News Items - Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education
Vice Chair (and former Board Chair) Jeremy Oyen explains what AORE needs to thrive in order to help members navigate voting in the 2019 board elections.

Dear AORE Members,

For those of you who are eligible to vote in this year's board elections, thank you for taking time to exercise this important responsibility as a member. Your contributions are vital to the continued growth and long-term sustainability of our association. As you prepare to fill out and submit your ballot, I'd like to share some context about what went into the selection of our board candidates for the 2020-2023 term. 

In order to support the association's new Strategic Framework and current AORE board experience, we actively solicited potential Board members who have specifically demonstrated successful leadership with nonprofit governance, rolling out a strategic framework, developing and executing robust marketing and communications campaigns. This set of skills and expertise will be critical when it comes to delivering on our exciting vision for the future of our association so that we ensure AORE membership has access to the best programs, services, resources, and tools. 

As you review the BOD applicants, we ask that you review the Strategic Framework document and select individuals who you feel can best enrich, advance, and lead AORE in the areas we as a board and staff have determined to be the most critical to the association's health. My fellow board member and leader of AORE's strategic planning task force, Bryan Karban, recently published a thorough overview of this framework and Board Chair Kellie Gerbers drafted an excellent companion piece to his report that is well worth a read as well. You can find Bryan's update here and Kellie's update here.

Below, I have outlined the list of open board and student board positions that voting members will help us to fill as well as providing an overview of each candidate's background. 

Board of Directors Applicants - 4 Year Term (3 Openings)

Ty Atwater is the Director of Outdoor Recreation Programs at Montana State University. He has served on the AORE climbing wall committee (no longer) as co-chair, and is currently on the AORE Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee as a committee member. He also served as a member of the Oregon State Marine Board’s paddle sports advisory committee. Ty brings a strong background in student and professional development and hopes to constructively challenge the assumptions that underly our thinking as we seek to become a more inclusive organization that represents the diversity of voices within outdoor recreation and education.

Paul Dreyer currently sits on the AORE Board completing a 1 year team. As CEO of Avid4 Adventure, he as led our efforts in becoming a leader in the field of DEI work within outdoor adventure camps for kids. I would bring my learning and experience. Working with over 30 different outdoor schools/organizations over the past two decades, he brings a diverse perspective to this conversation with expertise in making/strengthening connections and partnerships, facilitation, and strategic consulting.

Austin Dyer is the Coordinator of Outdoor Adventure for CU Denver Wellness & Recreation Services. He is currently the Chair of the AORE Development Committee and served as the AORE Student Board of Director. This last year Austin worked to raise close to $2500 for the Student Scholarship Endowment fund and believes that being on the Board would only strengthen the ability to make direct asks to those individuals, brands, and organizations he has built relationships with. Recently he had the opportunity to be part of a team opening up a $52 million recreational complex for the University of Colorado Denver and is developing the vision of our outdoor programs and get to be part of a team planning the future of the recreational department.

Sasha Griffith is the Coordinator of Adventure and TEAM Program at James Madison University. She served as the AORE Awards Committee co-chair previously and is now the current chair of the AORE Recognition Committee. As the chair of the Membership Working Group for ACCT (the Association of Challenge Course Technology). she worked alongside our ACCT BOD liaison to get the information and feedback back and forth between the BOD and the committee members to make that process as smooth as possible. From her perspective the greatest challenge is the greatest opportunity: Reaching those who don’t realize they are missing out on what the outdoors has to offer and how can we help bridge that gap? Whether it be through a college or university program, a non-profit, parks & recreation program, military programming, adaptive programming, for profit, gear outfitters, etc, the avenues available are endless.

Juliet Jacobsen Kastorf is the Co-Founder of Endless River Adventures and leader in the paddling industry since 1992. She works with the Nantahala Racing Club (NRC) and started a program called the Nantahala Kids Club (NKC) under the NRC and for 7+ years has worked to get local kids from very rural depressed region in kayaks. She is hands-on in the outdoor industry and has an ear to the people. Having been in the outdoor industry for 26 years, Juliet is aware of the changes that have happened and can help identify ways to address change. She works directly with a young group of guides, many who are in school, which allows her to keep up with what young people are looking for in outdoor education.

