Woolman Staff


Headshot Gray Horwitz, Head of School

In guiding Woolman, Gray hopes to foster experiential learning, caring communities, acceptance and Quaker values. Having been involved with Quakerism from a young age has helped Gray develop a deep appreciation for Quaker Education. After attending Oberlin College, where he graduated with a B.A. in Physics, he worked at The Boys Club in Harlem creating and directing STEM programs for elementary, middle and high schoolers. Following that, Gray worked at The Island School, a semester school in The Bahamas, teaching placed-based math. His work there led him to seek out other semester schools and, eventually, led him to Woolman. After teaching Environmental Science for two years, Gray undertook the Head of School role.

Headshot Carl Sigmond, Operations Manager

Carl grew up in a progressive family and community in Philadelphia, PA, and was an active leader in Quaker youth programs, both regionally and nationally. He attended the Spring 2009 Woolman Semester, an experience that changed his life. He fell in love with the community and land here at Woolman and dreamed of coming back. After attending Haverford College, where he majored in Computer Science and developed an independent minor in Quaker Studies, Carl returned to Woolman in August 2013 to give back to a place that gave him so much. For the 2013-14 academic year, Carl was our Media and Technology Intern and the co-teacher of our Peace Studies Documentary Class. He became our Operations Manager in June 2014. In his free time, you might find Carl exploring the woods of Woolman's 230-acre campus or relaxing (or eating) with an episode of Democracy Now!.

Headshot Emily Wheeler, Program Director

Emily was born and raised in northern Vermont where she learned the terms "democracy" and "capitalism" at the age of 10 from giant puppets on the stages of the political theater organization Bread & Puppet. Wondering why these words/concepts/institutions didn't show up again until the college classroom, Emily developed a deep longing for more accessible radical education. As an educator, time in the woods has always been important to Emily and she sees the dire need to cultivate healthy relationships to self and the world via nature-connection. She is devoted to improving access to educational opportunities for all youth across the country and world. 


Headshot Brianna Beyrooty, Admissions and Outreach Director

Coming from a suburb of Los Angeles, small communities and nature have always enticed her. Brianna joined Woolman as Admissions and Outreach Director after holding a few different roles here at Sierra Friends Center. Starting as a camp Counselor Brianna fell in love with the Quaker Community, enjoying the breathtaking landscape and the humans that inhabit it; Moving forward Brianna became Teen Camp Coordinator, and then enjoyed a season working on Woolman's Educational Garden. Sierra Friends Center- in any facet- is one where Brianna feels at home and welcomed.  She is overjoyed to share with others what Woolman has to offer and hopes others find a home here as well. 


Headshot Amelia Nebenzahl, Global Thinking Teacher

Amelia is originally from Massachusetts and throughout the years she has come to find a home in many places around the world. She has studied International Relations and Peace Education at both the bachelor and master's levels and is thrilled to be putting her expertise, passion, and experiences into practice at Woolman. Amelia feels driven by passion and responsibility to engage in the deconstruction of systems of oppression on a global and local level, particularly education systems, and to stand in solidarity with those striving for true justice and equity. She believes that relationships are at the core of creating a peaceful society and thus loves fostering both person to person as well as person to land relationships at Woolman. In the past she has led community service and cultural immersion programs for high school students in Senegal, Ghana, Rwanda, and India. She enjoys being in the outdoors and always gets a kick out of learning words in new languages. Amelia finds immense hope in the spirit, ideas, and motivation of Woolman students and trusts that they will bring great change to the world in their own unique ways.

Headshot Andrew J. Sellery, Ceramics Instructor

Born and raised in sunny Southern Ca. Andrew moved to the Grass Valley area with his family of two boys in 1990. The ocean his back yard growing up, he soon fell in love with the Yuba River and has been an active member of SYRCL which looks after the health and well being of the river. Working in clay has been his primary passion since childhood. Growing up in a family of artists, freedom of expression was always supported. He has worked as a scenic artist for Warner Bros., taught pottery in private studios, and was the Art Dept.Tech for Sierra College from 2005-2010. He first felt the magic of Woolman in 2002 during a woodfire event held annually on the campus of Woolman. To teach here has been his dream for many years, and is now realized ! He looks forward to creating a safe place for personal expression, artistic growth, and a deeper connection to Mother Earth.

