New Board Member Spotlight: Wayland Lum

Explore Austin is thrilled to announce Wayland Lum, Founder and CEO of Copperbox, to the Board of Directors. An entrepreneur and business owner focused on leadership building, Wayland was drawn to Explore Austin’s mission of developing young leaders through nurturing a love of nature and outdoor adventure.

Said Wayland, “A core part of my work involves taking adult leaders into immersive leadership development experiences in nature. The important work that Explore Austin is doing seemed a natural fit for the kind of organization I wanted to support; the mission aligns strongly with the leadership development philosophy, ethos and approach we practice at Copperbox. Explore Austin focuses on helping develop young, primarily BIPOC leaders in an outdoor setting, while engendering a love, respect and sense of responsibility for taking care of nature.”

Wayland obtained his master of science in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University and his MBA from Baruch College, New York. He is a certified professional coach through the Coaches Training Institute, and is also a certified Wilderness First Responder through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). He’s lived and worked in China, the UK, Mexico and Argentina, and has called Texas home since 2020.

Wayland founded Copperbox after serving as a core team member of Korn Ferry’s CEO and executive development practice. His passion lies in developing modern leaders, inspiring within them a healthy dose of nature, wonder and magic. His approach includes leadership coaching and real-time executive assessment, as well as designing leadership development programs that expand executive thinking. He’s worked with hundreds of leaders globally for companies such as Abbvie, Scholastic, Nike, Deloitte, John Deere and State Farm. 

Wayland’s global professional and personal experiences have informed his particular focus on diversity, equity and inclusion: “From my own lived experience as part of the LGBTQ+ and Asian-American communities, I know what it’s like to feel like the ‘other’ in different work arenas and geographies. I understand in a personal way the challenges of equity for Explorers, having been exposed to the multiple layers of Latino culture growing up in the Bay Area, and having taught high school kids in Mexico.”

Wayland, like Explore Austin, believes the magic of nature should be accessible to everyone, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status or physical ability. He personally enjoys hiking and running at local spots such as Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Austin and around Lake Georgetown, and emphasizes the importance of experiencing new landscapes, one of his favorites being two summers ago when he hiked the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe, California with a friend he’s known since kindergarten. 

“We covered 70 miles in six days, going from alpine lake to alpine lake. It was special to be out on the trail with a close friend, doing the thing!”

Wayland is delighted to join Explore Austin’s Board at this juncture in the organization’s growth:

“This is an exciting time in Explore Austin’s growth journey and I feel I’ll be able to contribute in meaningful ways to helping the organization achieve its goal of scaling its operations to help even more Explorers have life-changing experiences that form them into good citizens and leaders. I’m excited to see EA find a larger, permanent home that will meet this need.”

Please join us in welcoming Wayland to the Board of Directors!

New Board Member Spotlight: Sujay Regmi

Explore Austin is pleased to announce Sujay Regmi, Managing Principal and co-founder of APTUS Engineering, to the Board of Directors. After being introduced to Explore Austin by former staff member and Board chairman Laura Detke, Sujay saw alignment between the organization and his own passion for bettering the lives of young people, coupled with his love of the outdoors.

Said Sujay, “Children and youth are my passion, and I believe that every person deserves a safe and supportive environment where they can thrive. As a father of two, I know how important it is to have people in your life who you can rely on for support and guidance. I am also passionate about the work of Explore Austin, and I want to help the organization achieve its mission of improving the lives of its Explorers.”

Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sujay earned his bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering at the Manipal Institute of Technology in India before moving to Chicago to complete his master’s in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Seeking a warmer climate more conducive to spending time outdoors, he moved to Austin 20 years ago and co-founded APTUS Engineering, a mechanical and electrical engineering consulting firm. 

Sujay works on commercial and residential projects and enjoys building relationships with Austin’s leaders, professionals and the general public – people he is looking forward to introducing to Explore Austin. He has developed particular expertise in HVAC systems, process piping, plumbing and electrical systems, and has applied these skills to projects ranging from new construction to complete facility retrofits, including office buildings, healthcare facilities, educational buildings and industrial facilities.

