Letter from the Chair – Winter 2024

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Letter from the Chair – Winter 2024

Dear Fellow Pilgrims!

Greetings for the new year and best wishes from your board. It is my great honor to serve as chair of such a committed and talented board of directors and to have the opportunity to work with so many of you in new and exciting ways. 

As a board, we bid a fond farewell to four individuals who have gone above and beyond in service to the Camino and American Pilgrims:

  • Dave Donselar: As a three-term chair, Dave steered our organization through the height of the COVID years, even as the Camino shut down and so much of our activity was paused or went virtual. He has chaired several Annual Gatherings and plans to continue in this capacity as co-chair of the 2024 Gathering and our planned 2025 international gathering in Vancouver, BC. Dave also led the nominations committee that identified our newest board members.
  • Sara Steig Gradwohl: Sara chaired the infamous 2020 Gathering at Lake Tahoe, which coincided with the start of the pandemic and a major blizzard. She has served as vice chair of American Pilgrims, co-chaired our technology and communications committees, and continues as webmaster. We look forward to seeing Sara at future gatherings, with her tiara, banjo ukulele, and infamous shell bra!
  • Steve Lytch: Steve served the past two years as chair and before that as treasurer and nominations committee chair of the organization. He represented us several times in Spain at gatherings of Camino associations from around the world, and he readily rolled up his sleeves and served pilgrims on the ground as a Ribadiso Welcome Service volunteer. Steve has been a strong advocate for membership diversity and for setting measurable organizational goals that help us to serve you better.
  • Jackie Saxon: For many American Pilgrims, Jackie is the face of the organization. As a member of the chapters committee, she managed the application and interview process for countless chapter coordinators. Jackie was also the chair of the 2023 Gathering at Lake Tahoe, where she was easily recognizable by her bright, colorful propeller beanie. Jackie’s organizational skills and brilliant sense of humor will be dearly missed by her fellow board members.

We also welcome four newly appointed board members who bring a wide array of talents to the table in support of our mission:

  • Eryn-Ashlei Bailey: Eryn is a Boston-area pilgrim who has participated in chapter events and offers valuable experience as a leader with nonprofit and membership organizations.
  • Rachel Ganzon: Rachel has served as a coordinator for the Portlandia Chapter, as a leader of our chapter coaches assisting chapter coordinators across the country, and as co-chair of the 2024 Coordinators Workshop.
  • Luis Gussoni: Luis has actively participated with the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter, and has walked many Caminos. A native of Argentina, Luis brings Spanish and Portuguese language skills that will surely be assets to our work.
  • Martin Peña: Martin’s Camino experience includes service as an hospitalero. He has helped organize Northern California Chapter events and participated in last year’s Navarra cultural exchange. Annual Gathering attendees will be familiar with his graphic and video design talents.

As you view the photo profiles of your incoming and continuing board members on our board page, please consider ways you might volunteer to serve the greater pilgrim community. As an all-volunteer operation, we are nothing without the energy, ideas, and encouragement of our members. Find our volunteer opportunities here.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Annual Gathering of Pilgrims this March in Texas and to hearing from you in the year ahead as we continue to promote the Camino spirit.

¡Buen Camino!

Joe Curro
Board Chair, American Pilgrims on the Camino

Your MEMBERSHIP in American Pilgrims on the Camino makes it possible for everyone to make the pilgrimage that is best for them. Thanks, as always, for your support and if you aren’t already a member, you can become one here.

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