Portland Staff

Our headquarters staff, based out of Portland, Oregon, ensure a smooth experience from your time as an applicant to an alumni. They are connected to the field by their past experiences leading our semester trips, committed to their on-going professional development, and genuinely compassionate people who strive to inspire growth and transformation through experiential education, community and intercultural exchange.

Anne Koenning

Anne Koenning

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Anne Koenning

Director of Enrollment

Anne comes to her role as Director of Enrollment at Carpe Diem after working in the admissions offices of two other experiential education organizations for four years. Born and raised in Oberlin, Ohio, Anne grew up in a small town and moved west to attend college at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. Anne majored in Sociology and Anthropology in school and spent much of her time exploring the Pacific Northwest, studying the Bassoon and playing in the college orchestra. During her junior year, Anne participated in a Semester in India with the National Outdoor Leadership School which is where her love of international travel and experiential education began.

After graduating from Lewis & Clark, she came upon Carpe Diem and had the opportunity to intern in the headquarters for six months where she became familiar with the ins and outs of program administration and what goes on behind the scenes of making transformative experiences possible for students. Since completing her internship in the Carpe Diem office, Anne has lived in Lander, Wyoming and Boulder, Colorado and is thrilled to be living back in more temperate Portland.

While working in the administration of a similar international education organization, Anne had the opportunity to lead groups of students along the Silk Road from Beijing to Kashgar in China and throughout Myanmar. In her role as Director of Enrollment, Anne loves having the opportunity to connect with students and their families as they prepare for an international semester experience. When not interviewing students and supporting them through the application process, Anne can be found running, riding her bike throughout Portland (preferably when it’s sunny!), cooking and spending time with friends near and far.

Fun Facts

Anne has worked as a cook at both a French language immersion camp in Northern Minnesota and at an organic farm camp on the coast of California.

Anne was the winner of the annual concerto competition in college and performed as a Bassoon soloist with the orchestra.

One of Anne’s favorite meals is freshly popped popcorn and Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese … together.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Brian Jewett

Brian Jewett

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Brian Jewett

Office Manager

Brian was born into a family of travelers in Eugene, OR. He spent many summers camping and backpacking across the Pacific Northwest with his family and his Boy Scout Troop. Brian is an Eagle Scout Award recipient and it shines through in his leadership abilities. As a participant in Eugene’s International High School program, Brian acquired the skills to understand, communicate with, respect, and value cultures of the world. Brian developed his thirst for travel when he was 9 as his family spent 10 weeks traveling across the country together in their motor home visiting national parks, historical sites, and amusement parks. He then dove into the world of overseas travel while spending a semester abroad in Japan during his junior year of High School. He gained a much better understanding of Japanese language and culture as all of his classes were conducted in Japanese. Since his initial dive he has continued to explore the world by visiting Mexico, Europe, Uganda, Tanzania, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. He traveled to SE Asia to help scout for Carpe Diem Educations program there and then co-led the semester in the fall of 2009.
Brian started his college career by moving to San Francisco to soak up the melting pot of culture and attend SF State University. He returned home two years later to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with minors in Business Administration and Japanese Language at the University of Oregon. After graduating in 2003, Brian moved to Portland where he started working in coffee shops throughout the region. For the last 6 years he has juggled and transitioned through being a barista, manager of a coffee shop, behind the scenes help for Carpe Diem, Overseas Educator, and now our Office Manager.

When Brian is not traveling or working, he can often be found outside getting his hands dirty in the garden. While in the garden Brian becomes lost in the sights, smells, and sounds that surround him. He also enjoys spending time with family, cooking, riding his motorcycle, home construction, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

Education, service, and community have long been themes in his life and we're proud and honored to have him working in the office with us!

Fun Facts

Carpe Chef! during leadership training.

Bought a motorcycle in Las Vegas and rode it home.

Jack of all trades.

Ethan Knight

Ethan Knight

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Ethan Knight

Founder

Ethan founded Carpe Diem in 2007 after having worked in the Gap Year field with LEAPNow for seven years. During his tenure in this field he’s led groups in India, Bali, Central America, and has scouted Carpe Diem’s East Africa, and Southeast Asia programs. Ethan’s been inspired by his mother who’s worked for 5 years in international development based in Cambodia and so brings that ethic to the table.

Having graduated from Catlin Gabel school, a progressive high school in Portland, Oregon, there was great emphasis put on graduating from college in four years, and he became the putative black sheep of his class for being the first of his troupe to take a gap year. Consequently about 90% of his class ended up on the 5 or 6-year college plan . . . and all are much happier for it (and doing amazingly interesting things).

