Photographer (Moss Beach, California)
Neil is a California native surfer with a captivating and addictive charisma. His cool rapport with the locals and his fluency in Spanish is crucial for the team's smooth travel through Central and South America. Neil is the photographer for the expedition. Neil grew up with a passion for surfing and music from an early age and has continued living life following these two passions ever since. He received his Bachelors in music from University of California in San Diego, his former band "Mystery Waffle" played gigs at The Stone in SF and The Roxy in LA, among others. After graduation he bought a one-way ticket to Central America and didn't come back for 4 years. Neil surfed all day, everyday, for 4 years while playing in a blues band. While in Costa Rica he started up a surfing tour company and lived the "pura vida" existence for a while.
He returned to California and tried working in sales selling semiconductor chips for a year. He was the fastest growing employee in company and was offered a high salary at year's end, but Neil turned it down and instead headed to Micronesia, Indonesia, and West coast of Australia for a year of surfing.
He returned again to manage a Hawaiian restaurant for a year, while planning out his next adventure down to South America. While living in a truck for 6 months and preparing it for the South American journey, producer and university friend Adam Burgess approached him with an opportunity driving around world while helping to fight Parkinson's Disease.
After ODYSSEY Neil returned to California and joined his good friend Nick Woodman (inventor of GoPro Cameras). The two of them have been growing GoPro into what is now the world's most convenient image capture device for activities!
Neil is currently VP of Sales for GoPro and still plays music. His goal is to use music and other creative endeavours to help preserve the environment and help small communities
Team Logistics (Visalia, California)
Chanda is in charge of country research, route logistics and website development for the expedition. She also maintains contact with the outside world through the team's website. Chanda's smile and calm demeanor helps everyone during the long days. Nancy and Chanda are often a team inside the team. Chanda studied Spanish, first aid, acupressure and GPS navigation. Chanda grew up in the geographical center of California and is a product of her adventurous and compassionate family. They explored the West Coast from Canada to Mexico in their lime-green family Truckster. In between adventures, Chanda's family worked for the county for many years, boarding and counseling thousands of runaway teens. Undoubtedly, this contributed to Chanda's warm heart and easy going attitude. While Chanda earned her degrees in Health Science and Consumer/Family Studies she volunteered at nursing homes and centers for special needs children. Chanda moved to the Silicon Valley to continue her education, but just before the late 90's tech boom she discovered her knack for technical writing and the thrill of working at a Dot Com start-up company. Eventually, her technical skills and adventurous spirit afforded her the opportunity to produce and participate in three driving expeditions.
Chanda is now a Senior Technical Writer and a non-profit volunteer. Her latest adventure takes her back to the classroom to study Quantum Healing and Naturopathy.
Team Public Relations (Southlake, Texas)
Nancy, a captain in the Marine Corps Reserves and an adventure racer, is in charge of the team's public relations. Her charm and excitement combined with an easygoing, silly personality makes her entertaining company. Nancy was born and raised in Texas and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1995. She served in the military as a naval aviator, and a public affairs officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. She deployed for six-months aboard the U.S.S. Pelelieu in the Persian Gulf Region in 1998-1999. Nancy resigned from active duty and headed to Portland, Oregon but after September 11th 2001 she reported to the Pentagon for more work. Currently resigned from active duty, Nancy has an impressive resume as an endurance racer who has competed in such expedition-length races as the 2002 Armed Forces Eco Challenge, the 2003 Eco Challenge North American Championships, and 2003 Land Rover G4 Challenge, where she represented the United States.
Nancy was promoted to the rank of Major. After ODYSSEY Nancy went to Baghdad, Iraq where she spent a year as a contractor working with the U.S. Army and Multi-National Corps Iraq in Saddam's Al Faw Palace. After a year in Iraq, Nancy moved to Southern California to spend time with her boyfriend whom she met online during "ODYSSEY". They were married February 25, 2007, just 1.5 months before her husband David, a U.S. Navy S.E.A.L., deployed to Iraq for six-months. She now is pursuing her lifelong dream of working in a bicycle shop.
