Our LeadershipGet to know our awesome team!
Jessi Persson, Site Director
Jessi Persson is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and more recently a graduate of Candler School of Theology, Emory University where she earned a Master of Divinity and a Certificate in Religious Education. Jessi has over nine years of experience in Camp and Retreat Ministries, and additional experience in the education and care of children. Her previous camp roles include: counselor, program staff, ropes director, discernment intern, and program director. She enjoys being active in creation, playing camp games, telling #JessiJokes, camping, and having theological conversation over a cup of cold brew coffee. She is a dog-mom to Flint, a three year old black lab with lots of personality.
Camp office: (702) 875-1980
Cell: (406) 697-5486
Desert Southwest Camp & Retreat Ministries
Cat Holbert, Executive Director
Cat knows a camp and retreat experience shapes lives in various ways. At camp, people are accepted in communities of belonging. They are loved for who they are and are often called into their vocations because of a camp experience.
As a 25+ year “veteran” in United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries, Cat knows this first hand. She has filled many of the regular camp staff positions: counselor, cook/housekeeper, lifeguard, high ropes specialist, Program Director, Camp Director, and Executive Director of Camp & Retreat Ministries in the Desert Southwest Conference, as well as Director of Mingus Mountain! She is a member of the American Camp Association (ACA) and serves as a visitor for the accreditation program.
Cat received her Bachelor of Science (Magna Cum Laude) from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied Recreation and Parks Management and Religious Studies. She also completed coursework for Professional Camp & Retreat Ministry Certification at Drew University. During covid, Cat continued her education by receiving a Fundraising and Strategic Planning certificate from the ASU Nonprofit Management Institute. Most recently, Cat has completed training and is on her way to becoming a certified ‘co-active’ coach with the International Federation of Coaching.
Recently, Cat’s rolled off the United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries Association (UMCRM) Board of Directors after serving for 10 years and providing leadership for multiple UMCRM National Gatherings. An avid believer in training and education, Cat has served as faculty for the ecumenical camp leader’s training, “Compass Points,” Furthermore, she is dedicated to personal life-long learning, always striving for excellence so that she can be a better leader, supervisor, and human.
When she’s not living the camp life, thinking about camp, or dreaming of new ideas for camp, Cat enjoys hiking and biking in Prescott, AZ (and the surrounding areas), baking up a bevy of delicious goods, studying the enneagram and connecting with friends from around the country.
Cat loves to hear from folks! If you have thoughts about camp, ideas on ways we could partner with you or just want to brainstorm something new, be encouraged to drop Cat a line. She looks forward to working alongside you!
Emma Gowan, Office Administrator
When Emma was 12 years old, she was invited to summer camp by a friend. It being her first time at camp, she didn’t know what to expect; that simple invitation changed her life forever! After many summers as a camper, Emma worked on Summer Staff as a counselor and Crafts Director. After graduating from UT Chattanooga with a degree in Communications, Emma worked with many nonprofits — from summer camps to community centers to Habitat for Humanity. Emma is looking forward to being back in the camp mindset (although it feels like she’s never left.) One invitation to camp by a new friend changed Emma’s career path, friends, college choice, and camp is even where she met her husband! Needless to say, she really believes in the power of camp! Emma and her husband are raising three young boys — so free time is limited — but on the off chance she has some, she enjoys reading books and drinking lots of coffee.
If you have questions about registration or payment, you can reach Emma using the contact info below.
Office: 928-719-6162 (call/text)