Staff & Volunteers
Aram Mitchell— Executive Director, Guide
Aram is a Registered Maine Guide and Wilderness First Responder with an MA in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary. Prior to moving to Maine in 2015 he worked as a minister for children (and the child-like) at a progressive faith congregation in Claremont, CA. He worked as an advocate and shelter coordinator for LGBTQ identified homeless youth in Chicago, IL. He worked as an aid to elementary school educators of students with special needs in Indianapolis, IN. He backpacked across Scotland, walked a pilgrimage in Spain, practiced yoga in Costa Rica and has guided wilderness trips and urban walks of various durations for people of many ages, genders, and dispositions in 11 different states and a couple of Canadian provinces. Now Aram spends his days as the Executive Director of Renewal in the Wilderness devising ways to bring the wisdom of wilderness and regular rhythms of renewal into the lives of care providers, justice workers, and faith leaders.
Genevieve Cox—Development Associate, Guide
When not in a canoe or backpacking somewhere in the wilderness of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia, North Carolina, or out west, Genevieve can be found pursuing social justice causes and working to grow Renewal in the Wilderness in a sustainable way. She believes in the wisdom, kindness, and Type II fun (i.e. "fun" situations such as paddling against a headwind in pouring rain) the wilderness offers. She is a Board Member and Chair of the Finance Committee for the non-profit organization, Speak About It. She is a Wilderness First Responder and also holds a Ph.D. in Sociology focusing on community, culture, and environmental sociology, teaches classes part-time for Southern Maine Community College, and has a rad canoe cattle-dog named Opal.
John Lionberger— Founder, President Emeritus, Guide
Back in 2001, after a life changing encounter in the wild, John launched Renewal in the Wilderness from the shores of an idea into the depths of reality. He’s been pulling hard at the paddle ever since. John guided our organization for 15 years, along the way crafting a vision of renewal and a spirit of openness that flows through every experience we offer. When he’s not sitting in the stern with bow pointed to the backcountry John serves as a chaplain in Chicago. He also wrote a powerful book that offers a glimpse into his story and the transforming nature of a well-guided trip into open space. Plus he has an awesome grandkid.
In River Rafting, CFS is the measurement of a rivers downstream flow in Cubic Feet per Second. Colin Frazier Simon (CFS!)...was born into a river rat family and was named by no accident. Since his youth water has always been in his blood and often between his ears. Whether surfing, free diving, rafting or fishing, his love of water has taken him to the many rivers along the Colorado Plateau, including The Old Man himself, the Colorado River. While the back country of Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico are the play ground of his youth, the Pacific Ocean of California Alta and Baja California stole his heart as a young man and he now lives in the place where the desert meets the sea. An avid fisher, rafter, packer, peak bagger, State Lifeguard, and child of nature, Colin aims to entertain and lighten his trail and river mates with a child-like glee that only the red and gold of the canyons at dusk can outshine. This guy loves the outdoors and will turn over every rock and scoop up every toad that hops across his path until you can't help but see a wild world under your every step and feel it pumping through your ever growing heart.
Fiona is a "budding" naturalist with a B.A. in Ecology from Bates College. She leads some of Renewal in the Wilderness' Beauty Walks and started her hiking and walking career exploring the Shawangunk Mountains near her hometown of New Paltz, New York. She worked for two summers at the Mohonk Preserve studying climatology and restoration management. Her areas of expertise and interests are spring ephemerals, bird songs, and any kind of tree! Fiona has hiked all over New Zealand, Maine, Japan and many other places along the way. Now, Fiona is living in Portland, ME and is pursuing her love of music, the outdoors and connecting with new people.
Anne Finkle has been hiking, walking and canicrossing (canine cross country running) her way around the woods of Maine since she was very young and is an amateur naturalist, cook and gardener with an interest in wildlife and native plants of Maine. Anne holds a B.A. in French Language and Literature from University of Southern Maine and will be using her broad knowledge of nature and ecology literature to lead Beauty Walks with Renewal in the Wilderness. She currently works in the Greater Portland area and spends her free time advocating for and volunteering with wildlife and youth education programs in Maine. She is an avid dog lover and aims to inspire others to create connections with themselves and with their dogs through nature. Anne would rarely be seen out in the woods without her adventure-loving Coonhound, Bea!