Vote Now! Board & Branch Elections - 2023

Each year our members are asked to participate in Board elections. Learn about the 2023 Board of Director candidates, our branch elections for Foothills and Olympia, and how to vote. Members in good standing will receive a personalized link to vote by September 1, 2023.
Roger Mellem Roger Mellem
Board Vice President & Governance Committee Chair
August 21, 2023
Vote Now! Board & Branch Elections - 2023
At-Large Board Candidates: Dave Foong, Maya Magarati, Mark Walters, Vanessa Wheeler, Robert White

As a 501(c)(3) volunteer-led organization, The Mountaineers depends on the generosity, initiative, and leadership of our volunteers to steward the future of our organization. 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 forthcoming 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. The slate of at-large Board candidates were nominated by our Governance Committee and unanimously endorsed by our Board of Directors.

Our Foothills and Olympia branch members can also vote for their branch leadership this year. Ballots will allow Foothills and Olympia members to vote in both the Board elections and the branch elections. 

HOW TO VOTE: August 31 - September 22, 2023

Voting will open on Thursday, August 31, and close on Friday, September 22 at 11:59pm. All active members over age 14 are eligible to vote. Duplicate votes will not be counted. Results will be announced on October 1, 2023  via a blog post.


The Mountaineers will send members an electronic ballot for the upcoming elections on August 31 or September 1 through our online voting tool, Alchemer. Please note that 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 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 those who share an email address with a family member.

Keep an eye out the morning of August 31 or September 1 for your ballot. If you don't see an email from us, and if you've checked your spam folder and still don't see it after 12pm on September 1, please vote via the link below. 

VOTing closed


Mail-in votes will be accepted if postmarked by September 22. Paper ballots are now available in the Seattle Program Center bookstore or you can print at home and mail them in.  

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


The Mountaineers Governance Committee is pleased to present the following candidates to the membership for consideration in the upcoming Board of Directors elections: Dave Foong, Maya Magarati, Mark Walters, Vanessa Wheeler, and Robert White

This year’s candidates were selected by the Governance Committee from members who submitted a detailed self-nomination form. This rigorous, open nominations 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 strengthen relationships between Board members, Mountaineers members, and the wider outdoor community.


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.

Foong.pngdave foong


Dave Foong's involvement with The Mountaineers began in 2019, and since then, he has ingrained himself deeply within our community. Dave's journey started with a Basic Snowshoe course shortly after his relocation from Houston. That snowballed into Intermediate Snowshoe, Backpacking, XC Skiing, Alpine Scrambling, Basic Climbing, Leading on Rock, and many others. Dave cares about giving back to the community and has served as an instructor for Scrambling and Basic Climbing courses, recently becoming a Scramble Leader. Dave's passion for outdoor education and community development shines through his commitment to the organization as a student, volunteer, and committee member.

An unwavering advocate for equity and inclusion, Dave joined The Mountaineers E&I Committee in 2022. Additionally, he serves as E&I Coordinator for the Everett Climbing Committee to actively support a culture of belonging in that space. This vision of making the outdoors a more inclusive and welcoming place resonates with Dave particularly due to his own journey as an immigrant from Singapore.

Dave boasts 15 years of finance and accounting expertise, including financial planning and analysis for a diverse range of organizations including nonprofits, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies. 

Dave's desire to contribute and elevate The Mountaineers legacy is undeniable. He brings to the table an impeccable grasp of financial intricacies and a passion for connecting others to the transformative powers of nature, making him a standout candidate for the at-large director position.

Personal Statement: “The Mountaineers expanded my horizons and made new types of outdoor adventures available to me through education and experience. While these activities previously felt exclusive and for people who were somehow “in the know,” I’ve instead found a very welcoming and inclusive community within The Mountaineers. My desire is to help us continue to extend that spirit through our current strategic vision of Adventuring with Purpose by leading, engaging, and advocating. I’m passionate about this organization and want to see it continue to thrive and inspire future generations of all backgrounds to care for and enjoy the outdoors.”

Maya Magarati Formatted.jpgmaya magarati (FOR REELECTION)


Maya Magarati has lived in Washington for the last 23 years since moving from Nepal's Annapurna region to attend graduate school at the University of Washington as a Fulbright scholarship recipient. 

Maya has been honored to serve the larger Mountaineers community as an at-large director alongside other dedicated Board members for the last three years, navigating the organization through the pandemic. She brings deep community engagement, social science expertise, and a diverse perspective from lived experiences in both her professional work at UW and her personal passion as a co-founder of the Nepal Seattle Hiking Community. Maya also serves on The Mountaineers Conservation & Advocacy Committee.

Professionally, Maya is an Assistant Professor and Associate Director at Seven Directions: A Center for Indigenous Public Health in the School of Medicine at UW. Her scholarship intersects sociology and public health in addressing social inequities by examining social and environmental determinants of health, with an intention of fostering knowledge democracy. She obtained a PhD in Sociology from UW,  a Bachelor's in Health Sciences from the University of Newcastle in Australia, and a K-12 education from St. Mary's High School and Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal. Maya was born in the Magar village Dewaldhara (coordinates 28.15329,83.55511) in Rangkhani in the Baglung district, in the Gandaki province.

In addition to hiking and backpacking in state and national parks, forests, coasts, and islands both in the US and Canada, Maya enjoys helping her partner take care of the plants and vegetables that they grow organically in their backyard, which provide food not only to people but also to the bees, butterflies, and birds. Maya is blessed with an amazing daughter who inspires her daily.

