Campus Leadership Teams

Each Guided Discoveries Campus relies on quality staff to provide the programs and services to keep the program operating smoothly.  All of our program directors started as instructors and have advanced through the ranks.   Our Food Service Directors all started as cooks before taking over the Director's responsibility.

Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay


Dave Work Director Toyon BayDave Work

Director, Catalina Island Marine Institute

"If our program cycled through new clientele all the time, I'm not sure it would be as gratifying.  But there are many group leaders that have been coming as long as I've worked there. Seeing them year after year, and having started with many of them when we started our Cherry Cove program, reinforces that what we do is substantive and makes a difference.  We all do it for the kids, but when teachers say it is a big part of their life, you know you're on a good wicket."

Dave joined Guided Discoveries as an Instructor in 1989 at Cherry Cove.  He enjoyed teaching biology on a remote island and being part of the unique CIMI community.  He soon advanced to Assistant Program Director at then to Program Director at Cherry Cove.  During the 1990's Dave also worked the summer at Catalina Sea Camp as the Program Director.  Dave became the Program Director for Toyon Bay and in 1999 was asked to become the CIMI Director.

As the director of the Catalina Island Marine Institute, Dave oversees the operation for CIMI at Toyon Bay, Fox Landing and Cherry Cove.  He directly supervises the department directors and the financial operations of the program.  Dave also works closely with the GDI Project Director on all facility improvements and renovations.  During the summer, Dave teaches scuba diving at Catalina Sea Camp along with his other management duties.   Dave is a very thoughtful individual who has great insight into the overall CIMI and Guided Discoveries operations.

Dave spent his early childhood in Sacramento and spent his high school years in Ohio.  He earned his Bachelor of Science with honors from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and with a Bachelors of Science in biology and wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin. While with Guided Discoveries he also earned his scuba certification and became a NAUI Scuba Diving Instructor.   Dave is also a USCG Licensed Captain.  He lives at Toyon Bay with his wife Katie, who he met at CIMI.

Dave is an avid nature lover.  He spent much of his youth hiking and fishing in the out of doors.  While in Africa he went on safari and worked as a guide in a game park after finishing the university.  He has explored Catalina on land and by water.  Scuba diving and boating are among his favorite past times on the island.

Contact Dave at dave@cimi.org or 310.510.1622

Jeff Chace program director ToyonJeff Chace

 Program Director, Toyon Bay

"Guided Discoveries is an amazing company with a worthwhile mission. We work hard to provide kids with an opportunity to explore nature and spark their curiosity. ...I love to hear our students talk about how this great experience has made an impact. I love to hear kids talk about schools of leopard sharks, squishy algae and vibrant stars. I am not sure that you could find all of these elements in any other job!"
It wasn't exactly schools, but more like schools of fish that got Jeff Chace interested in marine science. Jeff grew up in a Boston suburb and spent summers on Cape Cod, spending his hours investigating tide pools, fishing, swimming and sailing. When his parents bought him his first fish tank, Jeff was, well, hooked.

As Cherry Cove Marine Science Instructor, Jeff is in charge of a staff of 28 and the educational areas that provide the outdoor education program to students. He hires, coaches, leads, develops curriculum and implements programming ideas while taking charge of students' safety and medical needs. He also captains boats and leads the island scholar program.

His experience with Guided Discoveries has been in roles including Assistant Program Director and Aquarist at Cherry Cove; Toyon Bay Aquarist, Dive Staff, Boat Captain, Science and Adventure Director and Program Director; and Fox Landing founding Program Director.

Since the early 1990s, Jeff has worked or volunteered in marine science education at places including the New England Aquarium, Cape Outdoor Discovery, Newfound Harbor Marine Institute, Stephen Birch Aquarium, San Diego Floating Classroom and Seacamp San Diego.

Jeff has a bachelor's in Zoology with a minor in Marine Biology from the University of New Hampshire. He is certified in CPR, pediatric first aid and holds a 50-ton captain's license.

Contact Jeff at jchace@guideddiscoveries.org or 310.510.1622

3 Allen JonesAllen Jones

Maintenance Director, Toyon Bay

"This is the best job I have ever had.  It allows me to "give back" with regards to sharing my knowledge with my team members. It is also a privilege to work for a company that directly impacts the lives of children in such a positive way.  Being a part of this mission is very rewarding."

With decades of experience in the construction trades, Allen Jones began working for Guided Discoveries in 2009.  Drawn by the challenge of operating and maintaining a 90-acre facility, he jokes that it helps that the facility is on a beach on Santa Catalina Island.  Allen's past experience includes directing projects for Habitat for Humanity.

