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Pacesetters Staff

Our staff is comprised of a passionate team of educators who believe deeply in the mission of Pacesetters.  They come from a variety of work and educational backgrounds that inform our programs with students.  In every program, our staff keeps safety, fun, and learning in mind!

Valori was raised in the Southern Applachian mountains and remembers watching Pacesetters' programs helping her friends and family during its early years.  Over the years, her journey brought her from North Carolina to Georgia and back again to work for the organization she admired in her youth.  Along the way, Valori worked in management positions in a number of industries, including pharmacies, retail, and restaurants. 


After receiving a B.Sc. in Biology from Kennesaw State University, Valori returned to North Carolina to help with the leadership transition at Pacesetters.  She worked as a County Coordinator for a year and Program Director for  while managing many of the administrative roles at Pacesetters, then stepped into the Executive Director position with a deep understanding of every level of the organization, which she now uses to enhance our programs.  She possesses a fierce passion for serving at-risk youth and is deeply committed to helping Pacesetters expand its programs to serve any student who could benefit from our services.  


In her off time, Valori loves playing outside where she can often be found rock climbing, gardening, or identifying curious plant species.  

Valori Cassel

Executive Director


B.S. Biology        

Kennesaw State University


Wilderness First Responder

Mental Health First Aid Trainer



Adventure Leader


B.S. Parks & Recreation Management

Western Carolina University


Wilderness First Responder

Mental Health First Aid Certified

AC provides outdoor instruction and leadership support to the Western Carolina Pacesetters team. He is a native to Western North Carolina area and has worked with Pacesetters since 2016. He received his B.S. in Parks and Recreation Management from Western Carolina University with a focus on outdoor leadership and instruction in human services. AC developed a strong sense of devotion for the outdoors throughout his childhood living in the Western North Carolina region and that devotion turned into a great passion when he landed his first job in the outdoor industry as a river guide on the Nantahala River. That same passion sparked a plan to remain in the outdoor industry and pursue a degree in Parks and Recreation Management.

After receiving a degree, he found Western Carolina Pacesetters and fell in love with their mission statement and wanted to be a part of the team. Since becoming a member of the Pacesetters team, his love for the outdoors has grown and his desire to serve at-risk youth has grown into a commitment to help and serve all participants who wish to benefit from the Pacesetters program.

In his off time, AC enjoys doing any activity outdoors, activities such as hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, backpacking, rock climbing, and snowboarding in the winter.

AC Smoker



Caitlin Tucker

Adventure Leader


A.A. & A.S. in Humanities

Tri County Community College


Wilderness First Responder

Mental Health First Aid Certified



Charles Tucker

Facility & Vehicle Maintenance Manager/ Adventure Leader

Wilderness First Responder & CNA

Mental Health First Aid Certified

Automotive Service Excellence Certified & Class A CDL


Tucker is the Facilities Manager for Pacesetters. He discovered Pacesetters through a camp that works with underprivileged youth. He is a native to the state of North Carolina, from the Winston Salem area, and has been with Pacesetters since 2018. 

Tucker is a journeyman of sorts and has worked in many fields in his lifetime which has culminated in his ability to fit into whatever space is needed at the moment. He has a background in medicine, mental illness and youth leadership, as well as industrial production, handyman services, and automotive repair.


Tucker has a heart for helping people and giving folks the tools they need to succeed in their situation and make better of themselves. 


In his free-time, Tucker loves to travel and photograph landscapes. He also has an affinity for rafting, swimming, camping on the beach, and folk dancing.


Josue was raised in the Triangle Area however, he fell in love with the mountains during his first visit to the Western North Carolina region. Over the years, his journey in the WNC region has allowed him to receive his B.S in Psychology and Spanish. After receiving both his degrees, he was able to work for a private home care aid agency in the surrounding area for some time. He then found Western Carolina Pacesetters and fell in love with their mission statement and wanted to be a part of the team.  Josue provides outdoor instruction and leadership support to the Western Carolina Pacesetters team. 


Since becoming a member of the Pacesetters team, Josue possesses a strong desire and passion for serving at-risk youth and is fully committed to helping the youth who seek and wish to benefit from the Pacesetters program .


In his off time, you might find him water rafting down the nantahala river as he enjoys doing any activity outdoors such as hiking, mountain biking and white water rafting. Josue also enjoys traveling and exploring new destinations.

Erin has an Associate Degree in education.

She often volunteers in local schools. Working with students to help them reach academic and personal goals is one of her life’s mission.

Growing up in the country , Erin developed a love early on for natural methods such as soap making, food canning, and gardening. She finds pleasure in drying and using herbs straight from the garden.

Erin is an avid traveler and spends most of her free time exploring the mountains of North Carolina. Her true appreciation of the outdoors has led her to hobbies such as kayaking, hiking, swimming, gardening, camping and traveling to scenic places. Beekeeping is a skill and hobby that Erin has been actively engaged in for years. Her love for her bees and the art of beekeeping is one of the ways that she shows her appreciation to nature . A great benefit to living the mountains is that Erin gets to engage in one of her favorite dance groups, folk dancing. She spends each week folk dancing at the local folk school with adults and youth that share in the love of the art. She has children of her own that she spends much time introducing to these hobbies. 

Lori Anderson’s roots run deep in Appalachia.  While she was raised in suburban, Marietta Ga, her grandparents were from the mountains.  Her grandmother instilled in her a love of gardening and preserving the crop through canning. At the age of 32, Lori and her children relocated to Western North Carolina. After raising a houseful of kids, Lori went on to find her passion in Early Childhood Education. 


For fun, she likes to hike, camp, garden and dance.

Alisha works with our Pacesetters and Inside Out program since 2020 and provides guidance and leadership to the students at Western Carolina Pacesetters. She moved to Waynesville Nc. from Savannah Ga. to pursue a career in Adventure Education. After receiving her degree in Outdoor Leadership and Wilderness Therapy she has worked as a Wilderness Guide for a Wilderness Therapy company and an Adventure Guide for an Experiential Education company. Along with her experience, she holds certifications in Wilderness First Responder, White Water Rescue Technician, and Leave No Trace Educator. 


Alisha has always had a strong connection to the outdoors from her upbringing in the countryside of Georgia. She decided to make her passion for protecting and teaching in the outdoors her career when she found a college degree in Outdoor Leadership among the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Since moving here she has developed a desire to protect the culture, history, and wildlife here. 


She has developed a strong connection to Pacesetters mission statement and the students it serves. She is committed to serving the youth in this area as her desire to provide youth the opportunities Pacesetters can provide has grown since she began with us.  


In Alisha's free time, she enjoys rock climbing, hiking up old forest service roads with her dogs, and studying local wild plants and herbs.

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