Staff

Executive Director

Kathy Copeland spent her first 17 years in Vermont…skiing and racing from a very early age. She moved to Mammoth in 1971 and worked at Mammoth Mountain for 29 years, mostly in the Sports School and running the Children’s Sports School. She is certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America; Alpine Level III, Adaptive Level II and Snowboard Level II. Kathy was also an examiner for Alpine Certification. She was instrumental in developing the Mammoth Adaptive Sports School, which was part of Mammoth Sports School. And she is a founding Board of Director of the Mammoth Adaptive Sports Foundation which recently changed it’s name to Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. In 2001, Kathy “retired” from the mountain and pursued other interests. Her main ‘other interest’ was launching Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra! This is her passion and with all her dedication and energy, this program is a winner.

Operations Director

Cara Leonard is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to the eastern sierra after earning a degree in biology from the University of California Santa Barbara. A passionate skier from an early age, Cara started working and skiing in Mammoth in the early 90’s. Cara has an extensive background in instructing, staff training and ski school management with the Mammoth Mountain Ski School and at Mount Hutt in New Zealand. She has also managed training and outside operations here at DSES. In addition to being a certified Alpine instructor and examiner she is also has Adaptive and Nordic certifications. In her spare time she enjoys long distance running, teaching science classes at the elementary school and international travel with her family. Cara lives in an old house with her husband Dave and their children Jack and Tess.

Finance Director

Laurel Martin moved to Mammoth in 2006 and has been loving it ever since. Being a beach girl at heart rather than a snow bunny, she has helped to develop and expand our summer offerings and helped to create a year-round adaptive program. But she has also discovered a love for winter sports … skiing, dog-sledding, skijoring and camping. After growing up in suburban Connecticut, Laurel headed west to attend college at the University of California-Berkeley. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis on Biological Sciences, she headed back east to spend some time with her family and boyfriend. Following some pretty extensive travel and temporary employment opportunities, she found her dream job. Working at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo as a Zoo Educator gave her the opportunity to educate and excite children about nature and the environment. Unfortunately her dream job did not include big mountains, something her other half quickly became addicted to, once he knew they were out there. So the time came for Laurel to pack her things and head west again. This time she landed in Mammoth where she happily divides her time between exploring, climbing, hiking, and spending time with her 40 best friends, the Mammoth Dog Teams sled dogs. Volunteering with Mammoth Dog Teams has allowed Laurel to still get to work with animals and see the difference they can make in peoples’ lives. Laurel is happy to be a part of the Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra team and excited to see what the future holds as this great organization grows.

Ski School Director

Mark Spieler grew up as a typical Southern California kid in San Diego and Orange County. After a friend’s family took him skiing once he was hooked on the sport and the mountains. After graduating from SDSU with a BA degree in Applied and Physical Geography, he worked in Summit County, Colorado for one season and then moved to Mammoth Lakes, where he has resided ever since. Mark started with the Mammoth Mountain Ski School in 1986. A few years after obtaining his U.S. certifications he started supervising and training for the School. In the summer months he taught skiing and trained other Instructors at the Mt. Hutt, New Zealand and Blue Cow, Australia Ski Schools. His most recent position was Training Manager for the Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard School, where he oversaw training for all of the school’s Ski and Snowboard Instructors. He holds PSIA (U.S.) Level 3 Alpine, Level 2 Snowboard, Level 2 Adaptive, NZSIA (New Zealand) Stage 2 and Coaches Level 1 Certifications. He is also an Alpine Examiner for the PSIA-W. Mark has now joined the DSES staff and is looking forward to sharing his knowledge of Skiing, Snowboarding and Teaching with all of the remarkable DSES Volunteers. He is also excited to expand his horizons into the area of Adaptive Snow Sports Instruction. Mark’s summers are now spent fishing in the Eastern Sierra, where he guides and teaches people how fly fish for the area’s beautiful varieties of Trout. Mark is married to Sandi Rowan, another long time Mammoth Ski Instructor and has two young daughters Kaylynn and Kendall.

