The idea for Chulengo has been a long time in the making, taking its ethos from generations of adventurers-turned-environmentalists. As our mentor Kris Tompkins puts it, "we defend what we love, and we love what we know." Every day of bushwacking through remote valleys and scrambling unnamed peaks reinforces the special power of wild landscapes to challenge, inspire, and transform.
Chulengo benefits from the wisdom and support of many, including those below.
NADINE LEHNER (CO-FOUNDER) After years working in conservation while exploring wild places, Nadine dove into Chulengo to build connections between people and place that inspire lasting change. After graduating from Harvard College, where she studied History & Literature with an environmental focus, she headed south to work with Doug and Kris Tompkins (founders of The North Face, Esprit and Patagonia, Inc). As Executive Director of Conservacion Patagonica, she focused on the establishment of the future Patagonia National Park, the 700,000-acre flagship national park that is home to most of Chulengo's expeditions. After five years with Conservacion Patagonica, she pursued a joint MBA - MS in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. She's a NOLS instructor and has led wilderness backpacking and river expeditions for over a decade. She now spends most of her time in one of her favorite places on earth, Patagonia National Park, leading expeditions with Chulengo.
BEN WILCOX (CO-FOUNDER) Ben works as a guide and educator in the Aysén region of Chile, with a particular focus on student groups and environmental conservation. Ben studied Latin American History as a Harvard undergraduate, which included stints in Argentina and Brazil, and completed a degree in philosophy at Oxford University. During the 2015 season, Ben directed Conservación Patagónica's field volunteer and education program, spending nearly five months living in a tent in the backcountry of the future Patagonia National Park. He has also worked with teams of local guides to manage expeditions onto the Northern Patagonian Ice Field, and is a field instructor for NOLS. When he isn't leading expeditions for Chulengo, Ben works on translation projects for the Coyhaique-based publishing house Ñire Negro and collects stories that relate to the history of the Aysén region.
MAURICIO INOSTROZA (CHILE DIRECTOR) Born and raised in Puerto Ibañez, Aysen, Chile, Mauricio has worked as a field instructor and expedition logistics coordinator in the region for over two decades, developing an intimate connection to Aysén’s mountains and coastlines. He has instructed sea kayaking, mountaineering, rock climbing, hiking, and horse packing with NOLS in Patagonia, Alaska, Wyoming, and the Pacific Northwest. With Chulengo, Mauricio manages transportations and logistics, based in Coyhaique, hosts groups at his family ranch in Puerto Ibañez, and leads expeditions in the field.
KRIS TOMPKINS Rock-star conservationist and businesswoman Kris is a crucial mentor to Chulengo. After co-founding Patagonia, Inc with Yvon and Malinda Chouinard, Kris served as the company's first CEO for two decades before retiring to move to Chile and focus on conservation with her late husband Doug Tompkins. In 2000, she founded Conservación Patagónica to create national parks in Chile and Argentina that save and restore wildlands and wildlife, inspire care for nature, and generate healthy economic alternatives for communities. With Doug, she has secured protection for more land than any other individuals in history - over 2.1 million acres - and enabled the establishment of numerous national parks. In January 2018, she signed a historic agreement with Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet which secured protection for over 10 million acres of wildlands in national parks in southern Chile.
NICOLE ARDOIN Environmental education and behavior guru Nicole has guided the vision and approach of Chulengo. As an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Graduate School of Education and the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, Nicole focuses on environmental behavior and place-based connections. Nicole has current studies on the use of education, communications, and other social strategies in informal and community-based settings, including nature-based tourism programs, to engage individuals and communities in deliberate dialogue, environmental decision-making, and informed conservation behavior. She also researches the effectiveness of a range of environmental education and social science endeavors in achieving measurable and meaningful conservation results.
SHANA WEBER An ecologist and engine for sustainability, Shana joined Chulengo for an expedition in February 2018 and quickly became a mentor and inspiration. As the founding director of Princeton University’s Office of Sustainability, she has driven University-wide partnerships in comprehensive sustainable programs and systems implementation since 2006. In the field in Patagonia, she shared her fascination with her current research interests: the population dynamics of American pikas and the social dynamics of sustainability initiatives at academic institutions. Shana earned her BS in Zoology from the Ohio State University, and MSES and Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Bloomington. At her family’s home in New Jersey, she keeps bees, tends fruit trees, and and raises chickens and rabbits.
KATE WILLIAMS Since joining Chulengo for a January 2018 expedition with her daughter and son, Kate brings wise perspectives from decades of work in conservation and outdoor education. A former NOLS field instructor and Board Chair, Kate served as Executive Director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail before stepping into her current role as CEO at 1% for the Planet. Kate earned her BA in at Princeton University where she majored in history, and MS at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
JUAN JOSE ALVAREZ After growing up in Santiago, Chile, Juanjo first arrived to Aysén, Chile to volunteer at Patagonia National Park. He planned to stay for two weeks and ended up staying for two months, before returning the following year to work for Conservacion Patagonica as a volunteer program leader. He studied ecotourism at Duoc UC in Santiago, where he started climbing, then moved to New Zealand for two years to gain experience in the field and learn English. He worked for Patagonia, Inc, then received a scholarship to attend NOLS's Patagonia Year course, which inspired him to become a NOLS mountaineering and rock climbing instructor. Going forward, he's inspired to "keep learning and sharing a love for the natural world."
