AEE Accreditation Council

The AEE Accreditation Council consists of volunteers that are experts in the field of Adventure Education and/or Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare. Each member of the council brings complimentary skills to the table. 

Responsible For:

  • Setting policy and procedures for the Accreditation Program.
  • Developing, adopting, maintaining, evaluating and revising Accreditation Program standards.
  • Granting or denying accredited status in accordance with Accreditation Program policy.
  • Establishing policy and procedures for the selection, training and evaluation of volunteer personnel to conduct the accreditation process.
  • Facilitating the development of educational materials related to the Accreditation Program.
  • Periodically assessing the success of the program, revising it as necessary to achieve its mission.
  • Attend two face-to-face meetings per year and monthly meetings via video-conference.
  • Review agenda and other materials (i.e., liaison reports, etc.) prior to each meeting.
  • Serve as a liaison to 5 or more accredited programs and follow through on all liaison duties associated with those programs.
  • Periodically review accredited organizational annual reports and prepare and deliver oral report to Council.
  • Serve on committees as needed or requested by the chair.

Council Members

John Nordquist - Chair
Cross-Perspective Consulting

John was one of the founding teachers of Crossroads School in Santa Monica, in 1971. Since then, he has helped create exemplary OE programs at 3 different independent schools and has served on the board of the Boojum Institute.  Before recently retiring from the Chadwick School, John was the Director of Global Opportunities and led the development of a more globally engaged curriculum and program. John specializes in global education, risk management, and brings the perspectives of teacher, parent, instructor, and administrator to the Accreditation Council.  He is also an accomplished climber and mountaineer.

Kim Sacksteder - Secretary
The Buckeye Ranch

Kim has worked with youth and families since 1993 and has been providing adventure therapy services for the past 15 years. She currently serves as the Adventure Therapy Clinical Manager at the Buckeye Ranch.  Prior to that she was the Health and Wellness Director for Camp Mary Orton, managing the programming for all of their adventure and challenge course programs. Kim has been centrally involved in the development of therapeutic applications of adventure, including presenting at international conferences for over 10 years, chairing the TAPG Adventure Therapy Best Practices Steering Committee for 8 years, Chairing the TAPG 

Alyson Smith Davis
SUWS of the Carolinas

Alyson joined the wilderness therapy industry at SUWS of the Carolinas in 2012, beginning as a field guide.  She has now worked in nearly every department at SUWS and is currently serving the organization through outreach and compliance support.  Prior to that, she enjoyed various guiding jobs in outdoor tourism, including whitewater rafting and dude ranching.  Alyson earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Sociology.  Alyson has been an active member in the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council since 2014 and is currently the chair of the Accreditation Committee. Outside of her career, Alyson enjoys hiking in the Asheville area and spending time with her expanding family.

Charles (Reb) Gregg, LL.B - Emeritus Member 

Charles R. (Reb) Gregg is an attorney in Houston Texas, active in outdoor recreation law. Reb has been legal counsel to and represents a number of leading outdoor recreation and education programs and associations in the Country. Reb writes and lectures frequently and serves on the Wilderness Risk Managers Committee, the Accreditation Council of AEE and the Boards of Directors of The Student Conservation Association and Friends of Big Bend National Park. Reb advises the Accreditation Council on a wide range of topics but no longer attends every meeting.

Joe Austin

Joe Austin is the Health Review Manager for NOLS, overseeing the review of student and faculty health forms. Previously, he served at the Associate Director of Admissions as well as the Field Staff Manager following his work as an instructor with 150 weeks in the field. Before joining NOLS in 1983, Joe worked for the Outdoor Education Center of the Houston Independent School District in Trinity, TX and was also the Chief Guide at the Maine National High Adventure Area, B.S.A. In addition to conducting accreditation site reviews for AEE, Joe has worked as a consultant for NOLS, doing risk management reviews for various college outdoor programs around the country. Cycling, nordic skiing and birding are his passions. 

Denise Mitten, PhD
Prescott College

Denise Mitten, PhD is the Chair of the Masters in Adventure Education at Prescott College and on the PhD faculty for their Education for Sustainability Program.  She is also a widely experienced adventure guide, from SCUBA to mountaineering, she has led climbs on Mt. McKinley, in the Swiss Alps, and in the Himalayas and has guided raft and kayak trips down the Colorado, Green, and Rio Grand Rivers.  She has taught rock climbing, skiing and whitewater canoeing, and led bicycle trips in Europe, New Zealand, and the U.S.

Jude Hirsch, Ed. D.
Georgia College

Jude is a professor of outdoor education at Georgia College & State University, where she teaches and coordinates undergraduate and graduate programs in outdoor education. Jude has been a tireless volunteer leader in AEE since joining in 1977.  She has served as the Chair of the AEE Accreditation Council, and has co-authored numerous books, including two of the association’s core texts—Administrative Practices of AEE Accredited Programs and the 4th edition of the Manual of Accreditation Standards. 

