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Executive Leadership Team

Guided Discoveries has always attracted high quality people to work in all areas of the program.  The Executive Leadership Team is comprised of individuals who have worked for the organization for many years and most have advanced from instructors or service staff.  Their dedication to the Guided Discoveries vision is inspiring and guarantees high quality programs and services.

Ross TurnerRoss Turner

President, CEO and Co-founder of Guided Discoveries

"Kristi and I are passionate about the programs of Guided Discoveries and know that the experience makes a positive difference in their lives of the students, campers, and staff.  We have dedicated ourselves to developing and operating these programs and still enjoy visiting and living at our camps.  We see the rewards of our efforts in the faces and laughter of the children every day.  We are pleased that so many people have been touched by our programs (more than 1 million) and we are very proud of our former staff and the impact they are making in their communities as teachers, professors, researchers, aquarium and science center professionals, lawyers, physicians, business leaders, actors, and as parents."

As an educational entrepreneur, Ross is dedicated to creating unique and fun educational programs for children. Ross is the Co-founder, President and CEO for Guided Discoveries and its family of programs.

Born and raised in Temple City, California, Ross's love of the science was inspired by his sixth-grade teacher and encouraged by his parents, who allowed him to build a lab in their garage.

With a bachelor's degree in science from Brigham Young University, Ross taught high school biology and coached football. It was his experience as a teacher and coach that led to the idea of the Catalina Island Marine Institute and Guided Discoveries.  In 1976 he and his wife, Kristi,and a small group of friends founded Guided Discoveries.

Operating Guided Discoveries has provided Ross the opportunity to develop a variety of skills, including nonprofit management, facility operations, facility redevelopment, program development and faculty relations. He has also been involved with professional and community organizations. He is the past president of the Western Association of Independent Camps. He has been a board member on several organizations, including Western Association of Independent Camp, Foothill Country Day School and the Catalina Island Hospital.

Together, Ross and Kristi have worked tirelessly for the development and operation of the organization they founded and the children they have served.

Contact Ross at ross@gdi.org or 909.625.6194


6 Kristi TurnerKristi Turner

CFO and Co-Founder Guided Discoveries

"I love the idea of working with the children and imparting knowledge about the ocean and all of its plants and animals.  Taking the students snorkeling for the first time and hearing their laughter and screaming as they discover the beauty of the ocean.  I also enjoy working with our young staff who are just out of college and how they discover the fun and satisfaction of teaching our students about the natural world."

During Kristi's childhood she spent every summer with her Aunt who directed a camp in Arizona.  Attending camp for fifteen years instilled a love for the camp experience and guided her choice of careers.

Born in Indiana and raised in Altadena, California she attended San Diego State University and graduated in 1969 with a degree in elementary education.  She met Ross and they were married in 1968 and together they formed a team that loved working with children.  Kristi is the co-founder and CFO for Guided Discoveries.  She has managed the business operations of the organization since it's beginning.

Kristi and Ross raised their three children on Catalina Island and moved them to Claremont to attend high school.   All of their children have attended camp and it has been a major influence in their lives.  All three have graduate degrees and are pursuing their own passions.  Kristi loves her family and her role as grandmother.

Since 1976 Kristi helped develop  the vision and leadership that expanded Guided Discoveries.  Operating Guided Discoveries has provided Kristi the opportunity to develop a variety of skills necessary to run a non-profit organization.

Kristi is also involved with professional and community organizations.  She is a member of the Western Association of Independent Camps, American Camp Association and the Association of Independent Camps.  She has worked on a variety of committees for these organizations.  Kristi is on the board of directors for the Catalina Island Museum Society.

Kristi has dedicated her life to working with children and together with her husband Ross, they have developed a vision to create unique educational programs that make a difference in the lives of children.

Contact Kristi at kristi@gdi.org or 909.625.6194


Andrew Kent WoodsAndrew Kent Woods

Director of Marketing

"Guided Discoveries is the embodiment of everything I love about life: explore, discover, learn, create, teach, share, gratitude – immerse yourself in nature and fun activities with educated, fun loving friends.  It is a positive force for creating a world where children are taught and nurtured to create a better world, a healthier planet for themselves and for all living things, to pursue higher education and enrich their lives."

The beach, tide pools and wetlands of Huntington Beach were Kent Woods' first teachers, sparking his lifelong fascination with marine biology.  He continued his studies in classrooms and labs at Golden West College, Orange Coast College and Brigham Young University.

Kent began working full time with Guided Discoveries in 1987 and serves as director of marketing and outreach, also having been a camp counselor and summer camp director.  Kent is an expert at summer camp and outdoor science school marketing.  He is a graphic artist with skills in digitalmarketing, participating as the team leader along with the Executive Director in the Development of the company website and landing pages, developing the company logos and brochures, a public speaker having conducted hundreds of parent teacher meetings, a special awards judge and presenter at the Los Angeles County Science Fair and Orange County Science fair and is Guided Discoveries' PR contact for the Media.

Kent was also a part of the original development team of Astrocamp and is a member of the Guided Discoveries dream team and program development team.  At Catalina Island Marine Institute, he learned the joy of watching the students' excitement grow for marine biology, scuba and sailing – and watching their skills increase.

