Hope Wilder

Executive Director

  Hope tries out kite-skating, the new sport eveyone's crazy about

Hope Wilder is a lifelong learner and community builder living in Durham, North Carolina. She had an accelerated experience of the public school system, graduating from the University of South Carolina at the age of 19 with degrees in Biology and German.  For the past dozen years, she has worked and played as an alternative outdoor educator and science teacher at private schools and local nonprofits including Piedmont Wildlife Center and Duke Gardens.

 At Pathfinder, Hope loves spending time with the kids every day, and serves as "core founder" and "vision keeper" along with running the website, managing events, and staff.

She enjoys making art & music, DIY fashion, and being outside.

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Reuben Saunders



Reuben Saunders serves as Administrator for Pathfinder. Reuben has experience as a General Manager for small arts not-for-profits, as well as a theater background and advanced studies in performing arts. 

Reuben enjoys cooking and playing the ukelele, and believes that theater can change the world.

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 Jaisy Courtney

Spring Program Assistant


Jaisy Courtney is a mother of four children ages 5-19. Committed to conscious living and conscious parenting, she is dedicated in her efforts to shifting paradigms and transforming the way children are raised.  She started a karate business with her husband Trey, and has a background in childcare and operational management.  At Pathfinder she has enjoyed bringing the space to life and working with the kids. She enjoys making something out of nothing, cuisine, learning about different cultures, writing, reading, and Zumba.

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Board of Directors

Dr. Kevin Currie-Knight

Currie-Knight headshot ECU.jpg

Kevin Currie-Knight is a Teaching Assistant Professor in East Carolina University's College of Education. He specializes in philosophy and history of American education, and hosts the Youtube show Schooled. He teaches courses on (among other things) how learning and motivation work and how school's structure impacts the learning process.

Kevin is currently working on writing articles and compiling research that supports more student freedom in education. For fun, Kevin enjoys vegan cooking (where he is an eager novice), expanding his jazz music collection, exercise, and reading.

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Jesse Crossen

Jesse Crossen (married to Hope Wilder) is an entrepreneur at heart. A graduate from NCSSM and NC State School of Design, he co-founded Tackle Design, a successful industrial design and consulting firm. He is currently working as a software developer with VoiceThread, an online media sharing and communication tool for education and business.  He enjoys breakdancing, cuisine, and tinkering with electronic musical instruments.

Dr. Deborah Amaral

Deborah Amaral is an adjunct professor of Environmental Studies at Elon University. She has worked previously at NCDENR and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds advanced degrees in chemistry, engineering, and public policy. She has served on the board of the Cape Fear and Haw River Assemblies, and is the founder and managing director of the Handy Village Institute for alternative energy technology. In her free time, Deborah enjoys metalsmithing, weaving and painting silk.


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Sally Erickson

Sally Erickson is a semi-retired psychotherapist, and entrepreneur. She’s produced a documentary film, designed and installed several large outdoor tile mosaics, and founded a still-vibrant rural intentional community. Sally is the mother of two adults who as children experienced a wide variety of educational models including public school; a startup, alternative school-within-a- school; un-schooling ; charter schools, and a private arts academy. 

She loves self-directed and democratic education and sees the importance of offering that choice to many students and families for whom the traditional systems are simply not working.

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