Employee List

Department:
Department:Oakland Store
Title:Store Manager
Paddling Since:1988
Employed Since:1995
JT Whittaker

I began kayaking in 1988 when I bought my first kayak so I could use it for camping in the Sierras. Never did I know that original purchase would turn into a career and lifestyle. I started working for California Canoe & Kayak in 1995. With two brief departures to other venues I always seem to find my way back home to CCK. I can easily remember my first experience on the water and enjoy watching others start and grow with the sport. Nothing brings me more pleasure than passing on what I have learned over the years to others. I raced citizen class for numerous years and enjoy the fitness of kayaking. I like long distance paddling but am content with a short paddle with anyone who is starting out and just wants to get on the water. Today I paddle for fitness and peace of mind the water brings me. Outside of CCK I have volunteered my time with the US Olympic Committee in Puerto Rico, and the United States. I have also volunteered with USA Canoe & Kayak working on the Sprint Nationals in 1993 and volunteered with the Lanier Canoe & Kayak club hosting the 2004 World Sprint Championships with 74 countries participating. Hope to see you in our store someday or on the water, peace.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Program Director
Paddling Since:1978
Employed Since:1996
Kenny Howell

“Paddling is a journey, not a destination”. - Kenny Howell
Kenny’s journey into the universe of paddling began in 1978 on San Francisco Bay, and the journey continues ever further and farther. From Costa Rica to Alaska, from the Hawaiian Islands to Florida’s Gulf coast, he keeps searching for the “perfect paddle day”! “Sometimes, the perfect day is racing across the Molokai Channel on my surfski with 100 other athletes. Another day, it’s messing around on Stand Up Paddleboards with my kids on an alpine lake in the Sierra Nevada.” For over 10 years, Kenny wandered the wilderness of the American West and Baja California guiding sea kayak and whitewater raft trips. “Baja’s Sea of Cortez was my home away from home for many winters. By each spring though, I couldn’t wait to head north and hit the rivers. All summer we traveled from amazing river to river, guiding in Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. I've paddled on about 25 whitewater rivers, including the Colorado in the Grand Canyon – which was like a trip to Mecca for a river boater. Paddling is for life. The more I paddle, the more enjoyment I get out of it.” In 1996, with his first child on the way, Kenny realized he needed a “real job”, and lucked out with California Canoe & Kayak as the Program Director. “Now, instead of traveling in the “circus”, the circus comes to me! Seriously, this has been my dream job, to run the finest paddling school in the West. There is no greater pleasure in life than turning people on to paddling. We literally change people’s lives by introducing them to a beautiful, healthy, adventurous sport. We help build community through our programs. I am so proud of our instructor staff. Many of our instructors took their first strokes with us as students, and now have reached the heights of professionalism as a CCK instructor! There are a lot of places to go kayaking, but if you really want to LEARN to kayak, come to California Canoe & Kayak.” When not scheduling the large crew of instructors for the busy CCK schedule of classes and trips across northern California, or gearing up for his “favorite trip” with a group of high school students, Kenny can be seen training hard for the next paddle race on his beloved Epic surfski. “The surfski is an exciting, demanding craft. For me, it’s the pinnacle of the ocean paddling experience. It keeps you in great shape. I love chasing ocean swells, the camaraderie of the racing community, and it's another great excuse to get on the water!” “The kayak may be the most perfect boat ever conceived by man. You wear it like an extension of your body. It protects you from the elements. You can dance on the water in a kayak, gliding almost effortlessly through fantastic seascapes. You can explore big lakes, wild rivers, or surf big breaking waves. And the coolest thing about it, the kayak is a palindrome – it’s spelled the same backwards or forwards!” Kenny lives in Montara, near CCK’s Pillar Point Harbor shop, with a view of the Farallone Islands. He only paddles on days ending in “y” ,and loves to surf with his wife and two children.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Level 4 Sea Kayak Instructor Trainer
Paddling Since:1996
Employed Since:2000
Richard Lee Smith

It all began for me in September 1996. I was at the end of the Fort Mason Center Pier watching the Blue Angels with my son, Alex. I happened to look down and I saw the most amazing thing; a guy in a bright red sea kayak rolling and playing and practicing the most intricate maneouvers! Blue Angels move over! Well.. we each have our own style and within a few months I was out there too. In the beginning I was a self-taught solo paddler. By the spring of 1997 I was paddling the Open Coast and teaching myself how to survive in that environment. I spent days in little protected coves playing in little waves trying to get the feel of it. One day on the outside I saw my first Blue Whale. I was downwind and the exhale smelled like the forest floor under the Redwoods. One of my favorite trips was to launch at Horseshoe Cove, head North out the gate to surf at Muir Beach. After coming back in I'd usually swing around Alcatraz and get back to Horseshoe via Angel Island and Raccoon Straight. I paddled by myself for over a year and in hindsight I was very fortunate that nothing ever happened! So eventually I met Marce' Wise, Deb Volturno and John Lull and began the enlightening transformation from a solo paddler to a group paddler and eventually to an Instructor. In the process of my life change I met Diana, my future wife! Now, I'm the first to promote safety and the value of good instruction to truly enjoy this wonderful sport of Sea Kayaking!

