Leader Bios! Meet Tim, Emily, Ezra, Tina, Miles, and Jen!

Can you believe that this year’s leaders will be arriving in Brunswick in just nine days? As we count down the final week until summer officially starts, we can’t wait to introduce you to this year’s epic America Coast to Coast and Europe Coast to Coast crews!

Tim Gruber –  America Coast to Coast

Returning for his third year on the Apogee team, Tim Gruber (aka “Grubes”) served as both a Support Staffer and a Coast to Québec leader in 2016, and he led our Colorado’s Rocky Mountains trip last summer. Born and raised in Davidson, North Carolina, Tim graduated in 2016 from the University of Richmond with degrees in History and French. His eagerness to explore and learn has brought him to many destinations on the globe, from Paris to South Korea. Combining his passions for French language and working with youth, Tim has taught intermediate French and worked at the Summer Institute for the Gifted in Atlanta, where he facilitated academic and extracurricular activities for students eight to eighteen years old. Over the last two years, Tim has continued to follow his passion for teaching by working as a teacher in Richmond. After serving as Captain of Richmond’s Cross Country team in college, Tim has continued to be a force on two feet: he broke the ribbon on a 10k race of over 1,000 runners in Maine in 2016, and he’s since placed first overall in a few marathons (we’ve started to lose count) and even set a course record! Tim has also hiked the entirety of the Great Glen Way in Scotland – where, he’ll tell you, he’s sure he spotted the Loch Ness Monster. This summer, Tim can’t wait to continue to combine his enthusiasm for working with youth and his love of physical challenge as he leads the way from South Carolina to California on America Coast to Coast!

Emily Hoffman – America Coast to Coast

We’re delighted  to welcome long-time Apogee veteran Emily Hoffman back to lead our America Coast to Coast trip this summer! Coming to us from the bustling streets of New York City, Emily is well-versed in all things Apogee. In addition to leading our Coast to Québec biking trips in 2016 and Montana Service Adventure last summer, Emily spent four summers with us as a student. She has volunteered her way across the Caribbean and bicycled in Cape Cod, Montana, and Europe. A recent graduate of St. Lawrence University, Emily’s passion for the outdoors has truly blossomed. As a sophomore, she took part in SLU’s “Adirondack Semester,” a program that took her entirely off the grid for three months, foregoing technology and running water in exchange for a better understanding of how to live simply. Emily lived so simply, in fact, that her main form of transportation throughout the program was a canoe! Beyond her travels with Apogee, Emily has traveled to France, Italy, London, Guatemala, and Mexico. Most recently, Emily spent a semester studying environmental conservation in Kenya to complement her Environmental Sociology degree. Emily is also passionate about service, working with youth, and farming. During her senior year in high school, Emily traveled to Guatemala with the terrific “Safe Passage” organization and taught English and lacrosse to local students. After this summer, she hopes to continue her work at a local farm in upstate New York, where she’ll combine her passion for agriculture while pursuing her love for photography. This summer, Emily can’t wait to pursue a goal of hers since she was an Apogee student: to bike across America!

Tina Glusac – America Coast to Coast

Tina Glusac loves to take on outdoor challenges – no matter where in the world they may be! Originally from Connecticut, Tina grew up in a close-knit family. Her family’s bike tours in far-flung locations like Tuscany, Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Banff engendered a lifelong love for exploration in Tina. A fresh graduate of Wesleyan University, Tina jumped on the chance to study abroad as a student – she completed a semester-long NOLS course in Tanzania, where she spent a month traveling through Namibia and South Africa and summited Mount Kilimanjaro. She has also visited Asia, Central America, and Europe – needless to say, her passport is full of stamps! Tina has found time to explore domestically as well, and she spent a summer WWOOFing in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. At Wesleyan, Tina studied psychology and led wellness initiatives on campus. She spent summer 2016 working as a psychology/ neuroscience research assistant at Yale during the week and organizing hiking and camping trips with friends on weekends. Somehow, Tina has carved out time to give back to her community by teaching geometry to twelve-year-olds in Tanzania, volunteering as a health educator in Connecticut high schools, and devoting time to organizations like Girls Helping Girls and Infinite Possibilities (an organization that works to increase confidence in elementary school girls through mentorship and math/ science activities). Tina thrived last summer leading our Coast to Québec and Maine Coast Junior trips. If last year was any indication, we know that Tina’s fabulous energy and deeply caring personality will set her and her America Coast to Coast students up for success this summer!

