Brittany Retherford, co-founder
Brittany learned to backpack, fish, and cook over a camp stove from her dad in the mountains of Colorado. She first visited Mount Kenya in the spring of 1999 as a member of a NOLS expedition. The experience inspired her to pursue a degree in African History from Barnard College, penning a thesis about the history of mountaineering on Mount Kenya. She’s been fortunate enough to return to Africa on a few other occasions, her most memorable experiences were working as a volunteer monkey handler in the Limpopo Province of South Africa and visiting the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest while on assignment for a small California newspaper. Brittany has also worked as an anthropologist in Alaska, documenting the role of wild foods in the lives of Alaskans. Today, Brittany calls Alaska her home when she’s not on the road. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
Simon Gitau, co-founder
Simon Gitau is the Senior Warden of Mount Kenya National Park. He was born near the Aberdare Mountain Range in central Kenya in a small village, Mikeu. He started venturing into the forest when he was 9 years old, collecting cedar, poaching small animals, cutting bamboo, and gathering honey. Simon’s view of the forest changed in high school. “I got enlightened,” he says, and from that point on, he has pursued a career dedicated to preserving Kenya’s wilderness and wildlife. In 1999, Simon participated on a NOLS semester course and the following year, he joined Kenya Wildlife Service as a Mountain Rescue and Tourism Officer. Simon has participated in and coordinated over 120 search and rescue operations on mountain. Simon continues to pursue his passion for hiking and climbing. He has climbed in East Africa, West Africa, Brazil, and in the Austrian Alps and Italian Dolomites. Simon is currently pursing an Masters of Science in Leisure and Recreation Management. When not working, Simon spends as much time as he can with his two daughters and his wife of 13 years. Simon says: “When at home I plant trees, sow tree seeds, ride bikes and take care of my small forest! In short am in love with nature!”
Michelle Waterhouse, U.S.-based field coordinator
Michelle lives in Lookout Mountain, TN, and has worked in Pharmaceutical Sales for the past 25 years. She enjoys calling on physicians and selling products that can help sick patients get well, but she has a special love for animals. Since her childhood, she has always had pets, from cats and dogs to horses and rabbits. She is an avid equestrian and her happiest times are on the trail with her horses, friends, and dogs. Michelle has served on the Humane Educational Society board in Chattanooga, TN. She also loves to travel and has backpacked in New Zealand and traveled to Australia and Europe. She is looking forward to visiting Kenya and seeing first-hand the home of the iconic elephant and other wildlife found only in Africa. Michelle was compelled to join this campaign after hearing of the horrific murder last year of Satao, one of the oldest tuskers in Kenya.
Muchane Gichuru, Kenya-based field coordinator
Gichuru grew up in Central Kenya, inspired as a child to love outdoor activities by his father, a teacher and scouts master. He pursued any adventure and outdoor programs that came his way in school, beginning with scouting and eventually learning mountaineering skills during his college days in India. Gichuru tried out office work, but it wasn’t for him, always returning to the outdoors. Gichuru worked as an instructor with Outward Bound Kenya, and later with NOLS East Africa. He was one of Simon and Brittany’s favorite instructors during the 1999 NOLS semester course! Gichuru has travelled the world, exploring the backcountry and teaching students to share his love of the outdoors. He has spent time in East Africa, India, and the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. When not teaching outdoor skills or leading trips, Gichuru uses experiential learning approach to train corporates and youth groups. Gichuru is married with two grown-up children. His other interests include wildlife, nature, travel and conservation. He is a member and volunteer with the Kenya Red Cross Society.
Brooke Retherford, gear guru & outreach coordinator
Brooke was born and raised on Colorado’s Front Range. She caught the adventure bug early in life, and, after getting a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, has worked for several organizations leading and planning wilderness expeditions. Since 2005, she has worked for NOLS in many of their international branches, including Patagonia, the Amazon, Baja, and Alaska. Intrigued by the conflicts that exist when wilderness and civilization mix, Brooke earned a M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver in 2013. Brooke brings to the project specialized knowledge in non-profit organizational management. Brooke splits her time between Alaska and Southern Brazil with her Brazilian partner and toddler. After listening to years of stories about Africa from her big sister, Brittany, she had no choice but to jump on board with The Lala Salama Project Team.
David Rogers, #GearForRangers Storytelling Project coordinator
[please check back soon to learn more about David]