Our Team

Kahtoola was founded on the idea of empowering people. Within our team, this is exemplified by our non-hierarchical, flat structure of associates instead of traditional roles such as managers and subordinates. Each Kahtoola associate has the freedom and responsibility to define their own path and contribution within the company – and in turn, participate in a highly collaborative process that integrates each person's unique perspectives and experiences. Take a second to learn more about our team and what drives them at work and at play!

Ethan Ayup

Shipping & Warehouse Associate (He/Him)

Ethan grew up hunting, fishing and hiking and is excited to have the opportunity to work in his hometown with a company that places such a high value on associates and spending time outdoors. When he isn’t working, you’ll probably find Ethan studying for his Forestry major or spending time outside. If the weather is nice, that usually means hiking or fishing. And when there’s snow on the ground, he prefers hunting or “chasing the winter bite.”

Fun Fact: On top of his outdoor pursuits, Ethan practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoys jazz.

Chris Bunch

Product Design Associate (He/Him)

Chris got his start in design building open-cockpit race cars in college, but a love of the outdoors and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design from Arizona State University eventually brought him to Flagstaff and Kahtoola. If he’s not in the design lab, Chris can usually be found mountain biking, backpacking, bikepacking, canyoneering, and spending time with his wife Sue and their dogs.

Fun Fact: Chris first backpacked the Grand Canyon when he was in the 5th grade, and he later volunteered there doing PSAR for 2 years during high school.

Austin Corbett

Events & Community Engagement Associate (He/Him)

Austin is a passionate runner, so when it comes to exploring the outdoors, he prefers to do it on foot and over long distances. And with a Bachelor’s degree in Field Photography from Nothern Arizona University (NAU), Austin uses his keen eye to document many of those adventures. When he isn’t on the trail or connecting with the outdoor community at Kahtoola events, there’s a good chance you’ll find Austin visiting local breweries in search of great beers!

Fun Fact: Austin has 17 tattoos. Any guesses what they are?

Li Cui

Marketing & Communications Associate (He/Him)

Li is always stoked to help others experience personal growth and meaningful experiences through outdoor adventure. When he isn’t connecting people with Kahtoola products, Li is usually out exploring new places on foot, on bike or on skis. He also has an interest in psychology and understanding human behavior as well as in cooking, creating music and photography.

Fun Fact: Li once got lost in the New Zealand wilderness for 36 hours while on a solo backpacking trip!

Nico Francis

Product Design Associate (They/Them)

As the newest addition to our product design team, Nico embraces a design philosophy that revolves around real-world product testing and constant learning. They’re a self-described full-time designer and part-time climber, so when Nico isn’t working on the next innovative piece of Kahtoola gear, you’ll probably find them at a Flagstaff-area crag. But don’t be surprised to catch Nico backpacking, whitewater rafting or working on personal design projects—the latest is building a river dory named “Odonata”

Fun Fact: Nico is fluent in German and grew up in an off-grid house in the Cinder Hills outside Flagstaff

Mel Fricks

U.S. Sales Associate (She/Her)

Mel is inspired by the relationships that are formed between Kahtoola and our customers. When she isn’t helping connect those customers with our products, Mel loves kayaking, horseback riding, reading and nurturing a small obsession with dim sum!

Fun Fact: Mel spent most of her adolescent years in Saudi Arabia and traveling the world with her parents.

Courtney Giauque

Finance & Administration Associate (She/Her)

Before joining us at Kahtoola, Courtney spent time living and working in the Grand Canyon, and she would tell you it’s where she started to believe in magic! When she isn’t crunching numbers at Kahtoola, Courtney spends her time mountain biking, skiing, doing yoga, reading and going on adventures with her family. She also speaks three languages and spent several years living in Germany.

Fun Fact: Courtney can throw a frisbee really far and very accurately!

Danny Giovale

Founder & Owner (He/Him)

Danny is proud to foster an environment at Kahtoola that encourages everyone to lift each other up and take on adventures of all sizes together. When he isn’t in a meeting or testing products, Danny is off alpine rock climbing, canyoneering, packrafting or covering large distances on foot in wild places. Above all, he loves getting out on adventures with his partner and adult children—usually in the Grand Canyon!

Fun Fact: For years, Danny enjoyed taking trapeze classes with his kids when they were young.

Betsy Harter

Sustainability, Philanthropy & Conservation Associate (She/Her)

What Betsy likes most about working at Kahtoola is the work hard, play hard culture that's exemplified by all associates. When she isn’t keeping the books in order or helping Kahtoola reduce its environmental impact, she enjoys exploring wild place, especially the ones that are hard to reach. Whether it's bumbling around in the mountains, skiing powder or rafting down the Grand Canyon, there's nothing that Betsy loves more than doing these activities together with her husband and son.

Fun Fact: When Betsy was 20, she moved to Costa Rica on her own to be a river guide.

Jimmy Hopper

Marketing, Communications & Brand Development Associate (He/Him)

For Jimmy, working with passionate teammates while leaving a positive impact on the global community makes each day rewarding. When he isn’t finding innovative ways to tell Kahtoola's story, you’ll find Jimmy—a retired wingsuit BASE jumper—spending time with his family and two dogs or looking for adventure through mountain biking, kite/wing foiling, climbing, snowboarding, and backpacking. With all those interests, he is addicted to the learning curve and the process of getting better at something new.

Fun Fact(s): Jimmy grew up in Alabama and once sang at Carnegie Hall.

