Get to know the Putney team.
Jeffrey Shumlin: Wesleyan University, B.A. Jeff first traveled on his own to Guatemala when he was nine years old to spend the summer on a coffee plantation. Travel has been the primary focus of his life ever since. He has worked in France and Spain, ridden a horse across the Patanál in Brazil, and cycled almost everywhere. As a director of Putney Student Travel for 29 years, Jeff has led numerous educational programs for young people, designed programs worldwide, and sent his own daughter to Vietnam on a Putney program. Jeff coordinates high school summer programs in Africa and Asia.
Peter Shumlin: Wesleyan University, B.A. In November, 2010, Peter was elected Governor of Vermont. He is on leave from Putney while he serves Vermonters but, after 30 years as Co-Director, he stays in touch with the goings-on at the Putney Barn. Like his brother Jeff, Peter was born into educational travel. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, and his daughters are alumnae of Putney programs in the Dominican Republic and France.
Tim Weed: Middlebury College, B.A. Spanish Literature, Economics; University of California, M.A., International Affairs; Warren Wilson College, M.F.A., Creative Writing. Tim studied abroad in Spain, Mexico, and Jamaica, and, after graduating, led Putney programs in locations throughout the world, including Spain, Australia, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Argentina, and Cuba. He directed the Williams College, Oxford/Tuscany, and Cuba Excel programs, and directed college semester programs for the School for International Training in Spain, Australia, and Venezuela. Tim coordinates programming and hiring for our collaboration with National Geographic Student Expeditions. He is a published author and is currently at work on a novel.
Alexandra Bodel: Dartmouth College, B.A., Romance Languages and Environmental Biology; University of Miami School of Law, J.D. Alex has returned to the Barn after more than a decade away, during which time she pursued a law degree and worked as a litigator in New York City. Alex has led programs in Spain, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Nepal, and has taught at Excel at Amherst College. A native Spanish speaker, Alex hopes to pass on her love of language and travel to her two young children. Alex coordinates programs in Asia and Europe.
Debbie Derrig: Debbie has been the linchpin of Putney Student Travel’s admissions team for the past 12 years. She also coordinates office management at the barn. Debbie enjoys Vermont in autumn, kayaking with her husband, and spending time with her daughter, a nursing student at a nearby university.
Lauren McDowell: Washington and Lee University, B.A., Spanish, Economics. Lauren lived in Spain during college, and has been on the go ever since. She led Putney programs to Ecuador, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Spain. When not traveling, Lauren enjoys yoga, reading, and being a mom. Her two young sons will one day join Putney Student Travel groups themselves. Lauren coordinates high school summer programs in Latin America and acts as our liaison to the Putney Open Door Fund scholarship foundation.
Patrick Noyes: Georgetown University, B.A., Spanish. After living for five years in Spain, Patrick joined Putney twelve years ago as leader of a high school summer program in Spain. He spent five summers with our Pre-College program in Spain, and has directed Pre -College Programs at Amherst College, Pre-College Programs in China, and Pre-College programs in Spain. Patrick has an unhealthy fascination with technology, which he tries to balance with healthier fascinations of camping, adventure races, architecture, and arthouse Spanish Cinema.
Kelsey Burns: St. Lawrence University, B.A., Spanish. A Vermont native, Kelsey has led high school summer programs aroad to locations in Spain, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Ghana, and has co-directed Putney’s Global Action programs at Yale University. Kelsey has worked as an associate director at Putney Student Travel for the last nine years. She currently coordinates outreach efforts and directs various programs in Latin America and Africa. Kelsey loves to travel, ski, dance, and eat good food.
Karen Phillips: St. Lawrence University, B.A., French. Karen caught the travel bug in high school while on a music tour through Europe, and later studied abroad in Switzerland, France, and Senegal. She has led Putney’s high school language program in France and our community service program Senegal, and coordinates programs in Europe and Africa. Her interests include rock climbing, painting, yoga, and running.
Jaime Rogstad: Jaime is a member of Putney’s admissions team, coordinates group flights, and facilitates communications for the Putney Open Door Fund scholarship foundation. Jaime has worked with our campus-based Pre-College program at Amherst College. She spends her free time with her family, gardening, and cooking.
Hannah Gilkenson: University of Michigan, B.S., Anthropology, Zoology. Before joining Putney as the ecology instructor on the Foundations summer programs for middle school students, Hannah spent six years studying monkeys in Costa Rica. She has led programs in Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. She has also served as the director of the Foundations program for middle school students. Hannah many different high school summer programs abroad, including locations in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and oversees curriculum and hiring for Excel Pre-College Programs. A Vermont native, Hannah loves hiking with her husband and dog, snow shoeing in the winter, and camping in the Green Mountains.
Dave Lawver: Dave is Putney Student Travel’s bookkeeper. He enjoys working with computers, composing and listening to music, stone carving, working in his garden, raising animals, and is an avid fan of his step-son’s high school soccer team.
Maggie Strassman: University of Wisconsin, B.S., Geography, International Studies. Maggie studied abroad in Austria during college and has had the travel bug ever since. After graduation, she moved to the Czech Republic before working at National Geographic as an intern in the Education department. She has led high school programs summer programs in The Caribbean and a Pre-College program at Amherst College. Maggie coordinates Putney summer programs in India, the West Indies, and Massachusetts. She enjoys trivia, riding her bike, playing frisbee, and exclaiming over delicious food.
Troy Shaheen: Kenyon College, B.A., English, Spanish. Troy oversees high school summer programs in Latin America and Spain and coordinates Putney’s new media and web outreach. He has previously led Putney a high school language immersion trip to Spain, a middle school summer program in Costa Rica, and a high school summer program in Peru and has worked in bilingual education and journalism in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, Quito, Ecuador, and Kerhonkson, New York. He enjoys soccer and the outdoors.
Alex Ossola: Hamilton College, B.A. Comparative Literature, Geosciences. During college, Alex studied abroad in Lima, Peru, and fell in love with travel and all the revelatory challenges it presents. Alex coordinates programming in Latin America and Europe, is part of the Admissions team, and has led Putney trips to Peru and Ecuador. In her free time, Alex enjoys a good book and a picturesque hike.
Zufan Hagos: University of Vermont, B.S. Secondary Education, Spanish; School for International Training, M.A. International Education (expected 2013). Zufan fell in love with exploring far-away lands during high school, when she participated in exchange programs in Costa Rica and Honduras, later studying abroad in Granada, Spain, during college. After college she moved to Prague, where she taught for two years before returning to her native Vermont. Zufan is part of the outreach team and directs our pre-college summer program in Spain and our summer leadership program in South Africa. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, skiing, and everything to do with food.
Mike Oster: Elon University, B.S., Biology, Philosophy. Before joining the Putney team, Mike worked as a marine science instructor and boat captain in California, Hawaii, and Washington. During his summers off he led summer community service programs in The Caribbean, and National Geographic programs in Belize, Monterey Bay, and Australia. Mike oversees leader hiring, and coordinates high school summer programs abroad in Australia and the Caribbean. He enjoys playing guitar, road trips, and hiking.
Kristin Westby (not pictured): Luther College, B.A., Spanish and English Language Learning Education. Kristin spent four months during college studying abroad in Lima, Peru, before leading Putney’s high school community service program in Peru. Upon her return, she completed her studies working as a student teacher in Wisconsin before joining the Putney Student Travel staff here at the Barn. Kristin coordinates programs in Peru and also works on the Admissions Team. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, playing ukulele, taking pictures, and videography.