Sujay has a strong track record of volunteering his time and skills in the Austin community, and credits his diverse background with giving him an understanding of the challenges that people from a wide variety of circumstances face.

“I am determined to use this understanding to create an environment and community where everyone can thrive and succeed in their lives, goals, desires and ambitions,” he said, adding, “I have always enjoyed building and cultivating relationships with others. This allows me to share my perspective, hear others’ perspectives and work together to achieve common goals that help and benefit others.”

The warm climate in Texas has been a great fit for Sujay, his wife, their two middle-school children and their (very active!) chocolate labrador, Mocha. Sujay is a marathon runner, bike enthusiast and hiker who you’ll often catch on the greenbelt trails. Whether he’s training for the annual Texas MS 150 charity bike ride or running around Town Lake, he’s grateful for the access he has to the outdoors in Austin. He’s also set his sights on a goal in his native Nepal: “I still have not abandoned a dream of reaching the base camp of Mount Everest!”

Please join us in welcoming Sujay to the Explore Austin family!

New Board Member Spotlight: Wendy Papasan

Explore Austin is pleased to announce Wendy Papasan has joined the Board of Directors. A growth-focused visionary and co-founder of several companies in the real estate sector, Wendy’s philanthropy and prior board service have focused primarily on women and children.

Said Wendy, “Kathleen Schneeman [CEO of Explore Austin] has been a dear friend for 15 years, and when I found out she was leading Explore Austin, I immediately wanted to learn more. The mission perfectly aligns with my own! I’m excited to help make an impact on the lives of young people in Austin.”

Wendy is an avid traveler and adventurer who caught the bug fresh out of college when she spent 18 months solo backpacking her way around the world. In joining the Explore Austin Board, she’s now looking forward to bringing together her love of adventure with her passion for empowering youth to reach their full potential.

Wendy has run the Papasan Properties Group since she co-founded the business in 2009. A full-service real estate consulting firm that operates out of Austin and San Antonio, Papasan Properties Group at Keller Williams Realty has helped more than 1,800 families, totalling more than $750 million in home sales. Last year, Real Trends ranked Papasan Properties number 21 for teams out of 120,000 realtors in Texas. Additionally, Wendy is a six-time winner of the Platinum Top50, an elite group of real estate professionals selected for their real estate production and charitable giving and volunteerism in their communities.

In addition to her real estate business, Wendy is the co-founder and chairman of the board for Her Best Life, a million-dollar startup that helps women build big businesses and even bigger lives. She also serves on the board of KW Kids Can, a nonprofit that helps young adults think bigger and find their mission. Together, she and her husband, Jay Papasan, have helped raise more than $1 million for children with cancer.

Wendy is also the co-host of the award-winning podcast Empire Building, which received the Inman Innovator’s award in 2021 and has more than 750,000 downloads. She is a sought-after international real estate speaker and trainer who has been a featured guest on multiple podcasts including Bigger Pockets, The ONE Thing and Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership.

In her spare time, Wendy enjoys international travel and being active through weight lifting, hiking and biking, naming the trails around Lady Bird Lake and the Barton Creek greenbelt as some of her local favorites. Family time is also important to her – she and her husband are the proud parents of two teenagers and a dog named Taco.

Please join us in welcoming Wendy to the Explore Austin family!

Trip Leader Tuesday: Liya Scott expects the unexpected

This piece is the third in a 2023 summer series, “Trip Leader Tuesday,” that highlights the Trip Leaders who make Explore Austin’s programming possible.

When Liya Scott began as a Trip Leader with Explore Austin in 2021, she saw lots of rock walls in her future.

“I imagined I would be climbing all the time. I’ve since discovered that I quite enjoy canoe challenges. For Trip Leaders, there is quite a bit of planning and technical knowledge required in the preparation stage, which I enjoy. Once we arrive at the challenge site, it’s a joy to teach Explorers and Mentors and watch for those ‘lightbulb’ moments. The best part is finally getting on the water and feeling one with the river and nature.”

