Written and Edited by Allie Faulkner
Meet the leadership team for our last program of the summer! We are all so excited to meet our newest crew members!
Mike Liese – Founder and Director
Mike Liese is a sailor. He grew up on the waters of Long Island Sound. He’s also a father, grandfather, educator, and most of all, a mentor. After obtaining his Masters in Education from Penn State University, Mike spent the next seventeen years in education, first as a high school teacher, and later as director of the Alternative School Program at Harborfields HS in New York. In 1979, he made a life-changing decision to combine his passion for teaching with his love of sailing: Sail Caribbean. More than thirty years later, Mike remains committed to his original vision of empowering young people to reach heights they might never have thought possible.
Kyra Beneforte – Mate
Kyra grew up in New York City and graduated from the University of Richmond in Virginia in May. She joined us as a student on Bravo, Foxtrot, and Delta. For the past three summers Kyra was a Mate on both Tango and Foxtrot and a Provisions Manager for Foxtrot and Charlie, after completing the Echo college program. After the summer, she plans to spend time traveling and then begin her post-grad career.
Oliver Bierman-Lytle – Marine Science Director
Seventh Year!! Greenwich, CT After earning a Biology degree from Kenyon College, Oliver travelled the world; sailing from Singapore to Indonesia, studying coral reef health in Bali, and teaching coastal ecology while running a sailing program in Abu Dhabi. Oliver returned to the USA to pursue his passion for education. After being trained in Sun Valley, Idaho in classroom teaching and outdoor education, Oliver found his way to the Brunswick School in CT. Oliver teaches High School level Biology, Marine Biology, and Environmental Science & Sustainability. Outside of the classroom, he leads students into the backcountry in VT and has helped develop a research program where students join a science team in the field as they are trying to crack the complex life history of White Sharks in an effort to develop global conservation policies to protect these keystone species.
Jen Borderud – Sailing Staff Director
Jen is a proud Southern Californian that refers to freeways and interstates by saying “the” and then a number. She has worked at Sail Caribbean since 2013 after doing the Echo Program as a college student in 2011. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Williams College in Williamstown, MA and since graduation has made a pretty strong commitment to never having to experience winter ever again. She has worked in international, outdoor, and adventure education for almost 7 years and shows no signs of going to Med School like she always told her parents she would. She has led and managed surf programs in Costa Rica, study abroad semesters in Panama, and trail crews in various regions of America. She also boasts average competency on an acoustic guitar and she can not play Freebird or Wonderwall. Going into her 7th season with Sail Caribbean, she still feels incredibly lucky to get to return to the BVI and and the many friendly faces and places it holds. The saying holds true that there may indeed be nothing better in life than messing about on boats.
Adrian Debrah – Super Mate
Adrian is from small town Iowa, and attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to study Aeronautical Science. He started sailing at the age of 14 with a Hobie Cat Wave in a small lake behind his house and has been in love ever since the first time the wind caught his sails. He has always had a fascination for the oceans and it’s awesome inhabitants (especially Spotted Eagle Rays), but he was not satisfied having to be so far away from an ocean. So enrolled with Sail Caribbean for his first program in 2016 and enjoyed it so much came back for a second year in 2017. And is now in his second year as Sail Caribbean Staff.
Dani Debrah – Provisions Manager
Being raised in the land-locked state of Iowa has given Daniella a special love for the sea. Even before Moana! Many times, she had to settle for exploring her backyard lake until her next rendezvous with the great big blue. This will be Daniella’s first year with the Sail Caribbean team. Prior to Sail Caribbean, Daniella worked as a camp counselor for Camp Adventure, a student run camp on American military bases and embassies worldwide serving children of the United States service men and women, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As a senior at the University of Iowa, Daniella is majoring in Communication Studies, minoring in International Relations, as well as earning a certificate in Event Planning. When she’s able to catch her breath in between studying, Daniella enjoys practicing her hobbies as a self-proclaimed amateur photographer, horseback rider, kayaker, and an ice cream enthusiast.
