Staff

Outdoor Outreach Staff

Outdoor Outreach’s most important asset is its people. Our organization is only able to achieve its mission by hiring, developing, and retaining the highest quality employees and volunteers. We have a committed and passionate team who contribute to the organization’s success. Click here to see current job openings.

Christopher Rutgers: Founder


Christopher Rutgers is the founder of Outdoor Outreach.  As a competitive skier, whitewater river guide, expedition rock climber and avid surfer, Chris has spent most of his life developing a passion for the outdoors.  It was this passion that helped Chris overcome his own at-risk childhood.  In 1999, he founded Outdoor Outreach as a means to give at-risk and underprivileged youth the same life-changing opportunities.  Drawing from his own personal experiences, Chris developed the Outdoor Outreach philosophies that have proven to be so successful working with at-risk and underprivileged youth.

As founder of Outdoor Outreach, Chris has been nationally recognized as an expert on programming for youth at-risk.  He is frequently asked to speak at national conferences and symposiums, and to consult with government agencies, academic institutions and other nonprofit organizations.  Chris has served as an advisor to the California Governor’s Office, California State Parks and the National Park Service on developing programs for at-risk youth.  In addition, Chris has won numerous local and national awards for his programs’ successes.  He is a past recipient of San Diego’s KGTV Channel 10 Leadership Award and Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best.”chris@outdooroutreach.org


Office Staff

Ben McCue: Executive Director

Ben McCueA native of Santa Cruz and a long-term resident of San Diego, Ben is a firm believer about the transformative power of outdoor recreation. As the executive director of Outdoor Outreach, he is fulfilling his dream of providing these experiences to San Diego’s youth.

Prior to becoming executive director of Outdoor Outreach, he was the conservation director for WILDCOAST, a binational conservation organization with offices in San Diego and Ensenada that protects coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. At WILDCOAST, Ben directed the organization’s programmatic and policy work.
Ben has served on the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health Advisory Board, the International Boundary and Water Commission’s Citizens Forum and the Joan and Irwin Jacobs High Tech High Advisory Board. He has testified at State Senate and Assembly hearings in Sacramento and San Diego on environmental, health and outdoor recreation issues and has been recognized for his effective advocacy.

Ben holds a B.S. in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from the University of California – San Diego and a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego. He teaches an “Advocacy for Change” course at the University of San Diego to nonprofit professionals. Ben.McCue@outdooroutreach.org



Joe McLeod: Director of Operations


Joe first worked for Outdoor Outreach in the winter of 2007 as a Climbing and Mountain Biking Instructor before moving to Los Angeles where he served as Program Director for UCLA Recreation’s Outdoor Adventure program.  In 2011, Joe and his family migrated back to San Diego, and he is excited to once again be a part of the Outdoor Outreach community.  Joe has 12 years of outdoor education and youth programming experience, working as a field instructor, team leader, logistics coordinator,  curriculum specialist and director for a variety of outdoor programs in South Carolina, Montana, Oregon and California.  Joe brings an extensive background in the planning, management and implementation of youth programs as well as a solid foundation in risk management and curriculum development.  In his personal time, Joe can be found beaching, biking, kayaking, hiking and barbequing with family.  Other personal interests and activities include photography, soccer, climbing and snowboarding. Joe@outdooroutreach.org


Amber Carrigan: Development and Communications Manager


Originally from the state of Washington, Amber joined Outdoor Outreach and the San Diego community in 2014. Graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Psychology, Amber is dedicated to supporting organizations addressing the needs of at-risk and underserved youth. Before moving to San Diego, she spent two years working in a development role for a nonprofit serving youth who’ve experienced foster care or homelessness. Amber brings with her a strong background in event planning, grants program management, and development program coordination. A native of the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys hiking, trail running, and clamming. Amber is excited to familiarize herself with San Diego and work with an organization that merges her passions for working with youth and experiencing the outdoors. AmberC@outdooroutreach.org



Scott Shepherd: Adventure Club and Leadership Program Manager

Scott Shepherd is a San Diego native and recent graduate of Fort Lewis College in Durango,
Colorado. Graduating with a degree in Adventure Education, he is a lifelong
learner in outdoor pursuits ranging from sailing, to surfing, to climbing and back country skiing.
Scott has worked around the world in a variety of different outdoor and adventure education
jobs including onboard the S.V Concordia in 2009. His passion for surfing has lead him to
many adventures and is now continuing his adventuring with Outdoor Outreach. scott@outdooroutreach.org