Contact Kent at kent@gdi.org or 909.625.6194


Glenn RobisonGlenn Robison

Director of Human Resources and Compliance

"Guided Discoveries makes a positive difference in the lives of children every day, and it is a privilege to be part of an organization doing such important and rewarding work.  Over the past few years, I have experienced this firsthand in my own family.  My two granddaughters have attended summer programs at Guided Discoveries and as a result, I have seen them learn and grow in life changing ways."

Glenn Robison has over 30 years of experience working in organized camping and outdoor education.  He began working for the United Methodist camp system in 1982, where he directed the operations of nine sites from San Diego to San Luis Obispo counties.

He joined Guided Discoveries in 1997 and is the Director of Human Resources and Compliance, responsible for risk management, safety training, employee benefit programs and information technology.  He is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Professionals in Human Resources Association.

Glenn has supported youth development for 30 years through volunteer service to the American Camp Association where he currently serves as accreditation standards chairperson, standards visitor and standards instructor.  He has been recipient of several service awards from the local ACA office.  He is also vice-chair of the California Collaboration for Youth, developing and managing legislative strategies to benefit youth in California.  Glenn studied Russian and broadcasting at San Diego State College and is a published author.

When not working, Glenn can be found among stacks of 78 RPM records he has been collecting since the early 1970's, or hosting his weekly broadcast radio program of 1920's and ‘30s pop and jazz, which has been on the air for over 13 years.  He is a member of Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters.  He has been married to his wife Rita for 36 years and lives in Fontana with their two cats.

Contact Glenn at glenn@gdi.org or 909.625.6194


Craig TurnerCraig Dietz Turner

Director of Research and Development

"Outdoor science education and summer camps occupy a special and much needed place in our society today.  Camps give young people the opportunity to explore and experience the natural world…while developing personal skills that will serve them well later in life.  I believe there is no better way for young people to learn about the world and about themselves than in a supportive and safe camp environment."

Craig's involvement with Guided Discoveries began as a child while attending Catalina Sea Camp, Astrocamp and the Tole Mour.  As a young adult, he taught sailing and automotive racing at locations including Catalina, Belize, Costa Rica and the Virginia International Raceway and saw the effect that dynamic programs could have on kids of all ages.

He began working at Guided Discoveries in 2003, serving as an instructor of Sea Camp Expeditions Belize and Costa Rica, and as an instructor and then director of Toyon Bay Yacht Club at Catalina Sea Camp.

Craig is the Director of Research and Development at Guided Discoveries, where he oversees the development of concepts, displays and the research of emerging fields.  The "toys" Craig and his crew develop help make the Guided Discoveries Experience truly unique in outdoor science education.

Craig holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego and an MBA from the University of La Verne.

Contact Craig at craig@gdi.org or 909. 625.6194


Heather kupferman webHeather Kupferman

Director of School Services

"I am so lucky to work for a company that I truly believe in.  The education is top-notch, the fun is indisputable, and the methods are varied enough to mesmerize even the most difficult-to-reach student.  The experience that children have at our programs are life-changing and it brings me great joy to assist teachers in bringing these experiences to light."

Heather joined the Guided Discoveries' family in 2009, working as a member of the Counseling staff at Catalina Sea Camp.  After 5 summers, she joined the company full time as Director of School Services, acting as a liaison between the teachers and all of our school year programs.  Heather's main responsibilities are to facilitate communication between our guests and our facilities, as well as to provide assistance to new and returning schools.

Heather was born and raised in Los Angeles and received her Bachelor of Arts at San Diego State University with a degree in Speech Communication.  She worked in the Television industry in both Los Angeles and New York for almost 15 years.

After receiving her Teaching Credential from the California State University at Northridge, Heather enjoyed a career in Elementary Education, teaching in both public and independent schools in the Los Angeles area.

During the summer, you can still find Heather at Catalina Sea Camp, along with her husband Paul and daughter Kaliope Rose.

Contact Heather at heather@gdi.org or 909.625.6194


 

 


Dave Work Director Toyon BayDave Work

Catalina Island Marine Institute Director

"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 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 Guided Discoveries 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 sent 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


andy balendyAndy Balendy

Astrocamp Director - School Program

“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, Sea Camp Expeditions Diving Director, and served as the Program Director of all three CIMI programs. Andy has been also been part of two Sea Camp 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 Biology.
Contact Andy at andy@astrocamp.org or 951.659.6062


Captain Mark WaddingtonCaptain Mark Waddington

CIMI Tall Ship Expedition Director and Senior Captain

"The Guided Discoveries culture is an embodiment of thinking globally while acting locally.  I have been given immense responsibility and trust right out of the gate.  I have also been given generous support in many aspects of my different jobs at Guided Discoveries….Guided Discoveries is a phenomenal company for students, employees and the environment."

Teaching sailing originally led Mark Waddington to work for Guided Discoveries, but its philosophy and culture made it his life choice.

Mark began working for Guided Discoveries in 1994 and has filled a number of roles, including dive master, aquarist and program director.  He is the director of the Catalina Island Marine Institute Tall Ship Expeditions and senior captain of the SSV Tole Mour, where students learn how to run the ship and study the waters they sail through.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in physical geography from the University of California at Santa Barbara and is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as a 1,600-ton near costal, auxiliary sail master, as well as by the American Red Cross as a lifeguard instructor and is nationally certified scuba instructor.