Our Team

The Rustic Pathways Family

Our exceptional staff members are the backbone of our organization. Their incredibly diverse backgrounds provide us with a profound understanding of the destinations we visit and offer our students truly unique experiences. The faces you see on the following pages (along with many others!) ensure our students have fun, empowering, and safe experiences while they travel, learn, and grow.

Leadership

Sam Murray

Australia Country Director

Sam joined Rustic Pathways in 2008 after working in outdoor education for 10 years. He serves as director for both inbound and outbound operations in Australia. With education degrees from La Trobe and Monash universities, Sam’s passion for travel and experiential education inspires him to provide innovative programs for students. He lives near Melbourne with his wife and family.

Team

Tracey Murray

Finance and Administration

Living a fit and active outdoor lifestyle in Australia, Tracey is a passionate surfer who has competed internationally in the World Qualifying Series. Tracey taught in Aussie schools for nearly a decade and is committed to providing the best possible experience for Rustic participants by managing the administration and logistics for all programs throughout Australia.

Alejandro Romero

Australia Country Manager

With a degree in business and tourism management, Alejo has been an integral part of the Rustic Pathways team since 2011. Originally from Colombia, he now lives in Australia where he manages our operations across Australia. With a unique Spanish twist to his new-found Aussie accent, Alejo brings an exciting blend of cultures to our leadership team.

Katie Newman

Group Travel Manager

A Brit / American raised in Switzerland, Brunei and the U.S., Katie holds a bachelor’s in Public Relations from the University of Florida. After four years of backpacking the world, working and traveling, she moved to Melbourne, Australia, where she now resides. Her passions for adventure, people and wanting to teach others about travel have led her to Rustic Pathways. She has been a Program Leader in Fiji and is now Group Travel Manager for the Australian division.

Zandy Marcus

Group Travel Manager

Zandy’s passion for travel was formed at a young age. Growing up in New Zealand, he moved to upstate New York at 13 and stayed to complete his bachelor’s in hotel and tourism management at Buffalo State College. After graduating, his travels continued, taking him to all corners of the globe where he lived in Thailand, Laos, and now Australia. His mix of firsthand experience leading trips in Southeast Asia, teaching English in Thailand, and managing a travel agency in Melbourne make him a great addition to Team Australia.

Laura Toole

Community Impact Manager & Group Travel Coordinator

Australian born and raised, Laura holds a Bachelor degree in International Development from Australian Catholic University. Gaining experience in the field, Laura has travelled to Kenya, Cambodia, Thailand and East Timor aligning her two major passions of travel and community development. Back home, Laura founded a not-for-profit organisation which provides basic-essentials to communities in need. Laura is now the Community Impact Manager for Rustic Pathways Australia, and is committed to creating meaningful volunteering and service opportunities, meeting the needs of our community partners.

Cassandra Guenther

Program Manager & Group Travel Coordinator

Cass has spent the last 10 years travelling and working in outdoor education. With a degree in Youth Work, she loves to combine her passion for working with young people with experiential education. Before starting at Rustic in 2018, Cass was working for an Indigenous organisation and is passionate about teaching the next generation about the importance of Australian history and culture. She loves being out in the fresh air and in her spare time you will find her hiking or exploring a new corner of Australia.

Sophie Swanton

Administration

Sophie joined Rustic in 2016 to assist in our Victorian office. A former scholarship student of Toorak College and The Peninsula School, Sophie has a heart for people and is actively involved in volunteer work on a local and international level. She is an excellent administrator who works behind the scenes to prepare our school groups for travel.

Valeska Driessen

Australia Finance & HR Manager

Valeska is an accomplished high school teacher and sub-school coordinator who joined Rustic Pathways in 2014. With a bachelor in education and human movement from Deakin University, she is an exceptional operator who now manages finance and administration in our Australian office. Valeska’s warm, friendly personality makes her a pleasure to have on our team.

Jemma Laurie

Australia Program Manager

Jemma joined us in 2014 and quickly became a much-loved member of our Australian team. With a degree in leisure management and outdoor recreation, she is an all-star program leader who is always a highlight for students and staff. Jemma has lead programs through Australia, Fiji and Thailand and her adventurous spirit lends her well to our remote outback trips.

Meme Bill

Communications & Group Travel Coordinator

Prior to Meme joining Rustic Pathways full-time in Australia this year, she has been working casually as a program leader and social media coordinator since 2014. She has led programs in Costa Rica, Southeast Asia and Australia. Hailing from Arizona, Meme has now made the Gold Coast home and with her diverse background in marketing and trip leading, Meme is a great addition to the Australian Rustic family.

Our International Staff

Rustic Pathways spans the globe! While the cultural traditions and accents of our staff vary from country to country, the shared values that define Rustic Pathways and make us exceptional extend across all borders. We build leadership teams that pair international staff members with local employees, resulting in diverse teams that blend an understanding of our students and their needs with deep local knowledge.

Exceptional Program Leaders

Our Program Leaders come with backgrounds in teaching, experiential education, psychology, wilderness training, river rafting, international development, and other outdoor and educational fields. Each year, both new and returning staff complete an online and in-country training to uphold our standards in safety, student learning, community service, and the overall student experience. Our Program Leaders are incredible role models for our students and most importantly, they are all dedicated to creating the best possible experiences for our students.