Instructor Introduction

Coaches for the 2022 Symposium


Ralph Akers

I've been paddling for about 10 years. I received my ACA level 2instructor award in Scotland. I have other ACA level 3 awards, along with BCU 3 Star awards in Sea kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater. I enjoy using both Euro, and traditional paddles and always have room for one more boat. Two of my favorite things that came with learning to kayak are, surfing and rock gardening.

Carol Anderson

I’ve been kayaking for about a decade, if you don’t count the afternoons in the 1980s when I rented sea kayaks from Northwest Kayaks on Lake Union in Seattle. I started as a rec kayaker, and soon heard the siren call of a longer boat. My paddling “home” is split between Lake Michigan (I live in Kalamazoo) and the Southeast. I did my L3 certification at Tybee, and have been teaching here and there since 2019. I love teaching, and as a now-retired professor, I think some of my teaching skills translate to the water pretty well. I was recently elected as President of WMCKA, so I’m really looking forward to our 31st Symposium.

John Browning

I started sea kayaking in 1990, and teaching in 1995. In 1998 I earned the BCU Coach 2 (Sea) Award; 2002, the ACA L4 CK Instructor Certification. In 2007 I became an L4 CK Instructor Trainer, and in 2019 an L3 CK Instructor Trainer Educator. While this is my first time at WMCKA, I have taught multiple times at the Inland Sea Symposium, Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium, and the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium (all 19). I have paddled Lake Michigan, Lake Superior (Apostle Islands and Picture Rocks areas), Tybee Island, Hong Kong and China on the South China Sea and the East China Sea, and Maylasia (Andaman Sea), Thailand and Vietnam.

Maggie Byrne

Maggie first became an ACA-certified Coastal Kayaking Instructor in 2010, and since then has had the privilege and pleasure of teaching at numerous symposia around the Great Lakes (WMCKA, Ladies of the Lake, Door County, Port Austin) and at the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Her home waters are the southern tip of Lake Michigan, in northwest Indiana, and she has been the main organizer and instructor for the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association’s annual schedule of classes since 2010. Maggie is also the co-chair of this year’s 31st WMCKA Symposium. With kayak trips to Maine, Scotland, Baja, and a “circum-halv-igation” of Puerto Rico, Maggie has lots of experience on the water to combine with her ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayaking instructor certification, UKCC Coach Level 1, and British Canoeing 2- & 3-Star awards. She loves teaching people how to do things they never thought they would be able to do on the water and is rewarded with their SMILES!

Tiara Coats

Lisa Deziel

I developed an early love for water and the outdoors at camp while growing up in Canada. I transferred my skills to sea and surf kayaks over a dozen years ago while living in South Florida, where my backyard included the Atlantic Ocean, the Everglades, and the Florida Keys. I moved to the Sleeping Bear Dunes area in 2018 and have been enjoying the Great Lakes since. I have been fortunate enough to guide, instruct, paddle, and camp with Michael Gray and Uncommon Adventures around the world including Wales, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, Mexico, Antarctica, New Zealand, Central America, and around the US. I am an ACA L4 Coastal Kayak Instructor, a BC L1 Coach, and hold ACA and BC skill awards in both kayak and canoe. Having spent my professional life prior to being a kayak guide as an academician, my greatest pleasure is to see our students achieve their goals in a positive, fun, safe, and supportive environment. Looking forward to working with everyone on the water!

Lynn Dominguez

I have been teaching in the Outdoor Recreation program at Central Michigan University for 29 years and will be retiring this summer. I became certified as a Level 3 Coastal Kayaking instructor with both the ACA and the USCA many years ago. In my kayak, I primarily teach with a Greenland traditional paddle although I have been seen with a modern blade from time to time! I’m also a passionate canoeist and hold an ACA and USCA Instructor-Trainer Level 2 Canoe Touring certification and am a Level 3 Freestyle Canoe instructor. If I’m not on the water teaching canoe and kayak then I also can be found fly fishing and camping just about anywhere in Michigan.

Kathlyn Galbreath

I have loved to play and learn in the water for as long as I can remember, and have been a sea kayak and whitewater paddler since 2014. I’ve developed skills in ACA level 3 courses, received BC 3-star training, and participated in several whitewater courses. I currently hold an ACA instructor level 1, and a BC 2-star award. Assisting new paddlers in learning skills and building confidence brings me joy.

