Board & Branch Elections - 2021

It's election season at The Mountaineers. Learn about the 2021 Board of Director candidates, proposed bylaw updates, our branch elections, and how to vote. Members in good standing will receive a personalized link to vote via Alchemer.
Gabe Aeschliman Gabe Aeschliman
Board Vice President and Governance Committee Chair
August 27, 2021

As a 501(c)(3) volunteer-led organization, The Mountaineers depend on the generosity, initiative, and leadership of our volunteers. We are humbled by the service provided by board and branch directors whose positions are confirmed by members each year. Thank you for all you do as members to elevate our mission, and for your participation in the election process for these organization-wide leaders!

Each year we host elections for our Board of Directors and participating branches. This year we are voting on five Board candidates and voting to approve updates to our bylaws. The slate of Board endorsed candidates were proposed by our Governance Committee and unanimously recommended by our Board of Directors, as were the updates to our bylaws. 

Foothills Branch members can also vote for their branch leadership this year. Ballots will allow Foothills members to vote in both elections. Stay tuned for links about branch-specific elections.

Update: At The Mountaineers Annual Meeting on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 the Governance Committee presented the endorsed candidates for Director at Large positions on the Board of Directors. At this meeting, one additional candidate was nominated from the floor - Dick Hayek. 

How to Vote - sept 30 - oct 21, 2021

Voting will open on Thursday, September 30, and close on Thursday, October 21. All active members and children over age 14 are eligible to vote. Duplicate votes will not be counted. Results will be announced on October 31, 2021 via a blog post.

ONLINE

The Mountaineers will send members an electronic ballot for the upcoming elections on September 30 or October 1 through our online voting tool, Alchemer. Please note that comcast.net email addresses will block all digital voting links, including those from The Mountaineers. If you want to ensure your participation, please update your email to use an account other than Comcast. 

If you are a member in good standing and you do NOT receive an email from us, please check your junk mail or spam folders. Due to the nature of our online ballot, if you do not receive an email ballot you will need to follow the link provided on this blog once voting is open or submit a paper ballot. This includes individuals without a valid email address or who share an email address with a family member.

Keep an eye out the morning of September 30 or October 1 for your ballot. If you don't see an email from us, the link to the survey will be posted below.

VOTING COMING SOON

BY MAIL

Mail-in votes will be accepted if postmarked by October 20. Paper ballots will be available starting October 1 in the Seattle Program Center bookstore. 

Mail to:
The Mountaineers - BOARD ELECTION
7700 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

Board Elections

The Mountaineers Governance Committee is pleased to present the following candidates to the membership for consideration in the upcoming Board of Directors elections: Serene Chen, Brynne Koscianski (for re-election), Takeo Kuraishi, Alex Pratt, and Anita Wilkins. These candidates were nominated by The Mountaineers Governance Committee and endorsed unanimously by our Board of Directors.

This year’s candidates were selected by the Governance Committee from twenty people who submitted a detailed self-nomination form. This rigorous process, new in 2021, was designed to deepen the diversity of perspectives and lived experiences represented on our Board. We are confident this excellent slate of candidates will help inform better policies and to strengthen relationships between board members, Mountaineers members, and the wider outdoor community.

Board Endorsed Candidate Statements

The following board candidates possess the professional skills and personal commitment needed to further our mission: To enrich the community by helping people explore, conserve, learn about, and enjoy the lands and waters of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Their candidate statements have been edited for length and have been affirmed as true. The candidates are presented in alphabetical order.


Serene ChenEdited - Serene Chen.jpg

Member  since 2020

Serene is a proud first-generation Chinese-American and an energetic leader with global experience at the intersection of people and organizations. Since joining The Mountaineers in February 2020, Serene has completed courses across three activities and four branches, and serves on the Equity & Inclusion Committee

Serene is deeply inspired by nature and driven to make a positive impact on sustainability. She is the Senior Director of People & Culture at Forterra, a Washington-based environmental nonprofit. Previously, Serene led employee engagement at Convoy, a tech start-up reducing CO2 emissions, and she’s a trained Climate Reality Leader (an initiative led by former VP Al Gore). Serene started her career with Barclays at its London headquarters, holds a Master’s in Management from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor’s in Learning & Organizational Change from Northwestern University. 

