Jolie Ginsburg — Owner
Jolie Ginsburg is co-owner and CEO of Incredible Adventures. She started guiding for Incredible Adventures in 2000 soon after moving to San Francisco and 2 months later bought the company with her business partner Brian Deninger. She used to be on the road several days a week; now Jolie just does the occasional trip, but still likes that she can travel and interact with people while working. She grew up mainly in Houston and Pittsburgh, the oldest of a younger sister and brother, and has traveled to all 50 states and to every continent except Antarctica.
Jolie is an active member and coordinator of two local biofuel collectives, raising awareness of alternative fuels, making it more accessible and advocating its use by public transportation and other large fleets. Her favorite van is #3 because it’s the first van to be run on Biodiesel. She strives to be self-sustainable and environmentally conscious, both in her personal life and in her business operation. Jolie loves almost all outdoor activities – hiking, climbing, biking, anything that ends with “-ing.” Her favorite wine is beer, and her favorite foods are Japanese and Mexican. She’s been kissed by a black bear in Yosemite, and has spotted a few bobcats. Cloud’s Rest is Jolie’s favorite Yosemite hike because it’s like a slide that she’s tempted to ride down.
Brian Deninger — President
Brian Deninger is co-owner and President of Incredible Adventures and is responsible for marketing and business development. Brian moved to San Francisco in 1999, worked temp jobs and wore a suit to his job at Citibank until buying the company with his business partner Jolie Ginsburg. He grew up in Fontana, about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles. His love for the outdoors started as a teenager when he and good friend Damon almost froze to death in 14-degree winter weather, with tennis shoes and a living room pup tent. They survived, and Brian went on to lead backpacking trips at UC Santa Barbara. He still enjoys leading trips occasionally, especially the opportunity to interact with people from different walks of life. He appreciates being involved in his community and providing jobs to some pretty amazing people. He loves all Incredible Adventures vans equally.
Brian is on the board of and member of the San Francisco Biodiesel Collective. His hobbies include snowboarding, surfing, rock climbing, backpacking, camping, whitewater kayaking, traveling, and lately has been cultivating a taste for fine wine (especially Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon). His favorite music is alternative rock, and his favorite food, true to his SoCal roots, is Mexican.
Brian’s favorite Yosemite hike is the Hetch Hetchy Grand Canyon because of its amazing camps, few people, wonderful waterfalls, towering cliffs, and an amazing diversity in wildlife. His best wildlife sighting was a coyote chasing a deer – made him think of the trials of life. Homewood is Brian’s favorite winery in Sonoma because it’s his Cheers! He also really likes Ceja in Napa, a winery owned by former vineyard workers. One of his top spots in the city is the weekend drum circle in Golden Gate Park.
Brian has made numerous cross-country road trips and has traveled the world, including 4 months in China, and Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Egypt, Costa Rica, Mexico, and several European countries.
Brian is the youngest of three. His older sister Kellie Flowers is an amazing person, mother, and sister, and his older brother Mike Deninger is a bit crazy but always makes him laugh.
JD Boyle — General Manager
JD found his way to the mountains of Steamboat Springs, Colorado from the hills of Kentucky in 1995. He quickly began to expand his knowledge and love of the wilderness as a white water rafting guide, a rock climber and an avid backpacker. Moving south to continue his education at Fort Lewis College in Durango turned out to be a perfect fit as it was situated near all of the outdoor activities he loved and the study of the surrounding geology was absolutely enthralling.
In the spring of 2000, after guiding raft trips for four years, JD began his career as a North American Tour Leader spending most of that decade guiding people from all over the world to the highlights of the USA, Canada and Mexico as well as Guatemala and Belize.
After several years on the road as a guide, JD took a more serious role in transportation working with Con-Way Truckload and became a Certified Director of Safety through the North American Transportation Management Institute. He served as an Operations Assistant Manager, then the Fleet Safety and Compliance Manager and Head of Department for an international tourism organization.
The sense of adventure and care for the environment is still strong for JD, as he pedals his Surly LHT to work most days and with the recent purchase of a 37 foot sailboat, he’ll often be found exploring the San Francisco Bay under the power of the wind and, of course, the occasional use of some of that sweet recycled cooking oil from Dogpatch Biofuels when he has to crank up the diesel.