Coming up on her second anniversary with Explore Austin, Liya has grown accustomed to expecting the unexpected. Another of those moments? Translating her rock-climbing skills underground to cave exploration, one of her favorite memories to date.

Said Liya, “I got to join Trip Leader Kori for my first caving trip – it was such a unique experience! As a climber, it was so cool to use my climbing technique scrambling in the underground. I learned that life is different underground; animals breathe differently, and even rocks and things you might find underground change in appearance if exposed to outside air. The trip was definitely an unforgettable challenge.”

Liya discovered her passion for caving as a Trip Leader with Explore Austin. On a recent Saturday Challenge, she posed for a photo 30 feet below ground in Whirlpool Cave, Travis County.

Liya has been an “outdoorsy, adventurous gal” for as long as she can remember and feels it’s especially important for her to be involved with Explore Austin because, as a woman of color, she’s a direct role model for the program’s youth, 97% of whom identify as youth of color and 50% of whom are female.

“The best part is sharing this love of outdoor spaces with youth. Experiential education is powerful, especially in the context of outdoor recreation. As a woman of color, it’s important for me to be a presence in outdoor spaces to help reverse the stigma and historical trauma of my people,” Liya said.

At family gatherings, Liya’s work with Explore Austin is a conversation starter that continues to stoke her love of nature and her desire to preserve its beauty for future generations. She points out how Explore Austin’s programming differs from most outdoor adventure programs, including its emphasis on mentorship and social-emotional learning through time set aside for group discussion and for “solos,” periods of time alone in nature for self reflection:

“I like how social justice is tied into the mentorship and empowerment piece, and how Explore Austin puts value on debrief and discussion time. The concept behind the ‘solo’ on the Summer Wilderness Trips is really unique, too. These things are all important because we live in a society that does not understand the importance of taking time to slow down, process and practice moments of stillness. As you get older, these moments become more scarce if you don’t purposefully incorporate them into your life, and you won’t unless you are taught how to do it. I’m glad we get to teach this practice to youth.”

While Liya has led school-year Saturday Challenges for nearly two years, last month marked her first Summer Wilderness Trip. After working with the ‘26 Funky Cacti team all year, she co-led them (along with Trip Leader Karley Henson) on a weeklong canoe trip 45 miles down the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas. Said Liya:

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the high school girls this year. It’s neat to be able to relate to their experience in high school, and share insights I’ve gained in the life I’ve lived between high school and now. So many things have changed about middle school and high school since I was there, so hats off to students navigating sixth through twelfth grade – it’s not easy being a kid these days!”

Liya also connected with Funky Cacti’s Mentors over the last year – Annalise, Holly, Kate, Kelly and Patty – seeing how deeply they care for their Explorers, and that the sentiment is reciprocated. Getting to work with this team on Saturday Challenges made Liya confident that their Summer Wilderness Trip would be “a good combination of fun, adventure and challenge.”

Karley, Liya’s co-Trip Leader on the Buffalo River, said:

Liya during a Saturday Challenge with Explorers on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin.

“Leading with Liya is such a treat! She’s cool, collected and loads of fun. She’s also always on her game; she knows when to let things roll and when to step in to make things happen. I’d lead another trip with her in a heartbeat! Though we had lots of great moments in the field, my favorite was singing with her to Ray Charles’ ‘That’s How I Know’ on the drive home.”

Liya echoed Karley’s sentiments of co-leading, calling her first Summer Wilderness Trip a “10 out of 10 experience”:

“Our group had an absolute blast! The weather was incredibly reasonable, we avoided the severe storms that hit other areas of Arkansas, and the river was breathtakingly beautiful. Of all the wildlife sightings, my favorites were the blue heron (which we named Sharon), the alligator gar (seen from the bottom of the clear river) and a young bald eagle. I got to hear the song of the whip-poor-will bird for the first time, which was really special for me; they only sing at dawn or dusk. One misty morning, we even thought we saw a nutria gliding through the water! I especially valued the time we spent as a team sharing rose/bud/thorn moments, and encouraging one another after a long day. The Explorers and Mentors were really fun to be around.”