Personal Statement: “I’ve taken the path less traveled to the PNW and The Mountaineers. I didn’t grow up with much exposure to the outdoors, let alone sports like alpine climbing. Connecting with nature the past 5-6 years has transformed my life, led me around the world (from London to Seattle, via Patagonia!) and helped me find this incredible organization. Across branches, activities, and committees, I have been consistently amazed by the scale, commitment, and power of the Mounties community. I am deeply inspired by our volunteers, and I firmly believe in our potential to create welcoming, inclusive spaces where everyone feels belonging. I value the opportunity to help guide the Mounties on this journey.”


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Brynne Koscianski (for re-election)

Member since 2016

Growing up in the PNW, Brynne fondly remembers ascending to the top of a neighbor's basketball hoop via Texas prusik to practice for a family climb of Mt Baker. Brynn is a second generation Mountaineer, Basic and Intermediate Climbing grad, and with the recent addition of baby Finn, she's excited to join Mini Mountaineers too! Brynne enjoys climbing, trail running, skiing, and paddling with her husband Ryan, heeding the call of their family motto: "It doesn't have to be fun to be fun".

A Yale graduate, Brynne is a product and technology leader at Amazon. Passionate about advocating for women and girls in the outdoors, Brynne has also served on an advisory council for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident through running.

Personal Statement: "My favorite Mountaineers photo shows a group climbing the Paradise Glacier in 1911. Balancing on a high heeled boot, a woman jumps across a snow ridge - her long wool skirt pulled taught mid-stride. This photo reflects what I love about The Mountaineers: from the beginning, this community was formed with the values of equality. Sixteen years before women could legally vote in Washington, 77 women made up half of our 151 founding members. I'm proud to follow in the footsteps of these women adventurers, risk-takers, and leaders, and appreciate the power of the outdoors to generate meaningful connections across diverse communities. We’re bonded by the common language of exploration, perseverance, and love for our wild places."


Takeo KuraishiEdited_Takeo.png

Member since 1999

Takeo’s first summit was with his parents in first grade. He continued to climb as mountaineering club leader in high school, a climbing guide on Mt. Fuji, and 20-year Mountaineers member. He has served as Climbing Committee Chair and Branch Safety Officer for Seattle and most recently helped launch the Foothills climbing program. His passion is with Aid & Big Wall Climbing, including years of leading the course. When not making slow progress up an aid route, he enjoys helping students learn new skills and leading climbs.

Outside of The Mountaineers, Takeo pursued his other childhood passion in aerospace. He is a manager at Boeing, leading a team of engineers working on the next new airplane. During the ski season, he works as a certified instructor with the Boeing Ski & Snowboard Club. 

Personal Statement: “I was fortunate to be welcomed into this Mountaineers community. As a member of the Board of Directors, I hope to extend that welcome further. I have watched this community grow and become more diverse, and it has been heartening to see increased outreach, especially with youth in the community. As a Board member, I look forward to the opportunity to help ensure that courses we teach and activities we offer are in alignment with latest practices to maintain our leadership as a preeminent outdoors organization, to the opportunity to help further the safety mindset across all activities, and to continue to support the work of The Mountaineers to improve access to the outdoors for everyone.”


Alex PrattEdited - Alex Pratt.jpg

Member since 2018

Alex joined The Mountaineers in 2018 to help unlock access to the Washington backcountry. He earned his Basic Climbing equivalency, completed Intermediate Glacier Travel, and has been working his way through the classic Cascade objectives ever since. He currently serves on the Risk Management Committee working to standardize a framework for assessing and mitigating organizational risk.  

Alex holds a Civil Engineering degree from Duke University, where he also participated in the Naval ROTC program. He served as a Navy SEAL officer for five years, including three overseas tours. Following, Alex earned a dual MBA and MS degree in Environment and Resources from Stanford. He currently leads strategic business development at AutoGrid, where he’s spent eight years applying software solutions to accelerate the adoption of renewable and distributed resources.

Personal Statement “While the outdoors has always been important to me, my time in the military added a respectful appreciation for harsh and grueling experiences - the ones with sore muscles, calculated risks, and cold sleepless nights; but also the ones that forge everlasting bonds, reset limits, and give new perspective. I need a regular dose of these to keep me grounded, but outside that you’ll often find me hiking or sailing with my wife and two young sons. I am enthusiastic about The Mountaineers mission, and hope to apply my strengths in operations, strategy, and partnerships to help further scale our impact across community engagement, outdoor education, and environmental advocacy.”

