Board of Directors

Who is the Board?

The Traveling School Board of Directors is a group of individuals who share a passion for utilizing their skills and talents to support the organization’s mission: to amplify female voices through transformative education to ignite positive change. Directors come from a broad array of professional backgrounds and bring unique skills and diverse perspectives to the work, and the Board continually seeks to expand the diversity of its directors. The Board consists of former Traveling School students, teachers, alumnae parents, and those with no prior connection to the organization; all share a common enthusiasm and dedication for its mission.


What does the Board do?

Directors engage in robust discussions about the advancement and long-term sustainability of the organization, and support the Executive Director and staff to implement The Traveling School’s mission.   Since 2003, Traveling School students and teachers have traveled across continents, interacted with local communities, and engaged in place-based classes.  During a Traveling School semester, students and teachers form a unique and supportive community emanating from their shared experience.  Students return to their home communities with their eyes wide open, hearts full, and with a critical approach to making the world a better place. While serving on the Board, Directors have an opportunity to utilize their skills in a new context, expand their professional network, and grow professionally in a myriad of ways.

Chris Bacon

Board President

Base Camp: New York
Board Member since 2020

Chris grew up in Western New York and spent summers on a lake in Muskoka, Canada where she learned it is possible to love a place almost as much as a person. Her first trip on an airplane wasn’t until she was 20 years old, when she flew from Buffalo to London to spend a semester studying abroad. Since then, she studied abroad again in Nice, France and has visited 19 countries. As the mother of three daughters (one a TTS alumna) she is deeply committed to empowering women and is a firm believer that travel fosters wisdom and compassion. She is currently the Director of Education and Development for the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, a freelance legal author for Thomson Reuters, and a member of the Oakwood Cemetery Heritage Foundation board of directors. She holds a law degree from Rutgers University School of Law – Newark and a master’s degree from Niagara University.

Kim Belvin

Board Vice President

Base Camp: Maryland
Board Member since 2021

Kim works for MITRE, a non-profit science and engineering company. Growing up in a Southern Californian beach town, she encountered beachgoers speaking many different languages. This piqued her curiosity, eventually resulting in her earning a Ph.D. in Linguistics from UCSD. In 1975 her family hosted a Vietnamese refugee family, while her best friend’s family were recent immigrants from Iran. Bouncing between the 3 households, she developed a deep appreciation for the complexity of identity and culture. Kim and her husband Robin have hosted several pairs of students for the Cyprus Friendship Project, which brings together Turkish and Greek Cypriot youths striving for peaceful reconciliation of their divided island. Daughter Lena traveled to South America with TTS23 where she rediscovered her love of science, which she is pursuing at USD with a double major in Physics and Engineering and a minor in Naval Science. Seeing the impact of TTS, Kim is committed to enabling more young women to have this opportunity.

Christine Hrenya

Board Treasurer

Base Camp: Montana
Board Member since 2021

Christine has been involved firsthand in education for as long as she can remember – first as a K-Ph.D. student for over two decades, and now as an engineering professor at the University of Colorado for over two decades.  She is a firm believer that travel beyond tourism – engaging meaningfully with locals in communities very different than our own – is essential to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world.  Her own international travel began as an undergraduate in college, and it has been a constant in her life ever since – 25 countries and counting.  In her spare time, Christine enjoys beekeeping, biking, volunteering in her local community, and spending time with her husband and their schooled-and-well-traveled dog.

Flora Weeks

Board Secretary

Base Camp: Washington
Board Member since 2021

Flora is a strong advocate for immersive, place-based education experiences. She has seen the life-changing positive results of this type of education both as a student and as an educator. Through her work at three different semester schools, she heard about The Traveling School and became intrigued by the potential of the TTS model. She has seen students challenged on outdoor expeditions, leaning into cultural interactions with homestay families, and feeling bolstered by a community of their peers. In each case, the growth of these students is immense. Knowing TTS provides this and more to each student, Flora is excited to be on the board to support and promote this program and all that it can offer teenage girls. She loves hiking, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends, often making and/or eating ice cream.

