The Premise: The coalition of stakeholders working to protect our public lands has the potential to become a movement. Outdoor recreationists, land managers, conservationists and cultural relevancy advocates realize their greatest opportunities for effectiveness when they address issues of common concern with a unified voice. Working together to achieve shared objectives, their ability to champion our public lands in a time of unprecedented threat is extraordinary.
The Problem: The greatest threat to the movement’s success is its fragmentation. Compartmentalization of work, replication of effort, lack of communication between principals, and conflict between natural allies are just a few of the challenges that conspire against a united whole.
The Solution: SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow) unites natural allies around the common goal of protecting the places in which we play. By providing a unified framework for their stewardship, we increase the effectiveness of our individual efforts.
Held each autumn in the “crucible of conservation,” Jackson Hole, SHIFT is an annual festival that explores issues at the intersection of conservation, outdoor recreation and cultural relevancy.
SHIFT’s goal is to help advance the collective agenda of its stakeholder coalition—an alliance of the outdoor recreation, conservation, land management, and cultural relevancy communities—by aligning and amplifying complementary efforts that protect our public lands. We believe that if the efforts to protect America’s lands, waters and wildlife continue to be led by Caucasians as they have been historically, they will not be enough to secure their health and wellbeing.
Because of this, in 2016, The Center for Jackson Hole, SHIFT’s 501c3 governing organization, retained the Teton Science Schools to help develop a program that addressed the issue of cultural relevancy in outdoor recreation and conservation. The The Emerging Leaders Program (“ELP”) brought thirty-four men and women between the ages of 19 and 31 to the Jackson campus of the Teton Science Schools for three days of preparatory work in advance of The 2016 SHIFT Festival, and then integrated them into the proceedings in substantive and meaningful ways. ELP participation—on panel discussions, as speakers, facilitators, and as logistical coordinators—“changed the conversation in very important ways” for participants and Emerging Leaders (“ELPers”) alike.
The ELPers were a demographical mirror of America. At SHIFT, urban millennials and people of color—the demographics identified by land managers, the outdoor rec industry and conservation advocates as the keys to succesful, next-gen stewardship—worked alongside their Caucasian counterparts to lead the Festival’s conversations. This evolution of traditional conservation became the Festival’s highlight, and will remain SHIFT’s substantive focus as we explore the role outdoor recreation can play in the protection of our public lands.
SHIFT is run by The Center for Jackson Hole, a nonprofit that leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains via The Emerging Leaders Program, SHIFT and related programming.
Christian Beckwith, Director: The founder and director of SHIFT and of its parent organization, The Center for Jackson Hole, Beckwith moved to Jackson, Wyoming, in 1994, and soon thereafter started his first publication, The Mountain Yodel. In 1996 he became the youngest person to edit the world’s premier mountaineering journal, The American Alpine Journal. In 2002 he co-founded Alpinist Magazine, an archival-quality climbing quarterly that Reinhold Messner called “the greatest climbing magazine in the world today.” More recently, he started the surfing, skiing and climbing extravaganza, The Alpinist Film Festival; coordinated the Teton Boulder Project, which developed a Jackson Hole bouldering park to honor Teton pioneers; and launched Outerlocal, a social media website for adventure athletes. He has made expeditions to Kyrgyzstan, Alaska, Peru and Tibet, skied the Grand Teton half a dozen times, and established numerous first ascents and descents around the world. Beckwith advocates a “place-first” approach to outdoor recreation that prioritizes the well-being of our places over the activities we love to do in them so that we may avoid the tragedy of the commons and the loss of John Muir’s legacy.
Chris Perkins, Marketing Director: Chris spent his first two years in Jackson with the Teton Science Schools, where he ascended to the position of lead field instructor, leading students of all ages on guided experiences in Grand Teton National Park. In his efforts, Chris promoted scientific literacy, leadership in community, and connection to place, seeking to practice scientific thinking in the way we interact with and explore the world. Chris provided logistical support to SHIFT in 2015 and 2016, before assuming a full-time position in 2017 to enhance SHIFT’s advancement efforts. Chris attended Whitman College, where he graduated cum laude in 2014 with a B.A. in Biophysics, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology. He spends his free time in the Tetons, biting off a little more than he can chew. Contact Chris for media inquiries.