Jessa Venegas — Sales & Marketing Director
Jessa joined Incredible Adventures in 2010, initially working in reception and operations, and is now managing the Sales & Marketing for the company. Always a California girl, Jessa moved to San Francisco from her native home of Santa Cruz in 2004 to pursue a career in fine art. Though her illustrious career as a painter never quite materialized, she still enjoys creating visual art in many forms. She also sings and plays the ukulele.
Jessa loves the idea of making people’s vacations wonderful, and enjoys being in a position to help people find the perfect way to experience a new (or familiar) destination. When she travels, she likes to get off the beaten path and find something new and un-tourist-y. If she can learn a new recipe, a new song, or wind up totally lost somewhere, she’s happy.
Never really a city girl, Jessa’s favorite places in San Francisco are the green parts. You’ll often find her running at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, or hiking the trails at Land’s End (arguably the most beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean). Her favorite wine is Petite Syrah or Zinfandel, and her favorite beer is, of course, Anchor Steam. Her current favorite restaurants in SF are Nopalito (awesome Mexican food), and Plow (hands-down the BEST fried potatoes in SF, and dangerously close to the office).
Jessa spends most of her free time in the mountains foraging wild edibles, or in the kitchen cooking them. Having grown up in Northern/coastal California, she can tell you pretty much anything about the wildlife in the area (especially if it’s delicious). Believe it or not, she’s got a giant garden, a flock of backyard chickens, and 2 hives of bees right here in the city. Eventually she’d like to keep goats as well.
Damian Boudreau — IA Operations Manager
Hailing from the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Damian has always been an avid traveler and adrenaline junkie, so pursuing a career in the adventure travel industry seemed like a great way to blend those two passions.
After graduating from the University of Washington, Damian headed to a small coastal town in Oregon to write copy for a small town newspaper. The stress, deadlines, life in a cubicle, coupled with the lack of sunshine and fresh air, soon sent him looking for a new adventure. In 2008, he sold everything he owned and went overseas to teach English in Busan, South Korea. In 2010, he moved back to the States and started working as a tour leader for Trek America. He loved the feeling of taking folks from all over the world on amazing, adventure-filled trips all across the US and Canada.
After putting in four years on the road, he moved into the management side of the travel industry as an operations assistant with PEAK Adventure Travel. He recently moved to the Bay Area and loves the fact that he can swim in the Pacific, snowboard in the Sierras and dance in a San Francisco club all in one day!
Dan Katzen — Financial Controller and Business Development Manager
Despite growing up in the Pacific Northwest and being introduced to the outdoors at an early age by his parents, Dan’s real appreciation for nature and travel didn’t develop until after college. As an accountant stuck working in cubicles (and one time in an actual closet), he found that the outdoors provided a much-needed escape from the corporate world. In the summer of 2012 he decided to shake things up: he quit his job, bought a truck, and embarked on an adventure-filled road trip from California to Alaska. It was during this trip that Dan realized he had the freedom to do and be whatever he wanted.
Since that life changing revelation, Dan has been steadily seeking new experiences and pushing himself to find a meaningful way to live. He spent two summers as a tour guide, giving foreign passengers a chance to enjoy the type of road trips his parents took him on as a kid, as well as the trips he took in college with his friends. He believes that travel has an incredible power to change lives, and is excited and humbled to have a career that revolves around providing that experience.
In travel and in life, balance is important to him and when he is not busy making sure every passenger has an authentic, life changing experience, you can find him on his bike exploring San Francisco, rock climbing, rolling out his yoga mat, or checking out new music at local venues.
Anne Mayovsky — Business Relationship Manager & Guide
Growing up in Seattle, WA, Anne Mayovsky developed a deep love for the mountains wild, houseboat life, and IPA. She began her wanderlust in college where she hopped from Missoula, Iceland, and finally to Bellingham to earn her undergrad in Exercise Science. After college, instead of finding a career or going back for a master’s Anne spent a year traveling through New Zealand, cycling the Lewis and Clark Trail, and finally moving to Southeast Alaska to drive coaches for the cruise ships.
After a summer in Alaska, she then took up a job as a guide leading North America small group adventure trips for four years, culminating in another incredible season in Alaska.
