CEO Update: State of the Organization Recap - April 2024

On April 30, 2024, staff shared a “state of the organization” update with members of our community. We're grateful to once again be in a strong financial and strategic position to deepen our impact in the years ahead, especially as we implement our new strategic plan, and we're looking forward to working together with our community to make our "Adventure with Purpose" vision a reality.
Tom Vogl Tom Vogl
CEO, The Mountaineers
May 03, 2024
CEO Update: State of the Organization Recap - April 2024
Mountaineers CEO Tom Vogl in the Pickets Range. Photo by Kiana Ehsani.

On April 30, 2024, we shared a “state of the organization” update with members of our community. One year into our new strategic plan, Adventure with Purpose, we are excited to be in a strong position to continue our forward momentum. We also celebrate our rock-solid community, which is rooted in exceptional volunteerism and generosity where our mission, core values, and strategic plan continue to be our North Star as we look to the future.

The Mountaineers is one year into our strategic plan, Adventure with Purpose - 2023-2028. Membership has grown - 16,500 members and counting, our financial position is more robust, and this year we reached the long-awaited conclusion of the Keta Legacy Foundation lawsuit

We also continue to be nationally admired as a highly effective outdoor education and conservation organization. This is why the vision behind our strategic plan is called Adventure with Purpose: we envision a world where our adventures extend beyond the reach of our own personal enjoyment and where all people can confidently enjoy and are inspired to protect the natural world. 

Highlights, Challenges, and Priorities

Pursuing our mission and this vision, we’ve achieved big things together. For this year's update, we shared those in context of the three strategic priorities outlined in our Strategic Plan:

  • LEAD Innovation in Outdoor Education
  • ENGAGE a Vibrant Community of Outdoor Enthusiasts
  • ADVOCATE on Behalf of the Natural World

Read on to see highlights related to each of our strategic goals, understand what challenges we're currently facing, and learn about how we plan to work together to overcome those challenges in the year ahead. For greater context about each specific priority and its related goals, please review our strategic plan, Adventure with Purpose.

Lead innovation in outdoor education

We have three goals within the strategic priority to LEAD innovation in outdoor education so that anyone inspired to learn outdoor skills has that opportunity with The Mountaineers:

  • L1: Foster a vibrant community of skilled volunteer educators to meet the needs of a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts.
  • L2: Invest in new and existing spaces to offer expanded educational opportunities and community connections.
  • L3: Publish and curate category-leading titles and content in outdoor education.

Mountaineers Books new releases 2024.png


  • New emphasis on Branch Banquets has been a success, leading to greater engagement and sense of local community
    • Alpine Ambassadors had more applicants than spots
    • We've establish UIAA accreditation for Mountain LEAD standards
    • This year's year-to-date participation in our Leadership Development programs has already exceeded our 2023 participation by 11 percent
    • We've grown staffing to deeply and meaningfully support our critically important land manager relationships
    • We're partnering with different groups to hopefully launch a North Bend Climbing Center project, which will be years in the making, but already has some exciting momentum
    • We received a $500k donation to support vibrancy and  revitalization projects at our lodges
    • We've published three core mountaineering titles since last fall, with the AMGA-recommended Climbing Self-Rescue kicking off a refresh of The Mountaineers Outdoor Expert series.
    • Fall 2024 continues the refresh of The Mountaineers Outdoor Expert series (new black covers through the line) with the new edition of Hiking the Wonderland Trail
    • Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, Edition 10 heads off to press for September publication
    • There's a new production hire in place to support new titles and reprints


  • Our staff faced some heartbreaking challenges in the first and second quarters after the unexpected and tragic passing of longtime staffer Jeff Bowman
  • Losing Jeff caused a major gap in implementing some of our technology solutions, including Single Sign On (SSO) for Coassemble, our eLearning platform
  • Our pipeline of new books is still emerging from a pandemic slump, with our spring 2024 releases underperforming.


  • Conduct analysis of roadblocks to growing our courses
  • Evaluate technology solutions to offer a community engagement forum for our members and volunteers
  • Continued work on eLearning
  • Discovery work on North Bend Climbing Facility 
  • Organize strong rollout of Freedom 10 with contributors, members, and branches in the fall
  • The fall 2024 books releases look good and we are on track for 36 new titles in 2025

ENGAGE a vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts

We have three goals within the strategic priority to ENGAGE a vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts. We want every individual to be able to find inspiration and belonging in the outdoors through Mountaineers community, programs, and books:

  • E1: Cultivate an organizational culture of outdoor equity and belonging.
  • E2: Expand our youth programs to foster lifelong connections with the outdoors.
  • E3: Deepen our culture of giving back where mission- and values-driven projects are sourced from and funded by the community.
  • Mountaineers Engage a Vibrant Community Events.png


