Dina Imbriani (she/her)
Dina was born in California and raised in both Chicago and Roanoke. For as long as she can remember, Dina has loved the outdoors for all the fun that recreation offers and for all that nature can teach us. She most enjoys hiking, backpacking, canoeing, skiing on both snow and water, and rock climbing, although she is always open to trying new activities and adding to her list of outdoor interests!
Dina’s career began in the corporate world, where she trained and coached sales staffsaround the country. Over 25 years, she has gained experience in coaching, developing, and leading teams in business environments. Aside from recreation, Dina’s outdoor background and skill set grew significantly as she was trained to teach wilderness survival by a former U.S. Air Force SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) instructor beginning in 2006. During her early survival training and teaching experiences, Dina realized how many parallels exist between practical survival skills in the backcountry and social or professional situations in the “front-country.” She dove deep into these connections, and she resurfaced feeling more self-aware, more confident and courageous in the outdoors, and more motivated than ever to lead outdoor experiences and share the lessons they offer with others.
As the owner of Mountain Shepherd Adventure School, Dina brings to every course and adventure an incredible combination of skills and positivity that are a result of her corporate coaching experience, her love for outdoor recreation, and over a decade of high-quality survival training. Dina’s greatest satisfaction comes from sharing her own drive for adventure and journey to empowerment with others. Her unique curriculum based on those same parallels she realized years ago has changed the lives of all of her students, who range from corporate professionals to young families, and from empty-nesters to college undergraduates.
Rob Loughridge (he/him)
Rob hales from Southern Michigan where his father and grandfather’s love for the outdoors grabbed him at a very early age. Rob graduated from the University of Toledo and began a career in the business world finding a passion for growing businesses through process design, leadership, team building and building company culture. At the same time, he began a business of his own specializing in thermal forming Kydex products for hikers, backpackers, campers and bushcrafters to carry the tools they need in the field. His products gained popularity in the United States and aborad. With a love for the mountains in mind, Rob followed his business career to Charlottesville, VA where he met Dina Imbriani, fell in love, retired from the business world, and moved to Mountain Shepherd to assist Dina with the wonderful adventure school she has built.
Patricia J. (PJ) Rooney, Ph.D. (she/her)
PJ grew up biking, swimming, camping, and hiking in the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. As an adult, whitewater rafting became a favorite spring and summer activity leading to many day- and week-long trips rafting a variety of U.S. rivers. The winter months are spent snow skiing in Colorado, Utah, Canada, and many eastern U.S. mountains; however, this does not include skiing down Black Diamonds!
Today, PJ is the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Army’s National Ground Intelligence Center where she is responsible for leading the security, personnel, facilities, and logistics divisions. She is also Adjust Faculty at the FBI’s National Executive Institute in Quantico Virginia teaching courses focused on the neuroscience of performance. Combining her senior leadership experience, academic practice, and nursing degree, she applies the latest neuroscience research to the art of leadership by examining brain functioning and its impact on leadership performance, team performance and resilience.
Previously, PJ served as Senior Faculty at the Federal Executive Institute where she launched the Institute’s first Neuro-Leadership Program; and as Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy teaching in the Leadership and Behavioral Science Department. She earned a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Virginia, a M.S. in Strategic Intelligence from the National Defense University, a M.Ed. in Human Development from Vanderbilt University, a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from the Piedmont Virginia Community College.
Jon Guy Owens (he/him)
Jon Guy Owens is a native of western North Carolina and has been working in adventure recreation for just over 20 year. Jon Guy graduated from Western Carolina University in 1997 with a degree in Recreation Therapy, and went on to get a Master’s in Experiential and Environmental Studies at Radford University in 2000. He started his journey as a raft guide on the Nantahala River in 1994 and has since worked teaching rock climbing, canoe and kayak paddling, caving and fly fishing to name a few. For the last 20 years Jon Guy has been working as the Director of the Hollins Outdoor Program at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA.
Mitchell Imbriani (he/him)
Mitch grew up in the Roanoke area, where he and his mom spent most weekends exploring the outdoors on day hikes. In 2016, he graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, and he has been teaching and learning, indoors and out, ever since. Mitch has a passion for working with children and young people, especially in the outdoors. He gained experience in outdoor recreation and environmental education at nearby Camp Roanoke and at YMCA Camp Hayo-Went-Ha in Michigan. Mitch’s background also includes his work as an instructional assistant for uniquely challenged students in a Richmond-area high school.
Mitch loves sharing the outdoors with others, and believes in preserving and caring for our natural environment so future generations may also grow to love it. This passion recently led Mitch to serve with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) and to begin planning a 2019 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Susan Herndon-Powell (she/they)
Growing up camping and spending time outdoors in Kentucky, Susan realized she wanted to have a career working with people outdoors. She earned a degree in Recreation and Park Administration from Eastern Kentucky University and also a Master’s degree from the University of Georgia in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Susan is a Wilderness First Responder who has worked in outdoor and adventure recreation for over 20 years in a variety of areas ranging from summer camps to campus outdoor recreation to municipal recreation.
