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Meet Our Management Team

The Trekking For Kids Management Team is composed of fourteen international professionals from varying industries who generously volunteer their time and resources to carry out the mission and everyday operations of Trekking For Kids. Their efforts are supported by one part-time paid staff member. Trekking for Kids, Inc. is privileged to also count on the wise counsel of a volunteer Advisory Board boasting years of management experience in various industries and organizations. The dedication and generosity of these Advisors is yet one more element of what makes the magic and unique mission of Trekking for Kids possible.

Chairman and President:
José Montero Jr.

Along with his sister, Ana María and his late father, Pepe Montero, José co-founded Trekking for Kids, Inc. in 2005. He currently serves as its Chairman and President.

José is President of The Montero Group, an international strategy advisory firm based in Washington, DC. Most recently, José completed a two-year Presidential Appointment as Counselor to the Director of Citizenship & Immigration Services in Washington DC, during which time he oversaw the corporate restructure of the agency as well as serving as its Chief Communications Officer.

Before serving the President in Washington, he worked for The Coca-Cola Company for 13 years in various capacities around the world. In his most recent role, he managed corporate business development projects for Latin America, which mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and alliances with media and marketing companies. Jose has worked in over 50 countries and has lived in Europe and South America

José earned his Masters of Business Administration from Georgetown University in 2001 and his Bachelor in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1995. He has been highlighted as one of the "Top US Hispanic Leaders to Watch," and has been selected by the Spanish Government as one of the "Top 15 Young Hispanic Leaders in the U.S." He also serves on the board of the Cuban American National Council in Miami.

José speaks Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese and enjoys anything that gets him outdoors.

Vice-Chairman and Vice-President:
Ana Maria Montero

Ana María Montero, is a thirteen-year anchor/correspondent for CNN en Español. She currently hosts the network's leading entertainment show, "Escenario", out of the LA Bureau in Hollywood, CA. Seen in over 20 countries, Ana María is recognized throughout Latin America and the U.S. as their liaison to the world of entertainment.

When she's not at CNN, Ana María can be found feeding her soul as the official spokesperson for Catholic Relief Services en Espanol. or contributing to her own non-profit, Trekking for Kids. Started by her family, TFK organizes purpose-driven treks around the world, for the benefit of orphans in the regions in which the treks take place. Aside from being one of the co-founders, she also supervises TFK Productions, the aspect of the organization that produces and coordinates all of the video documentation of the treks.

Ana María is proud to say that thus far she has never missed a TFK trek and, God-willing, hopes to continue this trend of improving today, securing tomorrow, one step at a time for many more to come.

Executive Director:
Cindy Steuart

Trekking for Kids brings together in a perfect confluence Cindy Steuart's passions for children, outdoor adventure, travel, and photography. As the mother of three, she is grateful for the chance to make a meaningful difference for children whose circumstances are not as fortunate. Although the trek to Base Camp at Everest was her first with TFK, Cindy 's professional and volunteer career led her to a year of working with the TFK Board on capacity building prior to the life-changing trip to Nepal.

Cindy's early career was spent in politics in Washington, serving in the State Department and culminating in the Office of the Vice President assisting the second lady's efforts to raise awareness and impact the effectiveness of international disaster preparedness and relief. As her children started middle school, high school and college, Cindy's professional career re-ignited, this time following her passion for photography. In the intermediate years between her professional careers in politics and photography, Cindy served as a school board member, headed her childrens' school Parents Association, chaired numerous fundraising events, and owned and managed a children's social dance and etiquette program. Cindy and her husband and family live in suburban Washington, DC. Her zeal for nature and the outdoors, nurtured by her childhood years spent on a farm in Nebraska, is answered by hiking, running, skiing, and any sort of outdoor sport!

Operations and Logistics:
Tricia Donaldson

As Trekking for Kids Director of Operations and Logistics, Tricia organizes all of TFK's Expeditions and takes care of the day-to-day operations. She is known among friends and associates as the travel guru. Her skills have taken her and many others around the world on unforgettable experiences. Tricia has always had a passion for experiencing the many diverse cultures of the world and wanting to make a difference. Her previous work and study experiences have been centered around humanitarian work and international travel. Tricia holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Italian from Brigham Young University. She is fluent in Italian and conversant in Spanish. Tricia loves exploring the mountains and deserts of Utah where she currently resides with her husband, 3 kids, and a dog. Trekking for Kids really combines her three greatest passions: traveling, being in the outdoors and helping children. She can't think of anything else she would rather be doing right now than helping TFK fulfill its mission and her own dreams of making a difference in the world.

Chief Financial Officer:
Melanie Hall

Melanie Hall has a B.S. in Conservation Biology from Brigham Young University. She spent 10+ years at Intuit, Inc. managing teams that helped small business owners and non-profit staff purchase and master financial technology. Melanie grew up in New Mexico and Utah where she gained an appreciation of our environment and a passion for outdoor recreation. Melanie enjoys married life of 12 years, has 3 children. Melanie serves Trekking For Kids as their Chief Financial Officer. TFK combines her love for the outdoors and children Melanie feels that TFK provides an amazing experience to be able to make a tangible and lasting difference in the lives of children around the world. She ensures that we maximize and account for every dollar from our donors with confidence that our funds are being used in the best way they possibly can.

