Who We Are
Meet Our Team
The Elemental Edge Training Team is dedicated to transforming lives through customized, action-oriented training with proven results.
Bill Atkinson, Founder
As a young man, Bill was an accomplished musician, but the entire course of his life changed when he made the decision to join the Navy. In his 21 years of service, he gained extensive leadership and teamwork experience as a Navy SEAL, completing his career with distinction as Command Master Chief, SEAL Team EIGHT.
Following additional post-secondary education, he started to work in commercial and residential construction, consulted in organizational transformation and change management, and provided winter survival and movement training to operators from Naval Special Warfare Development Group. More recently, he worked for Navy Recruiting as a Warrior Challenge Mentor, running the flagship program that successfully prepared hundreds of men and women ages 18-28 for the rigors of the SEAL, SWCC, EOD, and Diver and Air Rescue programs.
His interests and activities are many, but his true passion is to help others exceed their own expectations of themselves through guided self-discovery. The thing he is proudest of, however, happened in 1992. Then, he and Stephanie Rudat, diagnosed with terminal leukemia as a toddler, achieved a miracle: a bone marrow transplant which enabled her to live a full and prosperous life through the spring of 2017.
Don Walsh, Associate
Don was born with a love of the ocean and worked as an ocean lifeguard in his teens. Following three tours as an Air Force KC-135A Crew Chief refueling aircraft in-flight over Vietnam, he returned to the Jersey Shore to work for Prudential in their computer operations center.
He’s coached swimming all over the US at the club, high school, and college levels, with experienced triathletes and aspiring Navy SEALs. He competes in 1 mile-10k ocean races, with his long-distance swims including Key West (12.5 miles), Mays Landing River (21 miles), Manhattan Island (28.5 miles), and the Isle of Jersey (41.5 miles). The ocean is his second home. He’s in it year-round, swim cap, goggles and Speedos only; no wetsuit, ever!
Don has produced an instructional GOSWIM DVD, Combat Side Stroke with Don Walsh, and is also the author of Teach the Beach, a children’s book on water safety that includes a song he wrote and recorded. He finds great joy volunteering with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium where he teaches water safety and respect for the sea and environment to grammar school age children, always at the oceanfront, of course.
Janis Cooper, Associate
Janis’ career began at the Digital Equipment Corporation and spanned 30 years across the big players in high-tech industry including Hewlett Packard, Compaq, and Unisys, where she held Global Marketing Management and Executive roles. Raised in Groton, Mass., Vermont became home in 2008. Her corporate background, along with passion for people and horses, eventually led Janis to a career change in the growing field of Equine Facilitated Learning, where she holds two certifications. She is also a certified Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner, where positive, strength-based change models are applied towards successful organizational transformation.
Throughout the US, Janis partners individuals, groups, and horses together in unique experiential programs, where new levels of self-awareness, communication, and collaboration are created. Her Horse Powering Success Programs pave the way for accelerated and positive lasting change in the way people relate to others to get things done – personally and professionally. Throughout the year, Janis can generally be found outdoors whether with horses, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature that surrounds her.
Jessika Miner Yates, Associate
Jessika was born in Austria and grew up attending school both in her home country and Vermont. After college, she obtained a US Coast Guard license, and led experiential worldwide/study abroad education programs for teens and college students aboard 50’-90’ sailboats. This 80-day college curriculum program included Leadership Development and Interpersonal Communications courses she facilitated. After a decade on the water, she returned to Vermont where she traded managing yachts for project management of over 450 new build construction properties, a position that included property management, real estate sales, and building systems maintenance.
Thriving in constantly changing, fast-paced environments, Jessika has placed great emphasis on growing dedicated, supportive teams, acknowledging the importance of each member’s contribution. She credits communications and relationship building as the keys to a group’s success. Her interests lie in almost all active outdoor pursuits, enjoying coaching alpine skiing in the winter and playing on Lake Champlain in the summer. Her passion is helping people attain their personal best by challenging them in environments that promote self-discovery and continued learning. In her spare time, she owns and operates a successful orchard in Monkton, Vermont.
