Cecilia Valdes

Cecilia Valdes lives in Santiago, Chile with her four children, one of whom is a spring 2017 alumna of Alzar School. A native Chilean, Cecilia spent part of her youth in the United States, London and Colombia and holds a degree in design from Universidad Catolica de Chile. Cecilia is currently the Administrator of the Colonial House in Llay Llay, Chile and has worked as the Director of Corporate Gifts for Comercializadora de Productos Artesanales and Worldstock.com. Cecilia saw the power of Alzar School firsthand as her daughter participated in the program, and works to help make the experience possible for other Chileans. Cecilia joined the Board in 2018.

Tad Roach

Tad graduated from Williams College in 1979 and joined the faculty at St. Andrew’s as an English teacher, dorm parent and coach of soccer, basketball and tennis.   At St. Andrew’s, Tad served as Dean of Students, Assistant Head for Student Life, and Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs. In July 1997, Tad began work as the School’s fourth Head of School.  During his 23-year tenure, Tad has focused on cultivating the School’s distinctive ethos and culture that inspire members of the community to seek and embrace a public good.  He is a founding member of Theory to Practice, an undergraduate college initiative studying engaged learning, wellness and alcohol/drug use. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the S. Engelhard Center, a foundation exploring educational innovation at the college level. He is passionate about teaching, community, the work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative, civic engagement, diversity, and Buffalo sports teams.  Tad and his wife, Elizabeth, have four children.

Michel Raab

Director of Chilean Programs

A native of Santiago, Chile, Michel spent most of his youth enjoying the outdoors and participating in social projects while exploring the different landscapes of his country. He has focused his professional career in developing programs and supporting projects that integrate education, adventure, and community. His passion for education and being outside in the mountains led Michel to take a NOLS Semester in Patagonia as a student back in 2001, right after graduating from Business School in Santiago.  This was the start of a long career with NOLS, first working as a field instructor for many years in Chile, Canada, and the United States. Later he took on administrative positions at NOLS Patagonia as a Program Supervisor, Spanish Program Coordinator, and served for multiple seasons as the Operations Manager. In between, Michel had the opportunity to lead trips and run the Outdoor Program of Ecole d’Humanité, an international boarding school in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Michel lives with his family in Coyhaique, Chile, where he spends his free time climbing and skiing in the Patagonian Andes with his wife while raising their 2 kids. You can email Michel at mraab@alzar.org.

Cailin O’Brien-Feeney

Board Member

Cailin has been on the Board since 2014 and currently serves as the Director of Outdoor Recreation for the state of Oregon.  Previously, he was Local Recreation Advocacy Manager for the Outdoor Industry Association, a fellow with the Environmental Protection Agency, and Policy Director at the Winter Wildlands Alliance. Cailin started his journey in the outdoors as a teenager on a NOLS course. Since 2002 he has worked in the outdoor industry for ROW Adventures, NOLS, Alzar School, McCall Outdoor Science School, and others. When not behind a desk, he gets outside by bike, boat, or ski as much as possible. Cailin earned his master’s degree from the University of Idaho.

Dr. Betty Noel-Pierre

Betty’s daughter Gladys was part of Spring 2021 semester.  She is currently Head of Upper School Life at Brearly School in NYC. She earned PhD in molecular genetics and microbiology from Stony Brook University, where she received the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Department.  She has taught Middle School and Upper School science at Saint Ann’s, the Browning School and Marymount, and has been an instructor at Stony Brook University. Dr. Noel-Pierre also served as the Director of Equity and Diversity at Browning and the Academic Dean for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Summer Program.  She has previously been a Trustee of Chapin School (where she is an alumna).

Jami Black

Jami is the Director of Admissions at Alzar School who initially began working at the school as a teaching fellow in Fall 2015. Jami first learned about Alzar School when she participated in Alzar School’s Future Leaders of Whitewater summer program in 2010. Jami’s passion for education blossomed while working at a Montessori School while in college and she has worked to connect young people and their families with educational opportunities outside of the traditional high school experience ever since.  Email Jami Black at jblack@alzar.org or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 709

Sean Bierle

Sean Bierle co-founded Alzar School in 2004.  Prior to working at Alzar School, he taught in public, private, and charter schools, as well as led in the outdoor industry across the US and abroad.  He is a passionate whitewater paddler, loves scheming up endurance challenges to train for and attempt, and relishes the chance to dig into a good book. Email Sean Bierle at sbierle@alzar.org or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 701


Kristin Bierle

Kristin is the co-founder and Executive Director of Alzar School and has been with the organization since 2004.  Kristin’s professional and personal path has followed the search for intersections in learning- merging the power of academics with self-discovery in the outdoors and broadening perspectives through cultural exchange.  When out of the office, Kristin and her two young children can be found exploring campus in Idaho and Chile.  Email Kristin Bierle at kbierle@alzar.org or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 700

LaTonia Arnold

LaTonia Arnold is the Director of Talent for the Academy Group, a nonprofit whose mission is to unlock opportunity for young people from the most resilient communities to realize their full potential.  Before that, she worked in human resources for the Obama Foundation.  LaTonia’s daughter attended the Fall 2019 semester.

Michael Ervin

Director of Semester Program

Michael is Alzar School’s Director of Semester Program and has been with the school since 2015.  Prior to joining the Alzar School community, Michael taught history, career education classes, and worked in student advising.  Additionally, Michael has worked as a river guide in North Carolina, Georgia, and Alaska.  Outside of Alzar School, Michael loves reading, being outdoors, learning how to fix bikes, and playing Kubb.  Email Michael Ervin at mervin@alzar.org or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 705