  • After an exciting seven months, we wrapped up our Leadership Development Series, which included the inaugural Tacoma Leadership Conference
  • We continue to grow the number of folks who have engaged with our Equity & Inclusion (E&I) related resources and courses
  • We have new summer camp offerings available this year for our Foothills Branch (I-90, I-405 corridor)
  • We are continuing to grow partner programs in South Sound
  • We've launched a review of our philanthropic programs, which is supported by the recent launch of our new Development Committee
  • We've seen successful fundraising results through many of our programs, including the launch of the new Ridgeline membership, growth with our Peak Society, a successful campaign for the 10th edition of  Freedom of the Hills, a generous grant for investment in our lodges, and our most successful Gala to date, with more than $660,000 raised to support our programs and publishing


  • With such a large portfolio of programs, and the unexpected passing of Jeff Bowman, our Associate Director of Information Technology, it's been especially challenging recently to provide robust technology support for all of our key priorities
  • As a volunteer-led organization, our leadership structure is decentralized and vast, making it challenging to determine the best E&I engagement pathways for our community
  • Post-COVID, we've struggled to reestablish partner programs in Seattle
  • The entire nonprofit industry is seeing a decrease in overall number of donors, The Mountaineers included
  • A recent organizational realignment has resulted in transition across multiple roles, disrupting normal work flow


  • Build communication pathways between existing volunteer leadership structure and E&I Committee
  • Grow our cohort of volunteers engaging with E&I eLearning courses and materials
  • Continued focus and resources provided to our Sexual Harrassment, Sexual Assault Prevention Committee
  • Re-engage with youth partner orgs
  • Train and support the development of youth specific leaders
  • Increase the effectiveness of our impact reporting
  • Execute successful GiveBIG and Spring FUN-draising drive campaigns 
  • Create a Community Engagement Team events and communications calendar


We have three goals within the strategic priority to ADVOCATE on behalf of the natural world because we know that our community makes a meaningful, enduring impact in protecting our planet and the outdoor experience:

  • A1: Achieve high-impact outcomes for conservation and sustainable recreation access through new and deepened partnerships and policy expertise.
  • A2: Inspire and equip our community to be highly-effective advocates for climate and the natural world.
  • A3: Act urgently to minimize our organization’s impact on the environment.

Mountaineers Advocacy priorities.png


  • We passed a number of priority bills, including the EXPLORE Act (recreation package) and HB 2165 (DNR cost recovery for permits)
  • We continue to meaningfully deepen our tribal engagements, advocating together for funding to preserve our natural spaces
  • The Mountaineers is representing outdoor recreation on the Northwest Forest Plan Federal Advisory Committee
  • We launched a new Advocacy 101 eLearning course, teaching the basics of how to be an effective advocate
  • We published Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain, a wonderful book celebrating the Olympic Peninsula and the ways we can work together to protect it
  • Our Tacoma Program Center is officially Net Zero for carbon emissions, and we're putting power back into the grid


  • We're seeing increasing limitations on recreation access (Mount Rainier, others coming), posing challenges to getting more people outdoors
  • Overall, it's challenging to advocate for anything in an increasingly polarized country (eg: more opposition to new Wilderness proposals)
  • In the last few years, we've seen declining engagement in our Action Alerts
  • High cost of carbon footprint reduction requires significant upfront financial investment


  • We're working on a big push to pass legislation before the end of the year in alignment with the election cycle
  • Focus on the Northwest Forest Plan climate-smart amendment, coming this summer
  • Continued focus on Tribal relationship building & education
  • June 4 Conservation & Advocacy virtual event - RSVP
  • One of our super volunteers, Danielle Graham, has been selected as a Fellow for the Outdoor Alliance Grasstops Collective, a group effort to train super advocates which will include a trip to D.C. this fall
  • Big River book release is coming soon, celebrating the resilience and renewal in the Columbia River basin
  • Host a celebration to mark our achievement of the Tacoma Net Zero project
  • Focus on continued reduction of the Seattle Program Center carbon footprint

    Staff organizational update

    In order to better serve our community and realize the potential of our new strategic plan, The Mountaineers has made some changes to our staff structure to invest in under-resourced areas and better support our community. This realignment is not about cutting costs or staff - it’s a net investment in our current areas of need to help us deliver a bigger mission impact and better position us to implement our strategic plan. 

    We covered the high level details in our state of the org presentation. I invite you to learn more about them in our Organizational Realignment blog  from March 2024. 


    To hear more highlights of how The Mountaineers is doing and details about Adventure with Purpose, you may view a recording of our April 30, 2024 state of the organization Zoom presentation. And, feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or feedback: or 206-521-6009.

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