Though Funky Cacti’s Summer Wilderness Trip saw its share of technically challenging days on the water, Liya concludes: “We had a lot of fun together too. I like that Explore Austin cultivates moments where we learn together and have fun at the same time.”

New Board Member Spotlight: Lenar A. Cantu

We have recently welcomed 3 new members to Explore Austin’s Board of Directors: Brad Garner, Lenar A. Cantu, and Adrienne Sturrup. We’re excited to add these dynamic professionals to the Explore Austin team. Get to know Lenar below and keep an eye on our social media for more!


What led you to getting involved with Explore Austin? 

What led me to get involved, by joining the Board, is knowing how the program personally impacted the 2015 team and my life. Without the Explore program and my mentors, I wouldn’t be in the same situation today. As a Board member, I want to ensure that future Explorers continue to have similar experiences and see the change the program will make for them in the coming years.


What do you do for work? 

I currently work part-time for the US Army and full-time in logistics for the Texas Military Department. I have worked at various levels for the last nine years.


What are you most excited about in working with Explore Austin? 

I’m most excited to help the program grow in new ways that I hadn’t been involved with before. I’m also excited to see what direction the program takes.


What part of the Explore Austin ethos do you identify with the most?

“Leading with equity, we strive to remove barriers to restorative time in nature” is a part of the ethos I most identify with. As a kid, I always wanted to mountain bike and rock climb outdoors, but due to my family’s economic status, I thought it was something I’d never do. A few years later, I was mountain biking and rock climbing in places like Austin, Colorado, and beyond because of Explore.


How do you think about helping others and giving back? 

I think of helping others and giving back with my time and work.


What’s a fun fact about you? 

I’m an alumnus of the Explore Austin program and a past Explore Austin guide [Trip Leader].


What is one of your favorite outdoor adventures you’ve been on?

One of my favorite outdoor adventures is multi-pitch climbing in Potrero Chico, Mexico, with lots of my close friends and even some of the people who led me through some of my Explore Austin Summer Wilderness Trips.


Is there anything else you would like to share? 

I’m excited to be involved again and to help Explore Austin in a new and different way.

New Board Member Spotlight: Adrienne Sturrup

We have recently welcomed 3 new members to Explore Austin’s Board of Directors: Brad Garner, Lenar A. Cantu, and Adrienne Sturrup. We’re excited to add these dynamic professionals to the Explore Austin team. 


How did you get involved with Explore Austin?

A colleague of mine, who shares my passion for youth development, introduced me to the organization.  Her passion for the mission and work and her hope for the organization’s future encouraged me to pursue the opportunity to serve.


How would you define good leadership?

For me, leadership is not about exercising authority.  It is more about leveraging influence.  Good leadership is sacrificial, giving more than it takes, and it should ultimately seek to serve.


What do you do for work?

I work for the City of Austin, Austin Public Health Department.


What are you most excited about in working with Explore Austin?

National trends show that the impacts of the COVIID-19 pandemic have long-term effects on our young people’s mental health.  In historically marginalized communities where mental health care is either inaccessible or highly stigmatized, Explore Austin is positioned to provide youth from these communities opportunities for experiential learning and the development of social and life skills that can help build their resilience and coping mechanisms.  I want to be a part of that.


What part of the Explore Austin ethos do you identify with the most?

“Leading with Equity.”


How do you think about helping others and giving back?



What’s a fun fact about you?

Not exactly fun, but often surprising to others – at 6’1″, I have never played any organized sports at the high school or collegiate level.  Still, I have helped several people reach items off the top shelf at the grocery store.

New Board Member Spotlight: Brad Garner

We are please to announce that we have recently welcomed 3 new board members: Brad Garner, Lenar A. Cantu, and Adrienne Sturrup. We’re excited to add these dynamic professionals to the Explore Austin team. Get to know Brad below and keep an eye on our social media for more!