Chuck Fleischman: Charles (“Chuck”) M. Fleischman is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He is the former President, COO & CFO of Digene Corporation (now Qiagen), where he created an emerging growth, biotechnology medical device company to develop, manufacture and commercialize molecular diagnostic tests for human infectious diseases and cancers. Digene changed medical practice and standards of care in cervical cancer screening and prevention. Mr. Fleischman is a member of the Board of Directors of Cord Blood Research, San Bruno, CA, and served on the Boards of One Lambda, Inc. (now ThermoFisher), and Dako (now Agilent Technologies). Mr. Fleischman is the Interim Executive Director of the Institute for Health Studies (InHealth) in Washington, DC, serves on the National Advisory Council of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education and is a Director at the Potomac Conservancy and the American Alpine Club. Mr. Fleischman graduated from Harvard College and obtained his MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Alfonso Orozco: Alfonso was born in agricultural Hollister, CA but grew up in Oakland. His interest in the outdoors was sparked from an Outdoor Leadership class he took at San Francisco State University, from which he later received a B.S. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration. When he realized that backpacking existed, he made a personal goal of learning how to backpack. Little did he know that this interest would turn into a lifelong passion and career. It began with a Yosemite backpacking trip and evolved into positions with Bay Area Wilderness Training, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Alcatraz National Park, and Virgin Islands National Park. He quickly realized that he had a passion for the outdoors and education! With those two things in his heart he packed up all of his swim suits and sunscreen bottles and left his Virgin Islands position to to pursue a graduate degree in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In May of 2016, Outdoor 30 Under 30 recognized Alfonso as a young outdoor professional who is “challenging the status quo and driving the outdoor industry forward.” Alfonso was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in the fall of 2016. He is currently in pursuit of his M.S. in environmental education at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY. Alfonso is also the Latino Outdoors Coordinator for the state of Wyoming, where he works to connect Latino families and young adults to the outdoors.
Luther Propst, Chair: Luther Propst founded the Sonoran Institute in 1991 and served as executive director until December 2012. He has worked for World Wildlife Fund in Washington DC, and practiced law, where he represented local governments, landowners, and organizations nationwide in land-use matters. He has co-authored three books, including Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities. He is currently the chair of the Outdoor Alliance, and serves on the boards of the George B. Storer Foundation and the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Propst is recognized as a leading practitioner in the North American West of community-based, collaborative, and innovative efforts to advance conservation and to ground conservation in an understanding of economic values and implications.
Ted Staryk: Ted Staryk chaired The McKnight Foundation board of directors during the exploration and development of its impact-investing program. He currently serves as the chair of its Mission Investing Committee. In 2006, he and his wife Noa bought Jackson, Wyoming’s Snake River Brewing from its original founders, Albert & Joni Upsher.
Courtney Aber: Courtney Aber is the National Director for BOLD and GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) at the YMCA. She works to lead efforts across sectors to expand opportunities for youth to create a meaningful personal connection to the outdoors. BOLD and GOLD brings youth from all different backgrounds together to build self-confidence, community awareness, and a sense of wonder for the natural world. In addition to running outdoor programs, she has been the Education Director for a maritime museum and worked for several years as a Learning Specialist. Courtney has been involved with outdoor programming since 1992 when she decided to take a summer “off” and lead outdoor trips before getting a real job. Since then she has led trips on 3 continents, in 5 countries, and throughout the US. She continues to be amazed at the power of the outdoors to change lives and to bring out the best in people.
