It takes a team to strive towards our mission of fostering and inspiring servant leadership. Represented on this team are our Full Time Staff, Seasonal Part Time Instructing Staff, Board of Directors, and Belay Team Members. Learn more about each of these below.

 

full-time Staff

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TOM HENRY Executive Director, Lead instructor

To compliment his deep passion for teaching through adventure, Tom has over a decade of experience leading groups climbing and in the back-country. He has had the privilege of serving with organizations such as Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Before co-founding AML, Tom was also honored to serve as the Director of Leadership Development for Ascend Outdoor Adventures in Austin, TX. Tom has a B.S. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management from Clemson University and a M.A. in Educational Ministries from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Tom is a Wilderness First Responder and holds a current Single Pitch Instructor certification from the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA).

 
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JESSE LILE, PhD Community Investment Director, Lead Instructor

Jesse has a passion for cultivating and engaging community in ways that foster life and growth in its members. His long-standing enthusiasm for outdoor adventure has led him to recognize its powerful catalyzing force for meaningful connections and growth opportunities among those who share in these experiences together. Jesse has served as an instructor and facilitator of outdoor experiences with AML and other outdoor organizations and holds a certification as a Single Pitch Instructor through the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA). Beyond his role here with AML, Jesse is a professional counselor in private practice and has served as a counselor educator in university settings. He gained his MA in Marriage and Family Therapy at Appalachian State University and his PhD in Counselor Education at Virginia Tech.   


Instructing staff

We rely on a pool of professional and passionate Instructors to facilitate AML programs. Here are some of the faces 


BOARD OF DIRECTORS

LANDON PRUITT

Landon is an Environmental Engineer who has worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency for five years performing groundwater and soil investigations at hazardous waste sites in the southeastern United States.  He earned a BS from Lenoir-Rhyne University in Physics and an MS from Clemson University in Environmental Engineering and Earth Science.  He is driven in his profession with a passion for the natural environment that is rooted in Christian stewardship of the Earth.

While at Clemson, Landon led and participated in many outdoor adventures through Clemson Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE) as well as with friends he met at the University.  It was through these adventures that he formed many lasting friendships, while strengthening his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Originally from Seneca, SC, Landon developed a passion for the foothills and mountains of Southern Appalachia as a child.  As an Eagle Scout, he began hiking, backpacking, sailing, and paddling, while improving his leadership skills and serving the local community.  He loves woodworking, gardening, biking, climbing, Jesus Christ, his wife and family (not necessarily all in that order) and spending time recreating with his family and friends.  He currently resides in Athens, GA with his wife Ashley.

 

TAYLOR EIDSON

Taylor is a General Contractor with Eidson & Associates in Cullman, AL and has been working there since 2012. He project manages and estimates for various types of construction projects in North Alabama.  He earned a BS from Clemson University in Civil Engineering in 2007. 

While at Clemson, Taylor was actively involved with leadership through Clemson Outdoor Recreation & Educations (CORE), working at the university climbing gym and helping to start the Clemson Climbing Club.  He was blessed to have the opportunity to spend many days enjoying outdoor activities around the area that led to lifetime friendships, opportunities to fellowship with kindred spirits in Christ along with nurturing his personal relationship with Christ through these friendships and adventures.

Taylor is originally from Cullman, AL where his passion for outdoor adventures began during his teenage years in taking outdoor trips with friends and church members.  He enjoys spending time biking, climbing, trail running, gardening, with Jesus Christ and recreating with family and friends. He currently resides in Huntsville, AL with his wife, Rachel and their pets.

 

DR. LIONEL VAN DER WESTHUIZEN

Dr. Lionel van der Westhuizen is a board certified general surgeon living in Boone, NC. He graduated from Covenant College and studied at the Medical College of Georgia, obtaining his medical degree in 2007.  He then completed his General Surgery residency and Minimally Invasive Fellowship at Greenville Health System in Greenville, SC.

Lionel was born in South Africa, and grew up as a missionary kid in Chile, South America. During his time in Chile he developed a love for the outdoors, including skiing, hiking, backpacking and climbing. These interests and skills were honed as he obtained his Eagle Scout rank. His (and his wife’s) love for the outdoors played a big role in their decision to move to Boone after he completed his training.

Lionel is active in his church as well, where he serves as an Elder and regularly helps lead worship. His goal is to be used by Christ both in his professional career and his personal life.  He served in medical missions in Honduras during his surgical residency, and he has a continuing interest in medical missions in the future. Lionel is married to his wife Stephanie, and they have three children: Elie, John, and Caleb.

 
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JASON TAFT

Jason is a Director at the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, where he leads the team responsible for the implementation of the Operation Christmas Child project around the world.   Before joining Samaritan’s Purse in 2007, Jason and his wife Amelia lived in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia helping to lead sports and outdoor programs for children affected by civil war.  He earned a BA from Colorado Christian University in Social Science and a MA from Norwich University in Diplomacy.  

Jason grew up in the foothills west of Denver, CO where he spent many days skiing, backpacking and climbing mountains with his friends and youth group.  These experiences laid a foundation for his love for God, His creation and the leadership lessons learned in the wilderness.  While at CCU, Jason was involved in Outdoor Leadership programs with urban Denver youth and also used mountaineering expeditions to Mt. Elbrus (Russia), Chimborazo and the Ilinizas (Ecuador) as outdoor leadership development and discipleship opportunities.  

Jason is involved in the Boone community, volunteering in his local church as well as serving as a member of the Appalachian Ski Mountain Ski Patrol.  He enjoys trail running, skiing, good coffee and spending time outdoors with friends and family.  He currently resides in Boone, NC with his wife Amelia and their kids Ethan, Elliott, Sylvia and Cora.

 
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TOM HENRY

Tom has had a passion for adventure for as long as he can remember, and he has been really blessed to live that passion out professionally. One of his greatest joys is seeing others find the treasures that await them in wilderness and adventure programs. He’s a Clemson grad and also holds an M.A. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Tom has had the privilege of serving with Outward Bound as well as NOLS. From 2011-2014, Tom was also honored to serve as the Director of Leadership Development for Ascend Outdoor Adventures in Austin, TX. He also holds a Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) certification through the AMGA and a Wilderness First Responder through SOLO Wilderness Medicine.

Tom currently resides, with his amazing wife Emma, in Boone, NC where he serves as co-founder and executive director of Appalachian Mountain Leadership. His greatest passion is his relationship with the Lord- which is the heartbeat behind his desire to foster and encourage servant leadership.


belay Team

AML's Belay Team is a group of individuals, families, churches, organizations, and businesses that partner together in striving towards the mission of AML. Belay Team Members partner through financial support, prayer, encouragement, and the giving of their time and expertise in program and administrative areas of our operations.

SUPPORTING BUSINESSES, ORGANIZATIONS, AND CHURCHES ON AML'S BELAY TEAM: