About Us

OUR MISSION

Our mission is to help students increase their self-awareness so they can make decisions about college selection, academic majors, and careers that reflect their personal vision for success.

OUR STORY

Summer Springboard was founded to give college-bound teens a supportive environment where they can explore their personal and academic passions. Our innovative pre-college summer programs, offered at some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, combines the benefits of an academically challenging summer experience with tools and frameworks for personal leadership development and self-discovery.

Leveraging the years of success enjoyed by our sister organizations, Global Leadership Adventures and Discover Corps. Summer Springboard aims to continue the tradition of providing unique and compelling summer experiences for college-bound teens as they look to grow, expand and impact their communities. We ensure student well-being using our 5-Point Safety System and top tier university partners.

The Summer Springboard leadership team brings together diverse backgrounds spanning several decades. Our goal is to use our decades of experience in areas such as service learning, education, international travel, media, and program operations to create the most impactful domestic summer enrichment programs for college-bound teens.

We are proudly based in San Diego, California.

 

About our Founder – Andrew Motiwalla

After college, Andrew served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Central America. His overseas volunteer experience ignited a passion to share that experience with others, and he became vice president at a non-profit international volunteer organization where he set up volunteer operations in 14 countries around the world. Later, he did brief stints with a couple of tech start-up companies and also started two of his own ventures. He returned to his passion for experiential education by founding Terra Education and personally launched Global Leadership Adventures, Discover Corps, and Summer Springboard, and most recently, The Good Life Abroad, an international living experience for adults ages 55 and older. Andrew is a graduate of Lawrence University and has done graduate studies at New School University. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Leadership Team

Eva Strausberg, M.A.

Director of Programs

Eva is a Southern California native but has spent many years living and working in Boston and Italy. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Brandeis University and an M.A. in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University. After grad school, her time in Florence led to a career designing and directing academic and study abroad programs in both the U.S. and abroad. Her previous work at Harvard University, Sarah Lawrence, and various English for Speakers of Other Languages programs reflect her belief in the value of cross-cultural education, respecting diversity, and hands-on learning experiences. When not working, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with family.

Kevin Khy, MPA

Director of Admissions and Marketing

A California native, Kevin is the Director of Admissions at Summer Springboard. Kevin has worked in the high school student education and travel industry for 15 years. He has worked with thousands of teens in international and university settings and is has a passion for experiential learning. Kevin holds a Bachelor's degree from Cal Poly Pomona in Political Science, and a Master's in Public Administration from the University of La Verne. His experience with educational programs for teens, a passion for personal development and a desire to help young people succeed led him to joining the Summer Springboard team.

Maria Balmaseda, MBA

Director of Operations and Risk Management

Maria was born and raised in a small town in Toledo, Spain. Her passion for discovering new places brought her first to Madrid, where she earned a degree in chemical engineering. The allure of Madrid's big city vibe captured her attention and offered her the opportunity to volunteer which launched her passion for international travel and adventure. This love of travel sparked her to move to New York City to continue her studies. She since fell in love in the United States and moved to California. Maria completed her MBA at San Diego State University.

Anna Graham - Staff Accountant - Summer Springboard

Anna Graham-Meyer

Staff Accountant

Anna grew up in San Diego, California. She attended San Diego Mesa Community College and took classes in multiple fields trying to find a career she enjoyed. Due to her love of numbers she followed her passion into the field of Accounting. She went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from the University of Lynchburg with a degree in Accounting. She wishes she had found a program such as Summer Springboard when she was in high school to have given her direction earlier in life. In her free time she enjoys traveling, the beach, soccer, Gaelic football, learning Spanish, and tutoring youth in mathematics.

Layni Pistone

Admissions & Medical Screening Manager

Raised on the west coast, Layni went to college in the east coast and graduated with a major in Psychology from Bay Path University. She has spent the past eight years working with students in a variety of settings, ranging from leading student programs in Costa Rica to working in Admissions and Student Success while helping families plan for college abroad semesters. These experiences have solidified her passion for helping students identify their goals and next steps in education. Layni recently moved to Colorado, where she spends her time hiking, climbing and trying her hand at various arts and crafts.

