OIA Board Member
Government Affairs & Sustainable Innovation Committee
Outdoor Afro, Founder & CEO
Rue Mapp grew up in urban Oakland, California, and she was lucky to experience nature in her family’s remote ranch in the northern California woodlands and at summer camp and experiential programs through which she learned to hike and cycle along local trails.
In 2003, Rue founded a game and hobby store in Southern California that hosted competitions and organized workshops and after-school programs to serve local youth. Between 2009 and 2012, Rue worked with the Golden Gate Audubon Society and the Pacific Forest And Watershed Lands Stewardship Council.
In 2009, she founded Outdoor Afro, which consults with conservation and recreation non-profits to help connect and organize enthusiasts around social, environmental and political movements. “Through a robust leadership network and online presence, Outdoor Afro has created a shift in the visual representation of who connects and leads in the outdoors,” says Rue. “Today we touch millions of people through a diverse ecosystem of media and outings with the support of leaders, national non-profits and outdoor retailers.”
In 2015, Rue was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown as one of nine voting commissioners of the California State Parks.
“I have come to appreciate that support for our industry and the environment often starts with early, easy and relevant access to the outdoors that moves individuals and communities toward a transformed experience within our national heritage for happier, healthier and more sustainable lives. We all know that the future success of outdoor retail and its adjacent markets will depend on growing our reach. Connections to urban populations—especially the African American market that exceeds $1 trillion in spending and influence annually, and how and where new audiences recreate is my core focus and joy. Since Outdoor Afro’s founding, I have been actively engaged in public policy work, which, for me, includes inviting an elected official on a hike or to attend regional meetings and hearings that impact local communities. My experience has helped prepare me for now serving as a California State Parks Commissioner and will, I believe, benefit OIA if I am elected to the board.
“This is a critical time for our industry to embrace the wide diversity that exists among outdoor recreation participants. In particular, there is a pressing need to better engage users of color in the U.S. who are disproportionally underrepresented in the Outdoor Retail marketing, senior management, outreach and in visual representation overall.”