Meet The Team
These are the folks that will play primary roles in setting up the #Adventure2016 route! They’re educated and experienced at getting you safely from point A to B and helping you to have a positive impact on all the people and places in between!
Matt Friedlund founded The YP in 2011 to run short adventure trips for inner city and rural youth. Seeing even a little bit more of the world than the kids had previously known really changed their lives, so he tried the same approach with older kids (like himself!), trying to get jobs or into prestigious schools. In 2013 he led a world-record breaking bicycle expedition around the US. It got people jobs and acceptance letters from fancy schools – it also did a hundred hours of community service each week and hosted myriad community engagement events around 8,000 miles of the US. Since then, Matt has organized cross-continental expeditions around Europe and the US, and helped to lay the groundwork for small-group expeditions around the world. His goal is to make traveling all six of the populated continents accessible to most people by 2020. He is currently working on planning #Adventure2016 and developing curriculum for the college course he will teach during the trip on the ethics/philosophy question “What Makes A Life Worth Living?” He has studied at Yale, Huntington and Oxford Universities.
Leon McCarron, as a Northern Irish adventurer and filmmaker, is Director of Videography and Media. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and specialises in long distance, human-powered expeditions.
Leon’s first book – The Road Headed West – about his bicycle journey across North America was released in July 2014. It is now an Amazon Top 10 Bestseller and is available here.
At the end of 2012 Leon crossed 1000 miles of the Empty Quarter desert, roughly following the route of explorer Wilfred Thesiger and pulling a cart loaded with supplies. In May 2012 he concluded a 6-month, 3000 mile expedition walking the length of China, from the Gobi desert in Mongolia to South China Sea in Hong Kong. National Geographic produced a 4-part TV series of the journey. Other journeys include 14,000 miles solo and unsupported on a bicycle from New York to Hong Kong, a folding bike trip around the British Isles to climb the Six Peaks, a human-powered descent of the longest river in Iran, the Karun, and a crossing of Argentine Patagonia on horseback. You can read more about his journeys here, and watch his films and TV shows here.
Andrew Deckert is Director of Marketing. He has spent his career in marketing for various Fortune 500 companies. He is excited to merge his experience with large for-profits with the important not-for-profit cause of making traveling the world accessible to everyone. He is working toward a master of business administration from Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana. He holds a bachelor of business administration in managerial marketing from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He is passionately curious and a firm believer in studying topics outside of your specialty to build creativity and to be a generally well rounded human being. He lives in Chicago with his wife and 3 year old daughter.
Christian Watkins is Director of Development and Adventure Church. She is also a pastor, speaker, teacher, and travel enthusiast. Christian has taught and been the key-note speaker at various youth and summer events around the United States. She studied at Yale and Kansas Universities.
Andrew Henry is Director of Operations. Before #Adventure2016, he has been responsible for maintenance operations related to athletics, refuse and recycling, parking, general grounds, and other specialized services. He also spearheaded the University of Akron’s nationally recognized Game Day Zero Waste initiative, and coordinated similar sustainability events with area partners. He received his B.A. from Kenyon College and has earned his master’s degree at the University of Akron. He is an avid Cleveland Browns fan and currently resides in Norton, OH with his wife Kristin.