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.
Laura Beardsley joined the staff of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra in early 2017 after several years as a volunteer. Originally from New Hampshire, she moved west to the Sierra Nevada in 2005 in order to spend more time skiing and exploring the mountains. She has more than 15 years experience working with non profits that help change lives and inspire individuals to care about the natural world including Outward Bound Philadelphia, NatureBridge, the Yosemite Conservancy, and Friends of the Inyo. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Laura loves being part of the DSES community and is thrilled to be working with the incredible staff and volunteers full time. She lives in Crowley with her husband, Jon, and their dog Clyde.
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.
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.
Originally from the East Coast, Margaret Palchak 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., Maggie 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.
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.
Originally from Southern California, Katie Johnson moved north to work a few seasons in Yosemite's backcountry. After also trying out a year in the busy Bay Area, Katie moved back to the Sierra Nevada. She joined the DSES team in 2015 and loves being part of the DSES family and community of the Eastern Sierra. Katie has been involved with philanthropic community organizations in Southern California and has experience with non-profit administrative work. She lives happily with her husband and their dog near Mono Lake.
Elizabeth Root moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA in the winter of 2014 to pursue a career in hospitality after earning her B.A. in Literature and Writing from California State University San Marcos in spring 2017. After growing as part of the Mammoth community for a couple years in the hospitality industry, Elizabeth found Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra and joined the staff in October 2016. In her spare time, she enjoys snowboarding, snowshoeing, climbing, hiking, camping and causing a rumpus outside in any way possible with her pup Gypsy.
Cassie Burgenbauch was born and raised in Mammoth Lakes. After earning her B.A. in music and Spanish from Occidental College in Los Angeles, she made her way back to the mountains. Cassie has experience working for several local nonprofits and worked as a ski instructor at Mammoth for a season, completing her PSIA Level 1 Alpine Certification. She enjoys skiing, biking, hiking, camping, and exploring with her German Shepherd, Zappa, and is active in the local music community, playing guitar and singing in two bands. Cassie is very excited to be a part of the DSES family!
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.
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...
Josh Pighetti was born and raised on the coast in Santa Barbara, California but in recent years his passions and his life have moved to the mountains. While he can still be found lifeguarding on the beaches of Los Angeles in the summer months, he now spends his winters with DSES as a ski and snowboard instructor. Josh began with DSES in 2015 as a winter intern from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration. Since graduating college, Josh has spent several months each year abroad exploring the outdoors all over the world through hiking, camping, skiing, and paragliding. Some of Josh's little obsessions in life include clouds and Reese's peanut butter cups.
Originally from Simi Valley, CA, Sarah Saturday graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.S. in Cognitive Science and a B.A. in Psychology in 2015. In her senior year of college, Sarah joined the UCSD ski and snowboarding team and fell in love with the mountains in Mammoth. After working for a year as a Research Technician in a molecular neuroscience lab at the Scripps Research Institute, she moved to Mammoth to teach snowboarding and skiing at Mammoth Mountain Ski School for the 16-17 season. She joined DSES in November 2017 and currently holds her PSIA Alpine Level 1 and AASI Snowboard Level 1 certifications. In her free time, Sarah enjoys rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and hiking.
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.