Department:Kayaking School
Title:WW Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:1985
Employed Since:2000
Andy Reimers

Andy started paddling at an early age while in Boy Scouts, whitewater canoeing on the Trinity River. Raft-guide school and ACA certification kick- started his river profession, which filled his summers and weekends during college. A highlight summer was spent teaching for the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. After graduation and getting a “real” job, he joined CCK in 2000 to continue sharing his love of padding. He took a hiatus from CCK starting in 2007 to set up an engineering design group in Asia. During this time, he also started teaching for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) leading river expeditions in New Zealand, Utah, and Idaho. After returning to California for a career change to Firefighting, Andy re-joined CCK in 2012, and earned the distinction of “Whitewater Instructor of the Year”

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Sea Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:2000
Employed Since:2001
Glenn Fleming

Glenn started working in retail for CCK in 2001. New to the sport retail was my way to quickly climb the learning curve and meet others with the same interest. Learning the sport in retail was easy. At CCK we weren’t required to sell anything. CCK’s philosophy was, educate the customer so that they can make an intelligent decision and the product will sell itself. Two things resulted from this philosophy, a well educated staff and customers purchased product based on the information they received. After two seasons someone (Kris Krengle, Store Manager) realized my true passion, teaching. Glenn graduated from California State University at Sacramento in 1994 where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and specialized in vehicle dynamics and machine design. As an engineer for Caltrans, Glenn has been involved in the design, analysis and hydro-acoustic monitoring of Marine Pile Driving Energy Attenuation Systems for the past twelve years. Some of his projects include the design of the Bubble Curtain for the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span Replacement, the New Benicia Bridge and the three bridges that span the Humboldt Bay in Eureka California. After engineering Glenn enjoys kayaking, backpacking and bicycling when he is not making widgets in his machine shop. His greatest accomplishments in kayaking, watching some of his students go on to become instructors. Glenn is an ACA certified Level 4: Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Sea Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:1999
Employed Since:2003
Sou Saephan

Sou has been kayaking for 11 years. He started his kayaking career with CCK working on the dock and in retail. He has followed the natural progression toward becoming an instructor and has now been teaching for 6 years. Some of the classes he teaches at CCK are Kayaking Basics, Beginning Sea Kayak, and Sea Kayaking II. Sou's longest trip was a 300 mile paddle from Redding to Oakland, down the Sacramento River, although his favorite place to kayak is the Elkhorn Slough at Monterey Bay. Out of all the paddling gear, his favorite is his Carbon Paddle!

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Sea Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:2000
Employed Since:2003
Marcus Choy

Marcus started kayaking when he moved to the San Mateo coast from the Sierras at the turn of the century. He became an ACA sea kayaking instructor with CCK in 2003 and was awarded his Advanced open coast instructor’s certification in 2009. Marcus enjoys paddling in rough open coast environments where he loves to play in the rock gardens and sea caves. Marcus hasn’t restricted his paddling to Northern California. He has paddled up and down the west coat, the Eastern seaboard and gulf waters. Internationally Marcus has paddled in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Tibet and New Zealand. While on a 2 month kayaking expedition in New Zealand in 2006 Marcus was a guest speaker at Coastbusters, New Zealand’s national sea kayaking symposium. Marcus also enjoys surf kayaking and a little white water action as well. Marcus also loves sailing and is a sailing instructor for the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Instructor/Oakland Store
Paddling Since:1978
Employed Since:2005
Sean Morley