Taimur Ahmad: Taimur Ahmad grew up in New York City, where he learned to fish and climb in the lakes and on the boulders of Central Park. At Princeton, he was active in outdoor education and recreation programs as a leader and leader-trainer, and also founded his own campus outing group. After graduating in 2016 he took a position as a Recreation and Forest Policy Fellow at The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C., where he works on issues related to outdoor access and recreation. Taimur was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in 2016.
Grace Anderson: Grace Anderson is the Coordinator for the Sierra Club Outdoors’ Inspiring Connections Outdoors Program. Grace, who currently calls Oakland, California, home, discovered the awe of nature on a college spring break trip with the Student Conservation Association to Joshua Tree National Park. Since then she’s been chasing wide-open spaces from Patagonia to the Yukon Territories to Wyoming. As Program Manager for Sierra Club Outdoors’ Inspiring Connections Outdoors Program, she helps connect communities with limited access to the outdoors. Prior to the Sierra Club, she worked in the field instructing 2-24 days courses and in administrative capacities for organizations such as NOLS, GirlVentures and Conservacion Patagonica. Grace was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in 2016.
Stacy Bare: Stacy Bare is a climber and skier, the Director of Sierra Club Outdoors (SCO), a veteran of the war in Iraq, and a brand ambassador for The North Face, Keen Shoes, and Combat Flip Flops. SCO facilitates 250,000+ people getting outside each year. Under his direction, SCO launched the Great Outdoors Lab with the University of California-Berkeley in 2014 to put scientifically defensible data behind the power of the outdoors to support improved mental, physical, and public health. He is also a 2014 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and the 2015 SHIFT Adventure Athlete of the Year. He holds degrees from the Universities of Mississippi and Pennsylvania and is at home in Salt Lake City with his wife, Dr. Makenzie Selland and their daughter Wilder.
Kirsten Blackburn: Kirsten Blackburn manages corporate philanthropy and activism for KEEN, Inc., working to create a movement of people dedicated to preserving our country’s incredible outdoor landscapes. She manages strategic non-profit partnerships, oversees a cyclical grant program called the KEEN Effect, and works to establish fan-based activism campaigns. She grew up in Whitefish, Montana with Glacier National Park as a backyard. Growing up amongst the beauty of Western Montana fostered a love for the outdoors and a burning desire to preserve them. She splits her time outside of Portland Oregon’s city limits climbing, trail running, getting lost in Oregon’s high desert, and serving on the Board of Directors of Oregon Natural Desert Association and The Conservation Alliance.
Michael Davis Jr. In addition to coordinating the Let’s Move Outside program for Seattle, Michael Davis Jr. takes young men from the Seattle community on eight-day backpacking trips through the North Cascades and Olympic Coast Wilderness as an instructor with the YMCA Boys Outdoor Leadership Development School. Michael was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in 2016.
Ryan Dunfee: Ryan Dunfee is the Managing Editor at Teton Gravity Research, where he manages daily editorial content production, leads content strategy, and curates TGR’s editorial voice. He manages a field of contributors and interns producing four-season outdoor sports content year-round. A 2008 graduate of Williams College, Ryan has been working in communications, marketing, and journalism in the outdoor industry ever since. Ryan is addicted to any sport with expensive toys – mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and surfing come to mind – but equally passionate about using intelligent communications to effect change when it comes to climate change and environmental issues. He’s also used his Spanish skills to assist with translation needs in Jackson’s Latino community.
Meryl Harrell: Meryl L. R. Harrell is a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working with the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Since joining USDA in 2009, Meryl has been involved in a range of natural resource issues, including land management planning and connecting youth to the great outdoors. Prior to joining USDA, Meryl was part of the President’s Campaign for Change in 2008, and has also worked on public lands issues at The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. Meryl received her J.D. from the Yale Law School, where she studied environmental law, and graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in geosciences and environmental studies from Princeton University. She is also an alum of the Teton Science School, where her love of rocks turned into a passion for public lands. A New Jersey native, Meryl enjoys spending as much time as she can hiking on our National Forests and Grasslands with her husband Peter and son Sam.