Renae Pink, MPA

Program Director

Renae was born in Jamaica but lived half her life in Westchester County, NY. She received her B.S. in Criminal Justice and her MPA in nonprofit management from SUNY Brockport. After graduating, Renae worked in various roles in higher education, such as an Admissions Advisor, Instructor, and Residence Hall Director. She is passionate about helping students reach their full potential by creating a fun and educational environment while handling and facilitating leadership and personal development opportunities. Renae is the current Campus Director for the N.Y. and Georgetown program, a role she also held last summer.

Thomas Schubert, M.A.

Program Director

A Chicagoland native, Thomas discovered his love for culture and travel through studying Spanish and French in high school. In college, he studied abroad for a semester in Poitiers, France and another semester in Córdoba, Argentina. Thomas graduated from Saint Louis University in 2018 with majors in Spanish, French, and International Studies and minors in Latin American Studies and Urban Poverty Studies.

After graduation, he moved to Santiago, Chile where he lived for 3 years working with the homeless population and teaching English before joining the team. Thomas recently received his Master’s in International Policy and Development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.

Ryan Farrell

Ryan Farrell

Program Director

A New England native, Ryan grew up in Avon, CT and earned his B.S. in Accounting with a concentration in Criminal Justice from Central Connecticut State University. After graduating, he worked in Student Affairs at various higher education institutions as a Residence Hall Director, supporting high-school seniors transition and adjust to campus living and college life as a whole. Ryan brings to Summer Springboard his valuable experience guiding students along their path to college. Outside of Summer Springboard, Ryan is an avid aviation enthusiast, recently earning his Private Pilot Certificate and working towards advancing his ratings further.

Claudine Jones, MPA

Program Director

Claudine is a first-generation Latinx-American who was raised in Michigan and has spent most of her life in California (Bay Area and San Diego). She received her B.S. in Merchandising Management and Design from Michigan State University and received her Masters in Professional Accounting with honors from Colorado State University. With over 25 years of professional experience, Claudine has spent the last 9 years working with students while serving as a public school board member for a K-12 school district. One of Claudine's many passions is to find ways for students to be immersed in their interests in college and potential careers. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling the world with her husband and two kids, baking, running, sewing, and caring for her 13-year-old chihuahua, Radar.

Chiara Thomas

Program Director | Hiring Manager

Chiara was born in the United States and raised in Italy. She speaks Italian and English fluently and has a great passion for both travel and education. She visited more than 30 countries before the age of 30, began teaching at the age of 20 and has not left the academic world since. She dedicated the past twelve years to teaching overseas, whilst pursuing her B.S. in ESL and special needs instruction. She has supported students of all ages throughout their studies in multiple settings, including high school programs, organizing student group trips abroad, and directing ESL summer programs in multiple universities across the US and the UK. She is passionate about helping each student thrive and reach their personal goals, as well as find their most suitable academic path. When Chiara is not working she is volunteering, travelling with her family, and scuba diving.

Marissa Floyd, PhD

Program Director | Admissions & Curriculum Specialist

Marissa is deeply passionate about education and travel. Born in Detroit, raised in Colorado, and fond of cultural immersion she has lived in Costa Rica, Spain, and Mexico over the past 6 years. Marissa has a Doctorate in Communication, Culture, and Identity and boasts 12 years teaching with public and private universities. She loves the diversity of the college experience and has taught the full range of courses from first-year seminars, to senior capstones, to service-learning and internships. Marissa brings her knowledge and experience to SSB with the desire to help guide and support future undergrads to fully embrace and successfully navigate their college career and beyond. In her personal time, Marissa enjoys traveling with her family, skateboarding, and watching Detroit sports.

Megan McKinley, PMP

Program Director

Megan was raised in Hudson, Ohio and has been traveling and residing around the world since she was 18 years old. During high school, Megan did a Pre-College program in New York City where she realized the college major she was aiming for was actually a lot different than she had imagined. Luckily, she realized her passion for all things experiential education and has been designing and managing educational programs for the last seven years. Megan's dedication to personal and holistic development led her to Summer Springboard.

