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Nonprofit Outdoor Publisher Mountaineers Books Turns 60: Leadership changes pave the way for another 60 years of success

February 24, 2020

Media Contact

Tess Day
Mountaineers Books
206-223-6303 x138

Seattle, WA

In 2020, Mountaineers Books celebrates 60 years of nonprofit publishing and award-winning books. In that time, Mountaineers Books has grown from a handful of volunteers committed to sharing their climbing expertise to the nation’s leading independent publisher of outdoor recreation, sustainable lifestyle, and conservation books. Mountaineers Books, together with imprints Skipstone and Braided River, provide the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to get people outdoors and build a community of advocates for wild places.

In March of 1960, five thousand copies of the first edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, written by volunteer members, arrived at a clubhouse in Seattle and with it the first stirrings of a new independent press. Now, more than 750,000 copies, nine editions, eight translations, and 60 years later, Freedom (as it is affectionately known) has seen Mountaineers Books become the respected outdoor authority that it is today. With more than 700 titles currently in print, ranging from National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Heather Anderson’s memoir Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home to three editions of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by former director of the Utah Avalanche Center Bruce Tremper to the groundbreaking equity work of James Edward Mills in The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors, Mountaineers Books presents a diverse list that inspires and empowers the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists.

Concurrently, Helen Cherullo, who has served as publisher of Mountaineers Books for the past 20 years, will be stepping away from the role to focus on the company’s conservation imprint, Braided River. Cherullo, who has simultaneously been acting as the imprint’s executive director, cites her passion for and commitment to the environment as one of the reasons for transitioning to this position full-time. Cherullo says she’s “honored to continue to play a role at Mountaineers Books focusing on conservation and philanthropy.”

The Braided River imprint, with its first title published in 2003, launched a unique nonprofit model that merged philanthropy and mission impact with a book as the centerpiece of a conservation campaign. By partnering with grassroots organizations and foundations focused on advocacy efforts in western North America, Braided River has succeeded in supporting ambitious conservation work unlike any other publisher in the country is doing. As an example of its success combining education and action, David Moskowitz’s book, Caribou Rainforest: From Heartbreak to Hope, activated communities in Canada and the western United States to fight the extinction of the last caribou living in the lower 48. The book was honored with the 2018 Silver Nautilus Book Award in Animals & Nature, the 2018 Silver Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in Ecology & Environment, and the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition Special Jury Mention. 

Cherullo’s transition to focus on development and philanthropy full-time as Executive Director of Conservation and Advancement would not be possible without Tom Helleberg. Helleberg has served as Director of Finance and Operations for Mountaineers Books since 2018, and has agreed to take on the role of Publisher. “It is a great honor to be stepping into a leadership role on the sixtieth anniversary of the house, to set the course into the next era and continue to inspire our readers,” Helleberg says. Cherullo cites Helleberg’s commitment to partnership and extensive knowledge of the publishing industry as key components of the future success of the press. “We are going to be a good partner to authors, to booksellers, and to our distribution clients such as Green Trails Maps and Colorado Mountain Club,” Helleberg says. He is a publishing veteran with twenty years of experience at nonprofit and scholarly houses. Helleberg holds an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and an MBA in corporate finance and strategy from the Stern School of Business at NYU.

In another step to amplify Mountaineers Books’ influence as a leading nonprofit publisher, longtime sales director Darryl Booker will be assuming the role of Director of Sales and Marketing. “Booker’s energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm will provide a strong base for continued growth of book sales,” Cherullo says of the promotion. Over the course of his fourteen year tenure at Mountaineers Books, Booker has sustained or increased sales revenue on an annual basis, and he has developed numerous new wholesale and distribution partnerships. 

“Working with Mountaineers Books has always fulfilled a lifelong passion of mine bringing together the great outdoors and books,” Booker says. Rounding out the management team is Kate Rogers, Editor in Chief and a long-time book professional who has been with the company for fourteen years.

Mountaineers Books is pleased to announce these exciting changes on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. Since 1960, the catalog of Mountaineers titles has provided the expertise needed for the safe enjoyment of outdoor pursuits as well as the conservation and stewardship of wild places. With Cherullo’s expanded capacity for philanthropic development and conservation, Helleberg’s strong leadership skills, Booker’s sales and marketing acumen, and Rogers’ acquisitions talent, the press is well positioned to grow the impact of its authors and partners in service to its mission. These changes will take effect by March 1, 2020.