Originating from the UK and now a resident of Marin Co. CA, Sean began kayaking at the age of ten with the Boy Scouts and often paddled alone, exploring the relatively sheltered waters of St Austell Bay on the south coast of Cornwall, England. He was always curious to see what he would find beyond the horizon and dreamt of a continuous journey around every headland and across every bay until eventually he had paddled all the way around Great Britain. Sean took part in his first kayak race in 1978 and has competed in many disciplines of paddle sport since then including white water slalom and downriver racing, marathon, sprint, wave ski, surf life saving and surf kayaking with success at national and international level. He began expedition sea kayaking in 1996 and in 1998 set a record for the fastest crossing of the Irish Sea in 11 hours 6 minutes. In 2004 he achieved his childhood dream by completing the first solo circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland by sea kayak; the first ever to include all of the inhabited islands. The 4500 mile expedition took 183 days and is the longest kayak journey ever undertaken in British waters. Sean raised over £10,000 for charity and was nominated as the Royal National Lifeboat Institute’s ‘Individual Supporter of the Year’. His achievement was featured in the DVD ‘This is the Sea 2’ by Justine Curgenven (Cackle TV). In 2005 Sean assisted British kayak manufacturer Valley Sea Kayaks with the design of a new High Performance surf kayak called the ‘Rush’. He began participating in kayak surfing competitions in 2006 as a way of promoting the new kayak and in 2007 became the World Masters Champion and gained 2nd place in the Open category of the High Performance Class at the World Surf Kayak Championships. In September 2008 Sean attempted to break the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. He completed the 700mile (1000km) circumnavigation in 17 days, 4 hours and 49 minutes taking over 6 days off the previous record. In September 2010 Sean padled to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. Sean is an ACA Level 5 Advanced Open Water Kayak Instructor and Level 3 Surf Kayak Instructor. He is supported by Jackson Kayaks.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Sea Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:2005
Employed Since:2006
Matt Krizan

Growing up in South Dakota and Wisconsin, observing wildlife and being in the great outdoors were some of Matthew Krizan's earliest childhood activities. Some of Matt's fondest memories are of canoeing on the Missouri River with his father and sister and coming home from school barefoot carrying toads stuffed into his socks and shoes, having stopped off at a local marsh en route. This love for wildlife and being outdoors were driving influences in Matt's life and are the foundation of his love for kayaking. As a kayaking instructor with seven years experience teaching through California Canoe & Kayak, Matt has honed a passion for connecting with people of all ages through kayaking, wildlife observation, paddling in surf and rock gardens, or teaching others to kayak.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Whitewater Program Director
Paddling Since:1996
Employed Since:2006
Matt Parker

Matt has been whitewater kayaking for 16 years and loves his time on the river. His favorite river is the Upper Animas near Silverton, Colorado. His first boat was a Wavesport Lazer. He has traveled to Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador to explore the whitewater gems there. Matt moved from Colorado to Oakland in 2006 to continue his music career and explore the rivers of California. Matt is a certified ACA whitewater instructor and loves teaching kayaking.

Department:Sacramento Store
Title:Store Manager
Paddling Since:1986
Employed Since:2006
Jeff Martineau

Our Sacramento Store Manager has been paddling since he was 9 years old. Jeff spent his early years paddling open canoes and sailing Lasers with the Boy Scouts all over Northern California. After H.S. Jeff joined the U.S. Air Force and while serving at Vandenberg AFB (located on the beautiful Central Coast near Santa Barbara) Jeff helped develop and start a White Water Rafting Team for the base recreation program. Jeff became the lead guide and program manager for the new Whitewater Rafting Program at Vandenberg AFB and subsequently spent summers teaching week-long guide schools and running trips on the Class IV and V sections of the Kern River in Souther California. Jeff was also instrumental in bringing other paddler sports to the base program as well by procuring boats to leading sea kayak excursions on San Luis and Morro Bays. In 2005, after almost 10 years in the USAF, Jeff left his military days behind and came to work for CCK to pursue a job that was more in line with his life philosophy of "do what you love". After his 1st summer in the Sac store in 2005, Jeff moved to San Diego and took up surfing and furthered his sea kayak experience on the beautiful and mild San Diego coast. He earned a Bareboat Charter Captain Certificate in the British Virgin Islands in 2006 and got SCUBA certified. Jeff's dream is to one day sail around the world and kayak in as many places as possible. When not helping customer at the CCK Shop in Rancho Cordova, Jeff can be seen paddling the local waters on the American River and San Francisco Bay; as well as SCUBA diving in Monterey or Skiing @ Kirkwood in Tahoe. What is Jeff's favorite part of the job? "Seeing people's eyes light up when they discover the pure joy of kayaking for the first time!; I love helping people invest in themselves!" Certifications: PADI Certified Open Water Diver ASA Bareboat Charter Captain ARC Wilderness First Responder ARC Swiftwater Rescue

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Sea Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:1998
Employed Since:2007
Lisa Ouellette

Lisa discovered kayaking in 1997 through an introduction to camping by kayak seminar. After finding out what a sea kayak was, she set out to find the right boat for longer trips and camping – and ended up building her own. Her first trip was an unsupported 10-day trip on west coast Vancouver Island with five men she'd never met. Since her first trip, she has week-long trips to the coast of Maine, Belize, Vancouver Island, and frequent shorter trips along the California Coast. Lisa frequently plies the waters of San Francisco bay, the northern California coast, and the Sierra Lakes and still prefers a night in a tent alongside the water to any night in a five star hotel. Lisa mixes her culinary skills with her planning skills to keep her fellow paddlers fed on longer trips.