Raised in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Allen grew up enjoying ocean sports. Although he does not work on or in the water, he said it is close enough to afford a "wonderful backdrop in which to work."

Contact Allen at allen@cimi.org or 310.510.1622

Ben Kasowski, Food Services Director Fox LandingBen Kasowski

Food Service Director, Toyon Bay

"I feel like the diversity of my whole life has led me to this work and my position with Guided Discoveries. I love the Island deeply and enjoy the logistical challenge of living both on an Island and the particular challenges that exist at Fox Landing, which is accessible only by boat.  I love providing good meals for the students, teachers, parents and staff."

Ben is originally from Southern California but was raised in Seattle Area.  His cooking career started while he was in high school working in local restaurants.  He worked with some "amazing chefs" and eventually managed restaurants at an early age.  Ben eventually moved to Dutch Harbor, Alaska and worked in the fishing industry for three years. While in Alaska, Ben met a chef who worked at the Catalina Island Marine Institute and offered him a position at the camp.  Ben joined the CIMI at Toyon Bay kitchen crew in 1999.

Ben soon became the Assistant Food Service Director at Cherry Cove.  He moved back to Toyon Bay as the Assistant Food Service Director and Chef where he remained for 7 years.  In 2009, Ben was chosen as the Food Service Director and Head Chef for CIMI at Fox Landing. He is known for his creative food and excellent service.  He will take time to speak with any teacher, parent or child about their special dietary needs.  Just email or give him a call.

Contact Ben at bkasowski@guideddiscoveries.org or 310.510.1890

Paul Kupferman- Summer Camp Director 1

Paul "Butterkup" Kupferman

Summer Operations Director,  Catalina Sea Camp

"Catalina Sea Camp provided me confidence I could take home and apply to my daily academic and social life.  I am proud to say that my job is to give youth the same experience that I benefited from many years ago."

Paul has been involved with Guided Discoveries since 1986, first as a camper, then Counselor, Head Counselor, Summer Camp Director and his recent post as Summer Operations Director.

He spent his formative years in Costa Mesa, California. He moved to landlocked St. Louis, Missouri, when he was 13, but his parents allowed him to fly out each summer and return to his beloved island paradise of Catalina Sea Camp.

Paul holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a board member of the Western Association of Independent Camps.  He is also actively involved in the American Camp Association. Paul has received the Paul Somers Golden Acorn Award honoring his contributions to the field of organized camping.

Contact Paul at paul@catalinaseacamp.org or 909.625.6194 (winter) or 310.510.1622 (summer)

Catalina Island Marine Institute at Fox Landing


Charlie Bueche, Program Director Fox LandingCharles Bueche 

Program Director, Fox Landing

"I spend my days working with people who are passionate about hanging out with kids. I live a stone's throw away from the sea, and most importantly, I get to share my love of the ocean with my staff and watch them share theirs with the kids.  All of my best memories from the last five years have been connected to Guided Discoveries in some way. Whether it was taking kids snorkeling, watching them kiss a sea cucumber, or going on adventures with staff, all of them have been wonderful."

Charles Bueche joined Guided Discoveries in 2009 and has served as a Marine Science Instructor and Aquarist, Assistant Program Director of Logistics, Summer Camp Director for Camp Fox YMCA Programs and Program Director at Cherry Cove and Fox Landing.
He is responsible for the safety of all students and teachers, and is charged with the hiring, training and managing the staff.

Charles worked at the Biological Field Station in Cooperstown, N.Y., during college. With a bachelor's degree in biology from SUNY Geneseo, Charles applied for a job at CIMI with the plan to stay for two years, but, he says, little did he know about the magical draw of the island.

Charles also is a NAUI-certified rescue diver and Red Cross Lifeguard instructor.

Contact Charles at Charles@cimi.org or 310.510.1890

Matthew McGrew

Food Service Director, Fox Landing

Guided Discoveries offers the unique opportunity to combine my passion for excellent food, customer service, being a team leader and working with children in an educational environment. Teamwork with the awesome and diverse staff, from all three departments, makes the island community of Fox Landing a very special place and one I strive to be part of for a long time. I love the logistical challenges of living on an island, in particular at Fox Landing, which is only accessible by boat. Seeing smiles on everyone’s faces is what gets me outta bed every morning.”

