Staff Highlights

Meet Our Staff

Did we mention that our staff are incredible?! Many have returned summer after summer, bringing their knowledge, expertiese, and compassion. While all International Directors and Mentors must meet rigorous requirements (see below) to make the cut, they are as diverse a group of people as ever there was in terms of backgrounds, hobbies, and personalities. 

The majority of our summer staff return year after year--check out a few of them below! 

Our International staff (International Director and Mentors) are required to:

  • Hold a Bachelor's Degree, with most staff members ranging in age from 25 - 35
  • Have extensive experience working with teens
  • Have extensive experience with travel
  • Clear through 3 rounds of skype interviews. All staff then go through a series of online training modules, and another 5 days of in-country training with their summer teams before students arrive.
  • Additionally, all International Directors attend a 4 day, intensive in-person training with our Headquarters staff in the spring
  • Pass a background check
  • Hold current CPR and First Aid certification; some of our programs also require that a staff member be a certified WFR (wilderness first responder) and/or have lifeguard certification

Vaila Mcintyre, International Director

India: The Initiative for Children

Previously staffed: GLA India (2014, 2015), GLA China (2018), GLA Thailand (2018)

Vaila hails from Scotland, but has spent the past decade living and working in a variety of countries including Thailand, New Zealand, Peru, Spain and India. Her profession as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher has allowed her to travel extensively and hold both paid and voluntary teaching positions. Vaila has spent five years in northern India, where she initially taught English in a Tibetan school before becoming involved with the GLA India program for two consecutive years. At the moment she is back home on the remote Shetland islands where she is teaching ESOL to students from all over the world.

Q. Vaila, what are you most looking forward to this summer?
A. I'm most excited about experiencing more of India together with the students. India, for me, is top on the list of places that take you out of your comfort zone and as we all know, that can be so magical and beneficial to our lives. My experiences there over the years have taught me so much and I hope the students will have a taste of that too.

Favorite non-US dish: "Have to agree with Anthony Bourdain, there's something insanely satisfying about a big bowl of noodles in broth. I love soba particularly."

Words to live by: "There may not always be answers, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't ask questions."


Patrick Graham, International Director

China: Mandarin Service Adventure

Previously staffed: GLA Thailand (2018), GLA Fiji (2017)

Patrick is originally from New Jersey, but relocated to the midwest just before college. He graduated from Viterbo University with a B.A. degree in Management and Psychology. Patrick then worked for three years in leadership development with the United States Olympic Committee before pursuing a Master's in Education. Upon completion of the program, he relocated to South Korea where he taught EFL and traveled extensively throughout Asia over a period of 4 years. Patrick is currently living in Breckenridge, Colorado where he teaches at a private pre-school, as well as the Keystone Science School, an experiential outdoors, science, and leadership school. 

Q. Tell me, what are you MOST excited about this summer?
A. I'm really just excited to immerse myself in the experience. The moment when all students and staff have been there for a few days, nerves of the program starting have settled and we're all just there in the moment. At that moment when you can breathe and start to individually notice the little things, it's a wonderful awakening to the experience at hand. Also, noodles. :)

Favorite non-US dish: Dalk Galbi, a Korean dish made of spicy chicken and vegetable goodness

Words to live by: "Almost nothing in life or in travel goes to plan. It's what we make of those times that make us who we are."


Layni Pistone, Mentor

Belize: The Initiative for Children

Previously staffed: GLA Costa Rica (2016), GLA Peru (2017)

Layni grew up in the wild woods of Oregon, leading to her love of the outdoors and adventure. She attended the American Women's College and got her B.A in Liberal Studies with a minor in Psychology. After living in Costa Rica, she backpacked through Southeast Asia and now calls New England home, currently residing in Massachusetts where she works for an international education startup.

Q. Layni! You’ve done a LOT of travel in Central America. What’s the draw?
A. There is such an ‘island vibe’ influence throughout Central America. People don’t rush around like they do in the states; instead you are encouraged to slow down and chill out. Once you get the hang of it it really encourages you to enjoy so many of the tiny things and not feel permanently stressed when there’s no reason to be. The U.S might want to take note.

Fun fact: Layni worked as an Enrollment Advisor with GLA in 2015. She was also a part of the first EGI cohort, GLA’s Costa Rica-based internship program.