Ethan’s passion for experiential international education came from when his own gap year experience. Ethan “followed the herd” from high school onto University and after one year found a deficit of meaningful interactions and so decided it was high-time to bale from university and dive into the bigger peaks of life. On his gap year, Ethan traveled to India, Nepal, Tibet and Thailand – he trekked the Annapurna circuit, meditated for 10 days in noble silence, volunteered in a community kitchen, fell in love with humanity again, found his faith in humanity again, lived in a thatched hut for a month during monsoon, and in general caught that pervasive of “travel bugs” – giardia . . . he also fell in love with travel.

After taking his own “gap year”, Ethan returned to Willamette University and quickly graduated in 2001 with a dual degree in English and Philosophy and a minor in Environmental Science. Ethan has been a key speaker at the City of Portland’s Tri-County Diversity Conference, the International Baccalaureate program for the state of Colorado, HECA (Higher Education Consultants of America), and many high schools and alternative education programs. He has led countless leadership training seminars, is the Executive Director of the International Carpe Diem Foundation (Carpe Diem’s non-profit wing), and is on the board of trustees for Project Aasha (meaning “Hope” in Hindi). He reads, spends too much time contemplating the meaning of life, and holds certificates by the ManKind Project and Byron Katie, as well as having been trained in the works of Gary Zukov and Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks.

In 2009, after seeing many students benefit from the successes of Carpe Diem and LEAPNow, Ethan decided to found the non-profit International Carpe Diem Foundation (ICDF), a Portland-based non-profit dedicated to alleviating poverty through international education and providing full scholarships for university studies. This endeavor is recently cresting its fourth year and has just launched a new year-long initiative in partnership with Portland State University and Mercy Corps!

Ethan is currently in the process of founding a National Association of Gap Programs to help accredit and oversee the broad array of programs that are currently offered in the US and Canada. He hopes to have this be a long-term project that will provide safety standards and “best practices” for the gap educational organizations, but also to be a hub for gathering of formal data.

Fun Facts

Enjoys wood working and construction in his down time.

Studied aikido for 5 years.

Has more, and worse, puns than all dads combined.

Secretly begrudges his mother for having gotten to Mongolia before he did.

Favorite Quote:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world truly needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Hansell Woods

Hansell Woods

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Hansell Woods

Director of Finance and Operations

C. Hansell Woods is the Director of Finance and Operations for Carpe Diem. She holds an MPA in Non-Profit Management and International Affairs from Indiana University. Hansell is passionate about international education as her own education centered heavily around work and travel in South and Central America, Europe, Nepal and Japan. Before moving to Portland, Hansell was the International Program Director for LEAPNow, a gap year organization based in California.

Hansell started organizing and facilitating scholarship programs in rural Nicaragua where she led service-learning trips and facilitated community development projects for two years. Following her master's degree, Hansell spent five years working for the Academy for Educational Development (AED) supporting research and program implementation in Equatorial Guinea, Malawi, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Zambia. Hansell is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in History and Music.

Fun Facts

Hansell’s goal is to have visited at least as many counties as her age, so roughly one new country a year. At the moment she is four countries ahead. Next stop: Turkey?

Hansell loves the Olympics, pretty much everything about them. If she didn’t work here, her dream job would be to work for the IOC in Geneva.

If Hansell could have dinner with anyone living today, she would choose Pele.

Favorite Quote:

“And the day came when the risk it took to stay tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

Heather Diamond Vaught

Heather Diamond Vaught

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Heather Diamond Vaught

Senior Program Director: Central America, Cuba, & South America

Heather first discovered Carpe Diem in 2008, when she was looking for a way to combine her passions for experiential education, travel, and outdoor adventure. She grew up in small suburb of Chicago and didn't know about Gap Years when she graduated high school. However, a semester in South America her sophomore year in college opened her eyes to the transformative power that the combination of travel, independence, and education can have. She spent another semester abroad, this time interning as a cultural exchange teacher at a K-12 school in India, and knew she would continue to seek out experiences that pushed her comfort zone for a long time to come.

After finishing her BA in International Affairs at University of Colorado-Boulder, she moved to Costa Rica for a year and a half, where she worked at an Environmental Learning Center, facilitating workshops and service projects related to conservation and education and fine-tuning her Spanish. She moved back to the US to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Environment, Education, and Community at the University of Washington, but was still searching for a way to incorporate international exchange into the mix. Carpe Diem was the perfect fit!