José G. González: José G. González is an educator with experience in formal and informal education in the arts, education, conservation, and the environment. He has broad experience as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. He also holds a CA single-subject teaching credential in Social Studies. His recent work is founding and developing Latino Outdoors. Latino Outdoors is a growing community as a network and volunteer-run organization. Latino Outdoors exists to “connect cultura with the outdoors”. The focus is on promoting a network of like-minded professionals, supporting outdoor leadership capacity-building opportunities for youth and young adults, and serving as a storytelling platform for defining the ambicultural identity connecting Latino communities and the outdoors.
Carl Kish: After seeking the endless winter and returning from a semester snowboarding and studying Adventure Tourism Management in New Zealand, Carl Kish interned for the Center for Surf Research as a college senior in the Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Management program at San Diego State University. Focused on studying sustainable surf tourism, Carl developed his research while visiting resorts in Fiji, Hawaii, and Costa Rica, which is where he saw the need for a formalized standard for surf tourism operators. While Carl gets stoked on surfing, his heart lies in the mountains. After graduating with honors from San Diego State University, in addition to moving into sustainable tourism consulting full-time, he took the building blocks of his sustainable surf tourism research and began studying best practices in sustainable ski tourism. One year later, Carl created the first sustainability certification program for surf and ski tourism operators with his professor, Dr. Jess Ponting, called STOKE Certified. Passionate about sustainability, especially in snowboard and surf tourism and product development—he is committed to progressing the riding culture with a future-proof perspective.
Carolyn Markowitz: Caroline Markowitz is the founder of Born to Crunch – Jackson Holesome Granola. She graduated from Princeton University in 2011 with a B.A. in history and a certificate in environmental studies; she was also a member of the women’s lacrosse team. Caroline lived in San Francisco and New York City working in customer service for the men’s e-commerce clothing company, Bonobos. But her yearning to explore and love for the west led her to Jackson, where she is also a contributing writer for Jackson Hole Magazine and retail associate at Stio.
Linda Merigliano: Linda Merigliano was introduced to wilderness in the Adirondacks. After one season as a volunteer ranger in the Tetons, she completed a Natural Resource degree at Cornell University and headed west. She spent the next 11 years working as a seasonal wilderness ranger and completing a master’s degree at the University of Idaho focused on indicators of wilderness quality. In 1988 she was one of six field people who testified before Congress as part of a GAO audit on Forest Service wilderness stewardship. She has been working on the Bridger-Teton National Forest since 1991 and currently serves as the recreation, wilderness and trails program manager for the Jackson District in addition to interagency assignments to help develop wilderness character monitoring and teach wilderness planning. She lives in Driggs Idaho with her husband Mike who is a riparian plant ecologist affiliated with the University of Montana.
Peter Metcalf: Peter Metcalf co-founded Black Diamond, Inc. in 1989 and became its Chief Executive Officer May 28, 2010. Mr. Metcalf served as the President of Black Diamond, Inc. from May 28, 2010 to August 11, 2014, and as its Director from May 28, 2010 to May 29, 2015. He co-founded Clarus Corp., and served as its Chief Executive Officer and President on May 28, 2010. He served as the President of Chouinard Equipment Ltd. (inc), a Subsidiary of Lost Arrow Corporation from 1981 to 1989. Mr. Metcalf serves as Director of Salt Lake City Branch of Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. He has been a Member of Board of Managers of PIEPS GmbH since October 1, 2012. Mr. Metcalf is a graduate of the University of Colorado, with a major in Political Science. He holds a Certificate in Management from the Peter Drucker Center of Management.
Dan Nordstrom: Dan Nordstrom has been CEO of Outdoor Research since 2003. Prior to that he spent 18 years at Nordstrom Inc. in a variety of roles that included CEO of Nordstrom.com and Co-President of Nordstrom Inc. He is a passionate advocate for conservation and assuring Americans have access to human powered outdoor experience. He’s a past President of the Access Fund, where he led the creation of the Access Fund Land Preservation Fund, and is currently on the board of Forterra, the leading conservation and land policy organization in WA, as well as a founder of the Outdoor Access Working Group and board member of the American Mountain Guides Association. All of that that is actually a cover story that allows him to seem very busy though he actually spends most of his time plotting the next climbing or skiing adventure.
