About Us

A Letter from our Founder


My life is a result of adventure. All of my days have been rooted in and shaped by the call of wild places. Chasing the sun through snow-capped peaks; kayaking untamed rivers; tracking animals through the high country; skiing untouched mountain slopes; and sitting just beyond the break at sunset — these are the spaces and places that are integral to my being.

I’ve been lead to the best places and met the best people through this type of adventure and wandering. I’ve seen how the power of these experiences is rooted deep in our DNA. We lead more intentional lives full of purpose, passion and drive. We learn about ourselves and the world beyond us. Adventure creates the stories we tell that come to define us. It makes us better. It heals us.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my pursuit of adventure, and I’ve met some extraordinary folks along the way. And I think all of that is well worth sharing. It’s why I created Stoke Broker. We provide pinnacle, ultra-customized, unmatched adventure experiences built specifically for you, and deliver them to your doorstep so that all you have to do is say “yes” and the rest…. well, the rest is where it all begins.

See you out there,

 

Brad Ludden

 

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Brad Ludden

Founder

Bio

Brad was born at the base of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, and raised in the Rockies of Northwestern Montana. His days have always been spent outside — through all four seasons, across continents, and on some of the world’s most remote rivers, charting unexplored territory. It is in the heart of the wild, natural moment that Brad comes alive, a draw that led him to start Stoke Broker. An avid pilot, skier, outdoorsman, and whitewater kayaker, Brad sees the stoke from every angle, and most enjoys watching the sun rise and set in places where he feels small and insignificant against the backdrop of extraordinary adventure. He is a former professional whitewater kayaker, and the founder of First Descents, a nonprofit organization that provides free, life-changing outdoor adventures to young adults impacted by cancer.

Stoke Moment:

“Harvesting my first bull elk with my bow on public land, deep in the wilderness on a three-day solo hunt. It required every ounce of physical and emotional energy I had — tracking the bull to his final resting place, and the overwhelming feelings of sadness and gratitude that came over me when I did. It was my coming of age; my full integration into my natural surroundings.”

Ryan O’Donoghue

CEO

Bio

Ryan’s love of the outdoors was influenced by his family at a young age. A beautiful metroparks system in his hometown of Cleveland, OH served as his gateway into meaningful time spent in the natural world. Ryan attended Georgetown University, where he was captain of the football team, an Academic All-American, and where he holds a BSBA in Finance & Technology Management. After graduating, Ryan and his brother Colin set off on a 3-month road trip where they visited over 20 national parks throughout the U.S.. Their experience led to a greater understanding and appreciation for nature, and the unlimited potential of adventure. In the years to follow, Colin was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Sadly, cancer claimed Colin’s life in August of 2005. This life experience eventually led Ryan to his role as CEO at First Descents and Stoke Broker, where he now combines his love of the outdoors with a passion for helping those coping with serious health conditions.

Stoke Moment:

“When Colin and I took to the road in 2001, we had very little experience navigating the backcountry. We struggled to make a fire that would last more than 20 minutes, let alone keep us warm! In time and with a bit of experience, we were much more self-sufficient. Henceforth we set a goal to light one-match fires. Our first one-match fire is without question my STOKE moment… it forever serves as a reminder to embrace new experiences with a beginners mindset.”

Adam Schuster

COO

Bio

Adam grew up in the Chicago suburbs and quickly developed a strong desire for adventure. At first adventure meant heading down the street to explore the neighborhood creek. It graduated to road trips with a paper map, a tent with a broken pole or two, and no plan (and most likely a case of crappy beer). Eventually his sense of adventure led him to Africa where he spent time volunteering and working in Malawi and Uganda. Adam now loves to get outside in the mountains of his home state of Colorado. He is the Director of Finance & Operations at First Descents and COO at Stoke Broker. These organizations bring together his passions for the outdoors and community building.

Stoke Moment:

“While living in Malawi after college, I would often get around the country by hitchhiking. I have this distinct memory of sitting in the back of a pickup truck driving down the coast of Lake Malawi with the intense African sun hitting my smiling face. I didn’t have a care or stress in the world and felt totally free. It was a moment that was intensely pure.”

Kitt Doucette

Chief Adventure Designer

Bio

Kitt’s personal history pulls from all facets. He was born in Wisconsin, raised in the mountains of Idaho, and studied Spanish and international relations on the beaches of Santa Barbara. He began traveling early on, mostly with the family and the Sun Valley Ski Team, before landing a gig as a safety kayaker on the Payette and Salmon rivers in Idaho, and then the jungle rivers and beaches of Ecuador. It was on a cross-continental road trip from Alaska to South America that Kitt sold his first adventure travel story to a national magazine. He’s been relying on the written word to take him all over the world ever since. As an adventure travel journalist and contributing editor for 15 years, he’s filled three passports chasing waves, snow, adventure, interesting people, and new experiences, searching for those moments that make him and the world feel big and small at the same time.

Stoke Moment:

“Growing up in Wisconsin, my dad made us a badass 300-yard long sled run down a big hill in our backyard. It started in a steep, narrow chute that would rocket you around a bank, drop quickly again, and then send you flying out into the marshland below. After 30 years of a very stoke-filled life, that moment always rings as true as they come — eyes wide, hair blown back, careening down a homemade sled run, laughing hysterically each time the sled stopped, then running back up the hill to do it again.”

Ray Shedd

Vice President, Partnerships & Sales

Bio

Ray grew up adventuring in the mountains of New England. He spent his summers kayaking and surfing the coast of Maine and winters skiing the slopes of Vermont and New Hampshire. Ray has always believed that adventure is nourishment, and that we all benefit from more time spent in wild places. His belief in the healing power of adventure led him to First Descents, where he serves as the organization’s Director of Advancement. Ray is an avid mountain biker, skier, surfer, bow-hunter, and novice whitewater kayaker. Ray is passionate about building relationships with people, companies, and organizations who seek adventure.

Stoke Moment:

“My time on First Descents’ programs always standout among the many adventures I’ve experienced. I recall paddling the famed Tumbleweed and Fang rapids on the Clark Fork River in Montana with an inspiring group of young adult cancer survivors. Each participant made their own “first descent” of these rapids before circling their boats together in an eddy flower formation. The level stoke – and healing – was profound.”

Alice Howell

Vice President

Bio

Alice has always been a student of global cultures and experiences. A New York native, she studied art history and French, both academically and via boots-on-the-ground visits to museums and historical cornerstones throughout her youth. She took her first solo trip at 14. Not long after that, she circumnavigated Mount Kailash in Tibet, a trip she credits as defining her personal adventure philosophy: the more you travel, the more it unifies your sense of the world. Alice began her career in the travel industry in San Francisco at Geographic Expeditions where she worked in sales, trip operations, and marketing before helming innovation at the organization. She joined the Stoke Broker team in 2018.

Stoke Moment:

“In Argentine Patagonia, I took a day off from trail running around the Fitz Roy massif to visit the Viedma glacier. After a briefing on the basics of ice climbing, I rappelled into a crevasse. There is no color so electrifying as the blazing blue you’ll see 40 feet into a crevasse. Even as a seasoned rock climber, it was a novel thrill to feel the crampons and ice axes allowing me to scale a sheer wall of ice. Amid the intense physical and visual gratification, I recognized that it was all happening in a tiny, unnamed crevasse that probably wouldn’t exist in another year — barely a wrinkle in time. The reminder of vast possibility and temporal existence is travel at its best.”

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