Jamie Struck, Associate
For over 20 years, Jamie has been a group development facilitator, trip leader and adventurer, working with groups from the very young to the very mature. Over these years, he has developed a passion for the processes involved in group facilitation and a healthy respect for the power of change that it can provide.
Whether it is leading people on backcountry ski trips in Canada, scaling cliffs wherever they can be found in the US, or working with corporate groups to discover and awaken the positive change within themselves and their organizations, he is a firm believer of the Experiential Ethos: change is possible when you combine the art of play with open minds and the challenge a spirit of adventure brings to the table. He is most likely found in a knot of people who are amped up, jumping around, and generally enjoying themselves as they find new ways to work together.
Jamie lives in northern Vermont with his wife and two children. His enjoyment of biking, climbing, and skiing leads him to seek out adventure, wherever it is.
Ed Wilbur Jr, Associate
Ed was introduced to the outdoors at a very young age by his father. Hunting, fishing, skiing, canoe camping in the Canadian wilderness, white-water rafting, or hiking the White Mountains, he always sought, and continues to seek adventure and self-discovery in the wild.
After receiving a BS in graphic design, he returned to Vermont where he and his college sweetheart raised two children, now attending college. In addition to graphic design, he has been the co-director of a ropes course, using skills that include group facilitation and both low and high ropes course activities. He has also been a program leader for the city of Burlington, VT Parks and Recreation adventure programs, facilitating rock climbing, map and compass, caving, and paddling instruction for canoe and kayak. His hobbies include mountain biking, backcountry skiing, scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing, and off-road motorcycle riding. But his true passion is sharing his skills to help others to overcome their challenges and fears and realize their full potential.
Alex Ciurana, Associate
Alex is an ordained minister, published essayist, and private tutor, specializing in formal argumentation and debate. After high school, he pursued various interests, ranging from competitive pocket billiards to inner-city volunteer ministry. Deciding to devote himself full-time to ministry, he attended Bible college and graduate school, earning degrees in theology and psychology.
Reverend Ciurana served 20 years in professional ministry and enjoyed the rare opportunity to do so for four different Protestant denominations. For the past six years, he has researched personality theory, combining modern personality models with ancient contemplative paths to help explain how and why we are driven to personal greatness. One of his greatest pleasures is to be a catalyst for others to discover and act with purpose, precision, and reason. He has led audiences all over the country in practical and transformative ways to engage our innate human ability to reason and philosophize.
In 2016, he moved from a small town in Texas to Burlington, Vermont with his super-talented teenage daughter and one very spoiled, overweight cat. When not busy with the daily grind, Alex fancies Nietzsche – hardcover only – and Southern Comfort on ice, along with old hymns on Sunday mornings.
Francis (Paco) X. Aumand III, Associate
Paco grew up in Greenfield, a small community in western Massachusetts. He spent 40+ years in law enforcement and public safety, serving in the Bellows Falls, VT Police Department for 14 years, 7 as Chief of Police, and for the state of Vermont in various roles. He was the Executive Director of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, then Deputy Commissioner and Chief Information Officer for the state’s Department of Public Safety. In that capacity, he had operational control of the Forensic Laboratory, Criminal Information Center, Radio Technology Services, and the Office of Technology Management. He also provided policy guidance in the areas of science, technology, and information. He is currently the Executive Director of the Vermont Public Safety Authority (CVPSA), developing plans to regionalize public safety services in central Vermont.
With his wide-ranging experience and an MS in Administration from St. Michael’s College, Paco is a self-proclaimed recovering autocrat who deeply understands how this management style can hold back others. He knows that organizations with employee-focused, collaborative, team driven environments are the true high performers.
When not working, Paco’s relaxing at home with his family or enjoying the outdoors skiing, fishing, and golfing.