Allie Faulkner – Mate/Social Media Coordinator
Allie Faulkner grew up in Austin, Texas and just graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a marketing degree from the McCombs School of Business. Allie grew up going to the beach for family vacation, and after vacationing in Tortola the past couple years, she fell in love with the beauty of the BVIs. Allie has lots of experience working with kids as she has been a counselor at two different summer camps, worked at the nursery at her church and was a nanny for three fun girls. Allie is excited to start a career in marketing this coming fall but she couldn’t be more excited her third summer with Sail Caribbean! When she isn’t working, Allie loves exploring all Austin has to offer with her friends.
Eliot Faust – Program Director
Eliot joins us from Bethesda, MD. He is currently getting an MA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS, concentrating in Strategic Studies and International Economics. Starting in 2007, Eliot spent five years enrolled as a student at Sail Caribbean. Sail Caribbean really attracted Eliot due to his interest in marine biology from a young age. Following his time as an SC student, Eliot then completed the Sail Caribbean Dive Master Internship and transitioned to staff. Always ready with a funny one-liner, Eliot loves diving at the Fearless and the Indians or sailing to his favorite location of Little Harbor on Peter Island.
Adam Grant – Land Operations
Adam has been in the outdoor eduction industry for the past 8 years and has been with Sail Caribbean for the last 3 as a fleet captain, captain and in the 2019 season as a member of the on land support crew.
Garrett McQuiston – Fleet Captain
Garrett has spent the last 3 years studying engineering at the University of Michigan and is a member of the Michigan sailing team. Garrett taught himself how to sail when he was 11 years old, and quickly convinced his entire family to join him. He grew up sailing catamarans and small keelboats all over the great lakes. Garrett loves all things outdoors-including fly fishing, paddle boarding, backpacking, and scuba diving. In high school, he taught woodworking skills to younger students as an assistant woodshop teacher; and he spent a summer working as the first mate aboard a charter sailboat on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. In his free time, Garrett loves to test his free-diving skills and building custom longboard skateboards. His next big goal is to become a scuba diving instructor so he can teach skills both above and below the water. He loves teaching others fun knots and sailing tactics, and is excited to return to Sail Caribbean to share his passion for the water for a second season!
Emily Mussio – Captain
Born and raised on the shore of Lake Huron in a small beach town of Grand Bend, Canada has put the love of the outdoors and travelling in her blood. Emily is currently attending Laurentian University for their Outdoor Adventure Leadership program as well as completing their Concurrent Education Program where she became a certified Wilderness First Responder. She first joined Sail Caribbean as a student in 2012 and returned every year afterwards, in a wide variety of programs to ensure she got the full Sail Caribbean experience. She has many boiling passions that range from athletics to exploring the world. She is looking forward to this upcoming summer and sharing her passion for the outdoors with others and educating them in more ways than one.
Melissa Pollard – Mate
Melissa is joining us for her second season with Sail Caribbean after doing the Mate-In-Training program last summer. She is originally from England but has spent the majority of her life in the mountains of Montana where she found her love and passion for outdoor adventure. She is an avid skier in the winter and loves hiking and camping in Glacier National Park in the summer. Melissa just finished her second year at Montana State University where she studies Exercise Science with the goal of going on to Perfusion School. This coming fall she is headed to University of Exeter, England to study abroad for a year and couldn’t be more excited to get back to her roots. Melissa is so excited for more salty adventures and to create unforgettable memories this summer!
Luka Walshe – Land Operations
Luka is an outdoor instructor from Ireland. After studying Outdoor Adventure Management he has been traveling around the world working various jobs, from windsurf instructor, to wilderness canoe trip guide. Luka has been sailing and windsurfing for five years, in that time he has been chasing storms to windsurf all over Ireland and Cape Town, South Africa. The coming summer will be Luka’s third year with Sail Caribbean.
Will Steward – Captain
Having just completed his Master’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of Southampton, Will has a passion for anything to do with the ocean. Be it sailing, scuba diving or trying to find his favorite underwater creature (nudibranchs!), it’s safe to say Will is in his element working with Sail Caribbean! Having gained his Divemaster qualification in Fiji, he went on to work in Zanzibar before coming to the BVI where he gained his Instructor qualification with Sail Caribbean Divers.
Andrew Arter – ASA Instructor
Arter grew up on the coast of Maine and has been sailing his entire life. After graduating high school, he sailed from Maine to the Bahamas with a friend. Previously, Arter worked as the keel boat sailing coach for the Portland Yacht Club. He is also an avid J24 racer. He holds a US Captain’s license with sailing and towing endorsements. Currently Arter attends the University of Maine and is studying Mechanical Engineering and Math. During the summer, he enjoys sailing the coast of Maine and spending Saturdays with the boys.
