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Class of 2017: Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy Welcomes New Participants and Guides

January 4, 2017

Media Contact

Stasia Walker

Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy

(619) 957-9891

Boulder, CO

The new class of 33 students embarks on the six-month immersive program.

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) extends a special welcome and congratulations to the newest participants and mentors of the Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy (SYFLA).  Following a successful pilot year, the new class of 33 individuals will be joined by 24 industry veterans who will offer mentorship and direction while they guide this next generation of outdoor industry game-changers.

The new class, chosen through a rigorous selection process, will receive development opportunities including education about important outdoor industry issues, leadership training and mentoring from industry leaders, and they’ll work together to make the outdoor industry stronger and better in the years to come.

The 2017 Future Leadership Academy students (including two individuals from non-profits who will be participating in the progam with full scholorships paid by REI):

Aaron McCready        Camelbak

Adam Sanders            Trango

Alia Salim                     Trust for Public Lands

Alli Rowe                     Patagonia

Amanda Schreier        Sea to Summit

Brian Fisher                Grand Trunk

Bruce Dotterrer           NPD

Christopher Fidler       Burton

Colin Moynihan           Uncle Dans

Conor McElyea           Cairn

Courtney Hans           REI

Dana Howe                 Grassroots Outdoor Alliance

David Duron                Toad&Co

Devin   Hewlett            Simms Fishing

Erin Weimer                Sterling Rope

Jake Wheeler              Roots Rated

Jill Sanford                  Freelance Journalist

Johanna Andrews       Eddie Bauer

John McCauley           Outdoor Alliance

Josh Weichhand         Chaco

Justus Hyatt               Cascade Designs

Kat Dierickx                Outdoor Project

Katie Hawkins             Marmot

Katie Wade                  Timbuk2

Lance Johnson           Ultimate Direction

Lauren Beaudoin         Osprey

Lisa Janssen              Goal Zero

Mary Bean                  Columbia

Michael Benauer         Sportiva

Robert Thomas           Smartwool

Sarah Fansler             Scarpa

Sarah Langston          Outdoor Retailer

Vanessa Fors             Helly Hansen

The 2016 Future Leadership Academy Graduates (FLAGs) credit the Academy with providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn with and from the industry’s most influential leaders.

“The Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy reassured me that the outdoor industry is my home and I am here to stay,” said Joe Bustos, retail relations manager at Outdoor Retailer. “The education and mentorship I received from the Academy also gave me more confidence in my current position and a new outlook on what the future of the outdoor industry can look like.”

“Our industry and world are rapidly changing; in fact, change may be the only constant. I believe the future state of our industry is highly unlikely to look anything like the present, and I feel an obligation to the industry I love to help prepare our future leaders,” said Ted Manning, CEO of Ibex. “The Future Leadership Academy provided exactly this opportunity, creating a chance to engage the future leaders and to be inspired by them.”

The 2017 guides who will serve as mentors and leaders:

Amy Beck                   Lucy

Amy Roberts               OIA

Beaver Theodosakis  prAna founder

Chris King                   Arc’teryx

Georgina Miranda       Altitude Seven

Hilary Dessouky         Patagonia

Jen McLaren               Smartwool

Jen Mull                       Backwoods

John Sterling               Conservation Alliance

Kelly Kraus                  Stanley PMI

Kelly Neel                    REI

Kevin Hogan               The North Face

Larry Harrison             Outdoor Retailer

Lori Nuss                    Gramicci

Luis Vargas                 The Clymb

Matt Kaplan                 OIA

Pam Theodosakis       prAna

Scott Whipps               Toad&Co

Steve Barker               Eagle Creek founder

Steve Workman          Merrell

Ted Manning              Ibex

“Last year’s Future Leadership Academy class was amazing and helped us create an incredible and useful program for the next generation of outdoor industry leaders. As a measure of success, seven out of 22 participants last year received a promotion or favorable job change during or directly after the program,” said Stasia Raines, OIA director of the Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy. “This year, we’ve streamlined the education, invested in technology to enhance the experience and grown the program by 50 percent. I cannot wait to see the output as a result of these changes. Our Skip Yowell Future Leaders are the ones who will grow our outdoor industry, shaping it for the better in the years to come. In fact, they already are.”

For more information about the Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy or to get involved in future years, contact Stasia Walker (, the program’s director.

Outdoor Industry Association

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. OIA unites and serves over 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit or call 303.444.3353.