When she isn't kayaking, Lisa is a Structural Engineer. Lisa loves to introduce new students to kayaking and getting to places by water while sightseeing by kayak. When the water isn't freezing, she'll do a little whitewater on the side.

Department:Sacramento Store
Title:Sales Associate
Paddling Since:1970
Employed Since:2007
Dave Jarrell

Dave is a lifelong paddlesports enthusiast. Dave grew up paddling the rivers of Virginia in the summer time. These days Dave can be found at CCK's Sacramento Store helping paddlers choose the best gear for their own adventures. When not working in the shop Dave enjoys all aspects of kayaking. Well on his way to becomming a very well rounded paddler, Dave can be seen mid-week paddling the South Fork of the American River or out on San Francisco Bay somewhere between Alcatraz and Angel Island or just practicing his roll at the Sunday pool sessions. Dave is also a student of traditional paddling and boat building and has completed work on his second home-made boat: a very seaworthy Innuit design skin-on-frame.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:1997
Employed Since:2007
Kristen Podolak

I learned to whitewater kayak in 1997 on the Androscoggin River with Ledyard Canoe Club. When not exploring local rivers in New Hampshire and Vermont, the club would venture afar to paddle rivers in the southeast, upstate New York, Quebec, and Costa Rica. I started teaching kayaking in 1999 on the Colorado River then moved to D.C. for work and started competing in kayaking while continuing to teach. Competing was a great way to travel to new places and explore rivers. When I moved to the bay area, I joined the California Canoe and Kayak team. Today, I spend most of my free time paddling a surfski in the bay, ocean, and occasionally down rivers, thanks to Kenny Howell another CCK instructor for introducing me to the sport! I enjoy teaching rolling in the Richmond Plunge along with sea kayak and surfski lessons. The best teaching tips I have are to keep your hips loose, breathe, and most of all to have fun being on the water.

Department:Oakland Store
Title:Marketing / Sales
Paddling Since:1999
Employed Since:2010
Matt Palmariello

Matt has been working at CCK in the Oakland store since 2010. In addition to his work at CCK, he is also the event manager for the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium. Matt is an avid sea kayaker, canoeist and standup paddler and particularly enjoys sup surfing. He's been guiding and coaching paddlesports for over 10 years and is an ACA Level 4 Kayak Instructor, ACA Level 2 SUP Instructor, BCU Level 2 Coach, 3* canoe and 4* sea leader. Besides paddling, Matt spends his free time cycling in the East Bay and skiing in the Sierras.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:1978
Employed Since:2011
Aaron Jones

Aaron started paddling on Lake Natoma and the Lower American River at age 6, and started sailing at age 7. In his second year of college he discovered and fell in love with the California Delta, joined the yachting community, and in 26 to 50 foot sail and motorized yachts he began exploring the bay and California’s coastline. In 2008 Aaron became an avid kayaker. Aaron likes kayaks because they allow him close contact with the water, and to really play in hydraulics. He has also turned to the kayak because in no other boat can you travel a river from source to sea. In 2010 he led a kayak trip down the Sacramento River. In 2011 with the Tuolumne River Trusts’ Paddle to the Sea Program he kayaked the Tuolumne River. In 2012 he brought Paddle To The Sea to the American River, guided the trip, and was featured on Good Day Sacramento, along with his dog Lola, who often kayaks with him. Aaron enjoys the many fantastic local kayaking places we have, such as going under the Golden Gate Bridge, exploring the sea caves and tunnels of Monterey, white water kayaking in the Gold Country, and paddling the sloughs and estuaries of the California Delta. He is an avid learner and educator. He has been an elementary school teacher, likes to learn about kayaking, water conservation, and park advocacy. He believes learning is a never ending process, and feels a responsibility to pass on the knowledge that has been so graciously shared with him. He is certified in First Aid and CPR, and has been an instructor for California Canoe and Kayak since 2011.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Whitewater Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:2005
Employed Since:2011
Shawn Hall

