No (wo)man is an island, and this is especially true when it comes to adventure! Our Group Adventure Leaders are the heart and soul of WHOA, and your go-to GALs whenever you're traveling with us. (See what we did there?!) They are awesome, passionate, talented, smart, funny ladies who'll be there with you every step of the way to make sure your WHOA adventure is as positive and empowering as humanly possible. Not to mention, you'll always have peace of mind knowing they are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure everything is running as smoothly and safely as possible. Bottom line, we want you to feel at home with your new travel crew, no matter how far out of your comfort zone you are! So, whether you need trekking tips, a shoulder to cry on, or a good old fashioned dance party, these are the best GALs around:
Amanda was born in South Korea, adopted and raised in Westchester, NY. Always playing in the dirt, digging up worms, swimming until sundown, breaking bones snowboarding, fishing fresh and salt waters, stargazing whenever and wherever possible - her love of being active and outside was a great match after finding WHOA travel. Whilst not outside biking around New York City's five boroughs she spends her time as a User Researcher to create better user experiences on digital products; serves on the board of Heights and Hills, an organization that supports and provides resources for Brooklyn's elderly; plays music (guitar, bass, vox) with her band The Heavy Howl and The Old Fashions; and has a tendency to talk to herself on social media #conversationofone. She loves people, eating the crust (best part!), and isn't afraid of telling you if you have sh*t in your teeth. She was voted most unforgettable by her HS classmates in 1999 #old
HOME BASE: Brooklyn, New York
DREAM ADVENTURE: Go back to the mother, South Korea, and hang out with the female divers of Jeju Island
THEME SONG: All is full of love - Bjork
GO-TO TRAIL SNACK: Salty nuts
CELEBRITY DOPPELGANGER: Data the kid from Goonies
Nicole grew up in Southern California where she spent most of her time reading, and daydreaming about traveling. When she was in high school she convinced her family to start hosting foreign exchange students, and that was when her love of exploring foreign cultures was cemented. Nicole's work in the hospitality industry took her to Aspen, CO, where she developed a passion for hiking, which eventually led her to hike Kilimanjaro with WHOA. When she's traveling with WHOA, you can usually find her attempting (and failing miserably) to speak Swahili with the guides and porters, or starting a dance party around every corner. Nicole's favorite thing to do while traveling is to find a local dive bar where she can get some good food and make a few new friends. When she is back in Aspen, Nicole is usually snowboarding, hiking, or having a drink with friends on a patio somewhere.
HOME BASE: Aspen, Colorado
SPIRIT ANIMAL: Bear, relentless in the pursuit of food
THEME SONG: How am I Supposed to Live Without You - Michael Bolton
HIDDEN TALENT: Fluent in sign language
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Awesome things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow”
Karen Zoe Kelley is a California girl that found her way to loving life living in Moshi, Tanzania. After a couple decade career of being an artist in California, she decided to free herself from (almost) all of her possessions (which are largely just keeping us from our heart's desires anyway), packed just two carry on bags, got a one way ticket to Tanzania, found her place in the travel biz and absolutely loves it! Tanzania is a wild and adventurous place and she is enjoying exploring Mt. Kilimanjaro, as well as checking out the lions and elephants out in the national parks and scuba diving and basking in the sun on the island of Zanzibar. Even though Karen is the mama of the WHOA ladies, she reveals that this lifestyle makes her feel like she is 30 again! She has instilled a serious sense of adventure and confidence in her two amazing daughters, and they are out there in the world choosing their own paths of passion and fulfillment. She and her daughters camped out of their VW vintage camper bus on the Big Island of Hawaii for a year when they were 7 and 10, and this is when she showed them that there are many options in this life!
HOME BASE: Moshi, Tanzania
SPIRIT ANIMAL: Golden Retriever... chill, laid back, always happy, loves people!
DREAM ADVENTURE: A few months in the Caribbean, snorkeling and messing around in a little boat, soaking up the sun
HIDDEN TALENT: Free hand lettering (35 years of practice, seriously!)