What led you to getting involved with Explore Austin? 

My wife and I became involved in Explore Austin in 2016 at the Quest for the Summit event.  We found that EA’s mission aligned with our values and were excited to be able to support the mission by becoming Pathfinders [one of EA’s multiyear giving circles].  We supported the “Nature Freaks” Team for their entire 6 year journey, and were amazed at how they matured and grew during that time.

What do you do for work? 

I am self-employed in the commercial real estate business.

What are you most excited about in working with Explore Austin? 

The ability to help grow the organization.

What part of the Explore Austin ethos do you identify with the most?

Explore Austin Ethos

We approach our mission with excitement, believing that making the time for fun cultivates self-discovery and restoration. Leading with equity, we strive to remove barriers to restorative time in nature. We boldly embrace change and adapt to meet the evolving needs of our community. We value the journey – joyfully celebrating our wins and courageously learning from our losses. Fostering a space of trust and belonging, we establish a culture of commitment, understanding, and gratitude.

I identify the most with “the restorative time in nature.”  As an avid fly fisherman, I find that the time I spend outside and on the water is so valuable as it allows me to forget about all the day-to-day stresses and just relax and enjoy nature.

How do you think about helping others and giving back? 

I was raised in a family that always gave back to the community.  I have been fortunate in my life to be successful in business and in family, so I feel that helping others and giving back has become an integral part of who I am.

What’s a fun fact about you? 

We have a 28’ travel trailer and love to spend time traveling around the country.

What is one of your favorite outdoor adventures you’ve been on?

Flyfishing in the northern Patagonia region of Argentina.

New Staff Member alert! Meet our new Business Operations Coordinator, Matt Williams.

We are thrilled to announce that Matt Williams is Explore Austin’s new Business Operations Coordinator! 

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with him for an interview. 

Get to know Matt below! 


We are thrilled that you are Explore Austin’s new Business Operations Coordinator! Can you share what drew you to Explore Austin?

The organization’s mission was the main draw that compelled me to apply. It is super aligned with my values. For some background, I’ve been a climber around Austin for the last 10 years. During that time, I’ve had so many amazing experiences connecting me with the outdoors and with others who’ve gone on trips with me. It’s something that has created a strong sense of belonging for me and has guided me on my career path. 

My early understanding of Explore Austin was seeing huge groups of kids show up at the climbing crag. Initially, I thought that EA only took kids climbing. Once this this job opened up, I looked into the organization and realized that EA does so much more than that. It’s a six-year program that provides amazing opportunities for young people, especially those who probably wouldn’t have access to such opportunities otherwise. It is a super worthy cause, and that got me excited about working here.

Amazing! What kind of role were you in prior to joining EA?

Before joining EA, my last major role was as an Operations Manager at Austin Bouldering Project, which is a climbing gym on the east side of Austin. I was responsible for the facility’s operation and leading a team. It was a really cool experience as I was a part of so many different things with that company, including construction of the gym and working at the front desk. I met many of my friends there and ultimately managed the team for three years. After three years in that role, I was ready for a change.

I left the ABP in 2021 and explored some areas I was interested in like data analytics and web development. I took a couple of boot camps and just learned some new things. When this job at Explore Austin opened, I thought it might be a great fit, and I connected with the team.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

There are a lot of things I’m excited about, but to pick one thing… I’m really curious about how I fit in with the whole team here. It’s really exciting coming into a new place and getting to see everyone’s superpowers, the things that they do really well, and I’m really excited to see how my background and the things that I’m interested in work within the team and how I can support the organization. 

What are you passionate about outside of work? It sounds like rock climbing into your main interest.

Yes, it’s my main hobby and has been with me for 10 years or so now. Climbing is the medium, but the big passion behind it all is really having a connection with something bigger. It’s important to get outside of ourselves and connect with something larger. Being outside is a literal way to do that. You’re connecting with the planet and things outside of yourself. There are so many things you can learn from it if you’re open. So being outdoors is a huge passion of mine, especially being outdoors with other people.

