Marisa Gierlich is a Hermosa Beach native and UC Berkeley graduate who has long felt the pull of the Eastern Sierra: as an avid skier, cyclist and backpacker who began visiting here in the 1970s; as a travel professional who has written about the region for Lonely Planet and Fodors; as a hospitality expert who served as Assistant Food + Beverage Director for Mammoth Mountain from 2011 to 2015; and as a passionate advocate who helped to establish the Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps in 2015, emerging as a recognized leader in the space of inclusive outdoor communities. As Marisa finally finds her way to calling Mammoth home, she brings a wide range of development experience, including helping to establish and grow restaurants for the likes of Susan Feniger and Wolfgang Puck, managing travel experiences for Backroads and Modern Adventure, and taking on the role of Director of Philanthropic Partnerships for the San Diego Museum of US shortly before the pandemic. Her post as Director of Development for DSES is a culminating step on a broad career path with a consistent theme: a love of working with people and a desire to nourish joy in people's lives. She is thrilled to be coming on board with DSES in its 20th year!
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 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.
Katherine Landau was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She began skiing at Mammoth Mountain with her family in the late 1970’s. She began her journey with DSES in 2007 as a volunteer and became a staff member for the 2008/2009 ski season. She then returned to Southern California to go back to graduate school to pursue a career in teaching. She received a K-12 Special Education Moderate-Severe teaching credential in 2012 from California State University, Northridge with a focus on inclusive education. She returned to Mammoth Lakes in 2019 and resumed teaching skiing and mountain biking as a volunteer for DSES. She helped pilot THE first ever inclusive program with DSES and the Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard Team where she supported and coached a 9-year-old boy with Autism on the Mammoth Mountain Ski Team. She rejoined the staff OF DSES in May of 2023 as their Inclusion Specialist.
Finance and Admin Specialist
Originally from Central California, Chelsea Goodwin moved east to Yosemite National Park in 2015 to pursue her passions. She has experience in administrative work for the Yosemite Mountaineering School and the Nordic Cross-Country Ski Center at the Badger Pass Ski Area. She then spent a year in New Zealand in 2018, obtaining a certificate in New Zealand Alpine Resort Operations from Cardrona Alpine Resort. She enjoys travelling, hiking, backpacking, paddle-boarding and ice skating in her off time, as well as spending time with her boyfriend and her dog, Mickey.
Riley Wilson is a Michigan native and true Midwestern at heart. She graduated from the College of William & Mary with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with an emphasis in Kinesiology and Health Sciences. She spent over four years in different non-profit areas including program outreach and governmental compliance and fell in love with mission based work. After a year in Boston and a year in Australia, she felt a pull to move west. Riley is thrilled to call the Eastern Sierra her new home, and enjoys hiking, breweries, and hanging with her pup Juju in her free time.
Communications and Outreach Specialist
Jake Myhre has spent the last 10+ years of his life in the Sierra. He has enjoyed years of climbing, hiking, skiing and biking before joining DSES as a summer instructor. After growing up in Minnesota and graduating from Drake University he quickly moved west to Yosemite National Park. Starting his occupation at the High Sierra Camps deep in the national parks’ backcountry before becoming a backpacking guide, raft guide, photographer and videographer. Jake is excited to work with DSES and the adaptive community in the Eastern Sierra.
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.
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. As a part of her graduation requirements, she took on the internship at DSES. Since then Emily has worked with DSES as an Instructor, Volunteer Coordinator, and is currently our Program Supervisor. Emily loves the cold weather and said that being on a mountain is her paradise.
Wyatt Bettis was born and raised in Redondo Beach, California. He started skiing at the age of three and has been hooked ever since. Wyatt was an intern with DSES the winter of 2015/16 while finishing up his Recreation Administration Degree at Humboldt State University. He then became a staff instructor in the winter of 2019 before relocating back to Humboldt during Covid. Now he is back as Program Supervisor. He is excited to be here enjoying all the things the Eastern Sierras have to offer.
Josh Pighetti began his time with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra as an adaptive snowsports intern in 2015 and has proudly been a part of the team ever since, now serving as an instructor and internship supervisor. Josh currently holds PSIA-AASI certifications in alpine skiing, adaptive skiing, and snowboarding. Additionally, Josh is pursuing his Ph.D. in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Penn State with his research focus on snowsports education. Originally from Santa Barbara, Josh spent much of his youth enjoying the outdoors at the beach as a junior lifeguard and later as an ocean lifeguard. He now calls Mammoth Lakes home with his wife, Cammie, and daughter, Quincy. When not on the mountain, Josh is often out road cycling, fishing, and sharing the outdoors with his family.