Ezra Ward-Packard – America Coast to Coast

Ezra Ward-Packard’s love of cycling started early – not in life, but at 4:30 AM. The second of five children growing up in Wisconsin, Ezra woke up with his brother before sunrise to bike five miles to their grandmother’s house to watch Team USA play in the 2002 World Cup; Ezra remembers this as the moment he fell in love with cycling. However, Ezra wasn’t satisfied just watching high-achieving athletes on TV – instead, he decided to become one himself. After high school, Ezra spent three years as a semi-pro cyclist, racing 213 times in fifteen states and five countries, and seeing the world and living with teammates from seventeen different countries. Off his bike, Ezra is a hard-working student at Carleton College, where he majors in Cinema and Media Studies and minors in Educational Studies. Ezra is also an avid hiker – he has taken on three solo hiking and backpacking trips and checked off twelve national parks throughout South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, and Arkansas. Ezra recently spent a winter break with All Hands Volunteers, where he devoted two weeks to mucking, gutting, sanitizing, and rebuilding some of the 60,000 flood-damaged homes in the Baton Rouge area. Ezra also loves working with kids – he has served as a residential counselor at a camp for young people with Type-1 Diabetes and has helped coach and counsel young cyclists at Team Novo Nordisk’s Talent Identification camp. Ezra spent last summer in the field leading our Coast to Québec trip, and we’re ecstatic to cheer him and his crew on across the country this summer as they cycle America Coast to Coast! Fun fact: Ezra’s parents keep bees and, accordingly, Ezra puts honey on and in everything, from pancakes to coffee. Sounds like honey for breakfast, lunch, and dinner this summer – yum!

Miles Bent – Europe Coast to Coast

We are ecstatic to welcome Virginia native Miles Bent back on the Apogee team for his third year, this time as our Europe Coast to Coast leader! After leading our Maine Coast College Essay program in 2015 and Pacific Coast bike trip last summer, Miles now resides in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC. A native of Lexington, VA and lifelong adventurer in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Miles didn’t have to go far to find his university of choice; he graduated from Washington and Lee University last spring with a double-major in English and Politics. An avid soccer fan, Miles has served as a soccer coach for two summers, and he was a four-year member of the varsity team at W&L. Though Miles is loyal to his home state of Virginia, that hasn’t stopped him from traveling around the world – he lived in Italy for a year when he was younger, has traveled to France, Greece, and Puerto Rico, and even spent a semester studying abroad in Rome. While abroad, Miles ran his first marathon in France and studied Italian, Ancient Roman art history, and politics of the EU. During his senior year at W&L, Miles worked on a project to create a 3D map of 15th-century Florence using Virtual Reality technology. We’re thrilled to have Miles back this summer, and his Apogee students should make sure to brush up on their trivia – Miles’s favorite show is Jeopardy, so his trips are in for their fair share of fun facts!

Jen Rilley – Europe Coast to Coast, New England Mountains & Coast

Joining the Apogee team in 2018 is Raleigh, North Carolina’s own, Jen Rilley. Born in South Africa of Irish descent, Jen is now a tri-citizen but has lived most of her life in NC’s capital. Having recently received her Bachelor of Science from NC State Raleigh, Jen is on track to earn her Master of Science next May in Fashion & Textile Design. When she’s not designing and sewing her own clothing, Jen pretty much lives outdoors – and usually on two wheels. To say that Jen is multi-talented is quite the understatement, as she’s dabbled in snowboarding, caving, triathalon, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, fencing, figure skating, pole vaulting, and aerial silks (we can’t wait to see how she incorporates each of these into her trip this summer)! After spending much of her middle and high school days working as a Bible School counselor, Jen spent last summer working with six- to fifteen-year-old girls as a camp counselor at Camp Illahee. There, she served as the arts & crafts program director and climbing instructor. At NC State, Jen continues to pursue her outdoor and guiding endeavors; she’s the President of the Adventure Club, acts a trip leader for the Outdoor Adventures Program, and serves as a campus bike mechanic. Jen can’t wait to spend the summer on her bike – though she might have trouble picking which of her four bikes (including a touring bike she built herself) she should ride from Amsterdam to Venice on Europe Coast to Coast!