Headshot Hilary Ellis-Lavigne, Nonviolent Communication Teacher

Hilary came to Woolman in 2006 as an intern. She now teaches Nonviolent Communication, has worked many hours in the kitchen and the garden, still cooks for camp and other events, and is also Woolman's housekeeper. Prior to her Woolman days she worked as a professional actress, an Outward Bound Instructor and a white water raft guide. She was co-owner and operator of G.A.I.N. Inc. (Growth and Adventure in Nature), an outdoor adventure team-building business. She was born in Yaddlethorpe, England, grew up in Derbyshire, rescued worms from the garden pond, bred rats and guinea pigs, walked dogs, and rode horses and motorcycles. She rode a Honda 500/4 all around Eastern and Western Europe before the wall came down and then happened to be in Berlin when that amazing event happened. She lives on campus with her two children, Shendo and Sebastian, and never wants to leave.

Headshot Lisa Putkey, Peace Studies Teacher

Lisa is excited to be learning, creating, and dreaming with the Woolman community. She comes to this community on Nisenan land most recently from Costa Rica where she got her masters in Peace Education at the United Nations University for Peace. Before that, she lived, worked and organized in Chimayó, New Mexico. There she made deep friendships and sought to support grassroots resistance, education and mobilization efforts for environmental justice and healing from the US theft of the sacred Jemez Mountains from the Northern Pueblo Peoples for the Manhattan Project and continued operation of the UC run Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Laboratory. Prior to this, Lisa worked as a Scoville Peace Fellow in the national DC office of Peace Action Education Fund collaborating with multi-issue, multi-generational activists and educators nationally and internationally to organize peace and disarmament conferences, workshops, trainings, direct actions and demonstrations focused on amplifying youth and community voices omitted from mainstream nuclear narratives. Prior to DC Lisa worked with United Healthcare Workers West representing convalescent home workers, and then as a community organizer with ACORN in Oakland. She graduated in 2008 from the University of California at Berkeley with a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Intern Program

Headshot Nicole Esclamado, Intern Program Coordinator and Kitchen Manager

Nicole graduated from Harvey Mudd College with a B.S. in Biology and four years of work in a bioengineering lab.  After sneaking peaks into the microscopic worlds that thrive within and around us, she became hooked on the mysterious ebb and flow of life.  She left the lab to continue exploring these connections that shape and shift our vitality. She worked at a sustainable living and environment education center in Costa Rica, the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, California, and Round the Bend Farm in Massachusetts.  She first came to Woolman to teach math and art, connect with the wonderous landscape of the Sierra Nevada foothills, and live with brilliant, hilarious, and curious people.  She now is the intern program coordinator and kitchen manager.  And for fun she walks her goats around campus, plays with her pups, studies functional medicine and nutrition, and practices listening through her hands with craniosacral therapy.  


Headshot Charlotte Lippincott, Farm to Table Manager

Charlotte comes to Woolman with immense excitement to explore our food system and celebrate our food stories! She spent much of her childhood joyfully, partially submerged in the Chesapeake Bay. Her experience working on organic farms and studying sociology and environmental studies at Guilford College have instilled in her a deep curiosity for the natural, social and political systems that we are all consciously and unconsciously a part of. She is excited to be a part of a community striving to co-create a safer space for justice, healing, growth and gratitude, and sees the garden as a perfect place for all of those values to be practiced and embodied. She loves art, soil, learning, and hard work. 

Headshot Jared (Red) Feola, Maintenance Staff

After spending four years exploring outside the US, teaching, traveling, volunteering and learning about permaculture and sustainability, Red feels right at home at Woolman. A community member since 2009, he strives to continue learning the skills necessary for becomming self sufficient. Red's passions include spending time outdoors, hiking at the Yuba, playing music and soccer, and enjoying the satisfaction of a hard day's work.

Headshot Ellis Garvin, Maintenance Staff

Ellis found a home at Woolman in 2015, and immediately fell in love with the people and the beauty of the land.  As one of the maintenance staff on a campus with 140 acres and 47 buildings, there is never a dull moment!  In addition to his tool boxes, Ellis brings to Woolman a deep love of people, based on his life journey; starting with a spiritual quest to India at age 15, and later incorporating decades of personal growth and social justice work.   After more than 30 years investigating human nature, Ellis is a firm believer in the inherent goodness and deep interconnectedness of all people.  He is both proud and grateful to call Woolman home.