Luis Benitez

Luis Benitez stands among the world's foremost high altitude mountaineers and Leadership Management consultants. On May 21, 2007, Luis achieved his sixth summit of Mt. Everest. 2010 will see Benitez attempting the Cessen Route on K2.

He is also a mountaineering correspondent for "The ESPN Colorado Outdoor Show". In addition to "Farther Than the Eye Can See" (2003), he has been featured in films such as "Visions of Everest" (2002) and "Shadow of the Condor" (2002). In 2006, Benitez reported from Mt. Everest for ABC-TV News and filmed a segment for an episode of National Geographic's weekly TV series "Wild Chronicles," which aired this year on PBS. In 1992, Benitez was hired by the prestigious Leadership Management and consulting firm Outward Bound Professional in Denver, Colorado. He maintains his position with Outward Bound Professional to this day, now designing and leading domestic and international professional team building and Leadership development programs such as the Executive Leadership Expeditions as OBP's Rocky Mountain Regional Director www.outwardboundpro.com/ELE.

If there is any message that Luis likes to leave with people and groups he works with, it is this, "never be afraid to go out and find your own Everest."

Alumni Relations:
Johanna Ramos

Johanna is a senior aerospace engineer working for Scitor Corporation where she provides engineering and technical guidance on the acquisition, development and operation of the nation's intelligence satellite and information systems for multiple intelligence community customers. She is a Penn State graduate with a BS and an MS in Aerospace Engineering and serves on the Executive Board of the Penn State Alumni Association.

She has always had a passion for travel and also for helping make a difference in the lives of people who have less opportunity. Once she joined up with TFK, an organization that took her to Tanzania to work with orphans and climb to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, she was hooked. She has joined multiple expeditions, made lifelong friends and now looks forward to enhancing a collegiate component of TFK and expanding its alumni network.

Communications and Marketing:
Bridgit Fried

Bridgit Fried has over 20 years of professional experience in the public relations and marketing fields.  She last served as Director of Communications for the National Cable Television Association, and prior to that was an account supervisor at Fleishman Hillard. She is now a full-time mother of 4 children and became interested in Trekking for Kids because it combines her love of the outdoors and adventure with helping to make a difference in children's lives.  The Trek to Everest Base Camp was her first of hopefully many treks with TFK, and truly a life changing experience.

Corporate Secretary:
Annie Antón

Annie I. Antón is a Professor of Computer Science at the North Carolina State University College of Engineering. She is a three-time graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology where she earned a BS, MS, and PhD in Computer Science. At NC State, her work focuses on policy- and regulatory-compliance in software systems, especially with respect to privacy and security. Annie serves as TFK's corporate secretary, she is responsible for the accurate recollection of decisions; continuity of policies and practices; and accountability of directors and officers. In this role she also serves as TFK's custodian of records. Annie enjoys trekking and is dedicated to helping change the way the orphans we help view the world in which they live. She is gratified when these children learn that there are people who care about them in another part of the world and who want to make a difference in the trajectory of their lives.

Website and Design:
Jack Donaldson

Jack Donaldson is a documentary filmmaker, PhD ecologist and is founder and President of Peak Media and Consulting, a video production and design consulting studio in Orem, Utah. Whether documenting peoples personal biographies, presenting corporate philosophies, or communicating science, Jack loves to tell stories through photography, music and video.

Jack first joined TFK on its second expedition to Peru in 2006. He joined the board shortly thereafter and has been helping behind the scenes ever since. Jack created and oversees Trekking For Kids' website and generally is responsible for the look and feel of Trekking for Kids marketing materials. He loves to help children and joins the TFK expeditions whenever he can.

Social Media:
Raúl Pino

Raúl Pino is principal and founder of Pino Consulting LLC where he provides technology and strategy services to deliver business results. Prior to founding his consulting firm, Raúl worked for 3 years at CARE, the international non-governmental organization that seeks to combat extreme poverty, as its Director of Technology Strategy and Planning in its Atlanta headquarters. Prior to his position with CARE, Raul worked at Accenture, a global management and technology consulting firm, for over 15 years where he worked with clients in North America, South America, and Europe. Raúl has undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.

Raúl is passionate about work that positively impacts the lives of those in need. He co-led 3 mission trips for teenagers in his church to Nicaragua, building a village for people impacted by Hurricane Mitch. Raúl's first TFK expedition was the Romania trek in 2012. He is passionate about travel, has visited over 50 countries on 6 continents, and is an avid travel blogger and photographer. Raúl claims fluency in 2.5 languages and can dabble in as many more, as his Romania experience showed.

TFK Events:
Karla Klingner Diaz

Karla Klingner Diaz has worked as both a litigator and transactional attorney for law firms in Missouri and the District of Columbia. She also served as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill to U.S. Senator Christopher S. Bond, where she advised clients in the areas of agriculture, water, biotechnology, and education policy, and handled issues impacting children's welfare.