Anything else you would like to share?

I’m just really excited to be here and meet everybody!


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Meet Our New Mentors!

Explore Austin’s Mentors play a crucial role in supporting our mission both on and off the trail.

Mentoring with Explore Austin means committing to our Explorers for six years and growing together. It means passing down life experience and supporting youth when things get tough. It means creating lifelong bonds that matter so much as our Explorers go out and navigate the world. 

We are thrilled to introduce our newest EA Mentors! Get to know these superstars below.


Rebeca Llamas 

“Hey y’all! My name is Beca* and I’m super excited to be an Explore Austin mentor!

A little bit about me: I am a Hispanic woman, grew up in Brownsville, Texas, and have lived in Austin for the past 6 years. I graduated from UT Austin in 2020 with an architectural engineering degree and now work for a construction company. I love to do most anything that involves the outdoors: rock-climbing, hiking, cycling, running, swimming, you name it. My latest outdoor obsession is bikepacking: biking to far-away campsites with a bike loaded with my camping gear.

When I’m not outside, one of my favorite weekend activities is sitting at a coffee shop and working on my weekly Austin Chronicle crossword puzzle with a hot coffee. I can’t wait to meet everyone. 🙂 ”

*Beca speaks Spanish fluently.


Craig Hubbard

“Helping others succeed has always been a passion of mine. I have worked in small business for the last 36 years and totally relate to the underdog mentality that goes along with running a small business! I started mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and had a paper route before I was able to drive. I guess you could say that I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit.

My personal values: be authentic, dependable, the spoken word is as powerful as the written word, and do the right thing for all the people in your life whether they are family, friends, clients, or strangers. I look at life as an adventure every day.

I have been married to my beautiful wife Jennifer for 24 years and have 3 grown children: Abby, Ally and Andrew who are all in their early 20’s.

When I’m not working, I enjoy learning new skills, especially in the psychology, business, and self-help categories. I also like closing my rings and just going on an afternoon hike. Additionally, I love to socialize and engage in deep conversations with friends and family. Food also makes me happy… I moved to Texas in 2012 and have loved it ever since. What a great place to live!”


Jenny Hubbard

“Growing up in California gave me various adventures within a day’s drive–I could be at the beach, on a mountain hike, or camping in the desert. Shortly after my husband and I married 24 years ago, we began our parenting adventure with three kids in four years. We moved our family to central Oregon for ten years before coming to Texas. Now that the kids are grown and off on their life adventures, it is time for us to find a new passion. I have always strived to help others in any way possible. When I heard of Explore Austin, I knew it would be a perfect fit. I am excited to work with my peers while helping to shape and support youth.”


Kelsey Meisenhelder

“Hi! I’m Kelsey (she/they). I grew up internationally (in six countries), but I’m happy to have settled in Austin and call it home. I currently work as a researcher for an environmental non-profit where I study air quality and public health. I love arts and crafts, reading, board games, and spending as much time outside as I can. I’ve previously worked as an elementary school teacher, a wildlife biology technician, and I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu from 2014-2016. I’m very excited to be a part of Explore Austin, and I look forward to sharing the joys and challenges of the natural world (and to point out cool birds!) with the Explorers and the Explore Austin team.”


Steph R. Thomas

“Hi, my name is Steph. I was born and raised in Mexico City, and I’ve been living in Austin for the past twelve years. Living in Austin, I enjoy hiking, paddleboarding, and climbing in gyms, at nearby ranches, and on the greenbelt, right in the heart of the city.

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Advertising and Austin Community College with an associate degree in Graphic Design.

In 2015, after graduating from college, I embarked on a 4,500-mile journey from Austin to Alaska to raise money for cancer research with 71 other UT college students. This journey taught me the value and power of connecting around adventures and challenging experiences to generate change. I stayed with people and communities of all kinds of faith and backgrounds, who all supported us on our journey. The ride and people I rode with and stayed with taught me the value of fun, friendship, collaboration, resilience, patience, hard work, and how to be a good leader and team member.

