Central America that I finally decided I wanted to explore a career path that would incorporate my love for adventure travel with education. I stumbled across a hiring ad for Backroads in Outside magazine and the rest is history. Working for Backroads over the last 14 years has exceeded every expectation I had in terms of experiences, co-workers and opportunities. Read more...


 

Pam Fritz
Pam Fritz
Leader since 1999, Costa Rica Regional Expert & Regional Support Specialist, and Peru Regional Expert & Regional Support Specialist

I grew up in a small town in Ontario and spent my summers playing on the shores of Georgian Bay. I’ve always had a love for the outdoors, adventure and being active. After five years at Queen’s University in Kingston, I completed my B.PHE as well as my B.Sc in Biology and my B.Ed. After graduating, I decided it was time to go for my B.Happy! Teaching jobs were a dime a dozen at that time, but deep down I was looking for something more. A friend was applying for Backroads—and when she told me about it I thought, "that is EXACTLY what I want to do." We both got hired and started as Trip Leaders in the Canadian Rockies. I had the best summer playing and working in the mountains—it was all one and the same to me. Read more...


 

Kelsey Tonner
Kelsey Tonner
Leader since 2011

On the day I was born, my mother and father decided they would take a trip around the world. They spent the whole year exploring the far reaches of the globe and brought along with them a small, chubby, blue-eyed newborn baby. While that baby would one day resent the fact that he could not remember one moment of that incredible journey, he would also realize that it shaped the man he has become today. Read more...


 

Brennan Anderson
Brennan Anderson
Leader since 2010

Looking through my family photo albums, it's clear how the mountains got into my blood. The impossibly high peaks of the Canadian Rockies, standing straight up and down in all of their rugged grandeur, provided the dramatic backdrop for album after album of family photos. My parents injected a heavy dose of mountain adventure into my upbringing, and now I am living with the consequences of those parenting choices. I am a mountain addict. Read more...


 

Mitch Sime
Mitch Sime
Leader since 2012

My first year with Backroads offered a unique opportunity for me to share my love for the mountains and region as we travelled through my hometown in the Canadian Rockies. Some of my earliest memories are on these very trails, hiking and biking through the timeless landscapes. I take great pride in welcoming people into the mountains, the same way my parents and my grandparents introduced me to the land. The companionship that comes with travelling in the wilderness is unparalleled and the bonds made between friends and family last a lifetime.
Read more...


Back to Top

 


European Trip Leaders

Vincent Soyer
Vincent Soyer
French, Leader since 2004, Argentina & Patagonia Trip Specialist

After receiving a B.A in Economic Sciences, I studied international commerce in Montpellier, France, and graduated in 1988. My first job was to sell software all over Europe for a company based in London. But I was dreaming of discovering the world... Read more...


 

Federica Vergano
Federica Vergano
Italian, Leader since 2010

Though I am one hundred percent Italian, I spent many years bouncing all over the world, having new experiences, facing new challenges and meeting new people that enriched my life with joy and passion. I always felt incredibly lucky to be able to travel and enjoy the wonders of this world. However, when I realized that being able to share these beauties with someone is what makes them truly memorable and significant, I decided to become a Trip Leader. Read more...


 

Jakub Stanek
Jakub Stanek
Czech, Leader since 2007, Trip Specialist & Regional Support Specialist Czech Republic

Where to start? Growing up in communist country meant my family did not have many opportunities to travel in my early childhood. We were unable to visit the western world until years after the Velvet Revolution, and the furthest I had ever traveled by the age of 12 was neighboring Yugoslavia. I guess the memory of this limitation is still deep inside of every Czech. This might be one reason why you can find Czech natives in literally every country of the world. We're all compensating for the freedom we once did not have. Read more...


 

Zuzana Salajova
Zuzana Salajova
Slovakian, Leader since 2006

Growing up in a post-communist country, the rest of the world seemed very inaccessible and mysterious. During my primary school geography classes when we had to memorize boring facts about the agriculture and industry production of different countries, I was always curious how people actually lived in the countries I was learning about. I dreamt about traveling to these distant destinations one day. Read more...


 

Eoin Canny
Eoin Canny
Irish, Leader since 2006

I came to San Francisco in 1999 for a software engineering job. It was a great career move, but the biggest payoff came in how my horizons expanded outside of work. I took up hobbies such as trail running, mountain biking, snowboarding and backcountry camping. I sampled cuisine from all over the world, and made friends from a multitude of backgrounds... Read more...


 

Annie Worth
Annie Worth
American, Leader since 2010

I once heard traveling described as a virus, and once you get it, there is no cure - I guess that describes my experience. After spending my junior year of college studying abroad in Paris, I was unable to stay put. I wanted to be getting lost down new and tiny streets, trying foods that scared me, striking up conversations with strangers on the metro, and constantly putting myself in a position to meet new people. I graduated from UCLA in 2009 with degrees in History and Psychology and, while many of my friends joined consulting firms and entered law school, I found my way back to France to teach English in a small town. I fell in love with everything about being an expat in the French world, living life like the locals. Adopting the customs. Doing as the Romans do. Read more...


 

Alexandre Visage
Alexandre Visage
French, Leader since 2007

I was a student in Paris, and I love busy cities. However, during my summers, I need some fresh air, new places to visit and new people to meet. Read more...


 


Other Trip Leaders

Wally Bruce
Wally Bruce
New Zealander, Leader since 1995, Work authorization for Canada

My Backroads journey has been a life-changing experience. I started as a subcontractor for Backroads in New Zealand for a number of years—leading the white water rafting portion of trips. Before long, I was also biking and connecting with guests before we began the white water rafting action. I applied three times to be a full-time leader and eventually I became the first 'foreign' employee (not Canadian or American). Backroads became my priority and I sold my company and became the New Zealand expert—bringing my knowledge and love of the country to our guests. When not helping develop walking trips in New Zealand and Australia, I work in countries around the world—US, Scotland, Norway and Canada to name a few. Read more...


 


Back to Top

Backroads Trip Leaders


"I may work every day in July, and none in January—and that suits me. I love the variety of this life—I can be drinking coffee in a European bistro, or tasting street food in Asia, or hiking on a Tuesday in Zion during a week off—and it's all just 'another day at the office.' I like the intensity of working hard and playing hard—and yet, in the end, quite often—it's all just one and the same."

Chuck Bartelt
Leader since 1998, India Trip Specialist, Hiring & Training Specialist