Anita WilkinsEdited - Anita Wilkins.jpg

Member since 2006 

Anita was awed by Mt. Rainier as a child when she hiked with her father to the Fremont Lookout, where she watched climbers through binoculars and wondered how she could join them. After 25 years hiking, scrambling, and backpacking, along with the stuff of life – work, marriage, and two children – Anita marked her 40th birthday with a guided Rainier climb. That experience inspired her to join The Mountaineers to learn skills to access these beautiful places on her own. 

As a 15-year member, Anita has completed climbing and leadership classes and served on the Basic Climbing Committee. She’s also volunteered as ice climbing committee chair, and an ice climbing instructor, climb leader, contributor to Freedom 8 and 9, Advisory Council member, and more.

Recently, Anita retired from a 30-year career in marketing communications, public relations, and development. She worked primarily in healthcare and with nonprofit human services organizations centered on easing the way for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. 

Personal Statement: “As I pursue passion projects in this new chapter of my life, I feel called to serve The Mountaineers community that has influenced me so deeply – many individuals have become my dearest friends and most trusted adventure partners, and supported me through the loss of my husband in a skiing accident (whom I met in The Mountaineers). I am honored to be considered for the Board of Directors and to contribute to the continued growth of an organization that has opened the outdoors to so many.”

Floor nominated candidate statements

At The Mountaineers Annual Meeting on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the Governance Committee will present the Board endorsed candidates for Director at Large positions on the Board of Directors. At the Annual Meeting, per our bylaws, Mountaineers members also have the opportunity to make At-Large Director nominations.

Watch the Annual Meeting



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Dick Hayek

Member since 1971

Dick gained his love of the outdoors on family and Boy Scout camping trips and in a climbing course the Basic Climbing Course at the University of Washington, where he earned a BA in Economics. By 1968, he organized and led successful climbs of the seven major northwest peaks. After completing two years in the Army and three years of graduate studies, he joined The Mountaineers in 1971, hiking primarily with the newly formed Seattle Singles Activities Committee, which he chaired in 1980-81, during which he developed and implemented a plan to provide activities that matched what members wanted to do. Later, he served on the Tacoma Branch Council and organized and led the Tacoma Singles Activities Committee, which was then the only active Singles Activities Committee in The Mountaineers. Dick led the most outdoor activities for Mountaineers members the last two years  and received the Leader of the Year award in 2016. In addition to numerous Mountaineers hikes, backpack trips, and car camps he has led, focused on the EASY category, he has participated in multiple extended outings in the U.S., Switzerland, Norway, Chile, Canada and New Zealand. Dick spent 40 years in financial services and will strive to apply his knowledge to benefit The Mountaineers. 

Personal statement: "I cherish the experiences and friendships I have developed in my 50 years of continuous membership in The Mountaineers. On the Board I will apply that experience to help  Mountaineers members to have all the outdoor experiences they want and need."

PROPOSED UPDATES TO THE MOUNTAINEERS BYLAWS

The bylaws of The Mountaineers are the set of governing rules that define how we operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. For example, the bylaws define such things as rules for how the Board of Directors and committees operate, the responsibilities of major leadership positions, and systems to ensure the financial and operating sustainability of the organization. 

Periodically, updates are made to the bylaws to ensure The Mountaineers continues to be operated in a relevant, rigorous manner. Any bylaws updates that are proposed must be approved by a vote of membership, specifically, a simple majority of the votes approved. The Governance Committee proposed a number of updates to the bylaws and The Mountaineers Board of Directors unanimously voted to recommend these changes be adopted by members. In this election, we ask members to weigh in on these proposed changes. The changes include:

  • Correcting minor grammatical errors and inconsistencies in language;
  • Updating pronouns to be gender-neutral;
  • Requiring Mountaineers directors to be members in good standing;
  • Clarifying and improving the governance of board committees;
  • Better aligning our bylaws with governance and privacy best practices.

We appreciate our members considering these proposed updates.

Thank you for participating in the 2021 Fall elections. Results will be shared with membership on October 31, 2021 via a blog post.