Lakia “Kia” Frett – Office Manager
Born in the USVI, Kia grew up on Tortola. She attended community college there to study biology, and then went away to University of Central Florida to study Health Service Administration. Returning to Tortola quite recently, Kia now spends her time going outside of her comfort zone as much as possible!
Mark Kennedy – Land Operations
Mark is a professionally trained instructor and tutor in many adventure activities, achieving a Higher National Diploma in Outdoor Adventure Management during his 3 years in college. This is where he trained as a powerboat, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, climbing and mountaineering instructor. He has worked in the Desolation Wilderness in Eldorado County, California, where he lived in a tent for three months and delivered leadership programs to students of all ages through the medium of true wilderness. This was a life changing experience for him, where he developed his love for sharing his skills and knowledge with his students and learned how to develop their true potential. After having an amazing experience as a captain at Sail Caribbean in 2016 and fleet captain in 2017, Mark is extremely excited to get back at it this season. In the times Mark was not out teaching and adventuring over the remainder of the 2017-2018 year, he worked with an Irish based company called Irish commercial charter boats where he crewed and skippered various boats of all shapes and sizes throughout the Irish Sea.
Tess Avery – Captain
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Tess has always loved the outdoors and the ocean. Her hobbies include skiing, painting, playing with dogs, and hammock-ing. She has been sailing since she was six, and has sailed competitively for her college team as well as taught sailing the past four summers. She is currently finishing her sophomore year as a marine science and astronomy major. She spent this past January on the Great Barrier Reef doing field work, and can’t wait to see what the Caribbean has in store. This is her first summer at Sail Caribbean and she is super excited to be a part of the adventure!
Anastasia “Stasia” Babicki – Mate
Growing up next to the beautiful Delaware River in rural NJ, Stasia has always been a fan of water and the natural world around her. Stasia moved to the warm south for college to sail, explore, and to always be able to go outside (even in the pouring rain). She just graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg Florida with a double major in Environmental Studies and Spanish. During her time in college, she became a WEMT for the college and joined the rugby team. At Eckerd, she has fallen in love with coastal wetlands and mangroves. She hopes to go to graduate school in the future for environmental philosophy and to teach others about the importance of the natural world. Stasia’s love for the ocean definitely grew when she was a camper at Sail Caribbean participating in the Foxtrot and Sierra clubs when she was younger and looks forward to inspiring campers just as she was inspired.
Joss Myers – Captain
Joss is an experienced sailing instructor and has a degree in Marine Science from the University of Ireland Galway (NUIG). Joss grew up sailing and surfing in Ireland, where his interest in the world of marine science began. He has been teaching sailing for over eight years across dinghies and keelboats. He has recently managed to combine his passion for both sailing and science by leading the development of science programs for sailing organisations within the Irish Sailing Association. He has a strong interest in fisheries biology and how fish interact with their environment. He enjoys spending his time sharing this passion with others and educating young people on the joys of our marine world.
Hannah Tyrrell – Office Manager
Hannah is a student at Trinity College Dublin where she studies Business and Politics. Hannah spent her teenage years in Washington D.C, since this move Hannah has loved travelling and meeting new people. She has visited Thailand, Rwanda and South Africa in her past two summers. Hannah can’t wait for her next adventure in Tortola.
Jackie Bonfigilo – Mate
Jackie is a year graduated from Eckerd College where she majored in environmental studies with a focus in marine biology. She is originally from Northern Virginia where she grew up exploring the outdoors and taking interest in the environment. As she traveled abroad to explore and study in Honduras and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, her passion for environmental conservation and marine ecosystems flourished. Her love for nature and the ocean led her to work with the Coral Restoration Foundation planting young corals throughout the Florida Keys reef system. In the last seven months she lived aboard a traditional brigantine as deckhand for the Los Angeles Maritime Institute where she taught inner city youth topsail programs. Jackie just recently completed her PADI dive master with the Sail Caribbean Divers upon arriving to the British Virgin Islands this summer. She is looking forward to sharing the beauty of sailing and the underwater world with her campers along with making new friendship and lasting memories this summer.
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.