Meredith Center

Base Camp: Montana
Board Member since 2021

Meredith has been traveling internationally since high school and has ended up in a career that puts living and working overseas front and center, currently serving as the Project Director for a malaria prevention project based in West Africa. Outside of the US, Meredith has lived in France, Italy, Zambia, and Cambodia, and is relocating to Cote d’Ivoire for her next job with Population Services International, a health NGO. Through her travels to 45 different countries (and counting!), Meredith has developed a deep appreciation for what traveling and experiencing different cultures can bring to someone’s life and she brings this excitement for travel and cross-cultural engagement and learning to her role on the Board.  Meredith has a BA in Sociology from Emory University and a MA in International Economics and Development from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  Besides traveling, Meredith loves to spend time with her husband and three kids hiking, biking, camping, swimming, or just generally enjoying nature.

Karen Guile

Base Camp: Kansas City
Board Member since 2022

Karen loves and has always been fascinated by the unique characteristics found in every culture and she loves to explore them via every person she meets.  She has been involved in philanthropy for over 25 years, and currently works at the Health Forward Foundation in Kansas City, whose mission is to “achieve health equity and secure a fair and just region through leadership, advocacy, and resources.”   Karen was a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa in the early 2000s and that experience helped her recognize the power of submersing oneself in another culture and the personal growth one can achieve through the experience.  She believes her participation on the TTS Board is a perfect blending of her personal and professional experiences and she’s excited to serve the school in any way she can.  Karen has a bachelors in finance and economics with a minor in French.  She spends her free time with family and friends, coaching grade school basketball and enjoying exercise and the outdoors.

Kyle Holt Hopkins

Base Camp: New York
Board Member since 2022

Kyle’s sense of adventure was born in the backwoods of New England, where she roamed free with her brother and friends, imaginations running wild. Even while pursuing her first career as an actor and singer in Manhattan, she nourished her spirit with frequent trips into nature. In 2003, Kyle, her husband, Doug, and their two young daughters embarked on a seven-year circumnavigation on their small sailboat, Estrela. For over 30,000 nautical miles and in over 30 countries, the world was their homeschooling classroom. Top memories include backpacking in the Nam Ha forest in Laos, snorkeling in the uninhabited Chagos archipelago, and car camping for three months in Southern Africa. Their voyaging website is www.sailingestrela.com. The Hopkins dropped anchor in Buffalo in 2010 to join the faculty of Buffalo Seminary (SEM), an all-girls’ independent high school, where Kyle designed and taught a Health/Leadership program for freshmen through seniors. In 2021, Kyle retired from full-time teaching to launch Grow Gutsy Girls™, a workshop series based on her signature girl-empowerment curriculum.

Chrissie Monaghan

Base Camp: New York
Board Member since 2021
Faculty for Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2009
Faculty for Spring Semester, Central America 2011

Chrissie Monaghan was a teacher with TTS in Southern Africa in the fall of 2009 and Central America in the spring of 2011. She holds a doctorate in International Education from the University of Virginia. Previously, Chrissie taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the International Education Program at New York University. She also held positions as a researcher and advocate with multiple children’s rights organizations where her work focused on the impacts of attacks on education and healthcare on children. She is currently transitioning to a career in medicine and applying to medical school.

Natalie Trono

Base Camp: New York
Board Member since 2021
Alumna, Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2013

As a former student of The Traveling School, Natalie has benefited firsthand from the transformative educational experience of place-based education. She has been a member of the Alumnae Council since 2018 where she has supported alumnae outreach with a specific focus on expanding scholarship opportunities for young women through the alumnae network. Natalie studied Economics and Social History at Barnard College and has lived and worked in New York City since. Originally from Burlington, Vermont, Natalie enjoys hiking and running in her free time.

Zoe Oldham

Base Camp: New York City
Board Member since 2023
Alumna, Spring Semester, South America 2011 (TTS17)

Zoe was a Traveling School student in Central America. Her time with the TTS stoked an already-strong desire to travel and gave Zoe the confidence to do it alone. Throughout college and law school, Zoe took trips across the world at every break and enjoyed creating memories—from working on an oyster farm in Australia to becoming a scuba instructor in Honduras. Zoe has a B.A. from Rice University and J.D. from the University of Texas. She likes to spend her free time sailing, scuba diving, and exploring new places.