On my return, I started building my career as an Art Director/Designer. I made advertisements for Dell for a few years, and then last year for REI. I really enjoy being a mentor to young designers. However, during the global pandemic, I realized that I wanted to pursue a more fulfilling career that aligned closer to my values, beliefs and passions. In January of 2022, I decided to make a change and transition out of the advertising industry.

Since then, I’ve acquired an AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor certification, and I am currently working towards a Single Pitch Instructor certification as well as training for climbing. In addition to climbing on my own and with friends, I am passionate about mentoring and empowering youth to reach their full potential. I am excited to be a part of such a great organization.”

*Steph speaks Spanish fluently.


Wilfredo Pérez Espino

“I am Wilfredo Pérez Espino. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. In the summer of 2016, I moved to Austin looking for new professional experiences in architecture and fine arts.

Throughout my life, I have been exposed to outdoor adventures such as camping on different beaches around Puerto Rico and its mountains in the center of the island. Activities like surfing and sailing nurtured my love for the ocean and nature. Living in Austin and looking to replace my old outdoor habits of integrating with nature, I do more hiking and camping around the many parks in Texas, paddle boarding, and enjoying the city’s music culture.”

*Wilfredo speaks Spanish fluently.


Will Haase

Will Haase is a native Texan born and raised in the Houston area. Throughout his youth, he was a part of the Boy Scouts organization where he developed a love for the outdoors and learned the importance of community service. Will attended the University of Houston and, after graduation, moved to Austin to start his career.


Charlise Washington

Charlise Washington is an ivy-league educated business woman with expertise in the fields of programming, information technology and data analytics. She has over 10 years of experience working at all levels in several Fortune 500 companies and has led computer desktop applications and database management related workshops for over 100 employees. Her knowledge has led her to oversee focus groups and presentations for management and C-level executives.

As a vocal advocate in her community, she’s led political education classes and moderated forums to discuss problems and solutions for current events. Charlise has lent her organizational and logistical acumen to local food drives and demonstrations.

Additionally, Charlise has been a Complete Girlz Inc. teacher and mentor for the past 5 years. Complete Girlz is a NYC based non-profit that builds self-esteem and leadership skills in young women aged 12-21. While there, Charlise led over 40 workshops, built strong relationships amongst her students, and served as a resource for recommendations and references for several students. Charlise also emcees and moderates several events within and associated with multiple non-profits in New York and Georgia that support the arts and life skills.

In her spare time, Charlise enjoys spending time with her Yorkshire Terrier and her nieces at local parks and farmers markets. She enjoys yoga retreats and plays local flag football. She is an avid reader, writer, traveler and skier. Her most ambitious goal is to ski every mountain range within the next 10 years!


Mario Navarrete

Mario was born in Mexico City, Mexico, moved all over as a child, then began traveling on his own when he was 20 years old. Spending time in SE Asia, West Africa, Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and the West Coast of the US. He currently enjoys life in Austin where he is a freelance medical interpreter and jack of all trades. In his spare time, he likes to go paddle boarding, camping, hiking, biking, swimming and dancing. As the youngest of five siblings, he had the opportunity to tag along with his older brothers and learned a lot from them and their friends. He hopes Explore Austin will be an opportunity to pass on some of these teachings to the next generation, especially self-confidence, resilience, leadership, resourcefulness and sociability.

*Mario speaks Spanish fluently.


Eric Brown

“Hey, I’m Eric! I grew up in Houston and spent 8 years living out of the US, but I love living in Austin now where I get to enjoy some beautiful trails and delicious food trucks. I have worked in education and youth programs for over 15 years, and now I work with findhelp supporting nonprofits. I love learning about and experiencing this amazing world we live in, and I am really excited about sharing that enthusiasm with young Explorers as a Mentor with Explore Austin!”


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