Meet the Team

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 31 years, Jeff has led numerous educational programs for young people, designed programs worldwide, and sent his own daughter and son on Putney programs.

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 34 years as Co-Director, he still 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.

Patrick Noyes: Georgetown University, B.A., Spanish. After living for five years in Spain, Patrick joined Putney eleven 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 at Amherst College, Pre-College in China, and Pre-College in Spain. Patrick has an unhealthy fascination with technology, which he tries to balance with the healthier fascinations of camping, adventure races, architecture, and arthouse Spanish Cinema.

Alexandra Parra Bodel: Dartmouth College, B.A., Romance Languages and Environmental Biology; University of Miami School of Law, J.D. Originally from Miami, Alex spent childhood summers in Argentina and Uruguay, her parents’ home countries. During college, she studied abroad in France and Mexico. After completing her law degree, Alex clerked for a federal judge 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 our Pre-College program at Amherst College.  Alex coordinates programs and oversees hiring for our National Geographic Student Expeditions.  During her free time — when not spending it with her 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son — Alex enjoys playing tennis, yoga and trying out new recipes.

Debbie Derrig (not pictured): Debbie has been the coordinator of Putney Student Travel’s admissions team for the past 16 years. She also coordinates office management at the barn. Debbie enjoys the outdoors, and spending time with her daughter, a Registered Nurse at a nearby hospital.

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.

Kelsey Burns: St. Lawrence University, B.A., Spanish. A Vermont native, Kelsey has led Language Learning programs in Spain, Community Service programs in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Ghana, and directed our Foundations program in Costa Rica. She has worked as an Associate Director at Putney Student Travel since 2003. She currently coordinates programs in Spain, Ecuador, Cambodia, Vietnam, The European Alps, Brazil, and Ghana. Kelsey loves to travel, ski, dance, and spend time with her family.

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 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 a Foundations program, Hannah had spent six years studying monkeys in Costa Rica. She has led programs in Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. She has also served as the Director of the Foundations Costa Rica and the Director of our Pre-College program at Amherst College. Hannah oversees programs in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji and coordinates curriculum and hiring for our Pre-College Programs. A Vermont native, Hannah loves hiking with her husband, son, and dog, snow shoeing in the winter, camping in the Green Mountains and, of course, traveling.

Dave Lawver (not pictured): Dave is Putney Student Travel’s bookkeeper. He enjoys working with computers, composing and listening to music, stone carving, camping, working in his permaculture garden, raising animals, and thinks often about his stepson who studies at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Troy Shaheen: Kenyon College, B.A., English, Spanish. Troy oversees programming in Latin America, The Caribbean, and Spain, and directs Putney’s online outreach. He has led Putney programs in Spain, Costa Rica, and 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.

Zufan Hagos: University of Vermont, B.S. Secondary Education, Spanish; School for International Training, M.A. International Education (expected 2015).  Zufan fell in love with travel during high school, when she participated in exchange programs in Costa Rica and Honduras, and later in Granada, Spain, where she studied during college. She moved to Prague after her graduation, where she taught for two years before returning to her native Vermont.  Zufan directs programs in Spain, The Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.  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 Putney summer community service programs in The Caribbean, and National Geographic Student Expeditions programs in Belize, Monterey Bay, and Australia. Mike oversees leader hiring, and coordinates programs domestically, as well as the Caribbean and Indonesia.

Renee Crispe: Mount Holyoke College, B.A., Critical Social Thought, with a focus on art and social action. Renee is part of Putney’s admissions team. A Vermont native, Renee loves to be outdoors and enjoy the seasons with her husband and two children. She loves exploring and discovering new places. In her free time, Renee likes to dance, read, and practice her new-found love of cooking.

Susannah Poland: Stanford University, B.A. Before joining Putney, Susannah conducted research at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art on emergent African feminisms and contemporary female artists for forthcoming exhibitions. In spring 2013 she took a leave from the museum to conduct fieldwork on Mount Everest, in Nepal, for Umea University School of Business and Economics. She is fluent in French and programs trips in Africa and Europe. Susannah has a particular affection for the French — she lived in France for several summers as an adolescent, practices French cooking with her Francophone mother, and spent last summer apprenticing with beekeepers in the French Alps and southeastern countryside. 

Annie Agnone: Ohio University, B.S., Visual Communication, B.A., Psychology; The University of Alabama, M.F.A., Creative Writing. Before joining Putney, Annie taught English and creative writing to undergraduates, storytelling to high school students from Alabama’s Black Belt region, and creative writing at a medium-security prison. Annie also worked as a design and web editor for Black Warrior Review. Annie has led programs in Ireland and Prague, and in Tuscany for National Geographic Student Expeditions. In 2013, she was awarded a National Geographic Young Explorer’s Grant to document nocturnal culture in America. Annie specializes in writing and Italian programming at Putney. She enjoys cooking and practicing yoga, as well as hiking and road-tripping with her partner and two dogs.

John Linsley (not pictured): St. Lawrence University, B.A., Government; Maxwell School of Syracuse University, M.A., International Relations. John’s love of travel began in high school when he studied in Germany on an exchange program. Since then, he has studied and worked in East and West Africa, Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean. Fluent in Swahili, the regional language of East Africa, John has led Putney’s Mt. Kilimanjaro program and the Community Service Tanzania program for several summers. He currently oversees programming in Tanzania, South Africa, and India. A certified EMT, John is trained in wilderness medicine and is an avid runner, skier, and kayaker.

Anna Kayes: The College of William and Mary, B.A., Anthropology, Archaeology.  After working at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as a research and curatorial assistant, Anna moved to India and Thailand for a year to teach English and coach youth soccer. She returned to the United States and spent a year working for an international education provider in Boston before joining the Putney staff full time.  Anna has twice led our Community Service Dominica program and now coordinates programs in Alaska, Iceland, London, the West Indies, and Thailand. In her free time, she volunteers for a non-profit that supports children of Tibetan refugees living in Northeast India. She enjoys hiking, dancing and spending time with her family and yellow lab.

Ryanne Fujita-Conrads: Reed College, B.A., Sociology. Ever since her first experience volunteering abroad in Ecuador, Ryanne has been in love with international travel and exploration. Before moving to Putney, Ryanne studied in Barcelona, Spain, worked for an education non-profit in Mexico, traveled in Argentina, and lived for a year in rural Thailand. Ryanne has led Putney’s community service Ecuador program. She is part of the outreach team and directs programs in Costa Rica. Ryanne enjoys riding her bike, running, hiking, baking, discovering new places, and eating delicious food.