Christian Beckwith to Step Down as Executive Director of SHIFT

Christian Beckwith. Photo: Greg Von Doersten

After nearly eight years at the helm, Christian Beckwith, the founder and Executive Director of SHIFT, has announced his intention to step down from his position. He is working with SHIFT’s Board of Directors on the transition to new leadership.

“We are so grateful for Christian’s dedication, creativity and energy,” said SHIFT board member Sandy Hessler. “He brought together so many different voices to improve the health of both the earth and humanity synergistically.” 

Beckwith founded SHIFT in 2013 when The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board (“TTB”) retained his company, The Venture Collective, to develop a conservation-themed event to promote visitation to the Jackson Hole area in October. 

Under Beckwith’s leadership, SHIFT evolved into a convening space for natural allies to address issues of common concern. Topics explored by the annual gathering include the outdoor recreation / conservation partnership (2015); the relationship between outdoor recreation and public lands (2016); the business case for public lands (2017); the connection between public lands and public health (2018); the business case for nature as medicine (2019); and the mental health benefits of time outside (2020).

SHIFT’s early focus on the public land transfer movement helped galvanize the fight against the transfer of public lands to private ownership. The organization’s emphasis on state offices of outdoor recreation helped advance outdoor recreation leadership positions across the country. 

In 2015, Beckwith established a non-profit, The Center for Jackson Hole, to execute the organization’s programming. In 2016, he started The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) to elevate the perspectives and priorities of the next generation of conservation leaders throughout the outdoor recreation, land management and conservation communities. 

Beckwith’s vision for SHIFT as a vehicle of empowerment for early career leaders resulted in numerous ELP alumni joining the organization as board members and staff. 

Pediatrician Dr. Morgan Green, a Fellow of the 2018 ELP, became the program’s Director in February 2019.

“Over the past two years I’ve grown very appreciative of the mentorship and investment I’ve received from Christian,” said Dr. Green. “Through ardent difficulty he sought change with humility and was always available for dialogue and open to feedback. What I’ve learned from his clarity of purpose has helped lay the foundation of my own leadership journey within the outdoor sector.”

In 2020, Beckwith oversaw the launch of The Health and Nature Webinar Series, moved SHIFT to a virtual platform and incubated numerous initiatives, such as the Trails Calculator, to further bolster the argument for our public lands and waters. He also worked with the TTB to acquire the brand rights to SHIFT, then changed the organization’s name to reflect the new ownership. 

During his tenure, Beckwith raised nearly $2M for the development and execution of SHIFT’s programming while evolving the event into a national forum for issues at the intersection of outdoor recreation, conservation, public lands and public health. 

Gerben Scherpbier, ELP ‘16 Fellow, joined SHIFT’s board of directors in 2018. “SHIFT has provided me with friendships, mentorship, and lessons I will draw on throughout my career,” he said. “This field desperately needs more spaces like SHIFT, where young people can work and learn hand in hand with seasoned experts like Christian.”

Beckwith outlined no immediate plans for his next venture. Instead, he looked back at the past seven and a half years with gratitude and appreciation.

“The connections, collaborations and friendships sparked by SHIFT and The Emerging Leaders Program are some of the most satisfying of my career,” said Beckwith. “I look forward to supporting the organization as it takes its next steps forward.”

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