Meet John DiStefano, the New Urban Trails Supervisor

Please welcome John DiStefano, the new Urban Trails Supervisor for the New York-North Jersey Chapter. He has joined Ed Spirko’s Trails Committee, which helps maintain trails around metro New York, in Harriman State Park, and in New Jersey. John’s coverage area is New York City.

John has a long history with the Appalachian Mountain Club. In the early 1980s, he joined the AMC on Joy Street in Boston. Since then, he writes that he has experienced “many delightful hikes, walks, and just plain making friends in 40 years on the trail. AMC values go far beyond stewardship for the land — AMC is about stewardship to each other.”

John retired in November 2021. Now he says it’s his turn to give back. John enjoyed 30 years as a market researcher in the Fortune 500, mostly reporting 1 or 2 rungs from the CEO. He earned a BA in History of Technology from Cornell University and an MBA in market research from CUNY Baruch College. When not volunteering for the AMC, John also helps to support financial literacy and enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and cooking.

You can reach John at

Seeking Wilderness First Aid Instructors

Do you have what it takes to teach people what to do if an emergency arises when they’re far from medical care? Then the New York-North Jersey Chapter is looking for you to become a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) instructor! 

To be an instructor, you’ll need to be an active EMT or W-EMT. If your card is expired but you still want to teach, the Chapter will pay for the class for your recertification and additional training. The New York-North Jersey Chapter is the only one in the AMC that provides this WFA training. All instructors are volunteers.

The Chapter holds six to seven WFA classes per year. They involve 16 hours of fast-paced instruction over a full weekend.  Most classes are at the Stephen & Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center in Harriman State Park. Classes are team taught, always at least two instructors per class, so no one is “left alone” to teach.

To make the WFA class more “realistic,” the classes go through emergency scenarios and get hands-on practice. To that end, the instructors use a mannequin and stage props of simulated injuries and fake blood. 

All interested folks contact the Chair of the Wilderness First Aid Committee at for more information.

DEI Chair Crystal Williams Receives AMC’s Volunteer Leadership Award

DEI Chair Crystal Williams

Congratulations to DEI Chair Crystal Williams, who received one of AMC’s Volunteer Leadership Awards for her work in 2021. The award was presented by Regional Director Eileen Yin during the recent Annual Summit:

The Volunteer Leadership Award recognizes AMC’s outstanding volunteer leaders who demonstrate the desire to share their time and expertise in the pursuit of AMC’s recreation, conservation, and education mission. The Volunteer Leadership Award recognizes one or more dedicated volunteers who, in addition to contributing many hours, demonstrate outstanding passion and commitment and are instrumental to AMC’s activities, programs and mission. Previous award recipients are not eligible.

Crystal Williams, DEI Chair, New York-North Jersey Chapter

“As Chair of the DEI Committee for the New York North Jersey Chapter, Crystal has created a regular schedule of meetings including an affinity group for BIPOC women. Crystal is passionate about getting families from Harlem outdoors, which has inspired her to lead events designed to encourage outdoor experiences for BIPOC families in New York City, including a Juneteenth Celebration that attracted 100s of people. Crystal has also joined the AMC DEI Volunteer Representatives group meeting monthly to talk about how to make AMC’s operations and communications more equitable and inclusive. In addition, she has stepped up to serve as the Vice Chair for the Fire Island Committee. Crystal has been vocal in supporting AMC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts by speaking with other Chapters DEI Committees. Congratulations, Crystal.” -Eileen Yin

Other Volunteer Leadership Awardees this year were:

Kevin Cox; Chair of Mohawk Hudson Chapter

John Bergacs; Information Volunteer

David Elliott; Paddling Chair Worcester Chapter

Corey Mott; Connecticut and Narragansett Chapters

Lisa Novins; Chapter Chair Potomac

Jean Carlos Artiles; Educators Outdoors

Jeff Mayes; Volunteer Facilitator

Amy Kelliher; Volunteer Facilitator and OLDC

Longtime Leader Steve Galla Named Hiking Committee Chair

Hiking Chair Steve Galla


Congratulations to Steve Galla, who has been elected leader of the Hike Committee. Galla, who had been serving as the Committee’s Vice Chair, is a retired New York City school teacher who joined the AMC in 2004.

An active hike leader, he also served as Chair of the Hiking Committee from March 2007 through March 2009 and as Interim Chair of the Committee from February 2011 to August 2012.

Here’s a snapshot of Galla’s plans for the role:

What motivated you to take on the position?
“I’m glad to take on these responsibilities. I feel qualified and energetic and above all, I have a fabulous team of experienced and motivated volunteers to work with. It is my honor to serve AMC and devote my time and effort to make a difference.”

What are your goals for the Hike Committee?
“My goals are to seek out and add qualified hike leaders to our hiking committee and encourage lots of hikes. I am committed to the principles of DEI and I am currently reaching out to leaders who can introduce hiking to underserved communities within our coverage area. We have a reservoir of recent AMC-sponsored leadership trainees who need to become full AMC Hike Leaders. We’ve already begun the process of including them.”

Interested in getting involved with the Hiking Committee? Contact Galla at