And thus cemented the love of anything to do with adventure, travel, exploring, and community. Anne is excited to be returning to the tourism/travel industry, and moving to San Francisco with her bikes for every terrain, small library, and boxes of costumes!
Samantha Less — Accounts Administrator
Sam’s love of all things travel and outdoorsy started at a young age with growing up between Florida, Colorado, and Arkansas. Always an explorer, there was an early appreciation for nature through many family camping trips across the States, and a love of travel through trips to Europe to visit the Dutch side of the family.
After graduating from high school in Arkansas, and earning her college degree in Environmental Science in Colorado, it was off to explore California which would become her adopted home state, and a state still being avidly explored to this day, 13 years later.
After college, Sam worked in environmental education and sustainability outreach for about 9 years around California (including 5 years in the Bay Area) before switching gears to do some traveling. After backpacking around South America for 6 months and then volunteering on an organic farm for 4 months, Sam returned to San Francisco and started working for Incredible Adventures in early 2012.
She started off in customer service and reservations, but then discovered a passion for reconciling receipts and is most happy preparing invoices, resolving discrepancies, and yes, tackling spreadsheets in the role of the Accounts Administrator.
When not at work, Sam loves backpacking into the wilderness, hiking on local Bay Area trails, exploring new places, training in her martial arts practice, blog writing, and watching women’s soccer games.
Josh Garber — G Adventures Operations Manager
Josh was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, where everyone has their own favorite cheesesteak joint and next year is always the year that the beloved Eagles will bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Instead of starting a career or getting a job after attending the University of Pittsburgh, Josh got lost in Europe with his childhood friends and this ignited a passion for travel that has never dwindled.
He paid off his credit cards by playing in several jazz trios on cruise ships that took him to all the corners of the planet accessible by sea. Once he had explored enough port city markets, consumed plenty of beachside margaritas in the Caribbean, and haggled with nearly every taxi driver to get him as far from the ship as possible while returning in time for departure, Josh decided to look for a new adventure closer to home. Josh put down his bass and became a North American tour guide where he escorted travelers to dozens of cities and national parks, hundreds of restaurants and dive bars, handfuls of upscale dining establishments and art museums while fueling that passion for travel and cultivating his desire to share that passion with as many travelers as possible.
Josh is very excited to be working with such an eclectic crew that cares as much about their own travels as they do about enriching the lives of their fellow travelers, the places we visit and the people we meet on the road.
Melanie Schaffel — Integrated Marketing Specialist
Melanie grew up in Florida and graduated with a degree in Public Relations from Florida State University. In true Floridian fashion, Mel loves the sun, the ocean and good Cuban food. Her favorite travels have taken her to Australia, Brazil, Thailand and Hawaii. New Zealand, Iceland and more of SE Asia are at the top of the to-see list!
Due to low elevation and HIGH humidity, Mel discovered her passion for hiking later in life only after leaving her home state. Her ideal day in the city is spent at Dolores Park with a burrito from El Farolito and a walk down Clarion Alley. She’s usually a red wine drinker but loves a bottle of Larson Family Winery’s Gewurztraminer. Saturdays in the fall are for College Football – Go Noles! Ultimately, she’s happiest practicing yoga, dog watching or sailing around the Bay.
Since moving to San Francisco in September of 2013, Mel worked as the voice for all of San Francisco International Airport’s social media outlets and in office management at a start-up nearby. As a member of IA’s Sales and Marketing team, she is excited to encourage travelers to get outside and explore!
Julia MacDonald — West Coast Operations Assistant Manager
Julia first came to California from the snowy land of New Hampshire to save money while starting a Social Conscience Jewelry Company in 2013. Working as a CEO for G Adventures that summer she found a community that echoed her passions and shared her values in how and why we travel. After returning to New England for two years to run her company and become the manager of a social conscience Tibetan trade company, she gave in to her strong desire to be on “the road” and quit her job to return to the land of John Muir and the open road in 2015. Her summer guide work continued to foster her appreciation for meaningful travel and the immensely important relationship to sustainability and the environment that any interaction with nature imparts.
She is thrilled to become an active part of a company that is at the forefront of these dissecting paths, travel and the environment.
Kevin Tobin — Head Customer Service Rep
Kevin is a Northern California Native who was possibly raised by wolves in a mountain town by the name Foresthill. New to San Francisco and the big city life, Kevin spent the last 3 years going to school in beautiful Santa Barbara. While there, he worked as a Youth and Family Program Director which gave him valuable experience with program creation and department management as well as taking him to some amazing locations.
