meet our year-round staff!
Maggie Renken, AICL Executive Director: I’m honored and thrilled to serve as AICL’s inaugural Executive Director. I have a general passion for summer camps, for fostering motivated children in unique and impactful ways, and for the Blue Ridge mountains. AICL provides a much-needed space for children to be expressive and to belong to something special. I’ve been impressed with AICL’s mission since my oldest daughter first attended camp in 2016.
My advocacy for work like that of AICL’s extends beyond my parenthood into my professional life. A lifelong love of imagining, exploring, and learning has led to a variety of professional experiences with camp. My earliest employment was leading summer enrichment programs for economically disadvantaged youth in South Carolina and later as the director of a summer day camp in the mountains of NC. From 2006-2010, I served as a graduate fellow and Project Manager for a National Science Foundation project designed to introduce K-12 students to STEM. I oversaw teacher trainings, program development, and graduate student fellows responsible for converting their STEM expertise into accessible and engaging classroom content. This content was delivered in expos and lessons across the state of Wyoming, as well as during our annual Exploring Science Summer Camps.
Since completing a PhD in Developmental Psychology in 2011, my professional focus has been as a tenure track professor at Georgia State University in the College of Education and Human Development’s Educational Psychology program. I teach human growth and development, cognition, and facilitating college teaching courses. I also secure internal and external grants to fund research targeting learning and learning environments in K-16 populations. In a current project, colleagues and I are introducing urban youth to computing skills with the help of mentors recruited from Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark University.
Chad Watson, Summer Enrichment Camp & Base Camp Co-Director: Chad has been a part of camp for a long time- first as a camper, then as staff. He has filled just about every role at camp at one time or another. He co-directed from 2002 to 2005, then stepped back into the job in 2011. He lives in The Woodlands, Texas, where he teaches Pre-Calculus and Statistics to high school students.
Jessica Young, Summer Enrichment Camp Co-Director: Jessica has also been a part of camp much of her life, working in a variety of roles from counselor to camp cook before becoming Co-Director in 2012. She and Chad have overseen the rapid expansion of camp and AICL’s move from Warren Wilson College to Mars Hill University. She lives with her family in Tennessee and looks forward to a future when AICL runs year-round.
Tara Watson, Administrator/ The Summit & Base Camp Co-Director : Tara takes care of registration, outreach, and any administrative support needed by Co-Directors and the Board of Trustees. Before becoming Administrator in 2017, she had worked for AICL as both a counselor and instructor. When not doing camp work, she is a clinical Social Worker with a private therapy practice in Nashville, Tennessee.
Wes Cheek, The Summit Co-Director: Wes Cheek is a Ph.D. candidate in the City, Culture, and Community program at Tulane University. He is originally from Destin, Florida. He has occupied a number of roles at AICL over the past 25+ years, from camper, to counselor, to co-director.
Margaret Hoff, Bookkeeper: Margaret lives in Athens, Ohio and was AICL's Administrator for 8 years, beginning in 2010. She has now moved solely into her role as Bookkeeper and is very excited to spend more time with AICL's financial side. Margaret also works a few hours a week with other non-profits in her area and lives on a working Flower Farm with her husband, daughter, and a few fun animals.