Andrea Knepper

As a child, whenever Andrea’s family went anywhere even slightly close to water, her mother would take a spare set of clothes – because Andrea would end up IN the water. The outdoors had a huge impact on her, impacting who she is as a human being. Partly because of this, in 2006, by then a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Andrea founded Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) and has been the director since. CAT works with marginalized youth in Chicago who wouldn’t usually get the chance to get outdoors, using outdoor sports to build life skills. Andrea puts a strong emphasis on leadership and community building. In addition, she has been teaching paddlesports and leading adventure travel trips since 1998. In 2015 she became the 7th North American woman to earn the 5 Star Sea Leader Award, and in 2016 became the second American to earn the UKCC Level 3 Coach Award. In 2019 she took a sabbatical from CAT and paddled the American West Coast from the northwest tip of Washington to San Diego Bay. As a coach and as a clinician, Andrea believes that paddling, learning, and growing should be fun, challenging, accessible, and engaging. She works to individualize her delivery in an attempt to provide everyone with a challenge and with an opportunity to learn in a way that is effective for them.

Kris Koeffler

Kris is s fun-loving instructor who likes to teach. Being with folks who want to learn this sport is awesome. I have a background in listening and teaching and use those skills in helping you learn to paddle safely. I came to this sport as a way to explore the world. My personal paddling skill awards include ACA level 4, and BCU 3 star. My teaching certifications ACA L 3, BCU 2. I’ve gotten certificates in Michigan, California, Mexico, Canada, and Scotland. If you're paddling the quiet waters of inland lakes and streams or catching blue crystal waves in Hawaii I want you to be safe. Let's have some fun!

Douglas Neal

Lisa Belanger-Neal

Zobari Nwidor

Rebecca Merz

Steve Misenheimer

I returned to the water about 18 years ago when I started this wonderful sport. My first real instruction was at WMKCA. Since then I have been fortunate to paddle all around the Great Lakes with Lake Superior being a huge favorite playground. I have been an ACA instructor and am a strong believer that paddling safely can still be fun. As you can tell from the picture I am partial to traditional (skinny stick) paddles but ok with a modern blade if that works better for you. I am passionate about getting beginners started well so they can explore whatever the paddling world has to offer. Whether you are interested in sea kayaking, recreation kayaking, canoeing, or stand-up paddling, I know you can find the peace-filled place on the water and I want to help you find it.

Jim Palermo

I’ve been a paddler for as long as I can remember; first in canoes, then sea kayaks with a stint in a C-1. I was spurred into becoming an instructor after nearly being failed in my BCU 3-star exam because of my forward stroke style: 🙂 . Prior to a hiatus from WMCKA I’ve been staff at numerous earlier WMCKA symposia as well as the GLSKS, Sweetwater, and the Port Austin symposia.

Pam Palmentera

I've been paddling for approximately 11 years and am mainly a Great Lakes paddler. I'm an ACA Level 3 coach and BC Level 1 coach. Also from BC, I have 3 Star awards in sea kayaking, whitewater, and canoeing. I have had the good fortune to have the chance to paddle with some of the best paddlers in the midwest. This wonderful paddling community has afforded me opportunities to paddle in Maine and in Scotland and meeting folks I never would have met otherwise. Anytime I can get on the water is a good day!

Jayden Phoenix Pelagio

Jayden is a recreational leader at Chicago Adventure Therapy. They have been paddling since early fall of 2018. They enjoy hiking, BMX Biking, yoga, and of course paddle sports. Jayden is First Aid/CPR/AED certified. Jayden has received a 1-star award from British Canoeing and they plan on earning a 3-star award soon. They received a Paddle Sport Instructor Award from the British Canoeing Awarding Body in 2021. One of their goals is working on making the paddling community more inclusive to people of different demographics. One of their biggest aspirations is to become the best paddlesport instructor version of themself.

Bonnie Perry

"Nothing makes me happier than coaching and paddling with people in ALL sorts of conditions. I’ve had the opportunity to paddle and guide in the Midwest, Maine, Canada, Baja, New Zealand, Scotland, England, and Wales. This Spring I’ll be co-leading a sea kayak surf class in Baja, Mexico with Ginni Callahan, this summer I’ll be coaching at the Shetland Sea Kayak Symposium in Scotland." Bonnie's coaching credentials include BCU 5-star paddler/Advanced Sea Leader, Advanced Water Sea Kayak Coach and Performance Level Coach, and UKCC Level 3 Sea Kayak Coach. Bonnie is able to assess for the three highest personal paddling levels in the British Canoe Union including Advanced Sea Kayak Award, Coastal Kayak Award, and S.ea Kayak Award

Paul Redzimski

I have been paddling for a little over 20 years and have been coaching and guiding for almost as long. I have coached at the WMCKA Symposium at least 10 times over the years, as well as symposia in Door County, Gales Storm Gathering on Lake Superior, Inland Seas, and Lumpy Waters in Oregon. I also have been fortunate enough to guide trips in Alaska, Baja, Maine, and Georgia, as well as more local trips on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. My latest kayaking passion has been white water. I currently have a BCU 4 Star, UKCC Level 2, ACA Level 4 Skills award, and a BCU 3 Star in Canoe.

