Mark Melvin (he/him)Chief Executive, Founder
Mark and Debra Melvin co-founded Touchstone Climbing in 1995 with the help of several dozen passionate climber investors. He spent 15 years in the corporate world, which he credits his sense of how not to run a company. Mark’s background includes a M.S. from U.C. Berkeley in the school of Engineering. He has dabbled in most forms of climbing, from the Cassin on Denali, to several dozen ascents of El Capitan, his preference being multi-pitch trad routes. He’s run a dozen ultra marathons, and fallen over his handlebars many times chasing his son Daniel on downhill mountain biking adventures.
Debra Melvin (she/her)Controller, Founder
Debra is co-founder of Touchstone, managing the financial side of the business. Her passions are climbing, backpacking, and cycling. She loves the outdoors, especially the backcountry of the Sierra, and hot dry places like Joshua Tree.
Markham Connolly (he/him)Director of Operations
Markham started at Touchstone working at Mission Cliffs when it opened its doors in 1995, developing the youth programs and working at the front desk. He moved back to Telluride, Colorado to accomplish some unfinished challenges in skiing and climbing, but returned to open and manage Berkeley Ironworks in 1999. He has been Director of Operations since Spring of 2002. Outside of Touchstone, Markham is busy chasing after his two kids Isabelle and Joe with his wife Joelle, an avid mountain biker, climber, and art consultant curating and managing collections for private and corporate collectors. When he is not with his family or at work, you’ll most likely find Markham on the trails riding his mountain or cross bike getting ready for mountain bike races or gravel grinders. One of his proudest achievements to date is completing the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race in under nine hours at the ripe age of 50.
Jeffery Bowling (he/him)Creative + Business Development Director
Jeffery has been working for Touchstone since 1996, when he got a taste for climbing at Mission Cliffs. Was it for this his life he sought? Maybe So, Maybe Not. When we travel backwards down the number line, we see that Jeffery has done everything from working kids’ birthday parties to route setting to managing Mission Cliffs. Currently, he oversees gym development. Jeffery & and his sweet one, Holly are known to waste their time together following the lines going south. Jeffery is alright’ cause he has got a degree, a M.A. in Philosophy. In his free time, he can be found wading in the velvet sea and he sometimes has really Gotta Jibboo.
Russell Olsen (he/him)Director of Facilities + General Contractor
Russell joined Touchstone in 2000 as a subcontractor from Telluride, CO. While snowboarding 100+ days he and the crew build a handful of climbing walls for school’s and the rich and famous. Almost 12 years later he has made a life in the bay area with his wife Michelle, daughter Morgan and his son Aiden. If you don’t see him finishing up the latest Touchstone Gym or improvement he is with the family soaking up rays on a beach or rafting down some whitewater.
Eric Nakano (he/him)Facilities Project Coordinator
Eric discovered climbing in 2011 while lifting weights with the Henry Rollins crowd at the Sacramento State fitness facility. He noticed the gangly Ian Mackaye kids having a bunch of fun on the climbing wall and realized he had found his sport. After completing his BA in Photography, he moved to San Francisco and landed a job running the youth after-school programs at Dogpatch Boulders. Eric has since left Dogpatch to help manage facilities projects across all of our gyms, including the ones yet to be built. In his life outside of the gym, Eric enjoys black coffee, black beers, black metal, blank slabs, and photographing stuff just off the highway near the 76 station, that you pass on your way home from work.
Monica Aranda (she/her)Director of Member Services + Management Support
Monica has been working for Touchstone since 2006. She first started climbing when she was 14 years old and has been in love with the sport and community ever since. When she’s not responding to emails and taking calls she’s either hanging out with her family and friends, off on a run or at the gym training for the next big thing.
Holly Rock (she/her)Member Services Associate
Holly started working for Touchstone in 2014 as a belay staffer, teaching intro classes and folding towels. Since then, she’s worked her way through various positions as Desk Staff from Great Western Power Co to Gym Manager of two LA locations; LA Boulders and Hollywood Boulders. She’s now living it up in Member Services replying to all your various inquires. Nope, it’s not a robot at the end of your email, it’s Holly! In her free time you can find her sport climbing, riding waves, and hanging out with her two loves; dog, Willamina Nelson, and human Fiancé, Michael.
Nicole Moffatt (she/her)Human Resources
Nicole started at Sacramento Pipeworks as front desk staff in 2001, left in 2012 to explore, then returned in 2013 to develop and manage the Human Resources department for Touchstone. In her off time, nothing beats a good cup of tea and a brilliant book. With recent trips abroad, traveling more and meeting new people is something she looks forward to.
KJ De Jesus (she/her)EDI Coordinator + Human Resources Associate
KJ (she/her) loves traveling, climbing, and exploring oneself outside of their comfort zone. Living in Hawaii was one of the most influential decisions she’s ever made. The magic of the islands is where she first realized her potential to show up for herself, others, and the land. She loves conversations that challenge conventional ways of thinking and doing, constantly asking her favorite question: “Why?”
