Boots on the ground.

Insider Expeditions takes great pride in having one of the most experienced and talented teams in the industry. Together we speak over seven languages and include alumni from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, UC Berkeley, American University, and other top educational institutions in the country.

Carl Shephard, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

As the founder of Insider Expeditions, Carl is proud to have led educational programs in more than 100 countries. He began his service in enrichment travel in South America with a local tour operator, leading cultural exchanges, service projects, and innovative travel itineraries throughout the region. Honored with a World Peace Fellowship by Rotary International, he then moved to Japan and worked with Peace Boat, whose travel programs focus on meaningful interactions and cultural exchanges with local communities, service efforts, and unique educational and enrichment opportunities for passengers.  Carl was later recruited to design the in-country academic field programs across 14 countries for The Scholar Ship, a semester abroad program that brought students from around the world to live and study together on a seafaring voyage.

Later as a political appointee and United States diplomat, Carl also had the opportunity to organize trade missions and business delegations for membership organizations to more than 30 countries.

Carl graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University and earned a master’s degree in international relations while serving as a World Peace Fellow in Tokyo. He speaks Spanish and Japanese.


Christopher Shephard, Co-Founder

Chris has developed extensive travel itineraries throughout Europe, South America, the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition to serving as a tour program leader, Chris has spent much of his international working life seeking to improve the conditions of developing countries. He has served the United States Agency for International Development in both Iraq and Afghanistan, focusing on education and health issues in those countries. Chris began his career as an experiential educator and tour leader, directing programs for the Princeton Blairstown Center.

Chris earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and holds a masters in international development from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in International Education at Columbia University.

IMG_5391Jordan Valdés, Chairwoman of the Board

As Chairwoman of Insider’s Board, Jordan’s involvement ranges from developing and maintaining Insider’s relationships in Cuba, to identifying strategic Insider partnerships and crafting new Insider adventures across the Cuban island. With unparalleled connections at home and abroad, and a unique ability to problem solve in even the trickiest scenarios, Jordan’s value to the Insider board is a linchpin for its success.

Jordan has lived around the world, with extensive professional and travel experience across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. She is also a passionate policy advisor, and served as President Obama as a senior advisor in the Office of International Trade in the Small Business Administration (SBA). Prior to her work at SBA, Jordan advised the US Agency for International Development, the Department of Energy and the World Bank in various projects from Latin America to Africa to Bangladesh, on issues ranging from carbon finance to supply chain and logistics. Oh, and she has served as a Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister of Bahrain. Jordan is fluent in Spanish and French and conversational in Arabic and Italian.

Mary Bruce, Special Projects Advisor

Mary has more than a decade of experience directing creative travel itineraries, major events, as well as strategic planning for national nonprofits. She’s traveled the globe, worked with media from Al Jazeera to NPR, and has specialized in customizing service-learning experiences domestically and abroad.  Mary’s first trip overseas was in high school, visiting Strasbourg, France, where she learned the benefits of living above a bakery, especially one just a short drive from the largest beer cask in the world.  She also lived in Morocco for two years while serving in the Peace Corps.

Before joining Insider Expeditions, Mary was the Co-Executive Director of AmeriCorps Alums, supporting 1 million alumni to plan their own life’s adventures and designing affinity experiences for an incredibly diverse membership base. She studied Arabic, Spanish, French, imiq Tamazergt, and ilan Tagalog. Mary graduated with highest distinction from the University of Virginia and also received her MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Elise Webb, Senior Trip Director

Elise has over ten years of research and program development experience in a career that has taken her around the world. She’s run the gamut, from working as a nine-to-five pilgrim in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to evaluating NGO programs in Rwanda—where her flailing muzungu moves won her a dance contest. Elise loves helping people as they traverse the globe, and recently spent two years in Thailand assisting individuals in crisis while working in American Citizen Services at the United States Embassy in Bangkok.

Elise has a master’s degree in global comparative sociology from The Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago. When she was deciding her undergraduate semester abroad program, she threw a dart at a map of Europe and it landed in Prague. With that, a globetrotter was born. She takes that sense of adventure with her into the unexpected as she plans off-the-beaten-path trips for others.

Amanda Eggers, Trip Director

Amanda has been combining education and travel for over a decade, teaching English in Ecuador and China, working as an investigator for a non-profit law firm specializing in education, and then later working in study abroad programming at a university in Florida and a study abroad company in Austria. She studied abroad in Germany, Cuba and Senegal, and her favorite travel experiences include interning for a German broadcasting company to cover the 2006 World Cup, hiking through the Inca jungle to see Machu Picchu and spending five days on safari in South Africa.