Mary Roberts

I have been paddling since the mid 90’s. I started teaching and earned my ACA instructor certification in 1997. I have been an instructor at this Symposium ever since (with the exception of one or two years). I enjoy working with paddlers on skills and having fun.

Trey Rouss

Trey Rouss was born and raised in Arizona but educated in the oceans, mountains, and deserts all over the USA. Trey is the owner of The Power of Water in Lansing, Michigan and is on the staff of the Michigan State University School of Kinesiology. He holds certifications in ACA L5 Advanced Open Water Kayak, he also teaches and teaches how to teach in White Water and SUP. He is the organizer for The Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium and a P&H Team Paddler. Trey specializes in keeping it simple and connecting with paddlers of ALL ability levels.

Lori Stegmier

Nate Strong

I have been paddling for 20 plus years now with a love of being outdoors and on the water. With a desire to improve my own paddling ability and also help others, I have spent the last 10 years focused on developing my skills and becoming an instructor. Starting with the BCU, I earned my 2 star and Coach 1; then continuing my training with the ACA I earned my L3 in 2014. Most of my instructor experience has been providing training events to paddling clubs and assisting other instructors in running their courses. Lake Michigan is my go-to for most paddling and I have also assisted with several trips to the Apostles, Pictured Rocks, and other destinations on Superior, Huron, and Erie. Trips to Tybee and Cumberland Island have also provided experience with saltwater and tides. I really enjoy instructing and helping others develop their skills, confidence and safety on the water.

Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor has been paddling since 2009, he started out as a power boater but gave up his propellers for paddles. As a power boater you enjoy being on the water, but on a kayak, you are into nature as well as the water. Michael’s enthusiasm for the sport won him the first “Steel Paddler” award at the WMCKA Symposium, as well as the River Hero Award for his work on the Little Calumet River in Illinois. Michael is on a personal journey to raise awareness as to the benefits of paddling and the unique attributes and historical significance of his local paddling location which is the Little Calumet River. Portions of the Little Calumet River has been recognized as an African American Heritage Water Trail, and Michael has participated in teaching "Introduction to Kayaking" to many people in the community. Michael’s volunteer time in teaching paddling reflects his commitment to outreach to the minority community and introduction to paddling benefits.

James Tibensky

This will be my thirteenth time as a coach at the WMCKA Symposium. I am certified by the ACA as a Level 5 Coastal Kayak Instructor and Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor. I come from a background of sprint, marathon and slalom racing, but I love kayak expeditions as well and have paddled in Canada, Greenland, Greece, Costa Rica, Switzerland and many places in the USA. Most of all, I like to share the fun!

Keith Wikle

Doug Van Doren

Doug Van Doren has been a practitioner of the “Traditional” (Greenland Inuit influenced) style since he began paddling in the early 90’s. He is one of an early handful of North American paddlers to research, experiment with, and honor the traditional paddling style and equipment and to show its proficiency for padding in any sea condition. He is a regular instructor at several symposiums, and has instructed and done rolling demonstrations throughout the U. S. as well as Canada, Wales, and at the International Symposium in Llansa, Spain. He was also invited to instruct several high level British Canoe Union instructors in the use of the narrow blade. Doug produced and is the on-air instructor for the teaching video, “Greenland Style Kayaking: Instruction In Narrow-Blade Paddling Technique.” He was also featured in Justine Curgenven’s video, “This is the Sea Two.” Doug retired in July of 2018 after 40 years as pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ, a progressive, socially active congregation in Grand Rapids, MI. He serves on various national and local boards related to his denomination and social justice issues. He has been married to Colleen Mahon-Van Doren for 45 years and they have two sons, Camilo (deceased) and Aidan, age 25, who is an accomplished sea kayaker.

Keith Wikle

Keith Wikle is a WMCKA poster child. WMCKA was his first symposium almost 20 years ago. He has attended, organized and coached at WMCKA since moving to Kalamazoo in 2000. Keith is a Level 5 ACA Sea Kayak Instructor, Level 3 Surf Instructor, and 4* Sea Paddler with British Canoeing. Keith was fortunate enough to do a lot of expeditions with many WMCKA members to the north shore of Lake Superior and along the Michigan coast of Lake Superior. Keith is an avid surf kayaker and has competed at the Santa Cruz surf kayak competition. Keith is also the founder and organizer for the October Gales Storm Gathering on Lake Superior.