Katie Begley

Program Director

Katie brings her passion for young people and development to the Summer Springboard team. After completing a year with AmeriCorps with City Year New York and majoring in sociology and education from Saint Joseph's University, Katie wanted to pursue education access outside of teaching. Katie has spent the past years in workforce development, mentorship, and social-emotional learning. Katie is grateful to have had work and travel experiences in California, New Mexico, and Costa Rica including food production, farming, and trail maintenance, bringing her love of travel to a team who values it.

Sammy Gacsi

Costa Rica Internship Admissions Manager

Born and raised in Hungary, Sammy spent over two and a half decades traveling the world, spreading his love and experience in the universe of outdoor education through summer camps, experiential education projects and student travel programs. At Summer Springboard he brings his passion and professionalism for educational travel as an Costa Rica Internship Admissions Manager and offers families a seamless participant experience.

Lexington Hewitt-Park

Admissions Officer

Lexi finished her Bachelor of Science in Public Management and Policy with a minor in Adolescence, Community, and Education from the University of Arizona. As a college freshman her intention was to be a teacher, but after learning more about education policy, she was able to weave her interests of social justice and education together. She has experience working on different summer programs across the world. In the summer of 2017, she traveled to Prague as a camp aide for an English as a Second Language program. The following year she worked on staff at a teen summer program in Appalachian Mountains. Her hope as an admissions coordinator is to bring a diverse group of students together on all our campuses. When Lexi is not working on admissions she enjoys going to the gym, walking her dog, and watching college basketball.

Jorge Cortez Jr.

Admissions & Marketing Specialist

Born and raised in southern California, Jorge attended the University of California Riverside where he graduated with a bachelors in political science. Initially wanting to work in the space of social justice, Jorge realized his passion for youth empowerment while working at a summer program in 2018 and has been working with youth and students since then. After working multiple summer programs and spending some time as a substitute teacher for Los Angeles Unified, Jorge is now a full time admissions coordinator for Summer Springboard. In his free time he enjoys making music, taking pictures, attending sports games throughout the Los Angeles area, and more often than not you can find him eating pupusas!

Diana Castillo Alcala

Coordination Specialist

Born and raised in Oregon, Diana graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Sociology. She always dreamed of studying abroad in college but didn't know how to get started or who to go to for help. After exploring different options, Diana was able to study abroad in England and complete her senior capstone project in Spain. During her time abroad she was able to travel to seven countries and visit more than 25 cities. These experiences inspired Diana to help students pursue their goals. Since then, she's had the chance to connect with many students and families and has helped them figure out their next steps in higher education. In her free time, Diana enjoys reading, trying out new hobbies, and trying new foods.

Julia Bell

Admissions Coordinator

Julia graduated from Sweet Briar College where she majored in Psychology. She is originally from Dallas, Texas, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia. Before joining the team at Summer Springboard, she was an After School Care and Teen Director at the YMCA of Greater Richmond as well as a camp counselor and director at YMCA summer camps for several years. Through her years of working for the YMCA, Julia loved providing students the opportunity to learn how to become leaders within their community. In her free time she enjoys traveling, playing tennis, knitting, yoga, and reading.

Eden Lantz

Admissions Coordinator

Eden began her quest for adventure at a young age. She grew up in southern Illinois and attended Loyola University Chicago were she received her B.S. in Anthropology. In 2014 she moved to Costa Rica and fell in love with the nature and people. She has many years of experience teaching English, working in tourism, and traveling. Her passions include learning about different cultures, history, and all things relating to science and technology. Her favorite sport is rugby and in her free time she enjoys hiking, biking, and crafting. Eden speaks Spanish and excited about learning Portuguese and German.

Mercy Nwamara

Support Specialist

Born and raised in Nigeria, Mercy earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Ibadan with honours. Fueled by the desire for personal development and to effect positive change in the society, she volunteered for societies such as Junior Chamber International where she worked with the Executive Vice President to organise training sessions and help coordinate national conventions. She also volunteered in Fame Initiative where she was a member of the Programs and Logistics Unit and taught high school students within the ages 13-17 about leadership and how to be the best versions of themselves for a period of 6-8 weeks per session. She later became an Administrative Assistant at Quantum Leap Consulting - an organisation that specializes in talk therapy for marriage and individual counselling sessions. She is currently the Support Specialist at Summer Springboard and intends to use her experience to ensure the programs are the right fit for the students.

