President — Mark Kroese has been exploring the high and wild for more than 35 years. He started climbing at the impressionable age of 15, and has been lucky climb in some of the world's most celebrated ranges. The climbing lifestyle has taken Mark to diverse and exotic locales, including Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, Yosemite, The Alps, The Dolomites, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Newfoundland, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories.
Mark finds his center at the confluence of mountain adventure, storytelling, and environmental stewardship. In other words: he lives to climb in spectacular places, share his adventures with digital media, and make sure these places are preserved for future generations.
Mark's professional experiences have focused on technology and business, including 19 years with Microsoft Corporation, and six years pursuing entrepreneurial passions. Mark served on the Board of Directors of the Access Fund from 1999 to 2004. He is the author of Fifty Favorite Climbs (Mountaineers Books, 2001). Mark has served on board of the American Alpine Club since 2007 and is a Director for the Harbers Foundation (harbersfoundation.org). He is the father of two grown children, Daniel and Nicole, and lives in Bellevue, WA with his wife, Mary.
Vice President — Charlie Sassara's service to the Club as past Treasurer and as a Board member was marked by both the David Sowles Memorial Award in 2003 and the Angelo Heilprin Citation in 2009. Charlie is Alaskan born and bred—essentially self-taught. Early climbs were extended solos in the local Chugach Range along unnamed ridges and unclimbed faces. He’s still an active climber after 35 years, with over 20 expeditions to the Alaska, Chugach, Hayes and Wrangell/Saint Elias, Himalayan, and Patagonian ranges.
Charlie has 25 years of project management and business development experience with an emphasis on government contracting and construction with Arctic Slope Regional, Cook Inlet Regional, and Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation subsidiaries. He also has 15 years of experience in working with adaptive elements of organizational culture, teamwork, and economic development. He secured approval of the first mentor/protégé venture under the Small Business Administration, performed startups of various business and ventures, including UIC’s Cape Simpson Industrial Port on the North Slope of Alaska.
In the climbing world, he’s known for both being one of the founders of the Alaska Rock Gym—with its commitment to the Alaskan climbing community—and for his notable first ascents and sailing accomplishments.
has been a climber for more than 40 years. He started climbing in the Southeast in 1970 and became more seriously engaged when he moved to Seattle in 1972. Doug has been able to climb in most parts of the U.S., many parts of Canada, Alaska, Europe, New Zealand, Africa, and Nepal. Doug has a serious commitment to conservation of mountain landscapes and promotion of the climbing way of life. In his professional life he co-founded and managed a mid-sized world-wide software company for 25 years. Doug served as a Director of REI for 12 years and was Chair of REI from 2005–08. As an REI Director, he played an important role in addressing the “fixed anchor” crisis in 1998. Currently, Doug is the Chair of the Wilderness Society and has served as a Director for the American Alpine Club and the Conservation Lands Foundation and is an Advisory Council Member for NPCA and the Land Trust Alliance. In his spare time, Doug volunteers as a climbing instructor for the YMCA’s BOLD program and actively enjoys climbing with his grown daughter and many friends.
Treasurer — Paul Gagner absolutely loves the outdoors and climbing—rock, ice, mountains, dry tooling, big walls, and bouldering. Plastic, sport, and alpine— whatever the discipline, he loves it and does it all. Paul's been fortunate to have spent the last 35 years traveling the world, climbing and doing FAs, from Patagonia to the Himalaya, and Alaska to Baffin Island, though he is particularly inspired by the walls of Yosemite and the deserts of the Southwest. Paul loves to mentor and inspire kids and adults alike to get outside and experience the outdoors, and in the summer is frequently found taking first-timers out camping and top-roping.
Paul has spent his career working in senior leadership positions with authentic brands in the outdoor industry—from The North Face to Sierra Designs and Gregory Packs. He serves, or has served, on several Boards from the Outdoor Industry Association, Donate-A-Pack Foundation, USA Climbing, QIO Systems, and the American Alpine Club (since 2006). Paul lives in Boulder, Colorado—“the center of the climbing universe”—with his lovely wife Victoria, daughter Katherine (7 years old), dog, and two cats. He's the only male in the household.
Dave Riggs has been climbing for 30 years and has loved mountains his entire life. Living in Truckee, California, the Sierra Nevada is his home range. But in his youth, Dave logged lots of miles visiting the crags and ice flows of the upper Midwest. He has also been fortunate to climb and ski in the Himalaya, Alaska, Andes, and Alps.
