Organization and Leadership

The Transcaucasian Trail Association, Inc. (TCTA) is a non-profit corporation registered in Washington, D.C.

The TCTA currently supports two locally registered NGOs in the Caucasus, the Transcaucasian Trail NGO of Georgia and the Transcaucasian Trail Tourism Support NGO of Armenia. These local organizations are coordinating the development of the trail in Georgia and Armenia respectively. They are independent from the TCTA, but share the same vision.

In addition to financial support, the TCTA works to coordinate activities between the local NGOs and enable joint planning for the development of the trail, helping to ensure unity and consistency in the trail network and the experience for hikers. Want to learn more about our work? You can read our annual reports here.

Transcaucasian Trail Association Leadership

Matt Stephens
Board Member

Matt is an executive at Air Liquide. He has an MBA from INSEAD and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. He first traveled to the Caucasus in 1989 and has been interested in the region ever since. 

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Lizzie Schneider
Board Member

Lizzie is head of strategy and product operations at Google. Before joining Google in 2007, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Georgia. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School. 

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Laura Linderman
Board Member

Laura is a manager at Splunk, a data software company, and a research fellow at the Atlantic Council. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Georgia and has an M.A. in cultural anthropology from Indiana University. 

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Paul Stephens
Executive Director

Paul co-founded the TCTA in 2016. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Georgia from 2005-2007. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, he has written extensively on international affairs and global development. 

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James Scipioni
Board Member

James is the founder of an award winning adventure travel operator, developing and marketing community-based and ecotourism initiatives. He supports several sustainable tourism, social entrepreneurship, and conservation projects.

Laura Santos-Bishop
Board Member

Laura worked in Armenia and Georgia for several years as a Fulbright Fellow and school administrator. She has worked on trail crews in the U.S. and is currently pursuing her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center. 

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Local NGO leadership

Ashot Davtyans
Director, TCT NGO of Armenia

Ashot is a mountain guide and tour operator in Armenia and Georgia, now specializing in trail building and design. He also holds a masters’ degree in finance. He worked at FINCA Armenia before joining the TCT as the local volunteer coordinator for the Dilijan National Park trailbuilding project in 2017. 

Sopho Bagauri
Outreach Coordinator, TCT NGO of Georgia

Sopho’s interest in the Caucasus Mountains led her to work and volunteer in remote villages of Georgia, where she also collects local folk tales and legends. She has a B.A. in psychology and experience working with underprivileged children through IREX, World Vision, the U.N., U.S. Peace Corps, and Ilia State University. 

Advisors

Jeff Haack
Co-founder & Advisor

Jeff Haack is a co-founder of the Transcaucasian Trail Association. He is a professional cartographer, author, and technologist. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Georgia from 2006-2008 and has lived in the region for over six years, often exploring the mountains by bike or on foot.

Vahagn Vardumyan
Trail Development & Partnerships

Vahagn works with local organizations and international donors on ecotourism and trail development in Armenia. He is a founding member and former President of the TCT Armenia NGO. Vahagan was a team member of the Transcaucasian Expedition, supporting trail exploration and mapping.

Tom Allen
Explorer & Travel Writer

Tom is a professional explorer and travel writer. After envisaging a similar trail, he led the Transcaucasian Expedition in 2016, supported by the Royal Geographical Society and Land Rover, to explore the southern route of the TCT. He co-founded the TCT Armenia NGO in 2016, led the country’s first trail-building project in 2017, and now coordinates the exploration of the future route.

Marta Mills
Sustainable Tourism Specialist

 In addition to advising the TCT project, Marta has worked with national and local governments and international donors on rural and mountain tourism development in Georgia. She also writes writes regularly about tourism in the Caucasus.

Alessandro Mambelli
Mapping Specialist, Founder of Cartisan

Alessandro is an engineer by training and a serial entrepreneur. In 2016 he was part of the Transcaucasian Expedition, scouting and mapping the southern route of the TCT. In 2017 he founded Cartisan, a cartography company to create hand-crafted topo maps of the Caucasus and other underserved areas of the world.

Want to be part of the TCT? Find out how to hike the trail, join us as a volunteer, or become a member.

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