Most functions of the Association are completed by volunteers on the Board of Directors and various committees and workgroups. Their work, however is always buoyed by the diligent efforts of our Association staff.
Ryan comes to the WEA with 20 years of experience leading, instructing, and innovating in the outdoor industry. In 2008, Ryan was hired by Camp Merri-Mac and Timberlake to design and launch Black Mountain Expeditions (BME), an adventure company delivering custom programs for independent schools, universities, and corporate teams internationally. Under Ryan’s leadership over the last 11 years, BME grew to serve hundreds of participants annually across the country. Prior to that, Ryan directed collegiate wilderness programs at Ohio Wesleyan University and Bethany College.
Ryan's work in the industry is informed by his extensive field leadership experience. Since 2000, he has instructed activities including backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, and outdoor leadership. His experience with WEA began in 1999 on his first WEA course as a college student. Ryan has instructed numerous WEA programs in partnership with affiliate programs.
Ryan has served on the Board of Professional Climbing Instructors Association and worked closely with WEA accredited member, Coalition for Christian Outreach. Ryan has also taught as an adjunct faculty member in Montreat College's Outdoor Education department.
Ryan holds an M.S. in Management and Leadership and B.S. in Outdoor Education from Montreat College. His certifications include the WEA Certified Outdoor Educator, American Mountain Guide Association Certified Rock Instructor, Professional Climbing Instructors Association Certifying Instructor, and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Master Educator.
National Office Director
Melissa has over a decade of outdoor leadership experience. A former assistant professor at Montreat College, she has taught courses such as outdoor leadership, risk management, backpacking, canoeing, and downhill skiing. She was the Course Director of MYLES of Science in 2019, a field-based expeditionary science program for high school students.
Melissa's experience with WEA began as a college student with her first WEA annual conference and WEA course, both in 2007.
Melissa Watkins Bio | Contact Melissa
Events and Programs Manager
Christina has over a decade of experience leading in non-profit spaces with camps, churches, and outdoor programs. She is passionate about developing leaders in the outdoor industry, and helping people reach their full potential.
She studied Outdoor Education at Montreat College, graduating with a B.S. in Psychology in 2011. This is also when she was first introduced to the WEA. In May of 2022, she completed her M.A. in Leadership at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, while working as the Communications and Creative Director at Grace Community Church. In 2019 she helped launch the Wilderness and Adventure Program at Hope 29:11 in Marion, NC.