Meet Deanne BucK, Your nEW Board President

Deanne is everywhere in the outdoor industry: on the wall, on the trails, at the head of Camber Outdoors, and now leading our dynamic Board of Directors. We're thrilled to benefit from her leadership and expertise in this role. Read on to get to know her! 

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How did you become involved in the climbing industry? What has kept you here?

I was living in Omaha, Nebraska when I found climbing, or climbing found me— however that happens when one’s feet are firmly planted in the Midwest. Very soon after, my passion for climbing, love for the outdoors, and sense of purpose served as my North Star for major (and not so major) life decisions. I worked at a climbing gym in the mid-90s in Long Beach prior to law school. Once in law school, in between classes and climbing, I volunteered for the Access Fund. By the time I turned 30, I was living in Boulder and had just graduated from Law School. When I wasn’t climbing, I was working with climbing companies as a corporate attorney. 

I was able to build on this foundation at the Access Fund from 2003 to 2007, where I worked with local climbing organizations, oversaw Adopt-a-Crag, advocated to keep climbing areas open, and built partnerships with land managers. My favorite part of my job was travelling around the country— Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, Atlanta, Tennessee, Las Vegas, Joshua Tree, etc.— to meet with the passionate volunteers who dedicated countless hours to keeping climbing areas open. I would ask them to take me to their favorite crags and tell me what was special about each place as we spent the afternoon climbing.

I got involved with the AAC in 2010. Soon after, I was asked by Steve Swenson, Doug Walker, Charlie Sassara, and Michael Kennedy to join the Governance Committee, and thus my journey as a volunteer to the board began. I have been fortunate to dedicate my professional career to the outdoors, conservation, equity, and climbing. What keeps me here is the people and the chance to make a difference and have an impact. 

Do you notice certain aspects of the industry changing? Which aspects, and what has triggered the changes?

Climbing is evolving in a great direction. My first climbing experience was on a 25-foot high wood panel wall at a YMCA in Omaha. Without that opportunity, I would not have made the decisions I made. It literally changed my life. The increasing accessibility of climbing through gyms means there are more opportunities for the benefits of climbing to affect every person. 

What drives you to work with the AAC specifically? 

The AAC is a unique blend of past, present, and future. The heritage, legacy, and impact aspects of climbing globally have always been values rooted in the AAC— made up of people who were willing to challenge the status quo and pursue the unimaginable. This is still true. The frontier might be different today. It might not be unexplored peaks, it might be how to leverage our core value system in order to embrace the evolving landscape of climbing. 

What advice do you have for climbers who are looking to make a difference?

First of all, keep climbing and keep feeding your passion and love for the activity. Second, consider yourself an ambassador. Be welcoming to those who are newer than you. There are many ways to give back and make a difference, at a minimum: join the AAC and Access Fund. These organizations ensure that climbing areas are conserved and remain accessible and open for future generations. 

You’re the Executive Director of Camber Outdoors as well as, now, AAC’s President. How do you juggle these important positions and find time for yourself in the outdoors? 

Both of these organizations feed who I am personally and are at the core of my life’s work to date. I feel humbled and honored to be able to serve in leadership positions for each because there is much alignment between their envisioned futures. As for getting outdoors, Ali, my 100lb. dog companion, keeps me honest. He puts his paw down if too many days go by without fresh air and feeling the wind in his face.

We give huge thanks to Matt Culbertson, our fearless Board President from 2016 to 2018. Meet the rest of the board here.