Michael Lindsey
Lindsey Outdoor Recreation Risk Management Consulting

Michael served as Vice President of Safety at Outward Bound USA, Inc. (OBUSA) until 2011, when he started Lindsey Outdoor Recreation Risk Management Consulting. Michael began his career in outdoor education in 1979 as an Outward Bound instructor. He worked as an instructor in the United States and abroad before becoming Program Director for Colorado Outward Bound School in 1984. He was the Rocky Mountain branch Director at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the early 1990s, and served as Operations Director for six years until leaving in 2002.  Michael has conducted numerous investigations of outdoor accidents, and fatalities, both as an internal staff investigator and as an outside consultant. He is the sole person in the United States that has worked in senior management of National and International leadership in safety, quality and program delivery for the top outdoor schools in the United States Outward Bound, and the National Outdoor Leadership School.  

Sharon Clegg
Wingate Wilderness Therapy

Sharon received her Bachelors Degree from Utah State University in Community Health Education and holds a Master’s in Curriculum Instruction and Development from the University of Phoenix.  Sharon has taught and trained hundreds of Field Guides, Logistics Departments and students over her career and finds great joy in watching them find their passion in life. In addition to her educational background, her passion is in Emergency Medical Services. She has spent 15 years working from a volunteer to part time status as a firefighter and advanced EMT. She has seen first-hand the devastation that drugs and alcohol play on our youth and wants to assure that young people have the opportunity to change their lives.

Aaron Funnell
Vietnam Outward Bound School

Aaron is the Executive Director of the Vietnam Outward Bound School. Before taking his current position, Aaron was Head of Operations at Outward Bound Hong Kong, the first organization accredited with AEE in Asia. He has various outdoor qualifications as well as a Master of Education, Diploma of Training and is currently completing an EMBA. He is an Australian and has been involved with Outward Bound for 20 years in the Asia-Pacific, and has undertaken numerous program reviews across the region. He enjoys trekking and sailing and has recently co-convened the inaugural International Sea Kayaking Educators Symposium in collaboration with Monash University, Australia.

Brent Bell, PhD
University of New Hampshire

Dr. Brent Bell is an associate professor of outdoor education at the University of New Hampshire. He researches outdoor orientation programs and their impact on student development, and has authored 16 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters.  He is also co-author, along with Bob Baird (United Educators) and Drew Leemon (NOLS), of “Guide to Managing Risks in Wilderness Education.” Since 2003, he has spearheaded the Outdoor Orientation Program Symposium (OOPS), hosting more than 28 symposia focused on issues, research and practice in outdoor orientation in the U.S. and Canada.  Active in the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) for three decades, Brent was honored with that organization’s Karl Rohnke Award in 2009 and its “PICOUP” award — for a “person in charge of unlocking potential” — in 2014. He is also active in the Association for Outdoor Recreation in Education (AORE), is a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician (since 1988) and is a wilderness first-aid instructor for SOLO in North Conway, N.H.

Mike Pigg
Colorado Outward Bound School

Mike Pigg has been involved in the experiential education industry for 15 years as an educator, trainer, and administrator. He has a long history with Outward Bound Australia where he served for several years as the Safety Director, and then General Manager. In addition, his experience in Australia includes extensive work within the tertiary/vocational training sector. Mike joined the OBUSA Safety Department in 2015, where he helped manage and monitor safety systems and practices across all eleven OB schools in the US. Today Mike is the Director of Operations at the Colorado Outward Bound School, and serves as the chair of the AEE Accreditation Council Governance Committee.

MB Buckner
Project Adventure
MB has contributed to the fields of experiential education and challenge course programming, credentialing, and management for more than 28 years, 20 of these with Project Adventure. MB has volunteered extensively, with both ACCT (Since 2004, currently on the Accreditation / Certification Committee) and AEE (Since 1991, serving regionally, BOD and currently on the Accreditation Council).

Paul Wolf, M.A. Ed.
Southwestern Community College

Paul is an Instructor and Program Director of Outdoor Leadership and Wilderness Therapy at Southwestern Community College in Sylva, North Carolina.  He is a long-term volunteer with AEE having served in various leadership positions in the Accreditation program and in the Southeast’s Region. He is also a member of the Therapeutic Adventure Professional Group’s Certification Standards Committee.  Paul was a Course Director and Climbing Technician with the Voyageur Outward Bound School, and has worked for a variety of therapeutic and educational programs throughout the United States.  He is a current Trainer, Tester and Inspector with Alpine Towers International and is a Technical Rope Rescue Instructor Candidate with Rescue 3 International.