Board & Branch Elections - 2019

It's election season at The Mountaineers. Learn about the 2019 Board of Director candidates, our branch elections, and how to vote.
Vik Sahney Vik Sahney
Board Vice President and Governance Committee Chair
September 01, 2019
Board & Branch Elections - 2019

As a 501(c)(3) volunteer-led organization, The Mountaineers continues to 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 your participation in the election process for these organization-wide leaders! 

Each year we host elections for our Board of Directors and participating branches. Elections begin on September 30 and run until October 21. This year we are voting on five Board candidates.

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

Update: At The Mountaineers Annual Meeting on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 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

Voting will open on Monday, September 30, and close on Monday, October 21. All active members and children over age 14 are eligible to vote. Duplicate votes will not be counted.


The Mountaineers will send members an electronic ballot for the upcoming elections on September 30 or October 1 through our online voting tool, Survey Gizmo. 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 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 is posted below. 



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: Mark Kroese, Steve McClure, Roger Mellem, John Ohlson, and Siana Wong. 

The Governance Committee and the Board of Directors believe these are the best candidates for at-large directors for 2019. Each of these candidates is eager to serve The Mountaineers, and possesses the professional skills and personal commitment needed to further The Mountaineers mission.

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. The candidates are presented in alphabetical order.

Kroese_for blog.jpgmark kroese 

Member since 1998

Mark Kroese has been exploring the high and wild for 40 years. He thrives in the confluence of outdoor adventure, visual storytelling, and environmental goodness. Mark has travelled extensively — from Chamonix to Madagascar — and considers himself lucky to have seen some of this planet’s most exotic and pristine places. His idea of a good time is a well-planned adventure gone awry.
Mark began his career in the ad agency business, and then spent twenty years at Microsoft. Post Microsoft, he has worked at several tech start-ups, consulted with growth companies in the outdoor and active lifestyle space, and spearheaded a large “REDD+” land conversation project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  
Mark has climbed a lot of mountains, and his book, Fifty Favorite Climbs in North America, was published by Mountaineers Books. He recently completed a term as President of the American Alpine Club, an organization that supports climbers and the conservation of mountains landscapes. Mark has also served as Vice President of the Access Fund, and is an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University, and has served on The Mountaineers Books Governance Board.
Mark believes we are at a unique point in history, one where we have unprecedented technology and tools to develop innovative solutions to the world’s biggest problems. Mark resides in Bothell, WA, but he spends as much time as he can in the mountains.

SteveMcClure.jpgsteve mcclure


After growing up with the 2nd edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, Steve was honored to be given the opportunity to extensively rewrite three chapters for the 9th edition of Freedom released in 2017. He also contributed to the Mountaineers' new Crevasse Rescue Pocket Guide: A Field Reference. Steve has been an instructor for Scrambling, Climbing, Wilderness Navigation, and GPS courses. He was the Co-Chair of the Intense Basic Alpine Climbing course, and is active with the Navigation, Alpine Scrambles, and Climbing Committees. With the Seattle Navigation committee, Steve is deeply engaged in modernizing our Wilderness Navigation course, following the blueprint in Freedom 9. In 2019, Steve completed the fourth and final leg of the cross-country "Sierra High Route," first publicized in The Mountaineers title of the same name.

Steve is a CPA and has served as CFO or Controller for several companies including Esterline Technologies (aerospace), Valve Corporation (video games), and Cascade Designs (outdoor equipment manufacturer). He served on the finance committee from 2010-16 and was Board Treasurer from 2012-2016.

Personal Statement: “Growing up in Seattle I gained an early love of our wild spaces from Scouts and from being in a family of hikers and skiers. The first ‘peak’ I aspired to summit was the top of the Snoqualmie’s Thunderbird ski lift which looked formidable from the rope tows below. In addition to hiking trails all over the western US, I’ve always been intrigued by the spaces between the trails where few venture. Being part of The Mountaineers has given me the skills and confidence to visit those spaces while also igniting a passion for sharing and teaching outdoor skills to others.”

RogerMellem_Web.jpgroger mellem


Roger Mellem is a longtime mountaineer, and Mountaineer. In 1974 he stood with the late Willi Unsoeld and two others on top of Laila Peak (Rupal Valley) in northern Pakistan. At 6,132 meters (20,118 feet) high, and with two ice falls each as large as the Nisqually ice fall on Mt. Rainier, this beautiful Himalayan peak had never before been climbed. In 1998, Roger passed Basic Equivalency and enrolled in our Intermediate Climbing course. A member of the Peak Society, Roger has been an active member of our event fundraising committees for the past several years. In 2018, he was appointed as an At Large Member of the Board, and currently serves on our Governance Committee and the Litigation Committee.

