Leon Chartrand, Ph.D.
Founder and Director, Teaching Professor
"Dr. Leon" received a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in Environmental Ethics, and specializes in Thomas Berry, Mircea Eliade and Shamanism. He also holds two doctoral certificates: one in Theology and Ecology from the Elliott Allen Institute at the University of St. Michael's College; the other in Wilderness/Large Mammal Conservation from the Center for the Environment, Department of Forestry, University of Toronto. Before coming to Xavier University and starting Xavier Expeditions, Dr. Leon served as the Regional Bear Biologist and Bear Management Officer for the Wyoming Game & Fish Department in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He also served as the Bear Wise Community Planner for the State of Wyoming where he authored and implemented a community-based program to reduce conflicts between humans and bears. In addition to being a wilderness guide, Dr. Leon also specializes in the areas of Native American culture and perspectives, Environmental Philosophy, and Eco-spirituality. For Xavier Expeditions, Dr. Leon teaches "Wilderness and Religious Imagination," "Sacred Ground and the New Story," "Ecology, Ethics, Place," and "Native American Myth and Ritual."
Author, Teaching Professor, Creative Writing
Jacki Lyon is a teaching professor in the Department of English at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio where she has taught for more than a decade. She teaches writing courses including Creative Writing and Rhetoric as well as literary courses. Jacki is also an author whose first book, The Marriage of Silence and Sin, won the Independent Publishers’ Silver Medal and was a semi-finalist for the William Wisdom / William Faulkner Award. She is also a published poet. Beyond her writing, Jacki is passionate about her relationship with nature as she finds a strong spiritual connection with the Earth and all of its magnificence.
Adam Konopka, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor, Philosophy, Ethics, Religion and Society.
Dr. Konopka is currently a visiting professor in the philosophy department at Xavier and has served as the Besl Chair in the Ethics/Religion and Society program for the four prior years. He has offered sections of a core curriculum course entitled Philosophical Perspectives: Environmental Philosophy and Wilderness (PHIL 200) on several previous expeditions and has also taught a broad range of upper division philosophy courses at Xavier. Dr. Konopka received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University and has scholarly interests in a broad range of contemporary topics. He serves as a trustee of Cincinnati’s Mill Creek Alliance – a non-profit organization that whose mission is to empower Mill Creek communities to protect and enhance the value of the Mill Creek, its tributaries, and watershed – and has been involved in a variety of watershed restoration projects and policy initiatives. A lifelong fly angler, Dr. Konopka has fished throughout the Great Lakes river systems and the New England coast. He particularly enjoys exploring new fishing waters on the expedition trips.
David Reid, Ph.D.
Senior Teaching Professor, English and Literature
A native of Cincinnati, Dr. Reid received his doctorate in Linguistics from the University of South Carolina and has been teaching in the English Department at Xavier for 23 years. Before coming to Xavier, Dr. Reid worked as a technical writer and taught English in Tokyo, Japan. He has taught a wide range of both writing and literature courses at XU. His areas of expertise include the literature of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan and the postmodern novel. Dr. Reid has taught Literature & the Moral Imagination on three previous Expeditions: Gates of the Arctic (Alaska), Wrangell-St. Elias (Alaska) and Yellowstone (Wyoming), where he has focused on the literature of climate change. He is very excited to return to Wrangell-St. Elias this summer and to create a new English 205 course for the 2019 Namibia Expedition.
Logisitics and Administrative Support
Born in Tennessee and raised in Cincinnati, Amber graduated from Xavier with a degree in Biology. She has always loved to travel and, while a student, participated in a service learning semester in Kathmandu, Nepal. Amber spent the year after graduation as an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Providence Children’s Museum in Rhode Island working as a community outreach educator. She has also taught science at schools in Cincinnati, Kentucky, Alabama, and Germany. She and her husband, Nick, lived in Germany for almost four years and traveled extensively while there. They moved back to Cincinnati seven years ago where they currently live with their two kids. After the adventure of staying home with her daughter and son for six years, Amber is happy to be back at Xavier supporting the Xavier Expedition programs.
Neala, Dog Expert
Neala has been a trail dog since she was 7 weeks old. At 12 years old, she spent 7 years of her life as a companion to a bear management officer and learned how to be around horses, bears, moose and elk. Now a registered therapy dog, Neala enjoys visiting Elder Living Centers and comforting students during exam weeks and while on Xavier Expeditions. Her favorite things include anything to do with trails, water, beef, chicken, pork, bison and squirrel, as well as finding bones. She does not have any political affiliations, but she would likely not vote feline.
Now entering his fifth year with Xavier Expeditions, Joe began as a student on the first expedition in 2010 and was also a student in 2011. Since 2013, Joe has served as our graduate assistant and is beloved by students and faculty. He has his eyes on safety and also on ensuring students have opportunities to explore areas further during our expeditions off days. Joe also leads students on reflection exercises, wilderness activities and group discussions. He has proven himself to be an invaluable asset to the everyday function of each expedition. We are fortunate to have his assistance.
Donna is the most knowledgeable person we have when it comes to travel questions. She has played a primary role in Xavier Expeditions' success since it began and takes it upon herself to make sure we have the lowest possible travel expenses without diminishing the quality of the expedition experience. Donna is mindful of student budgets when it comes to planning these expeditions and she is the person to contact if you have any questions regarding travel arrangements and travel cost payments.