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About the HI USA Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is pivotal to HI USA’s success, responsible for defining the organization’s vision, impact and scope, and ensuring it meets commitments to its stakeholders. Directors reflect a diversity of backgrounds and professions, and all have a passion for hostelling and promoting intercultural understanding. Directors are unpaid volunteers, elected to serve for a 3-year term, and committed to the HI USA mission, credo and code of ethics. The Board of Directors typically meets four times per year and by conference call as needed for timely issues.

Policy Governance

Utilizing Policy Governance as its governance model, the HI USA Board provides clear direction to the CEO by explicitly defining expected outcomes that demonstrate achievement of the organization’s vision and mission (Ends Policies), by establishing operational parameters (Executive Limitations Policies), and by explaining how the board will delegate authority to the CEO (Board-CEO Linkage Policies).

Current Officers

Peggy Stevens, Board Chair

Peggy is former executive director of a regional land conservation trust in Northern Virginia dedicated to conserving open space, forests, wetlands and working farmland. Previously, she headed up a land trust on the south coast of Massachusetts and held senior executive positions with various healthcare systems and managed health care organizations. She has extensive not-for-profit governance experience, including currently serving as Board Chair of Virginia United Land Trusts and a Vice Chair of the World Foundation for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Peggy has a BA from Connecticut College and an MA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Current term ends in 2021. Fredericksburg, VA.

Charles Hokanson, Board Vice Chair

Charles is Senior Vice President, Florida Community Engagement, Helios Education Foundation, an endowed public charity for education reform efforts in Arizona and Florida. Charles previously served as CEO of an education reform consulting company and President or Executive Vice President of three national education policy nonprofits, as well as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secretary Education. He chairs the Florida College Access Network advisory board and serves on the boards of the Florida Education Foundation, the Florida Chamber Foundation and Florida Philanthropic Network. Charles has an A.B. and A.M. from Stanford University, M.P.P from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and J.D. from Harvard Law School. Current term ends in 2022. Tampa, FL.

Eric Oetjen, Board Vice Chair

Eric is a senior executive at a leading international professional service firm with nearly 4,000 staff and $800 million in revenues. He leads a division which provides financial advisory, technical, training and research assistance to public agencies, commercial businesses and nonprofits in affordable housing and community development. Eric serves on the Board by virtue of his election to the board of the International Youth Hostel Federation. Washington, DC.

Erika Byrnison, Board Secretary

Erika is Director of Marketing Operations for 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community non-profit in New York City that created #GivingTuesday in 2012. Recently she became an adjunct professor of history at Wagner College. She has an MA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in American Studies from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Erika is active as a volunteer for reproductive justice and LGBTQ organizations, including her role on the Leadership Council of The Doula Project. Previously she’s served on the Board of the Girl Scout Council of Bergen County. Current term ends in 2023.

Nicole Sandoval, Board Audit Committee Chair

Nicole is a Compliance Manager at Wells Fargo & Company and has 20 years of experience in project management, risk assessments, internal audit and Sarbanes-Oxley engagements in multiple industries. She is a Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Financial Services Auditor who also holds Certification in Risk Management Assurance and the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Internal Quality Assessment/Validation Accreditation. In prior roles, Nicole was the former president of the Minnesota Council of Hostelling International. Nicole has a BS in Business and an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. Current term ends in 2021. Plymouth, MN.

Board of Directors

Violet Apple

HI USA Board Member Violet Apple

Violet has been the CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland for five years. A high priority in this role is advancing the Council’s relevance in the communities served, through outreach and community partners. Violet previously served HI USA on a board committee. She holds a Masters in Management with Specialization in Business Administration from Penn State Great Valley and a Certificate in Non-profit Management from the University of Delaware. Current term ends in 2023. Owings Mills, MD.

Nick Andrade

Nick is a retired business person with extensive senior executive experience in the recreation industry. He has started, owned and participated in the operations of several notable bicycle manufacturing, distribution and marketing companies with a nationwide footprint. His experience includes the consolidation of multiple operations into a single marketing and sales company. Nick is active in charity and bicycle advocacy work. He serves on the boards of three educational institutions at the grammar, high school and college levels. Current term ends in 2023. San Francisco, CA.

Tom Courtney

Tom is a travel writer and author of Walkabout California, a series of guides to California hiking from inn-to-inn. He recently retired from a career of working with nonprofit organizations in the area of financial management where he served as VP Finance, CFO, and consultant with youth services, social welfare, educational and environmental organizations. Tom also taught graduate courses in nonprofit financial management at UC Berkeley. Current term ends in 2021. Oakland, CA.

Alexandra Escobar

Alexandra is the People Team Coordinator at Democracy Fund, a foundation working to defend American democracy and challenge it to be more open and just. Previously, she worked as a Program Instructor with the Close Up Foundation. Through experiential education, Close Up informs, inspires, and empowers young people to exercise their rights and accept their responsibilities of citizens in a democracy. Alexandra also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching University English in Guizhou, China from 2012-2013.

Since then, she’s held positions in local government for a councilwoman in Long Beach, California, served on Beto O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate campaign in Houston, Texas, and worked in Congressional Relations at Peace Corps Headquarters, where she co-led legislative efforts on the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act, which was signed into law in 2018.

Current term ends in 2022. Washington, DC.

Lisa Gurwitch

Lisa is President and CEO of Delivering Good, a national nonprofit that provides people impacted by poverty and tragedy with new merchandise distributed through a network of community partners. Her past nonprofit management experience includes serving as Senior Vice President for Advancement and External Relations for World Learning, and as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. She previously practiced real estate and financial transactions law. Current term ends in 2021. New York City, NY.

Erin Hamant

Erin is the Senior Operations Analyst for the City of West Hollywood. She works principally on policy, budget, and infusing Local & State environmental sustainability goals into procurement, capital project development, and general operations of the City’s streets, sidewalks, facilities, parks, urban forest, and commercial and residential zones. She also serves as Co-Chair for the Westside steering committee of the U.S. Green Building Council-LA Chapter. Current term ends in 2022. Santa Monica, CA..

Eitan Itzkowitz

Eitan currently works in Product Management at American Express. He has previously worked with PwC in their tax consulting division. His other non-profit endeavors include Literacy Partners, where he serves as an English tutor. He has a B.S. in Accounting from Rutgers University, and is a Certified Public Accountant. Current term ends in 2022. New York, NY.

Peter Jenkel

Peter is a Sr. Vice President of Sales Enablement at Freeman, the leader in live brand experience events. For 20+ years Peter has worked at the intersection of technology and business, focusing on sales & marketing. Previously he worked for Marsh (global insurance broker) where he was SVP, Global Product Manager of Sales Technology and at Accenture, as a Financial Services consultant in business and systems integration. Peter served as President of the previous Metropolitan Chicago Council of Hostelling International and served on the HI USA board 2009 – 2011. He has a BA in International Business from Bradley University. Current term ends in 2021. Chicago, Illinois.

Walt Knoepfel

Board Member Walt Knoepfel

Walt is a retired financial executive and CPA with domestic and international experience in multiple industries, including not-for-profit. Most currently he worked as an audit/assurance partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Walt served in various leadership capacities with the former Hostelling International Golden Gate Council, including as president and treasurer. He previously served as HI USA treasurer and Audit Committee chair. Current term ends in 2023. San Francisco, CA.

Bruce Marsden

Bruce serves as a Financial Consultant at Riverside Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that advances scientific research. He previously served as Sr. Vice President at U.S. Trust and Bank of America, in multiple vice president positions with Charles Schwab, as a Principal at Barclays Global Investors and as audit manager at Deloitte. He previously served on the HI USA board 1999 – 2008. Bruce has a BS in Accounting and an MBA from the University of California Berkeley. Bruce is a CPA and CFA charterholder. Current term ends in 2021. New Hope, PA.

Dean Papademetriou

Dean is legal counsel to the Boston Housing Authority, where he has extensive experience with tax credit financing, bond financing, public procurement, construction, and energy sustainability. Previously, he was in private practice as a real estate and corporate attorney. He is trustee of a large condominium trust and manages properties for a family business. Dean has participated in a learning exchange between professional and community leaders in Boston and Haifa. Current term ends in 2022. Boston, MA.