Elana Mintz, Executive Director. Elana is the founder and executive director of Urban Adventure Squad/Urban Learning and Teaching Center. She began UAS in 2014 to support families on days when schools were closed, so that parents/guardians could go to work and children could learn about environmental science, history, the arts, architecture, and much more while they explored the neighborhoods, greenspaces, and waterways of the Washington, D.C. area.
As executive director, Elana oversees the organization's efforts to support students and teachers by bringing curriculum-aligned, outdoors-focused learning to classrooms in DC. In 2018, UAS was awarded its first grant--a $20,000 Community Stormwater Solutions Grant from the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to develop and implement a curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grades on "D.C.'s Hidden Waterways" at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in Brookland. In 2019, UAS was awarded a second DOEE grant for a new project, "Geocaching D.C.'s Waterways," that is supporting work with several DC schools and communities.
Elana spent over 20 years in editorial and communications positions at CNA, the Brookings Institution, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Congressional Quarterly. She currently serves on the Heath Education Curriculum Advisory Committee for Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools and the Youth Committee at Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Maryland. Her two older children were founding members of Urban Adventure Squad.
Christy Brock, Director of Programming. Christy has been researching, developing curricula for, and leading UAS programs since 2013. She is the Squad’s best resource for magical, not-to-be-missed, family-friendly places in DC. Christy graduated from American University in 2008 with a literature degree, and has cared for and taught children since then. Her favorite Squad adventures include discovering remnants of history in Rock Creek Park--like the site of the Blagden and Argyle mills, Pulpit Rock, and the Capitol stones--and showing children that exciting field trips can start right on the street where they live or go to school. She especially loves hearing about the books Squad members are reading, stories they're writing, and their latest Dungeons and Dragons sessions. Christy is certified in First Aid, CPR, EpiPen administration, and Youth Mental Health First Aid. She is a mandated reporter and has completed the Safe Shores Stewards of Children training. She is also a certified Freedom Barre Instructor, Cherry Blossom 10-miler runner, cat mom, and baking enthusiast.
Peter Merlo-Coyne, Deputy Director of Programming. Peter has a love for experiential learning, working with kids, and all things outside. He researches, develops, and leads UAS programs. Peter graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019 with a chemistry degree. Prior to Urban Adventure Squad, he worked at the University of Maryland Challenge Course, where he focused on bringing people of different backgrounds together based on shared experiences. In his spare time, Peter loves biking everywhere he can, rock climbing, cooking new foods, and doing the crossword. Peter is certified in First Aid, CPR, EpiPen administration, and Youth Mental Health First Aid.