Moonie Le

Finance & Accounting Associate (She/Her)

As a Kahtoola Associate, Moonie loves that she’s able to combine the problem-solving, organization and critical thinking that comes with her role in finance and accounting with a workplace that values the outdoors and stewardship of the natural world. Moonie is passionate about traveling, learning new languages and experiencing new cultures through food. In her spare time, you’ll often find her cooking, hiking, backpacking or rafting with her husband and dog Gingko.

Fun fact: Moonie is older than her identical twin sister by 5 minutes, and although their relationship is close, they live on different sides of the world.

Brad Lever

Product Design Associate (He/Him)

Brad is the kind of guy that’s usually up for any outdoor adventure, but his personal favorites tend to be skiing, cycling and tennis. When he’s not working on a new product, product update or spending time outside, he enjoys doodling, cooking with his family and playing Nintendo games. Some would say he’s also obsessed with space, music history and dinosaurs—a true renaissance man!

Fun Fact: Brad is an Eagle Scout, a diehard Red Sox fan and a cheetos and whiskey aficionado (okay that’s four fun facts).

Rory McGivern

Shipping & Warehouse Associate (He/Him)

Rory takes pride in working at an outdoor company that truly cares about its employees and the planet. When he isn’t working on getting Kahtoola products to customers and dealers as sustainably as possible, Rory enjoys backpacking and Jiu Jitsu. After work he can often be found training at the gym, or hanging out at home with his dog and playing guitar.

Fun Fact: Rory used to lead backpacking trips for a living in the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah!

Cat Mellum

Warranty & Repair Associate (She/Her)

Cat is our resident problem solver. She loves taking a negative situation and using those skills to turn it into a positive one. When not solving warranty and repair issues here at Kahtoola, Cat likes to be outside walking, hiking or skiing. She’s also an avid cook, and loves creating new recipes to share with family and friends.

Fun Fact: Cat knows all the words to Led Zeppelin songs — a product of her teenage years riding in the car with her older brother!

Jon Parker

Global Sales Associate (He/Him)

Working at a company that’s dedicated to preserving the outdoor places we love to enjoy is important to Jon. And as Global Sales Associate, he works every day to help retailers understand that vision. When he’s got some spare time, you’ll most likely find Jon with his wife, two dogs and three college-age kids. Outside, Jon likes to mix things up with trail running, mountain biking, hiking and skiing.

Fun Fact: Jon grew up playing high-level soccer, but hated running. Now, he’s completed more than 12 ultramarathons.

Kassie Parmely

Sales Support Associate (She/Her)

Born and raised in Montana, Kassie got her first horse at the age of seven. Now living in Flagstaff, she’s still passionate about the outdoors, and loves working in a field where she can help others enjoy their adventures as much as she enjoys hers. When she isn’t helping Kahtoola customers, Kassie can be found riding horses, hiking, traveling, writing and enjoying live music.

Fun Fact: Kassie has run eight half marathons—six of which were done over six consecutive years in New Orleans, LA.

Paul Parsons

Shipping & Warehouse Associate (He/Him)

Getting out and enjoying the outdoors is important to Paul, so he’s right at home working with the crew at Kahtoola. When he isn’t diligently getting our gear out to customers, you’ll probably find Paul mountain biking, riding dirt bikes or fishing.

Fun Fact: In 2020, Paul rode over 3,600 miles and climbed over 187,000 feet on his mountain bike.

Christina Piazza

Shipping & Warehouse Associate (She/Her)

A hiker, backpacker, scuba diver and avid traveler, Christina spends much of her free time outside. Her love of the outdoors, our planet and passion for preserving our precious natural resources makes her a perfect fit for the team here at Kahtoola. Always up to try new things, she plans on getting her motorcycle license in the near future.

Fun Fact(s): Christina is a US Navy Veteran and has three grandchildren—which still always surprises the heck out of her!

Caitlin Schmidt

Visual Communications Associate (She/Her)

Cailtin lives off-grid outside of Flagstaff—the perfect base for someone that loves the outdoors! When she isn’t telling Kahtoola’s story through photos and graphics design, Caitlin loves to camp, hike, mountain bike and wake-surf. She also enjoys exploring the woods with her dog, Dottie, traveling, cooking and making a mess around her house with her latest DIY project.

Fun Fact: As a person with a quiet and reserved disposition, people are surprised when Caitlin tells them she was a cheerleader at Northern Arizona University (NAU)!

Emily Snelson

Sales Support Associate (She/Her)

Emily is always up for new adventures, but she’s most passionate about trail running and hiking new trails—the more rugged and steep, the better! When she isn’t hiking, running or helping to spread the word about Kahtoola products with the sales department, Emily enjoys road trips to out-of-the-way places, primitive camping, paddle boarding, kayaking and looking for new music and concerts to attend.

Fun Fact: Emily is a Microbiologist, and she worked for 16 years as a Medical Technologist on assignments all across the United States.

Krista Star

Human Resources Associate (She/Her)

As HR Associate, Krista values the emphasis that Kahtoola puts on encouraging customers and Associates alike to get out and play. When she isn’t helping others at work, you’ll likely find Krista out and about biking, working out, taking in a movie, or at home, cooking challenging meals or reading a good book.

Fun Fact: Krista is unfiltered! She lives her life unapologetically with moxie, wit and silliness.

Nicholas Sutherland

Purchasing & Supply Chain Management Associate (He/Him)

Nicholas finds inspiration in working alongside so many people who are as stoked about the outdoors as he is and in being part of a team “that makes stellar products”. When he isn’t working to get our products delivered on time and keeping tabs on inventory, you can usually find Nicholas bouldering or climbing a desert tower. He also loves backpacking, singing in his car, diner food and telling (mostly true) stories.

Fun Fact: Nicholas has spent time as a backpacking guide in Montana and living on a farm in rural Madagascar.