John McBride

Base Camp: North Carolina
Board Member since 2023

John discovered TTS while volunteering at a local high school, and couldn’t wait to tell the family at dinner that night. Next thing you know his daughter Anne is in TTS22 and John became a passionate supporter of TTS and everything it stands for. He is currently an IT professional in the healthcare industry and travels widely, having visited all continents except Antarctica. He’s also worked as a radio disc jockey, a newspaper editor and a piano technician — career movements that offer a different form of travel, if you will, and a commitment to lifelong learning. John grew up in the Hudson Valley area of New York and enjoys yoga, hiking and skiing.

Helen Wilson Burns

Base Camp: Colorado
Board Member since 2023
Alumna, Spring Semester, South America 2012 (TTS19)
Alumnae Council Member, 2018-2022

Helen is an environmental social scientist pursuing a PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she earned her MS in Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on the intersections between human migration and environmental change, and her primary project is based in Bangladesh, where she is studying the relationships between mobility, gender, development, and climate change adaptation. Helen has worked in nonprofit and international development in Myanmar, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC. She is an avid cyclist and races with a WTFNB (women/trans/femme/nonbinary) gravel cycling team. Originally from the rural mountains of Tennessee, Helen can trace her windy and wonderful path to her transformative TTS semester in South America.

Cassy Harris

Base Camp: Oregon
Board Member since 2023
Alumna, Spring Semester, South America 2010 (TTS15)
Alumna, Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2011 (TTS18)

Cassy’s sense of adventure, love of traveling, and appreciation for experiential education came from her time with The Traveling School both as a student and a gap year intern. She studied Elementary Education and Psychology at Corban University and has held camp management, programming, and hospitality positions. She now works in career and technical education, focusing on strengthening and sustaining k-12 industry relationships in the Willamette Valley. She acts as a liaison between school districts, businesses, and workforce partners to create work-based learning opportunities that provide real-life on-the-job experiences for students. She’s committed to helping young people discover the opportunities available to them, while equipping them with the skills and confidence to succeed in those. She has a heart for non traditional approaches to education and is eager to serve The Traveling School in this capacity. In her free time, Cassy enjoys doing outdoor activities, eating food with people, doing anything creative, learning about home improvement and gardening, or planning her next adventure.

Board of Directors

“The relevance of this work is made clear as each semester we learn about the challenges and triumphs that each semester holds for our TTS students and teachers. I have also gained a community. Our meetings are respectful, substantial and productive, yet there are always moments of levity and fun as we delved into thought provoking issues.” 

                                                                                                                                          – Board Director

Interested in joining The Traveling School board?
We invite you to recommend yourself or one of your colleagues. Self-referrals are encouraged and valued.

Email Executive Director Jennifer Royall directly.

Advisory Board

Meghan Johnston

Medical Director

Meghan Johnston, MD FACP is an attending physician at Bozeman Health and assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Washington.

Dr. Johnston earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Washington (MT WWAMI E’07), where she was named to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society.  She stayed in Seattle for her internal medicine residency where she took an active role in teaching in Seattle and Naivasha, Kenya.  She was an inpatient chief resident at the Puget Sound VA.  Following her chief year, she returned to Bozeman, Montana where she has been practicing medicine and teaching medical students for the last six years.   As part of the University of Washington WWAMI program, she mentors medical students and teaching them bedside medicine skills and she also directs the 6-week outpatient internal medicine clerkship.  In 2018, she was awarded the ACP Woman Physician of the Year award for Montana and the Richard M. Tucker WWAMI Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr. Johnston grew up in Dillon, Montana and loves to spend time with her family and friends.  She loves spending time outdoors running, camping and skiing.  She loves to travel and has spent extended periods of time in Spain, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Kenya.

Dave Dennis

Risk Management Consultant

Dave is co-founder and Executive Director of Cornerstone Safety Group. He is also the founder and President of Resilient Solutions, a risk management and emergency response consulting firm serving travel and experiential education organizations since 2011.

He has a risk management master’s degree from Norwich University, has spent the past 27 years in domestic and international travel operations, and has advised over 60 organizations in risk management practices and training.  Dave is also the Secretary of the Gap Year Association’s Standards and Accreditation Committee and has spent time as an ambassador with the Responder Alliance focusing on emotional well-being and the stress continuum.

Before starting Cornerstone, Dave was the Vice President of Health, Safety and Risk Management at some of the largest organizations in the travel and experiential education industries.