Since starting with Carpe in 2008, Heather has had the amazing opportunity to lead programs in Central and South America, India, the South Pacific, and Southeast Asia. In addition to working for Carpe, she also completed a yoga teacher certification program in India and an MS in Leadership for Sustainability Education at Portland State University. Since transitioning from the field to Carpe Diem's Portland, Oregon office, she spent a year as a Latitudes Director, before taking on the role as Program Director for Carpe's Latin America programs. She loves helping others find amazing opportunities abroad, and facilitating opportunities for joy, laughter, and adventure.

Fun Facts

In an effort to get to know the US a bit better, Heather took a cross-country bicycle ride the summer after she graduated college. Pedaling from San Francisco to Washington DC she got a wonderful glimpse into parts of the country she had never explored before.

One of Heather’s favorite travel activities is exploring produce markets and buying new and interesting fruits to taste.

Heather’s travel “comfort” items that make living out of a backpack that much easier are her yoga mat(to stretch out after long bus/plane rides) and a thermos (so she can always have a cup of tea).

James Simmons

James Simmons

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James Simmons

Program Director: India & South Pacific

Throughout his life, James has held a belief that one’s Path is determined in each given moment; that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to go; that “succes​s(i.e. happiness)” is measured in how engaged and alive one is in any particular circumstance. To that end, his Path has been marked with a wide range of experiences, and he tries his best not to label them “successes” or “failures”. Rather, he likes to think of them all as a means to greater awareness, compassion, and hopefully to be of benefit to others.

Born in Portland, James moved to Nashville, TN at age ​eight. He had a childhood of catching (and releasing!) snapping turtles, playing in the woods, staring at the TV too often, and dreaming of hitch hiking Europe directly after high school. In an unexpected twist, he received a Presidential Scholarship to MTSU, and decided that he would experiment with college. While he had a fascinating and very supportive Anthropology teacher, James found most of his academic experiences to be rather mundane, so (with the support of his academic mentor), he left college and began hitch hiking the American West. With laughable gear and a desire to lean into the unknown, James began immersing himself in wilderness areas for extended periods of time. James met some wonderful people in his 5,000 plus miles of hitch hiking, and continues to hitch throughout the world when he has the opportunity (over 20,000 miles and counting!).

Finding deep peace in the wilderness, James moved to Bend, OR, where he became a wilderness therapy instructor. He is grateful to have spent nearly ​three years teaching wilderness skills, community living, and simply walking beside so many amazing students. James began practicing the Japanese martial art of Aikido at this time, eventually earning his black belt and becoming part owner of a dojo. He was also introduced to meditation, and has great respect for movement/meditative arts. He continues to practice meditation, yoga, and ​Qi ​Gong. James spent 13 years in Bend, working as a mentor in emotional growth boarding schools and drug/alcohol treatment centers. To offset the intensity of his work, he also enjoyed the local mountain biking and snowboarding world, as well as focusing time and attention on learning to play the guitar.

James has led 6 semesters for Carpe, oftentimes spending many months post semester just getting to know local cultures (most recently 11 months in India). While he loves to travel, he is excited at the prospect of settling in Portland and planting some roots. In an effort to stay engaged, James continues his path in music and has found two amazing teachers; has committed to a two-year Qi Gong program; has a small plot in a community garden; has developed relations with the local Vipassana center; and is taking woodworking classes through community education. It is his hope to be of support and benefit to the phenomenal Overseas Educators who lead these semesters, as well as to the courageous and intrepid students (and parents) who dare to venture into the world and lean into the unknown.

Fun Facts

I love attending music festivals (especially bluegrass), and do so often.

I am an avid motorcycle fan. I ride one in town (name​d​Anikan) and also enjoy riding Royal Enfields in India.

I’m restoring a 1985 Volkswagen Westfalia.

Jenny Huq

Jenny Huq

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Jenny Huq

Executive Director

Jenny joins Carpe Diem Education after working extensively in international education and experiential learning in both higher education and non-profit settings. She brings experience in driving innovative initiatives, building collaborative partnerships and cultivating high performing teams. Her work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Singapore Management University centered on creating opportunities for deepening student learning and social impact through service-learning and intercultural engagement. In 2010, Jenny received the Civic Engagement Professional of the Year award from North Carolina Campus Compact.