Contact Matthew at matthew@cimi.org or 310.510.1890


 Catalina Island Marine Institute at Cherry Cove

Ashley "Peach" Marshall

Program Director, Cherry Cove

"From the beginning, being a part of the Guided Discoveries family has been about more than a job for me. It has been a crucial component to a lifelong pursuit: to inspire others as to the amazing nature of the natural world.  ...I am so excited to have the opportunity to continue to grow alongside my peers while we help countless students on their path to self-discovery while exploring the ocean that laps at their feet."


Contact Peach at ashley@astrocampva.org or 310.510.0071

Julia Lua PabonJulia "Lua" Emma Pabon

Food Service Director, Cherry Cove

"Guided Discoveries has been a great place for me to work.  I do feel that I am making a difference in the lives of kids.  For me as a Director/Chef, there is nothing more gratifying than a kid who comes up to you and says, "Your food is almost as good as my mom's".

Born and raised in Colombia, Julia Pabon earned her bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, and Administration from Universidad Nacional de Bogota, Colombia.
She earned a degree in Food Service Management from American River College in Sacramento, and owned a successful catering business in the midtown area that served institutions, including Sacramento State University, and Sutter, Mercy San Juan and UC Davis medical centers.

Lua began working at Guided Discoveries as the Food Service Director in 2005 and enjoys cooking creative, healthy meals using fresh produce.

As Food Service Director at Cherry Cove, Lua plans balanced menus for the children according to age and dietary restrictions.  She handles all the food purchases, costs and inventory, as well as payroll reports for kitchen employees.

Contact Lua at Julia@cimi.org or 310.651.0071



andy balendyAndy Balendy

AstroCamp School Program Director

“Guided Discoveries has an incredible way of creating environments that are empowering for all.  For our students, teachers, staff, and even executives, there are always opportunities for growth and experiences that profoundly affect and change our lives.”

Andy began working for Guided Discoveries in 1998 as a Marine Science Instructor at Fourth of July Cove.  Since then he has held numerous positions within the organization including, Head Aquarist, Assistant Program Director, Director of Educational Outreach, SeaCamp Expeditions Diving Director, and served as the Program Director of all three CIMI programs.  Andy has been also been part of two SeaCamp Expeditions to Belize.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Ecology and minor in Marine Science from Pennsylvania State University.  In addition, Andy has a Master’s Degree in Marine.

Contact Andy at andy@astrocamp.org or 951.659.6162

Michelle Ferrara-Peterson- Program DirectorMichelle Ferrara Peterson

AstroCamp Program Director

"Guided Discoveries allows me to share my love of science with children and to infuse them with the excitement of learning. There are so many kids who need to know that it is OK to think science is cool and to want to pursue a life in the sciences, especially young girls.  It is all about the kids we see every day, but it is also about the relationships we create with like-minded people we work with at Guided Discoveries."

Encouraged by her parents to "go on adventures" (code for "get out of the house") Michelle spent her childhood playing in woods, rivers and lakes, discovering new things about the outdoors every day.

Michelle came to work at AstroCamp for what she thought would be six weeks in 1997, but she ended up staying through 2002, serving as Instructor and Assistant Program Director.  Michelle moved to Oregon and worked at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry as the School Partnership Manager.  She returned to AstroCamp in 2010 as the AstroCamp Program Director.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in fisheries and wildlife, with a minor in physics. She holds certifications CPR, First Aid, lifeguarding, NAUI diving and has her private pilot license, and has worked at more than a half-dozen camps in a variety of capacities.

Contact Michelle at michelle@astrocamp.org or 951.659.6162

doug jannDoug Jann

Food Services Director, AstroCamp Summer Camp/School Program

"After having worked for Guided Discoveries on Catalina Island for 24 years, when the opportunity arose for my family and me to come back to the company, but up on the mountain, I jumped on it. Guided Discoveries is all about service--whether it's creating the best programs possible, providing comfortable housing, or making a great dining experience--and I wanted to be a part of it again."

Doug is originally from Minnesota, where he earned his culinary degree and started his camping career working at the YMCA camp in Julian, California. In 1987, Doug came to Guided Discoveries, accepting the position as the Head Chef at Toyon Bay. After raising his family and living on Catalina for 24 years, he decided to change destinations and moved to Austin, Texas, and took a position at Camp Young Judaea as the Kitchen Director.

In April 2014, Doug returned to Guided Discoveries as Food Service Director at AstroCamp, bringing all his culinary expertise and experience with him.  He's enjoying all the new opportunities at AstroCamp, both within the kitchen and without, and is looking forward to all the years on the mountain yet to come.

Contact Doug at doug@astrocamp.org or 951.659.6162