BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Our Board is made up of industry professionals who have come together with a combined interest in creating a useful standards body for the PTI. These people all bring different skills and qualifications with them. They have all been tested under a variety of national and international examining bodies and thus believe in the value of standards of operation in defining a profession and professional organization.

All Board members work for a variety of PTI companies and must read, sign and abide by the PTGA Conflict of Interest protocol (available for any member to see).

GRAHAM CHARLES

INAUGURAL PRESIDENT

Graham is uniquely qualified for this role and merger of polar tourism and training and assessment. Graham has been assessing outdoor skills and teaching how-to-teach for over 35 years.

He has been part of New Zealand’s professional outdoor training and assessment scheme from its first day of inception in 1987 to now being required by NZ law to teach outdoor skills. He has been working/playing/expeditioning in the polar regions for 18 years.

He has a worked in training and assessment programs around the world as a developer, assessor and licensed trainer. Currently he works free-lance as an Expedition Leader in the polar regions, runs the day to day operations of the PTGA and with the Leadership School at Wharton Business School and Tai Poutini Polytechnic developing their ‘expedition model’ of leadership training.

Polar Tourism Guides Association
  • Senior Assessor and SPTGuide
    • New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association
      • Kayaking Stage II Instructor and Assessor
      • Rock climbing Stage II Instructor
      • Mountaineering Stage II Instructor
      Skills Active New Zealand
      • Work Place Assessor
      New Zealand Ski Patrol Association
      • Ski Patrol Ski Test
      Emergency Care - Pre Hospital Emergency Care revalidated per requirements since 1987 Whitewater New Zealand
      • Stage II Instructor and Assessor
      • River Rescue Instructor
      New Zealand Avalanche Institute
      • Stage II Safety Management
      • OSH Hand Charging and Explosives Certificate
      Experienced Based Training and Development Awards
      • DisC Personality Profile Accredited Trainer
      • New Zealand Association for Psychological Type - Qualifying program (Myers Briggs Personality Indicator)
      • Situational Leadership II Accredited Trainer
      • Building High Performing Teams Accredited
      • Raving Fans Customer Service
      • Project Adventure Safety Skills and Standards Workshop
      Search and Rescue
      • Mt Cook Rescue Team Training 1994
      • Team Leader Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation 1992 -1997
      • Search Co-ordinator RARO 1995-97
      • Joint Antarctic Search And Rescue Team member Scott Base

MARIANO CURIEL

VICE PRESIDENT

Since 2003 Mariano has completed more than 200 polar tourism trips in the Arctic and Antarctic. 75 as Expedition Leader. He is one of the most experienced in the business.

He has been instrumental in the design, development and implementation of operations for the Antarctica XXI Fly & Cruise program.

Part of his work with Antarctica XXI is to train expedition guides and mentor new expedition leaders and he recognizes the time is ripe for developing industry standards of operation and a profession we can be proud of.

Mariano sits on two IAATO Committees, was the first Argentine to cross Greenland on skis and with his wife Loli has just embarked on the biggest expedition of their lives with their newborn son.

  • Certified Coastal Master (Sail/Motor up to 20 meter vessels)
  • Certified Rescue Diver (PADI)
  • Certified Advance Wilderness First Responder
  • STCW + Crowd Management and PBIP by IMO (Arg Coastguard)
  • Certified Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boats IMO
  • Several mountaineering courses, winter transit, glacial, crevasse rescue, high mountain

SOPHIE BALLAGH

TREASURER

Sophie has an extensive background in designing and implementing outdoor education programme, instructor training and expedition logistics in New Zealand and Asia.

She was a tutor for an outdoor vocational training program at Otago Polytechnic.

She has worked in the polar regions aboard small vessels as kayak guide and numerous other rolls for over five years and brings a ton of energy and enthusiasm for teaching skills to her PTGA role.

Polar Tourism Guides Association
  • Senior Assessor, SPTGuide
      • New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association
      • Sea Kayak level 1 instructor
      • Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP)
      • STCW Basic Training
      • Boat Masters – by Coastguard NZ
      • VHF Radio and MROC
      • Emergency Care – Wilderness First Responder

    KATIE CRAFTS

    SECRETARY

    Katie brings a valuable mix of experience working in the non-profit world and a blossoming understanding and passion for being the best ‘new’ polar tourism guide she could possibly be.

    She has worked as Executive Director for a number of non-profits in the US spanning conservation, economics, and recreation, helping to facilitate strategic planning, board development, and establish communication plans with stakeholders.

    She left non-profit work and became Secretary of Recruiting at a contingency recruiting firm for digital advertising clients based in New York, LA and San Francisco.

    Now Katie works as a naturalist with Lindblad, and an Expedition leader for Natural Habitat in Greenland and Churchill.

    • Wilderness First Responder & Adult CPR
    • Able Bodied Seaman 80 hour class through the US Coast Guard
    • AIARE Avalanche Level 1
    • STCW Basic Safety Training
    • River Rescue Course through Sierra Rescue

    DR PHIL WICKENS

    Phil studied biology at Imperial College in London, England. After completing his PhD in plant pathology, he worked for two winters and three summers as a field guide for the British Antarctic Survey, combining his passion for natural science with that of mountain exploration and photography.

    As a keen climber and ski mountaineer, he has led numerous climbing and skiing expeditions to Antarctica, Tibet, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Peru, East Greenland, the Caucasus and Canada, and was recently Vice President of the Alpine Club.

    He had led numerous highly successful private mountaineering and ski mountaineering expeditions to Antarctica, having made the first ascents of over 30 thirty unclimbed Antarctic mountains. This is his 19th year operating in the polar regions.

    • PhD – Biology from Imperial College
    • UIAA (international Union of Alpine Associations)