From directing cross California whitewater rafting trips to resident camps on Catalina Island, Kevin knew he found his passion in working in the outdoors and with those trying to find it.
Kevin plans to bring his years of experience working with customers and community members to make sure that all interactions with our reservations and customer service team are nothing short of incredible.
If Kevin is not in the Incredible adventure office you might be able to find him Hiking, Backpacking, or having a quick reunion with the wolves that taught him how to read his first trail.
Leslie Halward — Customer Service Representative
Leslie grew up mainly in Watsonville and Gilroy. Although she doesn’t claim to be a super outdoorsy type of person, she love nature; hiking and photography are her favorite ways spend some time in nature. Leslie moved to San Francisco almost 2 years ago and spent way more time being outdoors/enjoying hikes and historic landmarks in a city than she did back home in a town with forests and hills.
She likes being around people who are really happy about helping others experience nature and like venturing out all over the place to see as much as they can. Our customer’s journeys seem really exciting and interesting and make Leslie want to get out there too more and more.
Brendol Swygert — Customer Service Representative
Brendol grew up in the Bay Area. After graduating from Albany High School, she decided to try her hand in photography at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco. Although photography didn’t turn out to be her true calling, she does enjoy snapping photos every now and again in her free time.
She is also quite the movie buff! She loves going to the movies in her spare time.
Even though she would have never previously regarded herself as much of a nature girl, working at Incredible Adventures has opened her eyes to the true beauty that is nature itself.
Having yet to travel outside of the US, she hopes to do so one day to see what else the world has to offer!
Seamus Gildner — CSR
Although born nearby in Half Moon Bay, Seamus grew up on the East Coast outside of Boston. He truly realized his passion for travel in 2010 while pub-hopping across the UK and Ireland. Since then, he has traveled to 9 countries and is determined to explore many more.
At Skidmore College, he spent most his time studying History and International Affairs and rocking out in a sloppy campus rock band. He’s trilingual and has studied abroad in both Barcelona and Tokyo, where his most memorable experiences included running with the bulls in Pamplona, summiting Mt. Fuji, island-hopping throughout Thailand, and kicking back on the beautiful beaches of Okinawa and Mallorca.
Upon graduation, Seamus returned to Tokyo, where he spent two years studying intensive Japanese by day and bar tending by night. Happy to be back “home” in California, Seamus is excited to rediscover all of the amazing sites and cities that America has to offer.
Vince Harrington — Fleet Manager & Guide
Vince has been an outdoor adventure seeker and traveler for as long as he can remember. Beginning most recreational activities including backpacking and skiing at only 4 years of age, he never turns down an opportunity to be outside.
His most notable adventure took him to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia where he traveled via camel for 2 months. He has hiked the John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to the top of Mt Whitney as well as traveled the world on Semester at Sea covering over 10 countries in 100 days.
Vince has made San Francisco home for over 7 years. He’s currently hoping to learn to become a competent beginner kite surfer this season although he seems to be allergic to cold salt water.
Chris Clack — Guide
Chris was born in the desert of West Texas but grew up in the Hill Country just outside of the capital. He lived in Costa Rica for a short time so that he could learn Spanish in between surf sessions. He eventually moved back to Austin to get his degree in Linguistics. It was there that he realized his love of live music, yoga, swimming, disc golf and pretty much anything outdoors.
He lived in Australia for a while, traveled around much of Europe and most recently visited 38 states (plus Canada) in 2014.
He moved to San Francisco in the summer of 2014 to start working for Incredible Adventures and has been on the road ever since. When he isn’t hard at work, Chris enjoys raising wild animals, spear fishing, entering eating competitions, camping, and nice saison.
Alberto Nosenzo — Guide
Alberto was born and raised in the Italian wine region of Piemonte near France and Switzerland. He grew up hiking and skiing on the European Alps, and exploring most of Europe and the Mediterranean area on motorcycle.
He has called the San Francisco Bay Area home since 2002 while working as an official tour guide since 2009. One of his most important tour guide qualities is his multilingual capabilities, being able to speak fluently in English, Italian and Spanish for both domestic and international tour groups.