Chioma Ujubuonu

Support Specialist

Chioma was born and raised in the southern part of Nigeria. She holds a public administration and management degree from the Federal Polytechnic Oko Nigeria after which she interned in the National Youth Service Corp where she taught junior high school students the basic civic education subject. She then proceeded to work at an auto lubricant production company for 5 years moving from the accounts assistant role supporting the account heads and department in general to sales and customer service. She also once volunteered as a social media manager at a start-up. Her passion for learning and improving her skills led her to the tech solutions industry which she is still developing and also set her on the path to joining Summer Springboard where she currently works as a support specialist. Chioma loves traveling and watching comic movies in her free time.

Eile Harris

Admissions & Programs Intern

Born and raised in southern New Jersey, Eile was a student- athlete at Wilmington University,
playing Division II volleyball and majoring in Organizational Management. Throughout university
and after graduation, she held jobs in different customer service companies and sport coaching
as well. Through coaching, she found her passion for working with young students and creating
a positive and uplifting environment to help them learn as well as grow. She spends her free
time continuing her love for sports on the volleyball court, loves traveling around the world on
new adventures, and always looking for a new cuisine to try. Eile is excited to continue her
interest in helping students achieve their goals through this experience.

Jillian Villa

Admissions & Programs Intern

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jill had discovered her passion for guiding the youth toward exciting futures. Volunteering in her community, Jill often worked with children by helping them with school and teaching them soccer. Jill graduated Brooklyn College with a Bachelor's in Business Administration and minor in Business Law and then went on to work at an Interior Design company as an Account Manager before joining SSB as our Costa Rica Admissions Intern. In her free time, Jill enjoys creating art, traveling the world, and playing with dogs.

Julia Martinez

Admissions & Programs Intern

Jules was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in education from the University of California, Riverside. Jules found their passion for working with high school and middle school students while working for Summer Springboard as a mentor. They aspire to help students figure out and become confident in their educational and career goals. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with their two cats, making art, and spending time with her family. Jules is excited to be a Summer Springboard Admissions and Program Intern in Costa Rica.

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.

Josh Dubansky, M.D.

Medical Director

Dr. Dubansky is the co-founder and Medical Director of Cornerstone Safety Group. He is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician with special expertise in Wilderness Medicine. Dr. Dubansky is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and serves as Medical Director for the Northstar California ski clinic, three national forests and several outdoor adventure companies.

Dr. Dubansky received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2010, then trained in Emergency Medicine at UCSF-Fresno where he created and completed an area of concentration in Wilderness Medicine Education in 2014. Dr. Dubansky’s experience includes designing and implementing EMS field scenarios and mass casualty drills, lecturing extensively to medical students, EMTs, nurses, physicians, and National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service Rangers. He has also developed National Park Service EMS protocols as part of UCSF-Fresno’s ParkMedic and Wilderness Medicine Programs.

Dr. Dubansky is also a co-founder of Tahoe Wilderness Medicine, where he still leads outdoor adventure trips. He has taught for or helped run numerous outdoor programs, including NOLS, Cal Adventures at U.C. Berkeley, Cornell University Outdoor Education, California Canoe and Kayak, ARTA River Trips and Healing Waters San Francisco. Dr. Dubansky volunteers as a National Ski Patrol physician and is a diplomate of the Wilderness Medical Society’s Diploma in Mountain Medicine program.

Maureen MacConnell, PMHNP-BC, PSY-M

Mental Health Advisor

Maureen MacConnell, PMHNP-BC, PSY-M, is a board-certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner providing mental health consultation and training in over 60 countries globally. She has advanced degrees in Clinical Psychology and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, and is pursuing a Doctorate in Education in Human and Organizational Learning. Maureen joins Cornerstone with fifteen years experience as a mental health clinician both domestically and internationally. She believes in providing continuous, adaptive support for travelers and is passionate about navigating the complexities of international healthcare.