She hopes one day that her legacy will inspire others to embrace vulnerability, live curiously, and take life a little less seriously.
Patti Phillips (she/her)Retail Manager
Patti started her Touchstone career at the front desk at CityRock in 1997. She continued working at Berkeley Ironworks when it opened in spring of 2000. Patti is now the Retail Manager for all the Touchstone gyms. She loves working with her dogs, redesigning her house, and hanging out with Tim.
Scott Frye (he/him)Retail Warehouse Manager
Scott is a legend around here. Almost everything in our gyms from chalk, t-shirts, and shoes comes and goes through Scott’s hands, on its way to you. Frye is a Berkeley staple, you’re likely to see him bombing around on one of his 14 bicycles, coaching wicked ping-pong backhands, or continuing to develop the Berkeley bouldering scene.
Famous routes include Surf Safari – 14a, Cannibals – 12d, Steep Climb Named Desire – 14a and Scott’s Roof – V8 (FA at 48 years old).
Preston Nunez (he/him)Retail Team
In 2018, Preston just showed up in Berkeley, living out of his van and working out of the back office of Berkeley Ironworks.
When he isn’t building the Touchstone Online Retail Shop, coordinating new collabs, or fielding requests for more liquid chalk, Preston enjoys running slowly, backpacking with Lucia, twiddling synthesizer knobs for hours with nothing to show for it and roasting coffee for Chaos Roasting.
He considers himself lucky to work with the other people on this page, and looks forward to the day that his ‘start date’ seems like it was a long time ago.
His most prized sends include: Watercourse V1 and Hay Ride V0
Heather Bellgreen (she/her)Director of Marketing + Graphic Design
Heather hails from the weirdest state ever, Florida, and has a PhD from The Royal Orlando Academy of Dramatic Tricks. She wrote her dissertation on genetically engineering the cuteness of kittens in order to fight terrorism and would love to talk with you about it in length, so definitely bring it up when you see her. When she’s not traveling the world in her unicorn onesie, you can find Heather pounding IPA’s in an attempt to forget that she ever lived in Florida.
Justin Alarcon (he/him)Director of Routesetting
Justin is the strong, silent type who is too busy running an empire to write his own bio. Some would call it lazy, but we prefer to call it telepathic delegation. That’s next level managerial strategy right there. Justin hails from the great state of California, and when his soccer career was cut short by aging out of the pee-wee league, he turned to bouldering. He fell hard for Yosemite climbing, taking a job as a bear ranger to fund his incessant pebble wrestling. ‘Twas beneath a boulder that he met his now wife, and she managed to drag him out of the woods and into a ‘real job’ working for Touchstone. We couldn’t be happier.
Ryan Moon (he/him)Events Coordinator + Programs Director
Ryan started climbing in 2003 and finally joined the Touchstone family in 2006 at the long gone, but not forgotten Touchstone San Jose bouldering only gym. He considers himself lucky to have been able to participate in an activity that has given him a strong, supportive group of friends and allowed him to have one of the best excuses to travel the world. Although a fan of all rock types and styles, nothing can satisfy his fancy more than a clean granite boulder and a broken in pair of stiff shoes. Climbing instruction is what Ryan considers one of his strong suits having done it for over a decade now via private lessons and clinics with everyone from new-to-climbing bumblers to national level youth competition climbers. Do you know he did Thriller?
Noah Ruiz (he/him)IT ManagerNoah got his start at Touchstone behind the desk at Mission Cliffs and Dogpatch Boulders. But his skills were better used making sure the internet tubes stay up and running, and so we’re happy to have him on the team as our IT manager. He is a self-proclaimed computer language, web dev, and technology nerd who also enjoys DJing and audio engineering. When not behind a computer, he can be found bouldering or biking around town.
Chris Chang (he/him)Bookkeeper
Chris started working at Touchstone in 2019 but has been a regular at Dogpatch Boulders since he started climbing in 2014. After he started climbing, he quickly fell in love with the physical challenge of bouldering and also found that it is a great excuse to eat snacks in the mountains with his friends. When Chris isn’t bouldering or trying to figure out where his spreadsheet went terribly wrong, you can find him rooting for the Warriors, watching cartoons with his niece and nephew, or eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting.
Ryan Campagna (he/him)Brewmaster
I dislike writing about myself: Ryan (Campy) is a brewer in a climbing company? Really?
After getting involved as a beer sponsor for Touchstone’s competition series from Strike Brewing Company in San Jose, Campy had an opportunity to combine his two passions in one place. After parting ways with Strike and beginning to lay the groundwork Touchstone Brewing Company in Sacramento in 2015, the brewery is finally coming together. His favorite style of beer is a crisp, hoppy Pale Ale, and his favorite style of climbing is moderate (easy), multipitch trad climbing. Campy is also an avid snowboarder, motorcyclist, croc wearer, and amateur furniture builder, though now devotes most of his free time to raising his daughter who luckily doesn’t look much like him.