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, as well as an early-stage team in Azerbaijan that is currently working to establish an organization. These local organizations are coordinating the development of the trail in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan 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

Laura Santos-Bishop
Board Chair

Laura is an Associate at Quinn Emanuel. Previously, she 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 holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. 

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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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Elizabeth Yancey
Community & Memberships Coordinator

Elizabeth joined the TCT team in 2023 to manage our international outreach efforts. She taught English in Georgia from 2011–2013, returned to Georgia as a TCT volunteer in 2022, and then coordinated the TCT international volunteer program in Svaneti in summer 2023. She holds a B.A. in Geography and History and an MSc in Education.

Ayka Agayeva
Board Member

Ayka Agayeva is the IT Operations & Programs Lead at Google. Ayka spent her childhood summers hiking through the mountains of Azerbaijan and shares the passion of TCTA for sharing the unique beauty of Caucasus Mountains with the world. She holds a B.S. in Information Systems from the University of Texas in Arlington.

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Matt Stephens
Board Member

Matt is the co-founder of Impact Nano. 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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Paul Stephens
Founder, Advisor

Paul started 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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Laura Linderman
Board Member

Laura is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a DC-based think tank. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Georgia and has an M.A. in cultural anthropology from Indiana University. 

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Meagan Neal
Executive Director

Meagan joined the TCTA in 2020 after serving as a trail crew leader in Georgia. Previously, she worked in development economics research at MIT’s Poverty Action Lab. She studied economics and Russian at Middlebury College.

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Transcaucasian Trail Armenia NGO Leadership

Tom Allen
Founder & President

Tom is a professional explorer and travel writer. After independently envisaging a similar project, 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 founded the TCT Armenia NGO in 2016 and has served as the organisation’s president since 2017.

Artur Karapetyan
CCC Trainer

Artur is one of our longest-term trail crew members, and has been involved with the TCT and our partner Trails for Change since 2017. One of the major positive effects of his seven years working on the trails is his ability to fall asleep almost anywhere. (So if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, come out and join a trail crew!)

Ashot Davtyan
Director & Vice-President

Ashot first joined the TCT as the local volunteer coordinator for the Dilijan National Park trail building project in 2017. A former mountain guide and adventure tour organizer, he is now involved in trail development and educational projects with TCT’s partner organization Trails For Change. He holds a masters’ degree in finance management.

Gohar Karapetyan
CCC Trainer

Gohar has been working on the trails in Armenia for the past three years with Trails for Change, and she’s looking forward to hosting her Georgian counterparts in Armenia this season. Gohar is no stranger to Georgia—she spent time there as an Erasmus exchange student when she was younger—and looks forward to spending more time there this summer!

Meri Grigoryan
Project Coordinator

Meri joined TCT Armenia in 2022. She works with the TCT & partner organization Trails For Change to coordinate Youth for Change trail building camps in several regions of Armenia. Before that, she worked at People in Need Armenia and helped develop the Legends Trail in Syunik, a 150km section of the TCT.

Transcaucasian Trail Georgia NGO Leadership

Giorgi Jmukhadze
Technical Manager

Giorgi leads field project management and curriculum development for the TCT NGO of Georgia. He was an Earth Corps crew member in Seattle, Washington in 2018. Previously, he volunteered on TCT trail crews and for an ecological organization in Romania. He holds a B.A. in Food Technology.

Ninia Asatiani
CCC Trainer

Ninia embodies the “whistle while you work” lifestyle, and can often be found singing as she expertly handles a pulaski or spade. She first brought her sunny personality and musical talents to the TCT as a volunteer in Zeskho in 2022, and graduated from the CCC program in 2023. This year she returns as a CCC trainer and is excited to train the new cohorts. If you’re lucky enough to work with Ninia, be prepared for song- and work-filled days under the sun!

Vakhtang Chkhitauri
Crew Leader Trainer

Vakhtang leads trail crew leader training programs for the TCT NGO of Georgia. He first joined the TCT as a volunteer in 2017, and has since become a veteran trail crew leader who teaches others. He was an Earth Corps international crew member in 2019 and holds a B.A. in IT Engineering from Ilia State University.

Ia Iakobashvili
Partnerships Manager

Ia leads partnership development and outreach for the TCT NGO of Georgia.  She joined the TCT in 2019, which sparked her interest in a career in environmental conservation. She is currently serving as an EarthCorps international crew member and pursuing her MSc in nature protection and forestry at Ilia State University. 

Papuna Gozalishvili
CCC Trainer

Papuna graduated from the Caucasus Conservation Corps crew leader training program in 2022. He led crews that summer and returned in 2023 as a trainer for the new CCC cohort. He had so much fun training last year’s crew leaders (or maybe it was all the gorgeous views during lunch breaks!) that he just couldn’t stay away. In 2024, he returns to us for a second season of crew leader training and third year overall of working with the TCT.

Sopo Bagauri
Supporters’ Treks Guide

Sopo has been involved with the TCT since its beginning, from community outreach in Svaneti to guiding supporters’ treks. She has years of experience 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 IREX, World Vision, the U.N., U.S. Peace Corps, and Ilia State University.

Rima Beridze
Grants Manager

Rima joined the TCT team in 2022 as a Grants Manager. She also works at American Councils for International Education as Open World Program Assistant and at NGO Step Toward Success as a Director, where she promotes non-formal education for youth living in regional parts of Georgia. Rima has a Master’s degree in Law.

Transcaucasian Trail Azerbaijan Project Leadership

Nazrin Garibova
Project Manager

Nazrin launched the TCT’s efforts in Azerbaijan in 2021 and leads partnership development, volunteer coordination, and route scouting in Azerbaijan. From 2021-2022, she taught in Baku on a Fulbright fellowship. She holds a B.A. from the College of William & Mary, and previously worked on trail crews in the U.S. 

Abuzar Aghazada
Program Manager

Abuzar joined the TCT team in 2022 and now leads the Caucasus Conservation Corps program in Azerbaijan. He is also a mountain guide, co-founder and director of an outdoor gear shop in Baku, and developing a dehydrated food startup in Azerbaijan. He holds a bachelors’ degree in environmental engineering.

Gunay Murshudova
CCC Program Planner

Gunay joined the TCT team in 2023 to plan and manage our Caucasus Conservation Corps program in Azerbaijan. Her background includes an associate degree in finance, several years of HR management within the Mountain Resort Industry and the retail sector, and over seven years of expertise as a mountain guide in Azerbaijan.

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