Clark joined the AAC in 1973 and has been a member continously ever since. He started rock climbing in the mid-60's while at college in Colorado. Climbing has been his passion ever since, in spite of diverse careers and, at times, geographically undesirable locations. Clark was fortunate to spend the 70's living in Seattle where he was introduced to alpine climbing in the Cascades and Canada. He was one of the owners of the now legendary "Swallow's Nest" climbing store, which was the center of the Seattle climbing culture and was a hang-out for climbers from all over the world heading to Alaska. Many of his climbing partners from those "old school" days remain friends today. Clark made early ascents of now classic Canadian ice climbs in the rockies, early trips to Baffin Island and long trips to Peru, Alaska, and Yosemite where he was introduced to big wall climbing. The Dolomites was his first foreign climbing trip in the 60's and he has been back four times as recently as last year.
Clark now lives in the mountains in Idaho with the City of Rocks, Sawtooths, Tetons, and Winds just around the corner and "centrally located" just 9 hours from Cody, Ouray, and Red Rocks, climbing in those places frequently. Since retiring from a career in investment banking, Clark has been a director at several for-profit and non-profit organizations and was recently President of the Wood River Land Trust. Beginning with his years as Section Chairman for the Northwest Section, Clark's continuing involvement with "all things climbing" led to becoming an AAC Director in 2011. He is honored to be able to give back to a community and passion which has been so important to him for many years.
Karen Daubert has over 15 years experience in environmental, trail, and open space policy, advocacy, and funding. She serves as Executive Director of the Washington Trails Association, the largest state trails organization in the nation. As Founding Director of the Seattle Parks Foundation, she led the organization from a start-up to one that is recognized as a national leader in parks philanthropy and advocacy. As a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, her focus was on real property and parks issues. As board member of the National Parks Alliance, she worked closely with fellow members on issues of national importance. Karen is experienced in working closely with members, management teams, the public, elected officials and agencies and believes strongly in team building. She is a passionate climber who enjoys talking about the joys of the mountains to anyone who will listen.
"A native of southern California, I grew up in Idaho and spent my childhood exploring the mountains and deserts of my adopted state. I went to college on a soccer scholarship to the College of Idaho where I majored in environmental studies with a focus in politics and economics. I later went on to receive my Masters in Business Administration.
The outdoors have always been an inspiration to me, but it wasn't until after my undergraduate studies that climbing became a true passion in my life. My passion for climbing is only matched by my love for the outdoors and the value it adds to society, which is why I have chosen to work full time as a conservationist. I started working for The Wilderness Society in 2006, and I currently serve as the Deputy Regional Director for our Idaho program, where I have helped to lead several successful policy and legislative campaigns.
I have been involved in non-profit management, board development and climbing access issues for several years. I am a founding board member of the Idaho Trails Association, and I currently serve on the Board of the Boise Climbers Alliance. When I'm not climbing I enjoy traveling with my wife around the globe looking for new cultures, experiences, and of course, new rock."
John Heilprin is chief correspondent for The Associated Press in Geneva, Switzerland, and has reported from 15 nations in Europe, Asia and Africa, including four trips with the U.N. secretary-general. Since joining AP in 2000, he also covered the U.N. in New York and environment beat in Washington. Before that he spent 11 years reporting for newspapers in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Utah. He grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and got a history degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he started climbing with Bruce Miller in the early 1980s. He took the NOLS instructors course, got his EMT and, after graduation, worked year-round as a mountaineering instructor for Colorado Outward Bound School. He went on climbing trips throughout the Rockies, West Coast, Alaska Range, Alps and Himalaya. In 2000, he attempted K2’s North Ridge with an American expedition. He lives in Bern with his Swiss wife and two young sons. He has inherited a narwhal tusk and barometer given to AAC founder Angelo Heilprin more than a century ago by polar explorer Robert Peary.
"As a native of Boulder, Colorado, the mountains have become a central part of my life. After taking a course in the Himalayas with NOLS during a year off before college, I resolved that I wanted to pursue a career in outdoor education. Coupling my academic pursuits with the experience necessary to work for NOLS, I began climbing at Colorado College among a cohort of exceptionally talented and driven climbers. Adventuring in the outdoors has shaped my identity and guided my academic, career, and personal pursuits. As an avid climber and conservationist, I pursued both a career in outdoor education alongside a graduate degree in Environmental Management from Duke University. I now make my home as the Environmental Center Director of Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO with my husband, dog Bridger and orange tabby Reno."
