Ketcha Outdoors Staff
Our team is carefully selected for their passion, imagination, and dedication to creating a nurturing, supportive, and enjoyable environment. Extensive training is provided, covering various areas such as child development, risk management, curriculum planning, emergency procedures, and waterfront safety. Every staff member undergoes a comprehensive background check and holds certifications in First Aid and CPR. Our reputation is built on the excellence of our well-qualified team and the low staff-to-camper ratios we maintain.
Laragh brings over 20 years of leadership experience, both as an outdoor educator and director at an international non-profit to the role of Executive Director. From guiding youth wilderness expeditions for Outward Bound to leading international programs in India and Ghana to directing operations for CIEE, the leading international education non-profit, Laragh brings a diverse but focused perspective to the Ketcha team. Laragh passionately works to cultivate an atmosphere of integrity and understanding and is committed to building a positive work culture to empower and elevate those around her. After growing up in Maine and becoming a parent herself, Laragh understands the impact that the natural world has on youth and how important access to quality outdoor programs is to Maine families and communities.
Laragh holds a B.A. in Human Development and Outdoor Leadership from Prescott College in Arizona and is a Maine Master Gardener. She lives in South Portland with her husband Joel, and two children, Clare and Wesley. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, biking, gardening, yoga, and exploring beaches in the summer with her family.
A native of Scarborough, Liz has worked at Ketcha Outdoors 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 professional development through courses, training, and conferences. She lives in South Portland with her husband and three children, who all love Camp Ketcha summer camp and school vacation camps!
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 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.
Ainsley began working with Camp Ketcha as the Portland Gear Hub’s 1st Shop Manager in 2014. Ainsley brings over 10 years of 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!
Karen has worked in finance for the past 35 years in various positions and concentrations ranging from for-profit manufacturing to non-profit health care, education, and the arts. In addition to finance, Karen has served as Chief Operations Officer in several organizations as well as supported development efforts in several non-profits. Most recently, Karen retired from two organizations, the University of Southern Maine Foundation where she worked for 12 years, and most recently the Maine Historical Society, where she also worked a total of 12 years. Karen desires to continue to support non-profits and therefore has joined Ketcha Outdoors. She hopes her extensive experience will support Ketcha’s leadership and staff in achieving their strategic goals and objectives. Karen has served on several non-profit boards in the past and is currently a board member of the Sugarloaf Mountain Condominium Center Association serving as their Vice President. Karen has one son who graduated from the University of Maine and is employed as an engineer. Karen and her husband Kirk enjoy spending time skiing, hiking, listening to music, and spending time with their son and daughter-in-law.
After moving to Maine, Emma was drawn to Ketcha’s mission and started working in the preschool as a teacher. She has since been growing the program into the Farm and Forest Preschool we have today. Emma has 13+ years of experience working with kids 3-14 and a great love of art and nature. She hopes to pass on this love and appreciation of our natural world to the next generation to be great stewards of the Earth. Emma is originally from Minnesota and moved to Maine in 2017 after receiving her BFA from Lesley University.
Kristen spent the start of her adult life in various health-related roles including working in a family practice and the emergency department. She spent a stint of time focused on mental health in both residential and in-patient psychiatric care. For several years, she staffed 911 ambulances as an Advanced EMT in both small, rural towns of Southern Maine and bustling, never-sleeping cities of Central Maine. Prior to starting at Ketcha, Kristen assisted local school nurses in navigating the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kristen was hired as Ketcha’s Camp EMT in between the school year season. She immediately was drawn to Ketcha’s mission to keep children connected to the natural beauty that Maine has to offer. She gratefully accepted a full-time position as the After Care Coordinator as well as the Behavior, Health, and Safety Coordinator. As a Ketcha parent herself, she understands the need for safe, quality children’s programming. When she is not at Ketcha or studying to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, Kristen can be found with her family raising their rescue rabbits or hiking the various trails in Southern Maine.
Thomas H. (Tuck) Barclay has joined Ketcha Outdoors as the Director of Development. His significant fundraising and leadership experience has been spent increasing philanthropic contributions to educational, financial, health, and community service organizations with missions focused on building community and improving the lives of children and families. Previously, he served as Development Director for ProsperityME and Resource Development Director for United Way of York County.
He is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Northern New England Chapter. Tuck serves as the Facilitator of their Maine Regional Connects, a monthly virtual gathering of Maine development professionals. Tuck is a member of the Portland Rotary and the Town of Scarborough’s Transportation Committee.
Tuck lives in Scarborough with his wife, Lucy. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis, golf, yoga, walking on the beach, hiking in the woods, and bike riding on the Eastern Trail.
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.
Diana Gonzalez joined our Farm and Forest Preschool in 2021 on a part-time basis and has since transitioned to a full-time role as a Lead Preschool Teacher this summer. Diana was an elementary public school teacher for fourteen years. She also has experience working remotely as an English immersion instructor for children in China with VIPKid.
Diana holds an associate degree in early childhood education as well as her bachelors in psychology with a focus on elementary and special education. The school system in NY was culturally diverse, with multiple languages spoken, and she went on to earn her master’s in teaching English as a Second language. Currently she is a working group member of NBEC- LOLA an organization that works towards making outdoor learning accessible for all children. Diana has a level 8 Maine Roads to Quality rating. She is also has her Maine teacher certifications in early elementary education and special education.
Diana lives in Buxton with her partner, Scott and her cat, Marshmallow Man. She is the mother of 2 grown children, Victoria and Jonathan. In her spare time, Diana enjoys exploring new places, hiking, and writing.
Forrest moved to Scarborough in 2020 and was very excited to discover Camp Ketcha practically in his backyard! He began working as a preschool teacher at the Farm and Forest School in 2021. With over a decade of experience working as an educator with people ranging in age from preschoolers to retirees, he brings his focus on mindfulness and nature-based education to Ketcha Outdoors. Forrest has worked in a variety of settings such as schools, educational farms, and retirement communities.
Forrest’s interest in books and music led him to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature with a music minor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He enjoys sharing his love of books and music with his students. Camp Ketcha’s beautiful natural areas provide an ideal environment for Forrest to showcase his passion for different forms of mindfulness like meditation, forest bathing, qi gong, and tai chi. He loves using Camp Ketcha’s woods, wetlands, and fields as outdoor classrooms for studying ecology and nurturing a love for nature!
Jay grew up in central New York and has happily resided in Portland, Maine since 2010. Later in life, he decided to switch gears and pursue an early childhood education degree. Jay recently graduated with his BS in early childhood education from the University of Maine Farmington. He brings his passion for music, creativity, and love of the outdoors to the classroom. Jay previously taught pre-k at the JCA in Portland and is thrilled to join the Camp Ketcha team!
Jay is also a husband, a dad, and a step-dad. When he’s not teaching, he enjoys being outdoors, playing the drums, and curating his ever-evolving vinyl record collection.
Caitie, a Massachusetts native recently made her move to Maine this past year to stay with her aunt and two cousins. She has a bachelor’s in Sociology from Samford University in Birmingham Alabama and is in the last year of her accelerated Master of Social Work program from the same institution. In addition to Ketcha, Caitie is completing her clinical internship with Spurwink Services through their Public-School Counseling program where she is placed as a clinician at Gardiner High School. After graduation, Caitie plans to obtain her clinical licensure and continue her education to become a licensed therapist in the school and outpatient services. When she is not at work, Caitie can often be found studying at her favorite coffee shop or on a hiking trail with her friends.