Dan brings more than 30 year of operations and service delivery experience to his role as Interim Executive Director. From managing global technical support for the startup of Microsoft’s original Xbox gaming platform, to being the operational lead for both software startups and established software focused companies, Dan brings a thoughtful and analytical perspective to operational and strategic issues, as well as a vision for where things could go and how to scale them to get there. In addition to his role at Ketcha, Dan currently runs the service operations team for WEX’s largest client as well as his own operations focused consulting practice.
Kate joined Ketcha as a volunteer in 2006 bringing 20 years of experience in education, child development, and administrative leadership. In 2010 she helped found our preschool, and in 2012 was asked to take leadership of the program. Guided by the core mission of Ketcha, Kate transitioned the preschool to the natured-based outdoor program as it exists today. In her hands the program grew fourfold, and in response to persistent parent appeals Kate succeeded in adding our Kindergarten program in 2021. In doing so Ketcha is is now a registered elementary school with the Maine Department of Education certified to provide private school education up to Grade 8. Kate is devoted to amplifying Ketcha’s values through programming that combines best practices in child development with experiential, place-based environmental education. Kate continues to assure the quality and integrity of our educational programming through curriculum and policy development.
Emma Dixon is originally from Minnesota and moved to Maine in 2017 after receiving her BFA from Lesley University. That fall she started out as a teacher for the nature preschool and over the next three years has worked with Kate Connolly in shaping it into the Farm and Forest Preschool we now have. She spends the summers running programming for camp and helps run barn operations throughout the year. She loves her chickens, making art, camping, and hopes to visit every national park!
Andrew came to Ketcha as an Assistant teacher in 2022. He has several years of experience working with children as a camp counselor, swim coach, and most recently as a preschool teacher at The Pine Grove School in Falmouth. Additionally, in 2019-2020 Andrew worked as a Field Teacher at the Alton Jones campus in Rhode Island, an Environmental Education Center that hosted primarily 4th and 5th graders. Andrew lives in Portland but if you need to reach him he will most likely be found at Scarborough Beach surfing, swimming, or napping in his free time.
Alaena leads Ketcha Outdoors’ development and marketing activities to ensure a long and thriving future for the organization. As a parent herself, she is passionate about connecting kids with nature, supporting them in their social and emotional development, and providing them with rich life experiences to grow and thrive. She brings years of experience from a variety of nonprofits, including the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, Make-A-Wish® Minnesota, Women’s Advocates (a domestic violence shelter), and Amani Children’s Home in Tanzania. She lives in Scarborough with her two spunky kids (Fiona, 10, and Silas, 7) and two cats. In her free time she enjoys exploring the local trails and beaches, kayaking, cross-country skiing, reading, cooking good food, and spending time in her wild and unruly garden.
Thea started at Camp Ketcha in summer 2019 as a head staff after graduating from Ithaca College with a B.M. in Music Education. She continued to be on the leadership staff during summers as well as facilitating the Counselor in Training program and in 2020 joined Ketcha full-time. An avid outdoors-person, Thea loves watching kids connect with nature while they grow and cultivate new skills and friendships. She has loved the opportunity to see kids grow and overcome obstacles over the years. As the Development and Rentals Coordinator, she loves being able to do work that is directly funding and advancing Ketcha’s mission. Thea enjoys hiking, climbing, and is a certified yoga teacher with her 200-Hour YTT.
Ainsley began working with Camp Ketcha as the Portland Gear Hub’s 1st Shop Manager in 2014. Ainsley brings over 10 years experience working in community bicycle shops and bike advocacy from Minneapolis, Michigan, and now Maine. Ainsley enjoys repairing bicycles as much as she loves riding them and you can find her riding the local trails with her 2 dogs and husband in her free time. Stop by the Portland Gear Hub and she’ll help set you up with outdoor gear or put you to work repairing all of our incoming donations!
Link Klinkenberg is a certified elementary teacher in the state of Maine. She comes to this position with over 10 years teaching experience both in the classroom and outdoors. Her teaching journey began at The Ecology School in Saco, where she worked as an environmental educator and naturalist for elementary students. Link went on to work in the Education and Huts departments of the Appalachian Mountain Club before moving to Lebanon, NH to pursue an elementary teaching certification. Since then Link has taught 5th and 6th grade Language Arts at an elementary school in Vermont, 4th grade online, and at a Montessori pre K and Kindergarten. Link moved to Portland in 2019, where she lives with her wife and 4 year old daughter. When she’s not with kids, Link loves to draw, sing, cross country ski, and explore outside with her family and friends.
Kara started at Camp Ketcha in 2014 as a senior camp counselor (she was also a camper when she was in elementary school). After graduating from UNH with a degree in music education in 2015 she stayed on with us in the summers as a head counselor and spent 4 years working in the Portland Public Schools as an ed-tech and music teacher. We welcomed her on year round in June 2018 as the Director of Youth Development. In this role she runs our summer camp, after school, vacation camp, and adventure challenge programs. When Kara is not at camp she can be found hiking, climbing, or running with her dog, Casco.
Billy began working at Camp Ketcha during the summer of 2018 as the Archery Instructor. He grew up on Peaks Island, ME and holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from UNCW. Billy has worked at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and in Connecticut’s Diadromous Fisheries Program. In his spare time Billy enjoys running, traveling, and learning how to play the banjo. During the school year he has been helping to maintain the facilities and teaching in the After School program. And this summer he will be the Environmental Educator at camp!
Mary Ellen began working at Camp K in 2006 as the part-time Camp Registrar. In 2010 she took over as the Facility Rentals Director. She enjoys helping each and every bride & renter make Camp Ketcha a special place for their event. Mary Ellen can often be found washing windows & dusting while answering summer camp questions and calls! Mary Ellen lives in South Portland with her husband.
Theresa teaches the Chickadees preschool group at the Ice House. She is a fourth generation Camp Ketcha staff member! Her great-grandmother and grandmother were both lifeguards, her grandfather was the president of the board and her mom was a camper. Theresa came here as a camper for many years before starting to work here as a summer camp counselor in 2018. After graduating from the University of New Haven with a Bachelor’s degree in theater arts she started full time as preschool teacher and barn staff last fall. She enjoys hiking, making art, swimming and reading.
A native of Scarborough, Liz has worked at Camp Ketcha since the summer of 2000, first as a counselor, then working her way up to Camp Director in the summer of 2004 and then moving in the Director of Operations. She is a member of the American Camping Association and formerly served on the American Camp Association New England Standards Committee and the Emerging Camp Professional Committee. Liz is passionately committed to youth development and public service. She has worked with children in a variety of capacities throughout her career, including as a nanny, a volunteer with the Special Olympics, and as a summer camp counselor. Liz began her work with nonprofits leading the United Way’s Youth Engaged in Service group and participating in the Day of Caring as a Youth Site Supervisor. She holds undergraduate degrees in sociology and criminology from the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Liz continues her camp professional development through courses, training, and conferences held by the American Camp Association. She lives in South Portland with her husband and three children, who all love Camp Ketcha summer camp and school vacation camps!
The Camp Ketcha Staff
Our staff members are hired for their enthusiasm, creativity and ability to provide a nurturing, caring and fun atmosphere. We provide thorough training including: child development, risk management, curriculum planning, emergency procedures, and waterfront safety. All personnel undergo a background check and are First Aid and CPR certified. We are known for our high-quality staffing and low staff to camper ratios.