Matt enjoys moving in the out of doors-up, down, horizontal-climbing, back country skiing, and trail running. In addition, Matt enjoys becoming immersed in good literature and rich discussions. Matt currently is on the Board of PNAIS, Board of Utah HealthCare Institute, and serves as ethicist on three medical ethics committees. He's also the Head of School at the McGillis School, a private learning institution in Salt Lake City.
Matt believes that preparing students for a rapidly changing and virtually shrinking world necessitates that education be nimble, attuned and forward thinking.
Ken joined the AAC in 2000 and the AAC Board in 2012. He served as Host Committee Chair for the 2013 AAC Annual Benefit Dinner celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Americans on Everest. He is currently Chair of the AAC Library Commitee. Ken's climbing interests focus on alpine mountaineering and peak bagging, including the Cascade volcanoes, Sierras and Alaska.
Ken founded the nonprofit AlpineEarth to engage and train volunteers to participate in mountain scientific projects. AlpineEarth is patterned after the nonprofit organization OceanEarth, where Ken has been a Board Director since 2007. OceanEarth trains volunteer nonscientists in the techniques and protocols of scientific diving to participate in marine environmental research, monitoring, conservation and archaeology projects. Ken is a Member National of the Explorers Club. He is a volunteer diver for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And, he has volunteered as a Program Director for the nonprofit charitable foundation The Miner Foundation.
Professionally, Ken is a General Partner for the venture capital firm SunBridge Partners, where he also serves on the Board of Directors of several portfolio companies and has managed projects to establish multiple international joint venture companies.
Deanne Buck is Executive Director of the Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition and has over 12 years work experience in all facets of the climbing industry. Deanne grew up on the flatlands of Nebraska. Her first climbing experience was on a 20-foot high woody at the YMCA in Omaha in the mid-1990's. She quickly fell in love with rock climbing and it wasn't long before she was making personal and professional decisions with proximity to climbing areas and access to the outdoors as the determining factor.
Since her first climbing experience in Omaha twenty years ago, Deanne quickly situated her career in the outdoor industry: she has worked at a climbing gym, as a ricer raft guide, a Marketing Director for an outdoor specialty gear shop, an attorney for companies in the outdoor industry, and an advocate for conservation of and access to our treasured climbing resources.
For the past year, Deanne has been working with the AAC's board development committeee to create a process and a culture by which the Club will identify, scree, develop, recruit, mentor and evauate new Board and Executive Committee members. In addition to helping to create a sustainable process that allows for structured growth of the organization, this committee is alo looking at how to successfully diversify the board in terms of gender, rave and ethnicity, and geography.
Deanne and her husband live in Colorado at 8,200 feet and explore the national forest outside their front door on a daily basis. Deanne loves to trail run and after taking an unintended sabbatical from climbing can be found bouldering in the foothills near her home. She has euphoric recall of cliimbing in Eldo, J-Tree and RMNP and looks forward again to the seemingly endless days out at the crag or in the Park.
Chuck Fleischman splits his time between Jackson, WY and Washington, DC. He made his first himalayan trip in 1983 and spends as much time enjoying the mountains as possible, climbing and bouldering from the highest mountains to
secret spots at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Chuck is a medical technology and biotech entrepreneur. He built Digene Corporation (now Qiagen), and served as President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Director as the company developed, manufactured and commercialized molecular diagnostic tests for human infectious diseases and cancers. He has recently served as a Director on the Boards of One Lambda, Inc. (now Thermo Fisher Scientific) and Dako (now Agilent Technologies), and is currently a Director of Cord Blood Registry. Chuck works to support valuable non-profit organizations with an emphasis on environmental preservation and access, health care and education. He has served as a Director of the Potomac Conservancy and is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins School of Education.
Phil grew up in the flat lands of Minnesota, but fell in love with the mountains initially through his career as a competitive ski racer. He did his first climbing as a teenager at a Sierra Club course on the small rock bands along the St. Croix River. Phil and his wife have climbed and ski mountaineered together throughout North America and Europe.
Phil has also had involvement in the business aspects of climbing. Phil assisted the management team in creating Black Diamond Equipment in 1989 by buying the assets of Chouinard Equipment. Phil has been a major investor and lead director with Black Diamond for the ensuing 24 years.
Professionally, Phil has spent his career since the late 1970’s on Wall Street in investment banking and asset management. Phil was Chief Financial Officer of Morgan Stanley during a period of rapid growth during the 1990’s and had previously run Morgan Stanley’s Financial Institutions Group. Phil served as the CEO of VanKampen Investments and President of Tiger Management before founding FrontPoint Partners in 2000. He is currently CEO of Massif Partners, an investment management business focused on the funding of pensions. Phil has long endured as an outdoorsman working in the financial capital.