BEN NEVIS BARRON Hailing from Boulder, Colorado, Ben is a musician, educator, and climber. He met Ben Wilcox in grad school, at a Pete Seeger memorial sing-along; neither of their lives have been the same since. With his band, the Infamous Flapjack Affair, he composed and performed music about the Colorado River ecosystem, inspiring a documentary film called "Confluence: A Musical Journey." Ben studied Literature at Princeton University and Geography at Oxford University.
BROOKS BARRON Raised in the mountains of Colorado, Brooks has held a strong emotional connection to wild nature that has driven him on a varied career path in clean energy, entrepreneurship and outdoor recreation. He is a NOLS Instructor and previously designed and led team-building outdoor trips as Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Adventures. Brooks studied climate and energy policy at Princeton University, and attended the joint MBA/MS in Environment and Resources program at Stanford, where he served as an Arbuckle Leadership Fellow and as a design leader at the d.school.
PAULA BOZZOLO Born and raised in Santiago de Chile, Paula first visited Patagonia in 1986 through Operations Raleigh Chile. One of her first projects occurred in the area that is now Patagonia Park. Later, she worked as a trekking guide for the Explora Hotel in Torres del Paine National Park. In 1997, with her partner Rodrigo Noriega, she joined Doug and Kris Tompkins' team, creating Pumalin Park. They lived in the remote heart of the park for 12 years, raising two children there. Now Paula is becoming a Forest School Leader for early learners. For Paula, "being outdoors is going back to basics. It is the opportunity to reconnect with myself and nature, to find my own rhythm."
REBECA CACERES Raised in the mountains near Santiago, Rebeca now calls Chile’s Aysén Region her home base. She studied ecotourism at IDMA in Santiago, where she started to explore a love for climbing and all-things mountains. As a longtime mountaineering, climbing, and hiking instructor for NOLS, Rebeca has led expeditions throughout Patagonia, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. She brings an infectious sense of fun and endless enthusiasm for wild places to all groups she works with.
JAY COSTA Jay is an activist, musician, environmentalist and master of fun. At Harvard College, he studied biological anthropology and served on the steering committee for the First Year Outdoor Program (FOP), which brings over 400 students into the mountains of New England for a week of pre-orientation. Since college, he's worked on campaign finance reform, first at Maplight and then as executive director of CounterPAC, which model solutions to our broken electoral system by creating incentives for candidates to run more publicly accountable campaigns.
ALISON KELMAN Alison is a conservation activist, storyteller, and outdoorswoman. After growing up in New England, Alison discovered the big outdoors of the US West first as a student at the High Mountain Institute, and then while attending Colorado College. She's worked for Patagonia, Inc, National Geographic, and Outside Magazine. From 2014 - 2018, Alison was the Communications Director for Conservacion Patagonica (now part of Tompkins Conservation. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Columbia EARTH Institute. Alison is an avid long-distance runner and backpacker.
MARCELO MASCAREÑO A photographer, mountaineer, and educator, Marcelo was born and raised in the Aysén Region. As a field instructor for NOLS, he has led wilderness expeditions in Alaska, Canada, India, Mexico and throughout Patagonia. Marcelo reflects that “mountaineering has allowed him to live, understand, and feel the history of Aysén.” He has explored remote corners of Aysen and documented its nature and culture through his acclaimed photography.
JESSE SLEAMAKER Jesse is a wilderness adventurer and expert in building experiences that empower changemakers. He founded School for Change, directed education initiatives at Impact Hub Bay Area, a community of entrepreneurs, activists, and artists, and has led initiatives for self-directed learning through the Bay Area Open Masters’ program. He now works at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Jesse has a B.A. from Northwestern University and a Masters in Environment and International Development from Cambridge University.
MARIELA URRA A photographer, naturalist, and outdoorswoman, Mariela is “inspired by nature, the interactions of landscape and his inhabitants, in how wilderness reveals its beauty through the visual language.” An instructor-in-training at NOLS, she brings years of experience guiding in Patagonia (at Explora in Torres del Paine), the Canadian Arctic (based in Nunavik), and Antarctica. Originally from Santiago, Chile, Mariela studied design at the Universidad Católica, and interned with Tompkins Conservation in Parque Pumalin.
ROBIN WALTER Robin grew up in Colorado where she developed an early relationship with the outdoors while exploring the Rocky Mountains. She spent a formative time in the future Patagonia National Park as a greenhouse intern in 2012. Since graduating from Colorado College in 2012, she has worked as a teacher, outdoor educator, and environmental writer. Her interest in grassland conservation has taken her across North America’s grasslands to report on land issues and conservation efforts in the West. She is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing.
COLLEEN WEARN Colleen has been at the core of Chulengo's instructional philosophy since the pre-beginning. A Portland native, she headed east for college at Dartmouth, where she studied geology, Spanish, and education. She stayed in beautiful New Hampshire working for Dartmouth and The Mountain School. She's instructed for NOLS in Scandinavia, Wyoming, and the Pacific Northwest, received a joint MBA - Masters in Education from Stanford, and works for the Boston Consulting Group in Seattle.