Guest Service Coordinator
Growing up in Garden Grove, Allison Rulison spent her time running cross country, practicing archery and playing tennis. During this time she spent 8 years working child care and was a classroom aide. It was during high school that she got into technical theater and found her passion for film and photography. She stayed close to home for college joining Cal State Long Beach where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Minor in Recreation. While skiing on Mammoth Mountain in July during our record snow year of 2023-'24, Allison met a volunteer who told her about DSES. Since then, she has joined our staff as an invaluable asset working in the office.
Sam Jones has dedicated her life to adaptive sports. She spends her winter with DSES teaching lessons on Mammoth Mountain and, during the summers, she heads home to Montana where she works at another adaptive program. An incredible skier, she is a delight to have on any lesson!
Madi Sigmon is a year round adventure enthusiast. Whether it's snowboarding the Sierra mountains or surfing in Latin America, Madi believes everyday should be filled with fun. She brings this mentality to all of her lessons as well, creating a positive and engaging atmosphere.
Mary Toomey is an avid sailor, skier, climber, and hiker from Ventura County, CA. Having learned to ski at age 3 at Mammoth Mountain, Mary has been returning to the Eastern Sierra ever since. She has always enjoyed combining her passion for the environment with sports, earning her B.S. in Physical Geography from UC Santa Barbara while competing on the UCSB Varsity Sailing Team. She's spent the last 10 years teaching sailing and is excited to continue fostering outdoor enthusiasm at DSES. When she's not working, you can find Mary at the local crag, trivia night, or enjoying lake days with her guitar and a dog to pet.
Originally from San Francisco, CA, Kendall You Mak came to the Eastern Sierras in the winter of 2020-21. After instructing skiing and snowboarding at June Mountain for two seasons, Kendall took the next winter off before transitioning to DSES. In the summers, Kendall is an adaptive raft guide and loves sharing outdoor adventures with people of all abilities and backgrounds.
Originally from San Diego, California, Josiah grew up with interests in sports, culinary school, and world travel. Before Mammoth, he spent four years in the Marines where he did several tours to Iraq. After his time serving in the military, he attended a culinary school in Japan. Shortly after, he took a brief stop in Banff, CA for a winter. Josiah decided to plant roots in Mammoth where he used to visit with his family. He joined the ski school for a couple of years before seeing Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra’s military sports camp. Through interactions with our participants and staff, he became inspired to join us and work with veterans, give back, and provide opportunities to others disabilities.
After working for the Mammoth Mountain ski school for 3 years Kaya Sakamoto has joined DSES! An incredible skier, Kaya went to UC Berkley for environmental studies. Her passion brought her to Chile where she studied environmental socio ecological sustainability for six months. During her summers she works at a summer camp in Loon Lake Wilderness teaching kayaking, tree climbing, rock climbing, and backpacking. If you haven’t seen her on the slopes, you may have heard her on the local radio where she used to work as a dj.
Second Chance Thrift Shop, Manager
Cai Lepre has managed Second Chance Thrift Shop since 2013. She was originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She moved to Mammoth Lakes in 1982 and has called this home ever since. Professionally, she has worked in the music business, print and runway modeling, tourism, interior design, real estate and sales and marketing. Her hobbies are hiking, dancing, fishing and skiing. She’s involved with volunteering for many organizations in the Mammoth Lakes community. Her son, Jesse, was born in Mammoth Hospital in 1986 and her daughter, Kalyn, was born in 1988. She raised both her children in Mammoth Lakes. She brings both her personal and professional experience to Second Chance Thrift Shop.
Our adaptive snow sports instructor internship offers a season full of opportunities to learn and develop skills in outdoor and adaptive recreation. Interns are an integral component to our daily operations
Luke is a Senior in school at University of Florida where he is majoring in Applied Physiology and kinesthesiology. He heard about our program through school where he is pursuing orthopedic surgery with the hopes of going to med or P.A. school. He is a part of the DSES Curling team, the grim sweepers. He grew up skiing Mad River Glen in Vermont before coming to ski at Mammoth. Back in Florida he loves playing basketball, hiking and going to the beach.