She is a principal in a Columbia, Missouri-based firm and has built an agricultural and environmental law practice representing farmers and ranchers in areas of estate and succession planning, business formation, farm accident and injury and immigration law. Karla earned both her B.S. in Agriculture and Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri.

She serves as co-director of special events for Trekking for Kids. Her involvement with the international program Trekking for Kids has provided Karla the opportunity to combine her passion for the outdoors, physical fitness and travel, to help positively impact the lives and well-being of children around the globe.

TFK Events:
Sylvia Alvariño

Sylvia Alvariño is the Director of the Americas for Insurope, an association of independent life insurance companies represented in over 80 countries world-wide. Sylvia joined Insurope in 2007 and is responsible for complete oversight of the Americas for Insurope which includes South America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and of course the U.S. Prior to joining Insurope Sylvia worked for 14 years at Towers Perrin as a Global Consultant in 4 continents and before that for Watson Wyatt in Mexico City. Sylvia has a BS in Actuarial Sciences and Actuarial Degree from the Anahuac University, is an Actuary of the Instituto de Actuarios de Mexico. She also has a MS in Statistics from Stern School of Business (NYU).

Sylvia oversees Trekking For Kids Events. She is committed to TFK because of the work it does for orphaned children. While she admits the trek can be fun, she is primarily involved because of her love for children and the opportunity to try and improve the lives of children. Sylvia believes there is nothing more rewarding that to make a child smile or openly laugh.

International Operations:
Michael Pearce

Michael Pearce was born into a 7,000 acre hill country farming family in New Zealand that taught him the value of hard work and appreciation for the land. Michael is currently the owner of The Wine House, a wine bar & bistro in Fairfax, Virginia where he resides with his wife and 3 children. Before his entrepreneurial endeavor, Michael spent many years in the wine and hospitality industry in the US and overseas. His experience includes working for Craggy Range Winery in New Zealand, Niebaum-Coppola Winery (currently Rubicon Estate) owned by Oscar winning film director, writer and producer Francis Ford-Coppola and one of the world's top luxury cruise lines, Seabourn Cruise Line.

Michael serves as International Operations director for Trekking For Kids. Michael's business experience and international exposure lend to his role within TFK, along with his deep "kiwi" love of adventure. TFK provides Michael an opportunity to explore remote areas of the world quenching his thirst for adventure while fulfilling a humanitarian mission of helping desolate orphaned children making the entire experience rich in personal and spiritual growth.

General Counsel:
Gregory Higgins-Yali

Gregory Higgins-Yali holds a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Georgia. He is an attorney that specializes in contract law, international business transactions, strategic alliance development, and government policy and procurement. Gregory possesses such experience as an attorney, government official and as a business development/project management consultant. His experience spans several industries including agribusiness, telecommunications, nanotechnology, biotech, energy, civil/criminal litigation, entertainment, nonprofit, government, real estate, property management, and fashion merchandising.

Gregory serves as General Counsel and is a founding member of Trekking For Kids, Inc. Since the organization's inception, Gregory handles all legal matters for TFK, among other duties that arise on occasion. In addition to the thrill of adventure, Gregory's passion for and devotion to TFK stem from the organization's mission to making tangible contributions to improve the lives of orphans in the areas where TFK's treks take place.

Honorary Chairman:
Pepe Montero

(21 Feb 1931 – 4 Feb 2008) Born in Madrid, José "Pepe" Montero lost both of his parents at the age of five during the Spanish Civil War. He grew up in orphanages until he entered the Catholic Seminary. He was ordained a Franciscan priest in his early twenties and ministered to the youth of Madrid and later to the young Cuban Exiles studying in New Orleans, Louisiana during the 1960s. In the mid-1960's, he received the Pope's blessing to leave the priesthood and became a Spanish teacher, settling in Atlanta, Georgia. He then married Ana María Ruiz de Molina, a Cuban Exile, obtained a third PhD this time at Emory University and became a professor of Spanish at Georgia State University. Legendary and loved by students, he remained at the University until his retirement. Throughout his life, Pepe dedicated himself to serving the Church, to advancing the Hispanic Community of Atlanta, and to his wife and his four children. Committed always to those in need, he was very moved when his son and daughter, José Jr. and Ana María, approached him about forming Trekking for Kids, explaining that it was inspired by his childhood story. He immediately took to the idea and accompanied the group on the first two expeditions. During those early days, Pepe was the glue that held the team together and he truly imparted the "spirit" of Trekking for Kids on the team. He served as the organization's Honorary Chairman until passing away in February of 2008 after a heroic battle with liver cancer. Pepe enjoyed doing good, mentoring youth, and adventures in the outdoors. We know he continues to inspire and guide the steps of the group.

Each year, the Trekking for Kids Management Team convenes for a long weekend to "Advance" the mission and goals of the organization, as well as plan for the business of the coming year.
At this meeting, the Management Team votes on future expeditions, admits new directors to the team, and seek the counsel from select Advisors and industry experts invited to join the Team for the Advance.

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Last updated April 14, 2014