A former Outward Bound instructor, and later a member of the Northwest Outward Bound School’s Washington advisory board, Roger appreciates the value of outdoor education and supports The Mountaineers’ mission in this regard. An avid wilderness conservationist, Roger is past President and Board Member Emeritus of Washington Wild, a conservation organization with which The Mountaineers regularly partners to advocate for protection of our threatened public lands. He is also a member of the international Leadership Council of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Roger is a member of the Executive Committee of Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, a Seattle law firm where he practices securities litigation. He earned a Master of Studies in Law Degree from Yale Law School, and a J.D. from the University of Oregon Law School. Roger’s combination of mountaineering, conservation, outdoor education, fundraising, legal, mediation, and board leadership experience should continue to benefit The Mountaineers.

John OhlsonJohn Ohlson.jpeg

Member Since: 1999

John started his service as a Board Director in 2009 and served a term as Board Secretary. He has chaired the Building Operations Committee, served as a Seattle Branch Safety officer for several years and has taken on multiple responsibilities within the Seattle Climbing Committee where he is a Climb Leader. He also keeps his Mountaineers burner going at other levels, as a  Freedom 8 & 9 author and Part 1 Chair, and with his involvement in the program center renovation and construction of the center’s climbing walls. He holds electrical engineering degrees from MIT (SB) and Stanford University (MS, PhD).

Personal Statement: I grew up in Seattle, learned to climb with the Sierra Club, was a Professor and telecommunications executive, then retired and returned 17 years ago, embraced our courses and learned much. I enjoy volunteering for The Mountaineers as a payback. I consider us an activities-based organization with vital educational and conservation roles, which I embrace and support. I offer my corporate skills in decision-making, marketing, negotiations and consensus management. I have an unyielding view of budgets (every operation’s true cost must be visible), many years of managing multi-million dollar budgets, plus a fervent belief that leadership is action, not just a job title.

sianaWong_Web.jpgsiana wong


Siana Wong joined The Mountaineers in 2014. She has since completed Olympia’s Basic Climbing, Beyond Basic Rock, and Backcountry Ski courses, Tacoma’s Sailing course, and Seattle’s multi-pitch course. Siana is currently an Olympia Intermediate Climbing student and volunteers with Olympia’s Basic Climbing and Winter Travel programs. In 2017/2018, Siana served as the Olympia Branch Chair. 

Siana is from the great state of Oklahoma, and earned her B.S. in Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma. She earned an M.S. in Environmental Science at Western Washington University. For a few years between her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Siana worked for the National Park Service at Yellowstone, Crater Lake, and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, and later for The Nature Conservancy in southern Oregon. Siana currently is an environmental scientist at the Washington State Department of Ecology in Olympia, a career which allows her to travel and study in all parts of Washington State. For the past several years, she has served as a board member of the Washington State Lakes Protection Association. Siana’s diverse professional interests in the environmental field have inspired her passion for the outdoors, and vice versa.

Personal Statement: I joined the Mountaineers because I was attracted to the many courses offered by the club and the sense of community for people wanting to get outdoors. Serving as the Olympia Branch chair was an outstanding opportunity to learn about and help support the programs run by so many passionate volunteers, as well as learn more about the organization as a whole. I would be excited and honored to continue down this path by serving on the Mountaineers Board of Directors. 

Floor nominated candidate statements

DickHayek_Web.jpgDick Hayek 

Member since 1971

Dick gained his love of the outdoors on family and Boy Scout camping trips and in the Basic Climbing Course at the University of Washington, where he earned a BA in Economics. By 1968 he had organized and led 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. Later he served on the Tacoma Branch Council and organized and chaired the Tacoma Singles Activities Committee. He has led the most Mountaineers activities the past four years and received the Leader of the Year Award for 2015-16. He participated in four extended Mountaineers outings, several leadership classes and numerous hikes, backpack trips and car camps. Outside The Mountaineers, he has hiked and backpacked in Norway, Switzerland, Chile, Canada and New Zealand. Dick spent 40 years in financial services and developed a successful investment strategy that could benefit The Mountaineers.

Dick favors the following:

  • Creating an activity schedule that matches what members want to do.
  • Screening and then recruiting prospective activity leaders.
  • Make it easy to find information on the website.
  • Permit policies to be brought before the membership with the signatures of 25 members.
  • Have equitable representation of outdoor activities on the Board.
  • Improve communication between outdoor activities participants and the Board.
  • Allow each outdoor committee to recruit leaders for its principal activity.