Program Director

Margaret Palchak is a wonderful instructor who has been a volunteer for years. She is now on our team full-time! Originally from the East Coast, Margaret grew up in Southern California and received a Bachelor of Science in Biology (with a concentration in Ecology and Environmental Biology) from the University of California at Irvine. During her university years, she spent summers working in Yosemite National Park, exploring the Sierra Nevada and cultivating a love of outdoors. Upon graduation she spent two years abroad, teaching Conversational English in Japan, traveling on the Trans-Siberian Express across the former Soviet Union. She then explored Turkey and Greece and finally settled in London, England. While in London she began pursuing her passion for photography. On returning to the U.S., Margaret moved to Mammoth Lakes to work as a biologist and feed her love of the outdoors. She became involved with DSES in December 2004 and volunteered for four seasons before joining the staff in February 2008. Margaret has PSIA Level 2 Nordic Downhill, Level 3 Adaptive and USSA Coach 100 certifications.

Executive Assistant

Originally from southern California, Katie moved north to work seasonally in Yosemite's backcountry. After trying out a year in busy San Francisco, Katie moved back to the Sierras and has found home in peaceful June Lake. She's joined the DSES team as Kathy's assistant and is ecstatic to be part of the community and to grow with the burgeoning National Wounded Warrior Center. Katie has been involved with philanthropic community organizations in southern California and has experience doing administrative work in non-profits and other small organizations. Life is good and she is excited to keep on explorin' the eastern Sierras and DSES!

Instructor

Originally from Anaheim Hills, CA, Emily Estremo has been skiing recreationally at Mammoth since she was about 5 years old. Emily graduated from California State University Fullerton in spring 2014 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in clinical exercise science and pre-allied health. She is working to apply to Master’s programs within the Occupational Therapy field. As a part of her graduation requirements, she took on the internship at DSES last Spring. “What a way to end college!” she exclaimed. Emily spent four years working at a children’s science museum in Southern California. “It really brought a love and need to teach children, but not in a classroom environment,” she said. “I have to be actively doing something and moving around, it is impossible for me to sit still for more than 20 minutes.” Emily loves the cold weather and said that being on a mountain is her paradise. Emily is a skier, but also recently started learning how to snowboard.

Instructor

Originally from San Diego, California, Stephen DeVito has been skiing since he was 5 years old, driving up to Mammoth with his family as many weekends as possible. Stephen graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2015 with a BA in Global Security and Intelligence Studies and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. He has studied abroad in Beijing, China living with a host family for a summer and traveling throughout the country, snorkeled in the Caribbean, and cliff jumped in Mexico. When he isn't skiing, he loves surfing, soccer, baseball, and tennis. Stephen can't wait to get out on the snow and have a fantastic time!

Instructor

Brendan Steinman is an Alpine Level 2 Instructor with PSIA. He comes to DSES with 8 years experience at the Mammoth Ski and Snowboard School. His good nature and passion for teaching recreational activities makes him a good fit for the DSES family. Having fun, teaching, learning and safety are his forte. You may even hear him singing in the halls or on the snow...

Second Chance Thrift Shop, Manager

Cai Lepre is presently the Manager of Second Chance Thrift Shop. She has lived in Mammoth Lakes for thirty years and raised her family here. Her son Jesse was born in Mammoth Hospital and now resides in Los Angeles. Although her daughter Kalyn travels extensively, she was bit by the Mammoth Bug and always seems to find her way back. Cai loves hiking, dancing, fishing, skiing, tubbing and being a tub fairy (draining and scrubbing the algae off of the tubs). Watching the sunrise, “Sierra Wave” sunsets and the moon, when it’s full, fills her heart. This is her home. Volunteering is a big part of her life in Mammoth Lakes. The schools, festivals, organizations and committees all need volunteers. She likes to give back, it’s what makes her a part of this community. Professionally, there isn’t a part of town she hasn’t touched. She has worked in tourism, interior design, day care, retail, sales and marketing, real estate, billing at the hospital, reservations, the welcome center, car rentals, catering, clothing rep and now at Second Chance. Here, at Second Chance, she feels like she’s come home from some long, weary travels. Everyday she receives joy from the beautiful Sierra and surroundings. She looks forward to bringing both her personal and professional experience to Second Chance. Come on in and visit!