She has over 15 years of experience facilitating groups of all ages and enjoys helping groups function as a more cohesive unit. One of her favorite past-times is long-distance backpacking, with Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail, and Long Trail thru-hikes under her belt. With two little kiddos at home now, she enjoys introducing her children to the wonders of the natural world through hiking, biking, paddling, and wandering adventures. Her favorite quote is “The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences. “ – Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild.
Matt Allenbaugh (he/him)
Matt brings over 15 years experience as an outdoor recreation and environmental education instructor. His courses range from 45 minutes up to 22 days in length and to audiences from kindergarten to age 88. A former Appalachian Trail and John Muir Trail thru-hiker he loves to lead and teach others about how to safely and enjoyably play outside in any weather condition on land, water and snow. He holds both an MS in renewable energy technology and a sustainable business MBA. He has developed or co-developed several grant funded programs to get lower income urban youth connected to nature.
When not teaching others about the outdoors he can be found gardening, hiking, mountain biking or paddling with his wild toddler, wife and rambunctious lab-hound mix.
Anna Copplestone (she/her)
Anna grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, where her love of nature was cultivated by parents who encouraged her to spend as much time as possible outdoors. She has degrees in psychology, social work, and environmental studies, mirroring her interest in how human communities interact with the natural world. As an ISA Certified Arborist, Anna works full time in private tree care, helping homeowners care for their trees. At Mountain Shepherd, she can help you sort through your questions about plant identification, edible wild plants, and getting comfortable with the plant world around you. She lives in Troutville, VA with her son Henry and husband Jon Guy, also an instructor at Mountain Shepherd Adventure School.
Kathryn Herndon-Powell (she/her)
As the Central Virginia Regional Manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Kathryn Herndon-Powell gets to support Trail projects and programs along 270 miles of the world-famous Appalachian Trail. Kathryn thru-hiked the A.T. in 2006, and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010. Around the same time, she also discovered the rewards of trail stewardship while working seasonally as a Backcountry Caretaker on the Long Trail/A.T. in Vermont and a Crew Leader on ATC’s storied Konnarock Trail Crew. Nowadays, her hikes are shorter and closer to home — but no less magical — as she explores the beauty of the Roanoke Valley with her wife and two small children.
At Mountain Shepherd, she helps teach Leave No Trace education, plant identification, and generally shares her love for all things trails and outdoors with Mountain Shepherd students.
Jayme Vance (she/her)
Jayme Vance is passionate about getting people outdoors and firmly believes we can all always benefit from more time spent in nature! Her love for the outdoor community and lifestyle started during summers in college doing trail work for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Her pursuit for outdoor adventures grew, leading her to guide professionally for a wilderness therapy program in Durango, Colorado, and complete thru-hikes of the Te Araroa Trail (2016) in New Zealand and the Colorado Trail (2018). She has spent close to 500 days in the backcountry and counting!
When not in the backcountry, Jayme works as a licensed occupational therapist (OT). As an OT, she is passionate about empowering people to create meaning in their personal lives and redefining “dis”abilities. Jayme is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT). She additionally combines her love of the outdoors and contemplative practices as an instructor of the Nature and Mindfulness course at the University of Virginia since 2018. In her free time, Jayme can be found rolling around on her mountain bike, climbing up rock walls, paddling reasonable rapids on her kayak, trail running alongside her pup Tofu, or simply sitting still and finding solace in nature. She resides in central Virginia where she enjoys mild winters, long growing seasons, and time with her lifelong adventure buddy and husband.
Jason Miller (he/him)
Jason began training in martial arts at the age of 6. Now, 40 years later, he continues to study and train in martial arts. A 4th-degree black belt in the Korean art of Tang Soo Do, Jason enjoys learning, training, and expanding his martial arts knowledge.
Jason earned his BS degree in Psychology from Mississippi College and his MS degree in Sport Psychology from Florida State. He has over a decade working in the mental health field. He currently serves his community as a Police Officer where he serves as a team leader for their Emergency Response Team, as well as a Defensive Tactics and Firearms instructor.
Jason has a passion for protecting and serving others. He enjoys teaching others how to protect themselves and those they love.
Claire Spangler (she/they)
Born in the Roanoke valley, Claire grew up hiking, biking, and paddling all over Southwest Virginia and beyond. As a teenager, she attended GEMS Camp at Mountain Shepherd for six summers, learning how to be courageous, confident, and compassionate in both the back country and the front country. Claire volunteered for various local organizations throughout middle and high school where she learned leadership, business, and teaching skills. She graduated high school in spring of 2022 and decided to take time off from school to explore the world. As a camp counselor for GEMS, Claire enjoys both leading and learning at Mountain Shepherd!
These Are Our Dogs!
Hi my name is Daisy, aka the Princess of Sweetness and Light! I joined the Mountain Shepherd family in October of 2020. My favorite things are hiking and cuddling up by a nice, warm fire.
Hey there, I’m Sunshine, aka Sunny, aka Princess of Darkness! I joined the Mountain Shepherd family in February of 2022. My favorite things are stealing food and being underfoot, good thing I’m super cute!
Hi I’m Riley, and I’m the patriarch of the puppy family. When you come to Mountain Shepherd to visit me, I’ll be sure to spend some time in your lap and I may jump in your car because I’m always ready for a ride!