His passions include tasting new cuisines, exploring new areas, traveling, and meeting people from all over the world.
Leo Tarasov — Guide
Leo was the first generation of his family to be born in the USA from an artistic nomadic Russian family. Growing up he was able to live in much of the southwest, spanning from New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California and Mexico with frequent visits to the motherland Russia.
Naturally, the desire of travel and adventure sustain his pulse and drive him to explore and gain knowledge of this vast planet. So far Leo has traveled and studied kung fu in China, fine art in Russia and massage therapy and art in the USA. He still has plans to further his education in the future.
Currently Leo works as a guide/professional adventurer at Incredible and as sculptor when he’s not in the wilderness. In between he finds time to have his own adventures of finding new skateparks, riding backcountry powder, climbing and bicycling as far as he can get.
Mike Wardynski (AKA Nature Mike) — Guide
Mike was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and spent much of his childhood camping and fishing all over the state. Once he was old enough to obtain a drivers license he quickly began to explore the rest of the country, regularly visiting music festivals and national parks whenever he had the chance.
Mike moved west in April of 2010 to live and work in Yosemite National Park. There he worked for Delaware North Company and The Yosemite Conservancy. The Conservancy allowed Mike to deeply explore Yosemite’s backcountry while conducting trail reports for the valley wilderness center. He joined Incredible Adventures as a guide in 2013.
Some things never change. Mike still spends most of his free time enjoying music, nature, and travel. Should you find yourself on one of his tours you will see his love for all of these shine though.
Mitch Brown — Guide
Mitch Brown was born in Duluth, MN and lived in Two Harbors along the shores of Lake Superior (a.k.a. the Norwegian Riviera). At age eight he moved with his family to Ontario, Canada, living in Haliburton and Newmarket for seven years before moving back to the US. Subsequent moves to Michigan & Massachusetts followed. Extended road trips to visit his far-flung family members only sparked his love for travel. In 1991, he began to work for an adventure tour company and stayed until 2002. Mitch has met some incredible people from all over the world and has visited the most famous (and some not so famous) national parks in both the US and Canada. Hiking, rafting, biking, horseback riding and wine tasting are some of his favorite activities.
Mitch moved to San Francisco in 2004 to escape winter in Minnesota and can now be found leading groups to the wine country of Sonoma & Napa and to Yosemite National Park all year long. He loves living and walking in San Francisco and sharing his favorite restaurants, pubs & bars with others.
He recently visited Australia (only eight years behind schedule) and is eagerly looking forward to visiting Perth, Western Australia and Tasmania. Mitch loves getting to know his passengers and making sure that they have an “incredible adventure” that they will long remember as the highlight of their visit to San Francisco!!
Justine Patino — Guide
A Florida native with a California soul, Justine could feel the west coast calling long before she would call the Golden State home. Following her itchy feet and wandering heart, she’s spent the better part of her adult life seeking out the stories of the world.
She’s been lucky enough so far to experience a variety of adventures in her life. From volunteering in an African village to hiking the ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu; hitchhiking in the Carolinas to couch surfing in Eastern Europe; she has learned how to fall asleep under stars, on couches, in hammocks, tents, vans, cars, trains, and -once- even in a shed outside of Home Depot. Through her travels, she’s worked as a bartender in the big city, as a lifeguard in Florida, an assistant in a photography studio, a horse trainer on a ranch, and now as a tour guide for Incredible Adventures! She is so excited and grateful for the opportunity to share her love for the world & northern California with other travelers every day.
When she’s not guiding for IA, you can find her chasing the festival scene around the country, reading Jack Kerouac novels, playing her dad’s old guitar, or convincing her friends to take some spontaneous road trip.
Gina Teichert — Guide
Gina Teichert was raised in wilds of the Great Basin and represents the 8th generation of her family to work the land of the American West. Though the job title frontiersman is in short supply in the modern era, she finds inspiration in the same landscapes that compelled her ancestors to push west, and hopes a bit of that tenacity and adventurous spirit worked its way into her DNA.
Growing up in rural Nevada, Gina became an aficionado of ghost towns and time worn saloons (for their historic value, of course). While it’s easy to romanticize life in an earlier era, she reminds herself that her camp cooking far surpasses prairie victuals cooked over a buffalo chip fire.
More bios to come!