Learn more about our Directors, Guides, and Creators below!
Steve Leash was raised on the Cahuilla reservation in southern California, Steven dreamed of traveling and exploring beyond. He desired unfamiliar experiences that would challenge his perceptions of life. This began when he took a one-way flight to South America - the inception of Native Adventures began here. He founded this idea in the foggy treetops of Machu Picchu, paddling in the piranha waters of the Amazon, rock climbing in the mountains of Banos de Santa Agua, exploring in the city haze and humidity of the City of God, Rio de Janeiro, diving in the turquoise waters of the great Pacific and exploring ancient ruins throughout this great continent illuminated an unforgettable, mystical experience, a feeling of absolute truth.
During this time, he wanted to share these experiences with other Natives, to inspire and create a positive environment for change and possibility through adventure. To manifest this idea into a reality, Steven majored in Adventure Education from Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado. He was also fortunate to work with one of the most reputable college outdoor programs in the United States, Outdoor Pursuits, on campus for two years and obtained several certification pertaining to outdoor recreation.
Currently, Steven received a Master’s in Public Administration as of December 2018 from Drake University and is now pursuing his Master’s in Business Administration with an accounting emphasis at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Kristen Parker was raised on the prairies in the mountain ranges of Montana, Kristen’s experiences skiing and hiking with friends instilled in her a deep compassion to nature. From early childhood, she was surrounded by her mother’s Navajo language, traditions and beliefs, sculpting her identity while planting a spiritual connection to her ancestral roots.
After moving to southwestern Colorado and obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in literature from Fort Lewis College, she traveled to South America and Cuba to learn about other cultures and embrace the beauty of our natural world. She enjoys writing and filmography and spends time crafting art to show the world the beauty of nature. Currently, Kristen is teaching yoga and deepening her spiritual journey while meeting amazing people from all walks of life.
Kristen loves recreating in the outdoors, from shooting epic nature images to dashing down a black diamond, or hitting razorbacks with her mountain bike she is always excited for a new challenge.
Madi Lewis is from Eagle River, Alaska although her tribe, Choctaw, resides in Durant, Oklahoma. Currently, she is studying for a degree in Geosciences through Fort Lewis College, and would be more than ecstatic to talk your ear off about earth’s history. She can often be found stopping and looking at rocks much to your dismay. Besides the full-time position of student, she also works as a Student Outdoor Leader for Outdoor Pursuits taking fellow college students out on exciting outdoor trips and often teaching them the tricks of the trade.
Madi was always a quiet person. She usually had her nose in a book, was picking up rocks, or avoiding loud groups of children who, frankly, scared her a little bit. The outdoors were her solace, and she loved being able to feel the ground beneath her and see all the world that existed in that time. Alaska was a beautiful place to foster this passion. Being outside taught her to appreciate who she was, and to be grateful for life and all that she was so lucky to experience. Madi Lewis wants to be able to share those beautiful feelings with others and maybe help others accept themselves for who they are as well. She also wants to stand as an example that these outdoor skills are learned and to bring a warm, inviting environment for all to come and enjoy being outside.
Who doesn’t love s’mores by the campfire with laughter and good people?
Anthony Smith is an enrolled member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians, Anthony is also a descendent of the Pala Band of Cupeno Indians and Cahuilla Band of Indians. Growing up on multiple different reservations surrounded Anthony with an appreciation for tribal customs, traditions, and the natural world, giving him a greater appreciation for his culture and the outdoors. From climbing the rocks in the hills to building forts with his cousins, his love for nature and adventure spirit will always reside in him. Anthony currently lives on the Pala reservation with his fiancé Taimia Leona Allen and their seven children. He fully understands the value of community and unconditional love. He worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for two years and is honored to say he has been walking the Red Road for five years now, the spiritual path of his ancestors.
Immersed in the Native American culture, Anthony embraces his heritage by being actively involved in Native American customs and traditions and eagerly wants to see those traditions carried on to younger generations. Anthony is enthusiastic to apply his experiences from life to Native Adventure’s community. “It would be an honor to bring my knowledge, leadership, and Native traditional ways to help provide alternative pathways for our youth.”
Nicole Lovato is from Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo), New Mexico. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado with a degree in Native American and Indigenous Studies. She currently works as the Program Manager for Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute located in Santa Clara Pueblo and as an instructor for RESOLVE, a nonprofit which focuses on self-defense and violence prevention in New Mexico. Her love for nature has kept her in the outdoor education field for over ten years, serving as a guide leading backpacking trips into the Grand Canyon for the United World College and Outdoor Pursuits for Fort Lewis College. Nicole has also led summer leadership programs for the Institute of American Indian Arts and the World Leadership School.
Nicole currently lives with her partner and his three children in Santa Clara Pueblo. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in the future. “I seek out opportunities that allow me to participate in the decolonizing process, promoting Indigenous knowledge and values through sustainable and culturally relevant philosophies.”