Expedition Leader (Naperville, Ohio)
Nick is the team's eccentric leader. He was a former California computer programmer and self-proclaimed "geek" with a creative view of the world. As a successful Silicon Valley quality engineer, Nick's interest in philanthropy began in 1997 when he took a sabbatical from his job to lead an 8,000-mile driving expedition through Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. His team delivered medical supplies to remote villages for Rivers of the World, an international aid organization.
In 1999 Nick led another team to complete a 16,000-mile drive from Beijing to San Francisco through 16 countries. During the journey the team designed a simple and effective program that answered thousands of student questions.
Returning home, he learned that his 32-year-old sister had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, so in 2002 he co-founded the non-profit Drive Around the World with the goal of using expeditions to promote cross-border understanding and goodwill while raising funds for humanitarian and environmental causes.
Travel Writer (Wichita, Kansas)
Rolf Potts has reported from more than fifty countries for National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Conde Nast Traveler, Slate.com, Outside, Islands, Surfer, the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, The Believer, WorldHum.com, The Guardian (U.K.), and National Public Radio. A veteran travel columnist for the likes of Salon.com and Yahoo! News, his adventures have taken him across six continents, and include piloting a fishing boat 900 miles down the Laotian Mekong, hitchhiking across Eastern Europe, traversing Israel on foot, bicycling across Burma, and driving a Land Rover from Sunnyvale, California to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Potts is perhaps best known for promoting the ethic of independent travel, and his book on the subject, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel (Random House, 2003), has been through six printings and translated into several foreign languages. His writing has also been featured in nearly twenty literary travel anthologies, and thirteen of his essays have been short-listed for Houghton Mifflin's annual Best American Travel Writing collection - including the gonzo classic "Storming 'The Beach'", which Bill Bryson chose as a main selection in 2000, and "Tantric Sex for Dilettantes," which Tim Cahill selected in 2006. His writing for National Geographic Traveler, Slate.com, and Outside garnered him Lowell Thomas Awards in 2003, 2004 and 2006; and he's been cited as an expert on independent travel by publications around the world, from National Geographic Adventure, to TIME Asia, to Italy's La Stampa daily, to the Australian Financial Review.
Though he keeps no permanent residence, Potts feels somewhat at home in Bangkok, Cairo, Pusan, New Orleans, and north-central Kansas, where he keeps a small farmhouse on 30 acres near his family. Each July he can be found in france, where he is the summer writer-in-residence at the Paris American Academy.
Team Navigator & Medic (Wichita, Kansas)
Justin left the comfort of his six-figure job as a business consultant for the romance and adventure of the road. He keeps serves as the team's navigator and medic on the expedition. Justin is an 11-year veteran of the software industry. In addition to having been a delegate for the sister city relationship between St. Paul, MN and Novosibirsk, Russia, he is a pilot, a mountain biker, and a trained emergency responder. As a self-proclaimed 'adventurist', he has motorcycled through the Alps, climbed the summits of mountains in Colorado and California, and always has a bag packed for the next trip.
After ODYSSEY Justin started his own software consulting company, moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and got married to a woman he met while on ODYSSEY. Justin and his family have recently returned to Silicon Valley where he is the Global Strategic Content Manager for HP Software.
Team Mechanic (Glendale, California)
Todd is a wily-looking character who brings an eclectic background and a wide range of experiences to the team. He draws from 20 years as a teacher, a US Peace Corps volunteer, an electrician and self-taught Land Rover mechanic and enthusiast. Todd has an insatiable curiosity for other cultures. As an experienced expedition traveller, Todd's leadership skills and "get it done" attitude make him an invaluable asset to the expedition. On the expedition he serves as the lead mechanic. Todd's father was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He is encouraged by the efforts of the Parkinson's Institute and the Parkinson's Action Network in their research and awareness initiatives in the battle to fight the Disease.
Currently, Todd is developing curriculum and conducting training sessions for at-risk youth at Big Help, Inc. Co-founded by Todd, Big Help trains, mentors, and employs low-income youth and young adults for hi-tech positions.