Joe DeRing


Joe is the Founder and CEO of EMPOWER Leadership Adventure Center in Middletown CT.  EMPOWER is a 30 acre adventure center that uses life changing experiences as the catalyst to “empowering” people and teams to maximize their potential.  These adventures include Southern New England’s only treetop zip line canopy tour, team building obstacle course and high ropes team building challenges.  EMPOWER’s programming and curriculum are centered around developing leadership, revealing and building character and providing team building programming that is meaningful and valuable. The Empower Leadership Adventure Center has hosted over 400 companies, universities, high schools and middle schools for team building, leadership/character development and corporate outings since 2009.  Many of these groups and teams return to Empower year after year. Additionally, Joe and his Empower team have created a “must see” recreational zip line and canopy tour experience for families, friends and individuals.  This guided canopy tour experience is the only one of its kind in Southern New England and has been featured in USA Today, New York Times, CNN and Headline News and other national publications and media outlets.  Since 2009, the Empower Leadership Adventure Center guides and staff have led nearly 75,000 people through the treetops as part of our Zip Line Canopy Tour program.


In 2000, Joe graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and was commissioned into the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer with the rank of second lieutenant. As a lieutenant, Joe led light and motorized platoons of up to 60 men in combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). These operations included the attack on Baghdad in March 2003 and the capture of high value targets. For his efforts and the success of his teams throughout OIF from 2003 to 2004, Joe was presented the Bronze Star. Joe was sent back overseas to support Operation Enduring Freedom in September 2006. He was sent to Afghanistan to help lead a special working group in “Effects Targeting,” and his group was charged with developing, instituting, and publishing a standard operating procedure detailing proper implementation of non-lethal war fighting measures for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) force. Joe led the effort to train all ANA and ANP forces across the country of Afghanistan and beyond and this training program and manual are still used seven years later. For his leadership of the “Effects Working Group,” Joe received the Army’s Meritorious Service Medal. Joe, now a former Army Captain and Army Ranger, returned home to Middletown, CT in 2007. Joe is regularly invited to speak to high school and college students regarding his leadership experiences. Joe is a respected member of the CT business community and is currently a member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors.  In addition, Joe actively serves the veteran population of Middlesex County by volunteering for St. Luke’s VETS4VETS program.

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Dan Jaskot

General Manager

Dan is the Managing Partner of Empower Leadership Sports & Adventure Center in Middletown, CT. Empower’s programming and curriculum are centered around developing leaders, revealing and building character, and providing team building programming that is meaningful and valuable. The Empower Leadership Team has hosted over 500 companies, universities, middle and high schools, athletic teams, camps, and municipalities for leadership/character development and corporate outings since 2009. Many of these groups and teams return to EMPOWER year after year for adventure programming.

  • Since helping to open EMPOWER in 2009, Dan has designed and delivered over 1,500 Team Building and Leadership Development Adventure Programs for over 100,000 participants.
  • With over 18 years of experience in adventure, experiential, and traditional education settings, Dan has a unique ability to connect with individuals and groups from all walks of life; engaging participants in a positive and supportive manner, and challenging them “beyond comfortable”, leading to meaningful and beneficial takeaways for all.

Experience Dan graduated from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. During his time at Springfield College, Dan enrolled in various Adventure Education courses, developing a great passion and appreciation for the benefits of teaching leadership, team building, and interpersonal skills through adventure. Dan spent 7 years teaching in public and alternative middle/high school settings, as well as at the collegiate level, teaching rock climbing at MIT, and an adventure-based teaching methods class at Springfield College. Dan also has over 18 years of experience designing and leading Team Building and Leadership Development adventure programs for corporate teams, school groups, and athletic teams. Dan continues to design and lead Team Building and Leadership Development programs at Empower. In addition, Dan is the Chair of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Alliance, a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, a member of the Central Regional Tourism District Committee, a Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and was recently named a Springfield College Inaugural 40 Under Forty honoree.


Maureen DeRing


Maureen grew up in the south end of Middletown where she enjoyed dancing, horseback riding, and a variety of sports. She attended Mercy High School from 1992 to 1996 where she was a member of three state championship teams; the cross country team, softball team and basketball team.

Maureen went on to attend Lehigh University where she played Division I softball and basketball. While at Lehigh, she was named the women’s basketball team MVP, the school’s Athlete of the Year, and a Scholar Athlete. Maureen finished her basketball career with over 1,000 points and graduated with a 3.5 grade point average, earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Business and Spanish. Maureen was accepted into the Masters of Business Administration program at Loyola Marymount University in southern California. Maureen excelled in this environment and left Loyola Marymount University not only with a graduate degree in Business Administration but with many lessons she would use in the business world. Maureen has used her first-class education to gain valuable business experience in manufacturing, corporate administration, operations, and management. This breadth of experience in the business world has given her the expertise and real world knowledge necessary to make sound business decisions. 
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