Matthew Smith: Environmental Program Manager


Growing up fishing, bird watching, butterfly catching and hiking with his father in the valleys of Northern California, instilled in him a love for all things wild and free. He has worked extensively with & for Environmental, Conservation and Education programs throughout San Diego County, Ecuador, Peru, Montana, Wyoming, and Mexico for the last 7 years. Matthew graduated with a degree in Social Work from Point Loma Nazarene University with an emphasis in Spanish studies in 2012. For the last few years he has worked with the National Park service as a Ranger in Yellowstone National Park, for the Urbancorps of San Diego Urban Forestry Program and managed a college Outdoor Rec. program at PLNU. Matthew interned for 20 hours a week for Outdoor Outreach in 2011-2012 and is excited to be on board full time as the Environmental Program Manager. In his free time outside of work Matt enjoys a chance to explore and learn about the Greater San Diego Ecosystem, rock climb, surf, cook and bake. mathew.smith@outdooroutreach.org


KJ Brussow: Field Program Manager and Volunteer Coordinator

 KJ first heard about Outdoor Outreach when she met Chris Rutgers while visiting San Diego and was immediately drawn to the program.  One year later KJ moved to San Diego from her home state of Utah and joined the OO team.  KJ’s adoration for the outdoors and all activities that make us giggle began with a thrill seeking father and a nature loving mother. KJ graduated with a degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah and spent much of her free time skiing, climbing, mt. biking, river running, and traveling the world.  It has always been important to show her gratitude and give back to her community by volunteering her time to programs such as ski patrol, kids programs, and trail/beach maintenance.  She loves sharing her passion for the outdoors with the kids in OO.  When not out in the field or in the office, KJ enjoys open mics, harvesting from her garden and yogacising;). kristinjean@outdooroutreach.org


Erika Rogness: AmeriCorps VISTA and Military Program Coordinator

Erika is serving at Outdoor Outreach as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Military Adventure Club.  Erika served her first year as an A*VISTA in Vermont at a drug and alcohol prevention center for youth after completing a season at an outdoor adventure company in Utah. She realized her passion for helping and volunteering through this work as well as an interest in helping youth realize their full potential. She completed a year and a half as a VISTA Leader with United Way, but wanted to get back to working with youth outdoors and Outdoor Outreach was the perfect fit. Erika plans to take a NOLS course (National Outdoor Leader School: outdoor educator) and work with at-risk and underserved youth in outdoor therapy. Some of Erika’s interest and activities are: canyoneering, boating, hiking, reggae, graffiti photography, violin, and spending any time she can with her niece back home in Michigan. Erika@outdooroutreach.org


Sarah Lott: AmeriCorps VISTA and Communications Coordinator

Sarah is serving at Outdoor Outreach as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Originally from Oregon, Sarah came to serve as the Communications Coordinator. Sarah graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Family and Human Services. Sarah has experience volunteering with at-risk youth, including a year long-internship with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Sarah’s hobbies include hiking, reading, and gardening. During her time in San Diego, she is excited to meet new people and explore new outdoor adventures such as surfing.   


Field Staff

Amanda Pond: Senior Instructor

Amanda is an east coast girl with a California spirit. She received her multiple subject teaching credential from Pepperdine University and since then has been combining her passions of the outdoors and teaching by working at several Outdoor Education schools, camps, and programs around San Diego. She realizes the healing potential that nature has to offer all of us, and loves most any activity that encompasses bringing us closer to the outside world. She loves to travel, surf, hike, climb, EXPLORE and teach yoga. She was introduced to OO at a Mesa Rim charity climbing event and realized she had found her dream job.


Ben Myers: Senior Instructor

Ben MyersBen first volunteered with Outdoor Outreach in 2008 in order to share his passion for the outdoors. He has since been hired as an instructor and loves to share his favorite activities with San Diego’s youth. Ben is an avid surfer, snowboarder and rock climber and also loves to garden. Ben’s favorite animal is the coastal brown pelican, which he gets really excited to see while out surfing.