Dick believes that the Board should reflect the activity diversity of the membership. A review of his activity history will show how his experience would contribute to that diversity. 

Add a comment

Log in to add comments.
Dick Hayek
Dick Hayek says:
Sep 03, 2019 05:43 PM

Why isn't information about candidates nominated by the members submitted to the membership at the same time as information about candidates nominated by the Governance Committee? Why are there no term limits for Board members?

Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Sep 03, 2019 08:48 PM

Hi Dick -
1) Candidates nominated by a member from the floor of the annual meeting (up to 3 candidates per the bylaws) are not known until the annual meeting. If any candidates are nominated from the floor they will be added to the ballot in a timely manner.

2) Board directors DO have term limits. This is covered in our bylaws (available here on our website) in Article III - Section 3.

Gail Brandt
Gail Brandt says:
Sep 03, 2019 08:12 PM

can you outline the Mountaineers activities the nominees have participated in over the last 5 years.

Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Sep 03, 2019 09:31 PM

Hi Gail,
Thank you for your question. While bios above generally provide an overview of a candidate's engagement with The Mountaineers, to get a detailed view (sometimes several pages long) you can usually pull that up on the website.

In the search box type in the members name, then click on their profile. If their profile is set as shareable, then you can view their badges or click on the Activities link on the left side to see the full list of activities.

We value having a diverse board of directors. Some directors have deeper experience within The Mountaineers and others have deeper outside experience. Both (and especially a mix) can be hugely beneficial to our organization.

Thanks for your question,

Vik Sahney
Governance Chair, Board VP

Jeff Horne
Jeff Horne says:
Sep 26, 2019 09:16 AM

I think Dick Hayek's photo should be added to the composite photo of the 5 board recommended candidates at the top of this column. People seeing only 5 photos at the top might not scroll down far enough to find Dick's bio at the bottom.

Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Oct 27, 2019 09:40 AM

Hi Jeff - thanks for the comment. Yes! We added Dick's photo to the collage at the start of the column shortly after your post. Sorry for my delayed reply.


John Sisco
John Sisco says:
Oct 01, 2019 08:16 AM

You need more women on the board although all the men look totally qualified. I am a male by the way but more and more women are active Moutnaineers and contributors at all levels.

Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Oct 01, 2019 09:31 AM

Thanks John for your comment! We are always actively recruiting potential future board members and would love to recruit more women, people of color, and individuals from other under represented groups to the board. If you have any recommendations please pass them on to me.

Second, the slate you see above is just those currently up for election and not the full board. Our full board can be viewed here:


Vik Sahney

Samuel Georgian
Samuel Georgian says:
Oct 01, 2019 01:05 PM

I have to say I'm a little uncomfortable with the extent to which the posts and messaging about this vote have pushed the governance committee's nominees over the floor nominated nominee. I believe all candidates should be presented equally so that people can vote on their merits.

Stacey Lissit
Stacey Lissit says:
Oct 14, 2019 12:11 PM

I'm not that familiar with the overall process and how these elections work, but I agree with Samuel's comment about presenting all candidates equally. As presented, the message that is being communicated, as I read it, seems to be "here are the 5 that we the governance committee have selected as the best candidates, and Dick Hayek is also running." Can you clarify the election process - are we electing one from the slate of six nominees, or are there 5 positions open?

Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Oct 27, 2019 09:53 AM

Thank you Samuel and Stacey for your comments.

Our elections are conducted in alignment with our bylaws and policies.

The candidates presented by the governance committee and approved by the board have been given significant diligence to verify their qualifications, interest, aptitude/attitude, and have been educated on what serving on the board means and does not mean. This generally includes multiple meetings with a potential candidate by phone and in-person with board and key staff members in addition to attending a board meeting to observe the board and meet additional board members.

A floor nominee only needs to be an active member of the club (self nominated or nominated by another member) and has had no such diligence or education performed by the governance committee or the board and as such we want to make that clear to the membership when voting.

We feel that the presentation of the candidates is factual and provides transparency in line with that process.

In terms of the election, the ballot and the blog above indicated that voters are selecting up to five candidates from the six choices offered since we are electing five directors.


Jeff Horne
Jeff Horne says:
Oct 24, 2019 11:12 PM

When do we find out the election results?

Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Oct 27, 2019 09:41 AM

Hi Jeff,

There should be a blog update this week with the election results. Once the ballots closed on the 21st we have to go and verify that each voter was indeed a member and had only voted once. The results are then tabulated by staff and then verified by the board Secretary.