Meet Our Portland Community

Based at our headquarters (HQ) in Portland, Oregon, our administrative team is dedicated to providing a positive and supportive experience to students and families. From initial inquiry and application to post-semester alumni engagement, our mission is to provide the best possible outcomes for students, families, Overseas Educators, and the communities with whom we engage.

Many of our HQ staff have led multiple programs overseas, and enjoy connecting to the field through program development, staff support, and deepening relationships with in-country partners.  With diverse experiences and interests, our HQ team is united in our commitment to being a caring, compassionate, and professional team.

As a community and as individuals, we strive to live in a way that reflects our values of growth and transformation.

Anne Koenning

CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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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

Anne Koenning

Executive Director of Enrollment and Operations

Anne comes to her role as Executive Director of Enrollment and Operations after spending two years working as the Director Enrollment at Carpe Diem. Prior to joining the Carpe Diem HQ team, Anne worked 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 at HQ 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 on the West Coast.

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, Anne loves having the opportunity to connect with students and their families as they prepare for an international semester experience. She also works closely with the Operations Team to ensure that the behind the scenes operations continue running smoothly. When she's not in the office, Anne can be found cooking, enjoying time with friends in Portland and beyond, attending bluegrass shows and spending time with her backyard chickens.

Brian Jewett

OFFICE MANAGER

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FUN  FACTS

Carpe Chef! during leadership training.

Bought a motorcycle in Las Vegas and rode it home.

Jack of all trades.

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!

Dave Austin

OUTREACH COORDINATOR

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FUN  FACTS

Made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for participating in the highest altitude hockey game ever played (approx. 14,000 ft above sea level) in the Indian Himalayas.

Loves learning languages: speaks French and Mandarin pretty well… can fake speaking a handful of others for about a minute before being exposed.

Shares a bucket list item with his Dad to sail the entire west coast of Norway. They recently completed a segment from Bergen to Trondheim, and plan to return every couple years to complete a little more until they finish.

When traveling, loves trying foods he doesn’t recognize and will wait until after swallowing them before asking what they are. Some of the highlights include cow brain, chicken intestine, chicken butt, and scorpion.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“I would rather be ashes than dust!

I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.

I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.

The function of man is to live, not to exist.

I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.

I shall use my time.”

– Jack London

Dave Austin

Outreach Coordinator

Dave hails originally from beautiful Annapolis, Maryland. Growing up in a family of avid travelers, he developed early on a curiosity to see the world. His parents—who met in grad school where his Mom was his Dad’s French professor (scandalous!)—enrolled him in a French Immersion school so he could learn the language that led to his very existence. In school, Dave was exposed to many cultures from teachers all over the French-speaking world: France, Quebec, Senegal, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Switzerland, Belgium, and even Vietnam.

As he grew older, Dave decided that the Maryland pond was not quite large enough for his budding curiosity. After graduating from college, he bought a one-way ticket to Europe, beginning what would become a five-year journey living overseas. He has taught English in Bordeaux and Prague, as well as studied Mandarin and worked with international students in Taipei, Taiwan.

Recognizing the powerful impact that education abroad can have on people and communities, Dave returned to the US for his Master’s in International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California. Now a couple years removed from grad school, Dave joins Carpe Diem excited to support students towards meaningful travel and community engagement!

When he’s not working or traveling, Dave also enjoys everything outdoors, running, reading in his hammock, and puppies.

Doug Zaideman

LATITUDES YEAR COORDINATOR

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FUN  FACTS

Doug Zaideman

Latitudes Year Coordinator

Doug joins the Carpe Diem HQ staff as the Latitudes Coordinator after having spent the past several semesters working in the field as a Carpe Diem Overseas Educator. Since joining the Carpe Diem team in 2016, Doug has had the opportunity to lead programs in Central and South America, the South Pacific and India, all with incredible student groups! As the Latitudes Coordinator, Doug is looking forward to working with students, families, foreign contacts and the HQ staff in a whole new capacity. Having personally volunteered with many of the organizations Latitudes students will work with, he is excited to support students on what are sure to be life changing experiences.

Born and raised in suburban Chicago, Doug’s family laid the groundwork for a love of nature at an early age thanks to their keen interest of escaping the city to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, canoeing in the Boundary Waters and taking road trips all over the country. As a teenager, he participated on adventure travel camps that first showed him the power and benefit of group experiential education. Whilst traveling internationally on his own throughout Southeast Asia and South America he became inspired to pursue work in the field of outdoor education, return to those roots in experiential education, which has led him to this point. Getting to help facilitate experiential education programs has been a dream come true for Doug, who knows first hand how the world serves as both the best teacher and classroom.

Colorado has been Doug’s home-base most of his adult life, and when not leading incredible trips, he can usually be found playing outside hiking, snowboarding, fly­ fishing or flinging a frisbee through the beautiful Rocky Mountains. He has pursued interests in permaculture, teaching English, cooking, sustainable local development, SCUBA, meditation and environmental tourism across the globe. Some of the coolest experiences that this adventurous lifestyle has provided Doug have been swimming with swarming manta rays and a whale shark on his birthday off the coast of Mozambique; tuning in to the rhythm of the Amazon traveling down its waters by boat and hammock; and exploring mystical caves in Laos and Vietnam!

Ethan Knight

FOUNDER

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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

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.

Hansell Woods

DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND OPERATIONS

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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

Hansell Woods

Director of Finance and Operations

C. Hansell Woods is the Director of Finance and Operations for Carpe Diem. 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.

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. Before moving to Portland, Hansell was the International Program Director for LEAPNow, a gap year organization based in California.

In 2012 Hansell moved to Portland and co-founded Carpe Mundi, Carpe Diem’s non-profit partner organization that supports first-generation, low-income, Portland area students to participate in a Carpe Diem semester program. She served as the Executive Director from 2012-2018 and is still working for Carpe Mundi as the Carpe College Program Director.

Hansell is a graduate of Dartmouth College and earned her MPA in Non-Profit Management and International Affairs from Indiana University.

Heather Diamond Vaught

SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR: CENTRAL AMERICA, CUBA, & SOUTH AMERICA

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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).

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 a 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 the 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.

James Simmons

CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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FUN  FACTS

Loves attending concerts and music festivals, and does so often.

An avid motorcycle rider. Rides a V Strom DL 1000 (named Anikan) and also enjoys riding Royal Enfields in India.

Has recently discovered a love of dance.

FAVORITE QUOTE

“Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive”. -Hafiz-

James Simmons

Executive Director of Programs

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). James has enjoyed settling into Portland and the opportunities that come with staying in one place. He continues his path in music and has found two amazing teachers, goes to the indoor climbing gym regularly, has developed relations with a nearby Vipassana community, and is participating in an Urban Permaculture design course that will result in him earning a Permaculture Design certification. Yes!

Jonathan George

PROGRAM DIRECTOR: EAST AFRICA, MOROCCO & SPAIN, & SOUTHEAST ASIA

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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.

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.

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