Shawn Hall is awesome! He's been coming to the South Fork American river in Coloma since he was a little kid. He was introduced to kayaking by his dad, Doug. From the story I've heard, Doug pushed Shawn into some harder whitewater pretty soon in Shawn's career giving Shawn some doubts about wanting to be a kayaker. Well, I am glad Shawn stayed with it because he is a great person to get to know and cares so much for his students. He will not put his students through what he had to go through as a beginner. His favorite kayak is the Jackson Rockstar. Shawn is currently studying to become an EMT.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Sea kayak instructor
Paddling Since:2003
Employed Since:2012
Bill Vonnegut

If you find yourself paddling on the open coast in the San Francisco bay area you will likely run into Bill Vonnegut. Or, you may find him at the Richmond Plunge on any given Thursday teaching rolling for California Canoe & Kayak. As a San Francisco Bay Area native, Bill Vonnegut has a passion for paddling. He enjoys the freedom it offers and the challenges it provides, and has extensive knowledge of our local coast. Bill seeks to not only rise to new heights in his high level of comfort and confidence in rough water, but to understand the fine nuances of technique that allow him to move fluidly in conditions from benign to extreme. As an ACA Level 4 Coastal Kayak Instructor, Bill teaches from the experiences gained (good and bad!) while paddling his favorite coastal waters from Mendocino to Monterey. You can find his postings on kayak related topics on several websites including that of the Neptune's Rangers, a rough water paddling group of which he is a principal founding member.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:2005
Employed Since:2012
Jerry Street

Jerry is passionate about water sports. Since 1969 he has sailed, from a sunfish to a 32 foot sailboat and Hobie Cats. He was an avid scuba diver and became certified as a Rescue Diver, Master Diver, Dive Master and Assistant Instructor. In 2005 he discovered a passion and love for sea kayaking. He was fortunate to learn the technical components of kayaking while paddling with a national white water kayak competitor. He has paddled mostly inland waters but has done some ocean sea kayaking. He enjoys self-contained multi-day kayak camping, so far the longest is 110 miles in 8 days. One aspect of kayaking he loves is the ability to explore remote areas where he can enjoy undisturbed nature in a quiet and reflective way. He has also worked on a high angle mountain search and rescue team, and enjoyed many years back country skiing and back packing. He was a scout master for several years teaching scouts basic and advanced outdoor activities including snow camping, rock climbing, and week-long cross country route finding. He loves outdoor adventures, communing with nature and working with and teaching others. Jerry joined CCK as an instructor in 2012. He uses his professional instructor training and experiences to assist students to learn the technical aspects of kayaking and how to use a kayak to enjoy remote outdoor opportunities.

Department:Oakland Store
Title:Instructor / Sales Associate
Paddling Since:2003
Employed Since:2012
Diane Bezucha

Diane has enjoyed the water and paddling for as long as she can remember. As a kid she canoed the Boundary Waters and lakes of Quetico Park with her parents, and she started whitewater kayaking in 2003 while a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college she taught flat- water canoeing and kayaking as a certified ACA instructor, while honing her whitewater skills on the Wolf, Red, and Wisconsin Rivers. In 2008 she took a brief hiatus from paddling to move out to the Bay Area to do Teach for America. Teaching English to 7th & 8th graders didn’t leave much time for paddling, but really developed Diane’s passion for education. Currently, Diane works as a Program Manager for BUILD (www.build.org), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to use entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, first-generation students through high school to college success. Recently, she has gotten back into paddling and has been working weekends at the Oakland CCK shop, while tearing it up on the South Fork of the American River every chance she gets. Look out for her as one of CCK’s newest whitewater instructors spring 2013! As if she’s not busy enough, Diane is also working to develop her own photography company: www.dianebezucha.com .

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Whitewater Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:2010
Employed Since:2013
Kira Connell

One word about Kira, graceful. If you take a lesson with Kira, you will be able to see the strokes and concepts of kayaking in a smooth, slow, and elegant way that kayak instructors strive to be able to do. Kira has dedicated herself to the sport of whitewater kayaking since she started unlike any other student I've ever known. All of this time taking instruction and classes has developed her into an amazing instructor.

Department:Kayaking School
Title:Whitewater Kayak Instructor
Paddling Since:2000
Employed Since:2014
Corey Tucker

Corey Tucker is a wonderful ambassador of the sport of kayaking. He started in Wisconsin in 2000 and has kept on exploring whitewater gems every since. HIs Favorite river is the headwaters of the Kern where he hiked is boat for 25 miles up and over a Sierra Nevada mountain pass and then paddled 50 miles of Class 4 and 5 whitewater.