Joey Parent works at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as the Director of the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP). He has spent the past 19 years working in a variety of capacities in the outdoor industry, he has a solid understanding of how AORE “occupies the intersection of the outdoor industry and outdoor recreation and education.” Partnerships are something that he find extremely beneficial, particularly in an environment where we see many outdoor organizations competing for attention. I have helped develop numerous partnerships through my work in a university setting, as well as volunteer work in the greater Richmond community. Whether it be partnerships that help to diversify and strengthen AORE’s revenue base or organizations seeking to capitalize on shared common goals and mission forward programming. He also has been involved with River Management Society (RMS) and is a board member for the James River Outdoor Coalition, a registered 501c3 non-profit.

Rachel VandeVoort serves as the Director of the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation and was instrumental in creating and directing first Governor's Office of Outdoor Recreation for the state of Montana. She is excited to formalized interaction, partnership, and action between AORE interests and state, federal, tribal leaders and formalized interaction and action between AORE interests and local, state, federal policy makers. In addition, Rachel sees opportunities for her to assist in space and topic prioritization to explore and establish new/better/different ways to elevate education, industry, conservation and stewardship interests and

Board of Directors Applicant - 1 Year Term (1 Opening)
Victoria Lopez - Herrera is the outsider-insider whose life has been changed by the very experiences AORE provides. She has been a Student Affairs practitioner for 20 years in various capacities and has worked with a variety of student populations. Victoria entered the field of collegiate recreation through a non-traditional route and can bring a unique perspective to the profession. Known to ask questions to seek understanding, Victoria enjoys being innovative, and can easily make connections between seemingly unrelated things.  She possesses knowledge and experience working within a governance structure and can contribute to Board development. A high performing Board asks the right questions and spends time practicing generative thinking. Asking questions like, “What problem are we solving for?” can help ensure a Board culture of shared governance.

Student Board of Director Applicants - 1 Year Term (1 Opening)

Thomas James (TJ) has worked for the past two years with an organization known as PocketChange, an organization founded and run primarily by students, is a technology platform that empowers you to take action on the causes you care about online in one click. Our AI analyzes the text of an article or post and predicts the associated causes/charities you want to micro-give $0.25-$2.00 towards to impact that world problem. We currently function on NYTimes, Google News, Facebook, The Guardian & more. My position within PocketChange has empowered me to research and analyze thousands of non-profit organizations in order to develop a network of the most impactful and global charities contributing to positive change. As the president of the University of Denver's Backpacking Club, TJ worked alongside the other officers to create a fund that would support students who were eager to participate in our trips but could not afford the registration cost. Creating a support system for students with lower socioeconomic privilege than others helped us live up to part of our mission statement–to make the outdoors accessible to everyone. He also co-founded the DU Gear Garage which supports students who wish to participate in outdoor expeditions but who may not have all of
the expensive gear necessary to do so effectively and safely.

Dani Ruffing has management experience with student employees in both the facilities department at Boise State Campus Recreation and the Trips Program at Boise State as well as prior experience working with and managing high-school aged volunteers as an employee at an after-school program. Dani’s undergraduate area of focus is Global Studies with an emphasis on world cultures and linguistics. This has included classes on current political and social trends, the inclusive or polarizing nature of different language choices, and other topics relevant to the AORE’s values of inclusiveness, stewardship, and advocacy. Dani hopes to use perspective on these wider trends to support similar positive trends within outdoor recreation and education.

After carefully reading each candidate's background and qualifications, I urge you to vote for the people who align most with our needs as a board, organization, and membership. Your choices will directly impact the future of AORE's growth for years to come. We are excited for this opportunity to have your input as members as we enter the next big chapter for our association, guided by the thoughtful framework our board created with the help and feedback of numerous stakeholders, members, and partners. 


Jeremy Oyen
AORE Board Vice Chair
(Former Board Chair)

Note: Eligible voters had to possess a Professional Membership on record by Thursday, August 29, 2019 to vote for the Board of Director Seats (both 4 year and 1 term positions).  Similarly, Student Professional Membership had to be current as of the same deadline in order to be eligible to vote in the Student Board of Director election.

Eligible voters can find complete applicant information in the File Archive in the Member's Area. 

Categories: Board Update, Membership
Published: 09/20/19