Amanda has a master’s degree in international education from the George Washington University and holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Appalachian State University.  She speaks German fluently and at one point could function in Spanish and Mandarin as well.  Amanda is passionate about the educational opportunities that only travel can bring and enjoys developing interesting and unique itineraries, whether for work or personal travel.

Dorothy Yen, Trip Director

Dorothy got her travel bug early in life after spending her childhood living in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. As a third culture kid, she feels the most at home when she is surrounded by new and unfamiliar things, and continues to explore the globe as frequently as she can in her spare time. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in biology and a master’s in secondary education. She spent the last 13 years teaching and sharing her love for learning about the world with her students. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she served as the Director of Global Studies designing and leading international education and service programs. She is fluent in Chinese and is working on her French. When she is not traveling, she loves spending time at home with her three dogs.

Julia Sommer, Tour Leader

Julia is a Swiss-American currently residing in New York City with over 8 years experience in travel, events, and marketing. She is a dynamic experiential architect and passionate group trip leader.  Together with Insider, Julia successfully co-launched an innovative group travel program featuring adventure getaways and immersive cultural excursions; this venture led her, along with 500 passionate globetrotters, on a voyage to conquer 7 continents in a single calendar year!




Robert Lord, Tour Leader

Rob comes to Insider Expeditions with a background in events and project management, having tackled everything from annual conferences and board meetings to charity auctions and concerts. He’s even helped manage several major construction projects in New York City. During his time living, teaching, and traveling in Spain, as well as backpacking throughout South America, Rob has cultivated a love for teasing out the most interesting features, history, and hidden wonders in any new environment. In turn, he has passed along this knowledge by developing experiential learning curriculum for both American and international audiences.

Rob graduated with a degree in political science from American University, where he learned the importance of fostering cross-cultural connections and creating opportunities for reflection on the similarities and differences that make us all human. He is happy to lend this expertise in the interest of planning and executing the most amazing educational travel experiences for our Insider clients.

IE profile picDaniel Peterson, General Counsel

Dan serves as an outside general counsel for small businesses and non-profits. He specializes in assisting organizations with outsized legal needs, such as B2B companies and those in regulated industries (like travel companies operating in Cuba under exceptions to the U.S. embargo). His other clients include auction experts, biotech geniuses, and pinball wizards.

Dan graduated from Yale University and the Georgetown University Law Center. In between, he taught scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and sailing in the Caribbean and Hong Kong. Dan is currently on hiatus from international travel until his two daughters are old enough to carry their own stuff.

Kristen Cambell, Tour Leader

Kristen’s favorite sound in the universe is the metallic crunching of a passport stamper. Growing up with a father from New Zealand and a mother from Oklahoma, she has always had unique understanding of the expansiveness of the world, and an insatiable curiosity about the many cultures and people within it. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband, who she is only slightly concerned may have married her for her frequent flier companion benefits.



Will Durbin, Tour Leader

Will’s international travels first took him as a teenager to Guatemala, a country he’s now visited over 15 times. As a result of his experiences there, Will decided to focus his career on international poverty reduction and has worked primarily on developing tools to monitor changes in poverty due to natural disasters and other crises. He’s lived in Nicaragua, Peru and India and has led trips throughout Latin America and Africa.

Will graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Ethics, Politics & Economics from Yale and holds a Masters of Public Affairs from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he focused on international development.

Katy Davis,  Tour Leader

Over the past 15 years, Katy has worked as a tour manager and documentary filmmaker across all seven continents, once orchestrating a live event on each of them simultaneously.  As a producer for National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, she sought out compelling stories and managed the logistics for complex international productions. Katy loves leading travel groups and discovering new connections and hidden gems in a city, no matter how many times you have been there before.
Having received her undergraduate degree from the University of Glasgow, studying Russian literature in Scottish accent, she revels the joy and adventure in navigating cultural barriers.

Alex Boxer, Creative Genius 

Alex is a physicist by day and a travel guru by night. As an expert in oceans and ocean technologies, he has traveled extensively both above and below the waves throughout the Pacific, the Middle East, and Europe. Alex has a passion for technology from all eras, from modern neural networks to medieval astrolabes.

Alex holds a Ph.D. from MIT in plasma physics, an M.Sc. in the history of science from Oxford, and a bachelor’s degree in classical languages from Yale. He is pretty much the smartest person we know, which helps to put unparalleled, unexpected surprises via his creative genius into every single program.

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