Phil has served on a variety of public and private corporate boards as well as a range of notfor-profit organizations. He also continues to contribute time to Harvard and MIT serving on a variety of task forces and committees.
P hil is passionate about the outdoors, physical pursuits in the mountains and preserving our wild places. Phil believes strongly in the core mission of the AAC and has been a member since the mid-1980’s. Phil and his family split their time between Greenwich, CT and the Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho.
After taking an Outward Bound course at 16 years of age, I became highly aware of the importance of nature and specifically the mountains in my life. Having climbed on several continents I feel that I owe a great debt to the mountains for all they have given me. Being on the board of the AAC is a great opportunity for me to give back to the climbing community and the mountains".
Included in his love of high places, Todd is an avid pilot, having flown across the North Atlantic solo on several occasions, throughout Europe, Central and South America as well as the U.S.
His professional endeavors vary from the Publishing world to the Restaurant business to the Automobile business.
Todd has sat on many boards in the past.
Kit has been a member of the AAC since the 1990s when she went on her first international climbing expedition to Sikkim, India. Since then she’s focused on climbing mountains that she can ski back down including ski descents of the Seven Summits as well as others in Alaska, Siberia, Bolivia, New Zealand and many in her backyard of Wyoming’s Teton Range. Kit continues to explore new expressions of the sport as in her first female solo climb/ski of the Ford-Stettner route on the Grand Teton in 2013. Kit is a member of The North Face Global Athlete Team, and in 2011 she was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. Kit lives in Teton Village, WY with her husband and two young daughters.
Phil Lakin, Jr., is a native Tulsan. After graduating from Jenks High School, he earned his BBA in Economics and Finance from Baylor University, where he served as student body president. Phil returned to Tulsa after college and joined the firm now known as Accenture, working as a management information systems consultant for almost two years. Wanting to pursue a career more focused on serving others, Mr. Lakin joined Baylor University’s Office of Development in 1991, where he first served as area director of development. He later was promoted to manage the Dallas/Ft. Worth development office which was responsible for development efforts in northeastern Texas and in six states. Phil’s love for Tulsa and desire to broaden his service to people and communities persisted, however, and led him to become keenly interested in the newly formed Tulsa Community Foundation. Shortly after earning his MBA from Baylor University, TCF’s Board selected Mr. Lakin to be the Foundation’s first chief executive officer; he began work in June 1999. Due to the generosity of countless Tulsans, the asset size of the community foundation since that time has grown from $117,000 to approximately $4 billion. TCF is the largest community foundation in the United States. Phil stays active in the Tulsa community by serving on the boards of George Kaiser Family Foundation (chairman), Tulsa Community College Foundation, Jenks Public Schools Foundation, and many other charitable foundations. Lakin is a past president of Rotary Club of Tulsa, the 7th City of Tulsa as one of nine city councilors. Phil has served on Oklahoma’s State Board of Education and recently led the Tulsa Zoo’s privatization efforts. Phil is also a deacon in his church. Phil and his wife, Adriane, have been married for 18 years. They have three handsome and active sons, Brooks, Alex, and Cooper (15, 12 and 8, respectively). In addition to climbing Mount Whitney, Mount Rainier and the Grand Teton, Phil has hiked and climbed to the summits of all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000+' mountains. He has attended the last 32 Indy 500 races, a tradition that his father and he started in 1981, which have included his grandfather and now include his two oldest sons.
Janet Bergman Wilkinson
Janet Wilkinson is well rounded in all aspects of vertical life. She learned to climb in the late 1990s as a college student at the University of New Hampshire, clipping bolts at nearby Rumney and bouldering at Pawtuckaway State Park. She’s since made her home in Madison, New Hampshire, where Cathedral Ledge’s traditional climbing and the snow and ice of the White Mountains are her playgrounds of choice. Janet has climbed all over the world, with first ascents in the Indian Himalaya and on the granite cliffs of Newfoundland, and alpine rock ascents in Patagonia, Peru, Canada, and France. Janet has been a member of the American Alpine Club since her first international expedition in 2003, a trip to Peru for which she received an AAC Mountaineering Fellowship Grant. Janet is an athlete ambassador for Mountain Hardwear and La Sportiva, and she serves on the Athlete Advisory Board for Polartec. Janet is equally passionate about the leadership and development of not-for-profit organizations. She currently serves as executive director for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH) and has more than 10 years of experience as a nonprofit consultant, with expertise in organizational planning and board development.