FAVORITE QUOTE: “To love and be loved is like the sun shining on both sides”
Jessica usually goes by Jess in her day to day life, but in the wide world of WHOA, you'll hardly ever hear her called it. She was quickly given the nickname "Baby Bird” because she's a 5’1 ball of energy with a ‘chirping' loud voice and endless curiosity to explore the unknown. Before college, Jess took a gap year to travel the world, focusing on cultural immersion, service work, and seeking out the most epic of adventures! She spent her first semester in India and Southeast Asia, and met up with WHOA in Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro after working for a women’s empowerment non-profit in Africa. At only 19 years old, she is our youngest Kilimanjaro summiter to date, and has also been on our Peru and Machu Picchu Adventure. Jess started out as our Business Development intern in New York City, and is now the woman in charge of all things social media at WHOA. She goes to school at Scripps College in Claremont, California and is currently pursuing a degree in Anthropology and Gender Studies. When she’s not busy planning her next international escapade, you'll probably find her surfing, skateboarding, and exploring the Los Angeles arts scene. Her favorite part about traveling is making all kinds of new friends!
HOMEBASE: Los Angeles, California
SIGNATURE DANCE MOVE: The Club Foot (Club can't handle this right now!)
SPIRIT ANIMAL: A Parakeet, they are the loudest and most colorful bird :)
CELEBRITY DOPPELGANGER: Tom Cruise.
HIDDEN TALENT: Rapping the first three verses of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song
Trish is New Jersey born and raised (#Springsteen #Bagels #WhatExit). She's from Sussex County, the little known country part of Jersey where bears will come into your garage and make a picnic with your leftovers. Everyday was an adventure back home with her mom, 5 siblings and dad who wasn't afraid to drive a plow onto the lake to clear snow so they could play hockey. It's where she learned that the more things don't go as planned, the better the story will be, so just go with it! She now lives right outside of NYC working as a software developer and also volunteers as a teacher for a Girls Who Code club at a Manhattan High School. She teaches programming; the girls teach her the latest trends in SnapChatting. She keeps busy by playing soccer, floor hockey, and planning for the annual Jersey Wakeoff. Trish loves a good outdoor travel adventure and is totally at home on the mountains. Her fellow hikers on Kilimanjaro quickly learned Trish isn't usually the loudest person in the crowd, but if you catch a seat next to her in the dinner tent, she'll keep you laughing.
HOME BASE: Hoboken, New Jersey
DREAM ADVENTURE: One with my family!
HIDDEN TALENT: Hula-hooping...with a record time of 27 minutes.
THEME SONG: The entire discography of Eric Church
FAVORITE QUOTE: This quote reminds me of a lot of things, one being Kilimanjaro and how we all get to the top. “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be...This is the inter-related structure of reality.” – Martin Luther King Jr. in Letter from Birmingham Jail
Nicola grew up beach side in Australia, where her backyard was a jungle and vacations were spent camping amongst the multitude of terrifying and deadly Australian animals. Her first trip off the continent at 20 landed her in India where she was greeted with a healthy dose of culture shock followed by what has since become a life long love of travel, adventure and different cultures. Before becoming a Photographer, she spent years leading fundraisers on sponsored charity challenge trips to places like Nepal, Pakistan, Romania... Then after moving into photography, she continued to travel for work, documenting the work of international human rights organizations worldwide. Close to 70 countries later, her thirst for visiting new places and meeting new people doesn't end.
HOME BASE: Brooklyn, New York & Sydney, Australia
HIDDEN TALENT: Moving her little toes in isolation to the others, riding my bike hands free, and speaking Spanish
DREAM ADVENTURE: Horse riding through Mongolia, staying in yurts and visiting vast barren landscapes
SIGNATURE DANCE MOVE: My ex used to claim I look like a kangaroo when I dance. I still don't really know what they were referring to, but I'll take it as a compliment!
Larkin grew up exploring the Colorado Rockies on foot, bike, and canoe. She went on her first llama (and parent) supported backpacking trip when she was two, so it's no wonder she's as comfortable in a tent as she is in the city. She hasn't counted to be sure, but she figures she's spent about a year of her life sleeping outside so far and hopes to sleep on every continent. When not adventuring, Larkin works as a freelance writer and editor, nanny, yoga teacher, and reiki master. She can be spotted on the trail with her Labradoodle Bosco and, if it's a special occasion, her multicolored tutu.
HOME BASE: Denver, Colorado
SIGNATURE DANCE MOVE: Awkward arm flail with a surprise twerk
THEME SONG: Dancing on My Own by Robyn
SUPER HERO PERSONA: The Silver Pen, because the pen is mightier than the sword, and whatever I write happens (at least if I were a super hero it would)
FAVORITE QUOTE: "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." – Edward Abbey