Walters.pngmark walters


Mark Walters is a seasoned trial and appellate lawyer, renowned for his prowess in representing businesses and individuals in courtrooms across the nation. With a track record of excellence in his legal career and deep involvement in our community, Mark brings a combination of leadership and passion to The Mountaineers.

Mark's dedication continues well beyond the courtroom. He has been an active member of The Mountaineers community since joining in 2010, bringing stories to life with The Mountaineers Players at Kitsap Forest Theater for over a decade and serving on the Advisory Council for several years. His commitment to learning and adventure led him to successfully complete the Basic Climbing course in 2012. Since then, he has achieved notable summits, including Rainier, Glacier Peak, Grand Teton, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams. Mark's adventurous spirit extends to his role as a parent, as he enthusiastically shares his love for climbing with his son.

Beyond his outdoor pursuits, Mark's dedication to nonprofit service shines. His past presidency at Washington Wild underscores his passion for conservation and environmental advocacy. Moreover, his experience as a past Board member of Outward Bound highlights his understanding of nonprofit dynamics.

Mark's commitment to volunteerism, conservation, and outdoor education aligns deeply with The Mountaineers values. With a blend of legal expertise, nonprofit leadership, and a profound appreciation for the outdoors, Mark Walters is poised to bring valuable insight to The Mountaineers Board of Directors.

Personal Statement: "I've grown up here in Washington and have spent a good portion of my 49 years exploring the mountains and Salish Sea. My involvement with The Mountaineers began when I picked up an old copy of Freedom that my Dad had on his shelf. I became a member in 2010 and took the Basic Climbing course a year later. I have reached the summit of all Washington volcanoes, save Mt. St. Helens, and I'm inspired by the spirit of volunteerism present at The Mountaineers. Where else do people give as much of their time and talent to a community organization that is not a church or something affiliated with one's job or career? I cannot think of anything that compares to The Mountaineers in this department. I'd be honored to serve on the Board."

Wheeler.pngVanessa Wheeler


Vanessa Wheeler grew up in the greater Seattle area, where she developed a love for camping and hiking (both traditional and urban). She and her sister got into urban hiking when she was twelve and her sister was seventeen. What started as a means to get to places for two kids in a family struggling financially very quickly became a passion. Soon they were scouting hiking and biking paths between cities, learning bus routes and connections, and getting up early in the mornings all summer to hike 15-30 miles and bus back to a place where a parent could pick them up on the way home from work. When her sister left the state for law school, she got Vanessa a student membership with The Mountaineers for Christmas so that Vanessa would have a community of people to continue hiking with while she was gone. 

Vanessa later attended law school out of state herself. She returned to Seattle to work at Miller Nash, where she was reintroduced to The Mountaineers when she had the opportunity to represent the club in trademark matters for years. Over time, Vanessa delved deep into the history of The Mountaineers, and has helped defend the organization against attempts to remove its trademark rights. Vanessa has remained invested in The Mountaineers, serving on the Board as an appointed at-large director and on both the Mountaineers Litigation Committee and Governing Committee.

Vanessa is the General Counsel of Windermere Real Estate Services Company and serves as the Secretary for the Windermere Foundation, another local nonprofit. She obtained her law degree from Columbia Law School. She has experience in hiking, intellectual property, real estate, litigation, mediation, and Board service.

In January 2023, Vanessa was appointed by the Board of Directors to an open at-large position. Per The Mountaineers bylaws, she is now standing for election by membership.

White.pngRobert White


While Robert White has been a member since 2016, his true journey with The Mountaineers began in 2019 when he joined the Equity & Inclusion Working Group. Since then, he has become deeply embedded in our organization's fabric, serving on the E&I Committee, Advisory Council, and playing a pivotal role in shaping the 2023-2028 Mountaineers Strategic Plan through his involvement in the Strategy Steering Committee.

Robert wears many hats with The Mountaineers, including serving as the treasurer for the Everett Branch and contributing his expertise to the Everett Alpine Scrambling, Climbing, and Lookout & Trail Maintenance Committees. As an instructor in Basic Backpacking, Basic Snowshoeing, Basic Climbing, and Wilderness Navigation, he is committed to sharing his knowledge and experiences with others.

Robert is no stranger to nonprofit leadership, having more than a decade of Board service, with a strong focus on education, environmental justice, and community engagement. Notably, he has chaired a Racial Equity Committee and contributed to Finance Committees. Robert is also a certified Intercultural Development Inventory Administrator, equipped with the skills and training to drive meaningful change in our community.

Robert’s candidacy for at-large director is rooted in his commitment to supporting The Mountaineers' 2023-2028 Strategic Plan, with a passionate focus on the Engage and Advocate strategic priorities. His intersectional identity as a person of color, veteran, and disabled provides a unique perspective for The Mountaineers.


The Foothills  Branch and Olympia Branch are also holding elections August 31 - September 22, 2023 and branch members are invited to vote for their leadership. Your vote counts, so please take a few moments to learn more about candidates and cast your vote. 

The Foothills Branch is excited to announce their Chair-Elect candidate, Travis Vermeer, to membership. They  continue to seek interested candidates for Treasurer. Please contact Foothills Branch Chair Brad Peacock to learn more. 

The Olympia Branch has three outstanding candidates running for three open positions: Mike Riley for Branch Director, Bob Keranen for Chair-Elect, and Jeremy Hogan for Treasurer. 

Thank you for joining us in shaping the future of The Mountaineers by participating in the 2023 Fall elections. Your vote will play a crucial role in steering our organization's legacy of outdoor education and environmental stewardship. Results will be shared with membership no later than October 1, 2023 via a blog post.