Gregory Drost: Senior Instructor

Gregory has been involved with Outdoor Outreach since 2003.  He joined us first, as a volunteer, then as a Program manager and is currently one of our Senior Instructors. Gregory’s background in Special Education, Youth Counseling and Martial Arts instruction adds  a “unique flavor” to our team.  Surfing, Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Backpacking are just a few of the many Outdoor activities that Gregory is passionate about .


Heather Clark: Senior Instructor


Heather Clark joined Outdoor Outreach in 2007. Since her days as a surf instructor in high school, Heather has assumed a variety of positions over the years as an outdoor guide and environmental educator.  She graduated from UCSD where she studied Media Art and Biology, and was trained as an outdoor guide through Outback Adventures. Now a program director at Groundwork San Diego, her passion for the outdoors permeates both her professional and personal life. In her spare time, Heather can usually be found in the ocean, the mountains, or a vegetable garden.


Patrick Carey: Senior Instructor


Patrick Carey joined Outdoor Outreach in May of 2009. Patrick graduated from CSU Chico with a degree in Criminal Justice. While attending Chico State Patrick worked as a snowboarding instructor at Boreal Mountain Resort in Tahoe. A certified EMT and member of San Diego Mountain Rescue Team, Patrick is a valued member of the Outdoor Outreach field staff. In his spare time he likes to snowboard, mountain bike, rock climb, backpack, surf, and fish.


Alli Weibel: Assistant Instructor

IMG_5610Alli is a new member of the Outdoor Outreach team, originally from Indiana. Wanting to experience something different, she left the Midwest to attend Colorado College after high school. She is a big-time outdoor enthusiast and a participant in various community service groups. As a rising senior and an outdoor recreation trip leader at her college, she loves to express her passion for climbing, backpacking, hiking, skiing and frolicking to others. Alli is excited to expand her skill set and to share both new and old skills and passions to the youth that Outdoor Outreach serves. She is also eager to prove to her family that she can work in nature without getting on a tractor every day.


Angel Cadena: Assistant Instructor


  Angel has been involved with Outdoor Outreach since his senior year at Gompers High School.  As a participant in the Gompers Adventure Club, he caught the “stoke” and was instantly hooked on rock climbing, snowboarding and surfing.  His natural leadership abilities and strong work ethic made him an excellent candidate for our Leadership Program, which he joined in January 2007.  He currently works part-time as an instructor for Outdoor Outreach and is a full-time student at San Diego State University, pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering.  Angel also works as a mentor in an after-school program at Lincoln High School, where he inspires up-and-coming teens to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals.


Clara Florin: Assistant Instructor

imageCitizen of the world! Clara has been to 25 countries and counting. Born in Argentina, she moved with family to the USA at age 13 (1994) and came to California in ’07. Clara lives for the beach, the ocean and the mountains. She loves rock climbing, sailing, hiking, and exploring different corners of the world. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and loves building and being creative with her hand hands. She started at OO as a volunteer back in march and found that she really enjoyed working with the kids and OO staff (who are awesome!), so she came on board as an assistant instructor!


George Washington: Assistant Instructor

George WashingtonOutdoor Outreach welcomes George from an organization known as Mission Continues which connects veterans to local programs that give back to the community. OO’s mission to serve youth motivated George to find a home here with us. Being an avid outdoor fanatic, a natural helper, and a sponge for new knowledge, George joined our group as an assistant instructor/intern for the next 6 months. George has experienced many parts of the country, but found a home here in Southern California where his passion for rock climbing, hiking, swimming, and general exploration has turned into a love! 


Idris Ahmed: Assistant Instructor

 Idris Surfing Idris and his family moved to America from Somalia in 1995. They originally lived in Atlanta but moved to San Diego when he was 13 in 2007. Idris joined the Crawford Adventure Club as a freshman and was immediately hooked on the trips and people from Outdoor Outreach. Idris was selected to be a LEAD participant and  trained for two years to become an assistant instructor. Idris has been working with Outdoor Outreach throughout the summer and looks forward to starting his Junior year at Stanford in the fall.


Jesse Delgado: Assistant Instructor


JesseJesse came to the program 6 years ago through South Bay Community Services and went on to be accepted into OO’s Leadership Program where he quickly showed an aptitude for snowboarding. Last year, he suffered a snowboarding injury during competition that led him to take a year off to pursue his degree and work for OO. What Jesse likes the most about working for OO is having the ability to make a difference in the lives of kids who had the same hard background did. Jesse credits Chris for changing his life through Outdoor Outreach and hopes he can do the same for other youth who are in the same situation.