Words to live by: “Let’s go places and eat things!”


Mark Tutschulte, International Director

South Africa: Social Change Project

Previously staffed: GLA Costa Rica (2017), GLA Thailand (2018)

Mark grew up on the Florida sun-coast before attending Carson Newman College and earning a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. For nearly 20 years, Mark has worked with teenagers as a mentor, a part-time teacher, summer camp staff, outdoor experience trip guide, and most recently with GLA in Costa Rica and Thailand. He's passionate about ensuring the next generation of students live their lives to the fullest, growing in their understanding of the world around them, and ultimately, becoming outstanding leaders in their communities.

Q. With all the options for summer travel and employment out there, what keeps bringing you back to GLA?
A. I keep coming back to GLA because I personally align with their mission, vision, and values so directly. By working for GLA, I don’t have to sacrifice my values, and I’m able to fully live out my passion of seeing meaningful change in our world. In fact, I get the amazing opportunity of leading our students in their understanding of sustainable/meaningful/impactful change—not just during our programs on the ground, but also within themselves which they’ll take home and implement in their own communities. I’m given tools and resources to make this possible, and trusted to implement them in the most impactful way. I know I have full support behind me when I’m out in the field, along with trustworthy local partners on the ground, and qualified mentors alongside me guiding our students from program to program. I can’t imagine finding this kind of integrity from top to bottom in any other travel-related organization, and I’m so thankful I’ve found it in GLA.

Hobbies: "I using my photography to tell stories and relate my travel experiences to every day life lessons that anyone can relate to."

Words to live by: "Don’t be ashamed to share your journey. Find people you trust that you can share what you’re doing, where you’ve been, how you’ve grown, what you’re learning, and the questions you have about the future. Bringing friends and mentors into your world will supply the encouragement you want and the accountability you need to follow through and continue chasing your dreams."

"I can’t imagine finding this kind of integrity from top to bottom in any other travel-related organization, and I’m so thankful I’ve found it in GLA."


Ricardo Barron, International Director

Dominican Republic: International Development Initiative

Previously staffed: GLA Costa Rica

Ric received a B.S. in Kinesiology (emphasis: nutrition, health and fitness) and M.S. in Exercise Physiology from San Diego State University. Ric has been a high school, college, and university educator as well as a North American tour guide, physical trainer, and Peace Corps Volunteer. He is fluent in Spanish, loves/respects the natural world, and is currently completing his PhD in Hawai'i.

Q. You're very passionate about education--what's your favorite age group to work with?
A. Up until now, it's been teenage years through early 20s for the following reason: working with globally-minded students that are driven to learn and contribute gives me hope that we can move together in a positive direction as a global society. As such, I am humbled and grateful that I get to play a role in that global shift through my work with GLA.

Hobbies: Creating new memories with the awesome people in my life. Food and everything about it - growing, harvesting, storing, preparing, cooking, and eating it! Health, fitness, nutrition, reading, learning new things, enjoying coffee, and exploring the natural beauty of our world.

Advice for travelers: "Push yourself. Disconnect from technology. Connect with those in front of you."


Amber Douglas, Mentor

Thailand: Elephant Conservation Expedition

Amber (bottom) getting her acro yoga on in Guadeloupe

Previously staffed: GLA Guadeloupe (2018), GLA Fiji (2017), GLA Ghana (2016)

Amber grew up in Kansas and currently lives in Chattanooga Tennessee. She just finished her seventh year as a high school Math teacher. She enjoys acro yoga (check out the photo!), hiking, biking, travel, and cooking/eating great food.

Q. So far, what has been your most memorable GLA moment?
A. Sunset yoga with my girl gang in Fiji. We did yoga but also shared our goals, fears, and dreams. It was inspiring and beautiful every single time. In that same session it rained for six days straight and we saw all of the rainwater barrels we had installed overflowing with water. It was amazing to see all of our hard work providing necessary resources for an entire community.

Words to live by: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We must choose joy and keep choosing it every day."


Think you've got what it takes to join the ranks of GLA seasonal staff? Check out our job postings for requirements and more information! We are still looking for a few more stellar Mentors to join the 2019 team.