2023 Grassroots Advocacy Conference
Keynote (Night One)
“Silence: The Beauty of the World’s Most Quiet Places”
Award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and writer Pete McBride has spent more than two decades studying the world with his camera. He has traveled on assignment to all seven continents and over 75 countries for National Geographic, Outside, Smithsonian, The Nature Conservancy and others, and spoken on stages for TedX, The World Economic Forum, USAID, The Conservation Alliance and more.
His latest project, Seeing Silence, explores the power and fragility of natural soundscapes and quietude, and was named one of the top photo books of 2021.
Keynote (Night Two)
“Policy and Mountaineering”
Luis spent his early career conducting mountaineering, climbing, and skiing courses. As a byproduct of his guiding work with governments around the world, Luis pivoted to full time government affairs and global impact work. He also served as the youngest Councilman for Eagle, Colorado, lead the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office for the state of Colorado, and currently runs his own consulting firm, Endeavor Consulting. Luis believes that a major shift is taking place, one in which the outdoor industry will transform into a powerful force for economic development, conservation and stewardship, education and workforce development and the intersection between public health and wellness, and spending time outside.
“Spirit of the Peaks: Levels of Obligation”
Proud Hunkpapa Lakota and passionate skier—in 2022 named one of the “20 Most Influential People in the Outdoor Industry” by Outside Magazine—Connor was born and raised in the homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute peoples, who have become some of his biggest inspirations and closest relatives, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Skiing is his dance and prayer, a ceremony of its own, one that offers a chance to center himself within nature and the Great Mystery of the universe surrounding him. Connor works to inspire others to deepen their connection to the places they live and play in order for us all to be better relatives to our planet, our communities, and ourselves.
David is Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Executive Director. Based in Mammoth Lakes, CA, he also serves on the Board of Directors of Outdoor Alliance. He has been a national award-winning journalist, a former senior correspondent for Powder magazine, and a finalist for a 2015 National Magazine Award.
Currently Outdoor Alliance’s Communications and Marketing Associate, Nicole has been exploring and advocating for the outdoors most of her life. She grew up racing BMX but it was quiet hiking trails and long backpacking trips that brought her back to outdoor recreation as an adult. Nicole founded Women Who Hike and has worked with American Hiking Society, Hydro Flask, Merrell, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
Hilary is Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Policy Director. Based in Bozeman, she leads WWA’s engagement in National Forest winter travel management and other policy issues affecting backcountry skiers. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and a B.A. degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College.
Jamie is Outdoor Alliance’s Policy Associate and a forest ecologist who has worked extensively on wildfire resilience and forest health issues in California’s Sierra Nevada. He holds a Master’s of Environmental Law & Policy and a Master’s of Natural Resources.
SPEAKERS & PANELISTS
Originally from New York, Nicole has lived and worked throughout the west in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, but moving to Colorado in 2019 felt like home. Prior to joining Colorado Mountain Club as their Policy Director, Nicole served as an attorney for the State of Wyoming specializing in water quality law and worked in other environmental policy roles. Nicole loves to get outside as often as possible, usually through climbing, snowboarding, biking, or looking at interesting plants and rocks along the trail.
Mike is a 34-year veteran of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, now Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He currently serves as President of the Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails committee and helped found the Wintering Wildlife Conservation Initiative in 2021.
Executive Director at Tahoe Backcountry Alliance, Anthony is a long time splitboarder, South Tahoe local, and passionate advocate for public lands access. In his spare time, Anthony is a photographer and filmmaker where his passion also often intersects with advocacy and stewardship in projects for the National Forest Foundation, Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association, and Tahoe Rim Trail Association.
Katie founded 5 Branches Consulting in 2011. With over twenty years’ experience in systems and process improvement, fundraising and strategic visioning, Katie also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management and is a Society for Human Resources (SHRM-CP) certified professional. She has dedicated her entire career to helping organizations and businesses across multiple sectors achieve impact while remaining resilient during challenging times.
Sarah is a Wildlife Biologist at Grand Teton National Park and the Chair of the Teton Range Bighorn Sheep Working Group. She monitors, researches, and manages the ungulate populations in the park, including bighorn sheep, bison, elk, moose, mule deer, and pronghorn.
JAY HUGHES ERICKSON
Jay has a strong passion for transportation equity and ensuring that all humans can experience the soul-nourishing nature that so many of us have built our lives around. He recently joined the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance board and is a construction project manager by profession.
As Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz leads Washington state’s wildfire fighting force and manages nearly 6 million acres of public lands – from coastal waters and aquatic reserves, to working forests and farms, commercial developments, and unparalleled recreation areas. Commissioner Franz is committed to ensuring Washington’s public lands are healthy and productive, both today and for future generations. She has led efforts to protect Washington communities and environment from the impacts of a changing climate, increased development, and wildfire.
Previously a USFS Wilderness Ranger, Timber Stand Improvement team member, Canada Lynx researcher, and Trails Coordinator on the White River National Forest, Anne is now the Program Manager for Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area and Hut Master for Summit Huts Association.