Jenny earned her M.S. in International Studies with concentrations in International Education and Public Administration from North Carolina State University. She graduated from Clark University with a B.A in Global History, including one year of cultural study at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

Jenny learned to explore different parts of the U.S. at a young age as her family relocated from California to Florida and then Virginia. She left the southeast to attend college in the northeast and after graduation, took her first professional position as a paralegal in one of Boston’s largest law firms. Feeling unfulfilled on the corporate path, Jenny traded in her suit for hiking boots and headed to the Dakotas. There she found her passion for purposeful, community-based initiatives as a full-time volunteer for the next two years on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Indian Reservations. This path led her to multiple non-profit positions in San Francisco, California and Prescott, Arizona. After starting a family, she and her husband did their best to grow roots in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she launched the next decade of her career in higher education. More recently, she had the unique opportunity to share her professional expertise on an international scale through employment with Singapore Management University’s Lien Centre for Social Innovation. During this overseas living experience, she and her family were fortunate enough to explore parts of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

While travel to other countries and cultures will always be on her list, Jenny and her family are taking time to enjoy all the natural beauty and grandeur that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Fun Facts

One of Jenny’s first homes as a child was a converted cable car along the Great Highway in San Francisco.

Jenny has lived in the poorest county in the Unites States and the most expensive city in the world. Jenny has also enjoyed visiting 49 of our 50 states, with only Alaska remaining.

Jenny was struck by lightning while working at her first job as a lifeguard.

FAVORITE QUOTE

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
—Joseph Campbell

Jonathan George

Jonathan George

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Jonathan George

Program Director: East Africa, Morocco & Spain, & Southeast Asia

Jonathan was raised in the mountains of Colorado. With his father working for the U.S. Forest Service, and his mother passionate about the outdoors and education, Jonathan spent much of his youth camping, skiing, bike riding, and exploring. He was lucky enough to have a family that valued exploration, and their summer vacations were spent discovering the country. At the age of 12, his family took him on his first international trip to Europe, and thus began his lifelong passion for exploring the world.

While pursuing a degree in French language in the University of Colorado at Boulder, he fed his love of the outdoors by spending his summers working for the U.S. Forest Service creating service projects for groups of AmeriCorps volunteers, and working with law enforcement as a Forest Protection Officer. Along the way, he somehow encountered the possibility to become a professional ballroom dance instructor for a few years. Never being one to pass up an interesting experience, he agreed which led to one of his first teaching positions, and the discovery of a new passion: Education.

While completing his degree at CU Boulder, Jonathan studied abroad in France, which opened his eyes to the power of experiential education. Being able to see and touch the world with his own hands while he simultaneously studied the area in which he found himself, was a transformative experience. Upon graduation, he found himself on a plane to Egypt to spend a month visiting his aunt and uncle, who were international educators. He ended up staying three years, teaching English, learning Arabic, and leading adventure tours in both Egypt and Jordan with Imaginative Traveller. For the next eight years he went on to lead adventure tours in South East Asia, Central America, and South America, amazed at the power cultural exchange could have on the lives of his groups, as well as the people visited. Between tours, he found time to become a PADI SCUBA instructor and taught diving in Honduras. Jonathan returned to South East Asia to lead bicycling tours from Vietnam to Thailand and Myanmar for a season with Spice Roads Cycle Tours, and get in some time teaching diving by working on a small island in Indonesia for four months.

After nearly 10 years on the road exploring the world, and working in 20 countries, he decided to return to America to pursue his passion of education. He completed a Masters of Education, as well as received his secondary teaching license in French, Chemistry, and Biology. The last semester of his degree was spent teaching middle school French language in the American School of Bombay, in Mumbai India, where his passion for education was completely solidified.

Having been rather unfocused in his college years (not choosing a major until his Junior year), Jonathan truly believes in the benefits a gap year can provide. He sees the world as the best possible classroom, and is passionate about the experiential and place based education that Carpe Diem offers. This style of learning completely eliminates the gap in education between what students experience in a classroom, and what the real world expects of them. After having led 5 Carpe semesters in East Africa, India, Central America, and Southeast Asia, with 5 incredible student groups, he could not be happier to be joining the HQ staff of Carpe Diem Education as a Program Director, and being able to help further the work he believes so much in.

Fun Facts

Loves learning language: Speaks French, Spanish, and Arabic, along with having “survival” language abilities in many others.

Loves swing dancing…..Lindy Hop is the greatest!

Rode a small scooter for 1000 miles across 3 islands in Indonesia as it seemed like it would be fun…..it was!
Has climbed 18 of the 54 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, with a goal of doing all 54 sometime in his life.

Has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Bought a small, completely unsuitable, 1.2L engine car in England and drove 10,000 miles across Europe, Central Asia, and Russia, to Mongolia with his mother and father for charity.