Michelle Piñon: Michelle Piñon is the Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for Latino Outdoors and an Outdoor Trip Leader with Washington Trails Association. Hailing from sunny Southern California, Michelle is a Seattle transplant working to protect Washington state’s majestic wilderness. Her initial attraction to environmentalism arose while organizing against workers’ rights violations in the food industry. Through activism within her Latino community, she began to question how communities form and connect to nature. She independently launched the Latino Outdoors Washington Chapter with ten outdoors experiences for Latino families. A graduate of Yale University, Michelle spends her free time exploring the US and learning about regional environmental issues. Michelle was a member of the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program in the fall of 2016.
Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin: Aparna is an equity, diversity, and inclusion consultant and founder of the Avarna Group, which supports organizations in the outdoor and environmental space in attracting and engaging a diverse and inclusive base of people and promoting inclusive organizational cultures. Over the past six years, she has facilitated workshops on hidden bias, inclusive recruiting practices, cultural competency, and other salient topics for thousands of educators, nonprofit leaders, land managers, conservationists, and outdoor industry professionals. She has also spearheaded projects that encourage public dialogue about diversity and inclusion in the outdoors, including Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors. In a previous life, Aparna was a hotshot lawyer for a decade and a not-so-hotshot engineer for less than a decade. This meant she didn’t have time to do the things she loved, like playing outdoors. (She did, however, get some amazing views from top floor offices of skyscrapers.) In 2010, she turned her passion into a career, switching out her skyscraper views for mountain views, and has never looked back. While not at work, she can be found outside playing with her partner Jamie and their son Kieran and blogging about it when the mood so strikes her.
Bob Ratcliffe: As Division Chief for the National Park Service’s Conservation, Recreation and Community Assistance Programs for the last four years, Bob oversees the widely recognized Recreation, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, National Trails and National Rivers programs among others. These innovative programs help fulfill the NPS mission in working with partners to extend the benefits of parks, recreation and conservation to communities across the country. Previously, Bob served 24 years for the Bureau of Land Management in a variety of field and national leadership roles including over a dozen years as Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning, and Division Chief for the National Recreation and Visitor Services Program. Mr. Ratcliffe has been successful in working with constituents, coalitions, partners and agency leadership to emphasize rivers, trails, recreation, conservation and community assistance as top priorities for the agencies and the Department. He helped guide the development of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and has helped shape the NPS’ Centennial efforts as well as Department’s strategic priorities for youth engagement and promoting economic and health benefits of outdoor recreation. Currently he serves as the interagency staff Chair of the Federal Recreation Council (formerly FICOR). He is also a member for several of NPS strategic leadership teams guiding efforts to help define future roles for NPS and the Department of Interior in addressing recreation, urban, public engagement challenges and identifying opportunities to support the agency’s relevancy, diversity and inclusion goals.
Alyssa Ravassio: Alyssa is the founder and CEO of Hipcamp, a web platform that connects people with public and private land for camping. Their mission is get more people outside. She has a degree from UCLA in Digital Democracy and her deepest passion is helping shape how the internet impacts our humanity and our planet.
Michael Schlafmann: A graduate of Yale University, Michael Schlafmann serves as the Public Services Staff Officer on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, wehre he oversees wilderness, recreation, outfitting and guiding programs with a deep passion for engaging people directly in the management of open space and wild lands. Mike is a key team member in the Forest Service’s efforts to define a regional framework for sustainable recreation across the Pacific Northwest. Recently, Mike’s team on the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie was asked to form a national pilot for new approaches to engaging the public in managing resource and social capacity on the National Forests while streamlining the permit process for outfitter and guides and youth oriented organizations. He currently resides a block from Puget Sound in Mukilteo, WA.