Mike Armstrong

Risk Management Advisor

Mike has worked for experiential learning and adventure companies around the world for 30+ years. Beginning as an outdoor educator in Oregon, Idaho, and California with the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School (now NWOBS), he later served in senior leadership. He went on to work as an Instructor for Outward Bound Australia in 1995-96 and as the Head of Operations for Outward Bound Hong Kong from 2018-2022. Currently in a role at the American Red Cross as the Disaster Program Manager for Western North Carolina and as the Risk Management Consultant for Outward Bound International, Mike also travels the world to consult on risk management in outdoor adventure businesses and regularly presents at conferences on cultural risk tolerance and risk management. He is also a member of numerous boards, including Risk Management Committees in the USA, Hong Kong, China and Outward Bound International. His expertise resides in operations, logistics, safety and risk management and team building. An avid mountaineering and rock climbing guide, sea kayak guide and white-water rafting guide, he has personally climbed and paddled all over the world. A personal accomplishment of his, Mike has mastered 50 first ascents in the US and a first ski descent in the Fairweather Range of Alaska. Mike moved from Hong Kong to Asheville, North Carolina in 2022. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family, exploring the crags of North Carolina,traveling, riding his bike, staring at maps and reading books on safety and risk management.

Michael Habicht, MD, DiMM, FAWM

Medical Advisor

Michael Habicht, MD, DiMM, FAWM is an emergency physician in South Lake Tahoe, California. He began his outdoor and travel career as a backpacking and rock climbing guide before going to medical school and emergency residency at the University of California, Irvine. Today, he serves as the Medical Director for Heavenly and Kirkwood Professional Ski Patrol, an instructor for the Diploma in Mountain Medicine course for the Wilderness Medical Society and served in El Dorado County Search and Rescue for 10 years. He continues to travel and climb around the world with ascents including Alaska’s Denali, Ama Dablam in the Himalaya, Kilimanjaro, and countless climbs and backpacking trips all across California with his family. He has trained extensively in travel medicine, high altitude medicine, and has a special affinity for traveling with children and teens as a father of two adventurous boys who have hike and climbed across the world with him.

Michelle Lange, PsyD

Mental Health Advisor

Michelle Lange, Psy.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. In addition to her work with Cornerstone, she is a Senior Lecturer of Psychology at Christopher Newport University and the owner of Relaction, a private therapy practice. She has over 15 years of experience working in the areas of college student and adult mental health, and in mental health education. She is a steadfast believer that investing in mental health affords us the ability to enhance resilience, cope with life's challenges, foster positive relationships, and achieve overall well-being.

Margaret Kelso

Risk Management Advisor

Margaret, along with her role with Cornerstone Safety Group, is the Executive Director of Talisman Programs, a camp in Western North Carolina serving adolescents and young adults with ADHD and on the Autism spectrum. She also currently serves on the Association of Experiential Education Accreditation Council. She formerly held the positions of Director of Operations and Director of Risk Management and Compliance at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness (2021-2024), Health Director at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy (2017-2021, and Program Director, Case Manager, Staff Mentor, and Head Guide at Alaska Crossings (2010-2016) and has worked with commercial rafting, canoeing, and kayaking companies. She is formerly the Best Practices Committee Chair on the Outdoor Behavioral Health Council Board.

Margaret has enjoyed traveling and exploring the world and has also had incredible opportunities to live in Minnesota, Alaska, Colorado, and now is based in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband, two beautiful children, and dogs.

Program Staff

Our program staff are passionate about our student’s success; in college and beyond. They’ve been selected for their experience, deep passion for teaching, industry expertise, and student commitment. Many of our staff have intimate knowledge of our campus locations, adding to our ability to host students safely. All staff are certified in CPR and First Aid, and also trained in our 5-Point Safety System to ensure that issues are addressed efficiently and safely.

Campus Director


Every campus is run by a Campus Director. These are adult professionals with extensive experience working with teens, and they all hold a B.A. or M.A. degree.

Directors are selected for their expertise in the field of personal development and undergo background checks and rigorous training before the summer. The Campus Director oversees the team of Resident Advisors and also facilitates the delivery of the Springboard Leadership Personal Framework.

Mentors


Our Mentors are the heart and soul of our program; they bring energy and inspiration to every student experience. They are selected for their experience working with youth, understanding of leadership theory, and dynamic personalities. All mentors undergo background checks and training on the unique needs of teenagers. mentors live in single rooms on the same floor with students.

Click here to see list of job opportunities. Please follow us on Facebook for new updates and opportunities.

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Summer Springboard Pre-College Summer Program