Josh Jackson: Assistant Instructor

Josh Jackson has fervor for both outdoor recreation and teaching, and he has spent over a decade trying to marry his passions.  Josh has worked as a climbing, river and mountain guide throughout the West and Alaska.  He has his BA in adventure education and wilderness leadership from Prescott College and an MA in outdoor experiential education from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.  Josh is a Wilderness EMT who has been active in search and rescue.  In addition to working as an Outward Bound instructor, climbing-gym manager, wilderness therapy facilitator, field program manager, and a Wilderness Medical Associates’ instructor, he has served as adjunct faculty at colleges and universities, teaching such courses as expeditionary sea kayaking, white water rafting, rock climbing, back country skiing, ice climbing, surfing, map & compass, winter camping, wilderness leadership and wilderness first responder. 


Juan Herrera: Assistant Instructor


Juan has filled almost every role at Outdoor Outreach.  During the past four years, he has been a participant and a member of our Leadership Program, and currently Juan is employed as one of our all-star trip leaders.  Juan has become a recognized speaker on issues of youth violence.  He was recently selected by The Outdoor Industry Foundation as an Outdoor Idol, where he serves as an ambassador to the outdoor industry.  Juan graduated from City College where he obtained a degree in Chicano Studies.


Ryan Hudson: Assistant Instructor


Ryan is a 7 year veteran at Outdoor Outreach. After being introduced to the program through the Toussaint Academy, he became one of the first graduates of the Leadership Program. During the summer he is a full time Surf Instructor, but when the winter time comes he breaks out of his natural boundaries and heads to the Wasatch Mountain range in Utah. As an aspiring snowboarder, Ryan spends his winters in Little Cottonwood Canyon training to reach his goal as a professional snowboarder. He’s already caught the eye of some supporting companies like, Vans, Pro-Tec, and Gramicci Clothing. Here at home he is a role model for his generation and all kids with a similar troubled background. Ryan is proud and grateful to be a part of the Outdoor Outreach Program, it is his second family. “I knew from the moment I began my work with Outdoor Outreach that my life was only going to move forward and I have Chris Rutgers to thank.”


Stephanie Muñoz: Assistant Instructor

Stephanie Munoz - bio photoStephanie was introduced to Outdoor Outreach in the winter of 2008 on a multi-day snowboarding trip to Mammoth with the Monarch School Adventure Club. It was her first experience seeing snow and left a lasting impression on her. She immediately fell in love with the sport and the outdoors. Stephanie was always up for new challenging experiences and as a result of her determination, and ability to lead, she was selected as a member of Outdoor Outreach’s Leadership Program. Stephanie continued to be an active member of Outdoor Outreach as she completed an intensive, 2 year-long training that provided her with the skills necessary to become an instructor. Currently, Stephanie is a 3rd year student at the University of California, Merced where she works for the Housing & Residence Life team. Stephanie works with Outdoor Outreach during her summer and winter breaks and still finds time to snowboard on her own. Winter is Stephanie’s favorite season because she loves snowboarding and the difference it can make in the lives of youth we serve.



Stephen Crook: Assistant Instructor

oo - alaiaSteve started volunteering with Outdoor Outreach in 2008 due to a desire to share his longstanding enthusiasm for the environment, getting outdoors, and adventure sports. A native of the Santa Cruz area, he grew up thinking there was no better way to spend a day than surfing in the morning and mountain biking in the afternoon. After spending a few years exploring the world through post-graduate study and working as an instructor for a variety of subjects, he returned to San Diego and started working for Outdoor Outreach in early 2013. With a BA in Geography from UCLA and an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management from the University of Oxford, he will soon be studying landscape ecology in the joint doctoral program in Geography at SDSU and UCSB.


Sunny Chang: Assistant Instructor


Sunny’s first contact with Outdoor Outreach was through a fundraiser in ’09. After speaking with supportive and positive staff members, she knew she wanted to be a part of the team. With a strong passion for the outdoors, Sunny realized the benefits of using experiential learning to engage youth and build resiliency. After graduating from UCSC with a double major in Sociology and Wilderness Therapy, she has worked with several youth organizations, leading adventure activities, backpacking trips and challenge courses. When Sunny’s not instructing, she’s out playing in water, snow or rocks.