Caroline is an American skier, mountaineer, and environmental activist. She is notable for her advocacy for environmental justice and climate reform. She is an Ambassador for Winter Wildlands Alliance and Protect Our Winters.
Kurt is the Senior Coordinator of the Wildlife-Recreation Coexistence Program for Conservation Northwest. While supporting conservation efforts through grassroots activism, Kurt also works to better the relationship between wildlife and outdoor recreation across Washington state.
Gary serves as Chair of the Teton Backcountry Alliance and is Professor Emeritus in Resource Policy and Management at the University of Alaska. Before that, he directed and instructed experiential education programs internationally.
As the Forest Supervisor on the Stanislaus National Forest, Jason recognizes that many economies surrounding public lands are dependent upon recreation and tourism. He focuses on balancing the multiple uses that occur on public lands while creating resiliency to insects, disease, drought and wildland fire.
Erik started skiing at age one when his dad pushed him around the sleepy woods of Poughkeepsie on some homemade planks. He’s spent the past 10 years as a marketing and communication professional in the outdoor industry. Now he runs his own consultancy and creative shop for outdoor brands and non-profits called Bonfire Collective and co-founded Bluebird Backcountry, the first human-powered ski area in the country.
KERRY MCCLAY, PhD
Winter Wildlands Alliance’s National SnowSchool Director, Kerry is a graduate of the University of Montana and Prescott College, and completed a Doctorate of Education at Boise State University. Kerry designed the innovative SnowSchool curriculum that introduces thousands of children to the joy of exploring their local winter wildlands every season across the snowbelt.
Carmela is a DEI consultant with a background in outdoor education, outdoor retail, and cross-cultural communication. She is a first-generation Filipina-American from Keystone, CO, of the Ute tribal lands. Carmela also runs Not Mad, Just Misunderstood; a DEI training consultancy and podcast. She believes by focusing on cross-cultural communication, I not only educate the majority, but also empower the underrepresented.
Christian Mears Pitcher is a fifth-generation Colorado native with deep roots in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, where his family has been actively engaged since the late 1800s. As a dedicated member of the Wolf Creek Ski Area Board of Directors, Chris contributes his extensive knowledge and passion for the region’s outdoor heritage. Beyond his involvement in the ski area, he is a skilled professional engineer and the owner of a successful consulting firm in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, specializing in responsible river restoration projects across the Western United States. Chris has a commitment to preserving natural landscapes and promoting pragmatic practices.
Chelsea is the Trails Inventory and Planner and Park Ranger Supervisor for the Salt Lake Ranger District on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Prior to this position, Chelsea worked as a Wilderness Ranger and Education Specialist on the Bridger-Teton and Sawtooth National Forests.
As Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Events and Marketing Director, Melinda is the force behind our nationally touring Backcountry Film Festival, biennial Grassroots Advocacy Conference, monthly Stash Blast, and so much more. She has over a decade of experience in marketing, film, and events around the world and holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.
Tyler is an outdoor recreation attorney and advocate based in New Hampshire. He is the founder of Backyard Concept, LLC, and co-founder of Granite Backcountry Alliance, a WWA Grassroots Group pioneering the use of active forest glading as a winter recreation management tool on National Forest lands in New Hampshire and Maine. Tyler is also co-founder, with WWA, of the Ski Kind brand.
Sam is currently the National Recreation Planner within the USFS’s Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources shop. Sam joined USFS in 2016 as a recreation planner for the Rocky Mountain Region and, in a past life, was a recreation planner for the Department of Energy and Department of Defense. She also serves as Vice Chair for the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council. Sam has a degree in Outdoor Recreation from George Mason University and definitely considers winter to be the superior season.
Cindy is serving her third term as a County Commissioner for Teton County, Idaho. She has been instrumental in the adoption of modern zoning and land use regulations, the establishment of a successful Housing Authority, and the implementation of the Teton County Recreation and Public Access Master Plan. Commissioner Riegel has a keen interest in the environmental and socio-economic impacts related to the proposed expansion of her local ski area, Grand Targhee Resort. The resort is located in Teton County, Wyoming but is dependent on Idaho’s infrastructure and services.
Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Membership Director, Kate has worked for Conservation Voters of Idaho, the Energy Policy Institute at Boise State, the Idaho Conservation League, the Idaho Nonprofit Center, the New York State Department of Environment Conservation, Environment Connecticut, and served on the board of the Snake River Alliance. She holds a Masters of Public Administration with an emphasis in environmental and natural resource policy from Boise State University.
Shane has led a USFS Backcountry Trail Crew for the past 6 summers and has been a Snow Ranger for the Ouray and Grand Valley Ranger Districts for the past 3 winters via Colorado Mountain Club. He is also a Great American Outdoors Act Coordinator for the USFS in Gunnison, CO.
Matt is the Executive Director of the Catamount Trail Association (CTA) in Vermont. He is a firm believer in the power of outdoor recreation to build community, enhance people’s quality of life, and inspire support for the protection of public lands.
10th BIENNIAL SPONSORS
Winter Wildlands Alliance is a national nonprofit organization working to
inspire and empower people to protect America’s wild snowscapes.