Equity & Inclusion Update: Committee Charter, Working Group Sessions, & Resources

Learn about the efforts to help The Mountaineers become a more equitable and inclusive organization. View our committee charter and sign up for a summer listening session.
Vik Sahney Vik Sahney
Board VP, E&I Committee Chair
June 01, 2019
Equity & Inclusion Update: Committee Charter, Working Group Sessions, & Resources
Photo of Gem Lake by Luke Helgeson.

At The Mountaineers, we believe a diverse and inclusive outdoors inspires unity, respect, and passion for the places we love. We aspire to offer outdoor opportunities for ALL, and have assembled a board-chartered Equity & Inclusion (E&I) Committee to direct our strategy, priorities, and resourcing to make progress on this goal. We have recently completed our committee charter, and are planning our next town hall style listening session to gather your feedback and share some of the results of our committee work.

Since our last E&I update in February, the committee has met three subsequent times. In our four meetings to date, we have focused on creating and holding space for the committee to get to know one another and have courageous conversations around race and equity in the outdoors. We have also discussed the unique challenges we face as a volunteer-led organization, and have begun to gather a list of our biggest opportunity areas. We hope to discuss these areas in our listening session in July.

E&I Committee Charter

At the Mountaineers Board Meeting on May 16, 2019, the E&I Committee Charter was approved (as is the practice for any Board chartered committees). The charter includes organizing principles such as a statement of purpose, composition of the committee, and it specifically calls out the requirement for the Committee Chair to be a person of color (POC). The implications of this requirement is that our Board, specifically our Governance Committee, will need to be even more intentional in our board recruiting to increase the diversity of our directors. As the VP of our board I also chair the Governance Committee, and therefore I am personally accountable in this area.  

When discussing the requirement, our board and our committee had a lively discussion. Questions included, 'Why would we exclude a well-qualified, white LGBTQ, trans, or disabled person from being chair?' or 'In making this requirement, are we putting even more burden on people of color to lead the efforts of a largely white organization?'

The outcomes of both conversations was the agreement that having a person of color chair the committee was critical to the committee’s success as race – being a physical, instantly recognizable, and unconcealable marker – is the greatest, most pervasive source of inequities in our society.

King County underscores this message in its statement on Equity and Social Justice:
“When we look at data across our communities, whether it is people’s health, access to housing and good paying jobs, graduation rates, incomes or incarcerations, disparities are greatest when we look by race. The most persistent and detrimental disparities are starkest when we look at race. By leading with racial justice we are committing to taking on the root causes of our most challenging problems and to focus where we can have the biggest impact and needs are greatest.”

For more information, view the E&I Committee Charter.

Listening Session - July 9 & 15 

We face unique challenges as a volunteer-led organization with 14,000 members from varied backgrounds and life experiences. We’d like to invite you to join us on July 9 in Seattle and/or July 15 in Tacoma for a discussion about these challenges and areas of opportunity. Please RSVP via the links below, and we will share a more robust agenda as the date nears.

 July 9 - Seattle

July 15 - Tacoma


Do something now

Take the Implicit Bias Tests (IATs)Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. Its goal is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet. Take the test now to understand where your implicit biases lie and use that information to understand how you may be showing up, both within and outside of The Mountaineers.

Our Commitment

As we embark on this work, we have been cautioned that our approach will need to be broad, multi-level, and org-wide with a focus on long-term, systematic, and cultural changes (while also making immediate, short-terms improvements). We also have been advised that being persistent yet patient is important - we need to move forward boldly yet with intention. We are not here to simply check a box and pat ourselves on the back, and acknowledge that we have an uncomfortable road ahead.

We are committed to owning the past failures and current realities of The Mountaineers with humility and honesty. We commit to ask questions as opportunities to learn, not to defend our actions, and to assume best intentions from each member of our community. This won’t always be easy and by committing to this work we know we’ll make mistakes. We appreciate your engagement in this process, and want to acknowledge and thank our community and the members of the committee for their work to benefit The Mountaineers community.


In addition to the E&I Steering Committee, we have assembled an E&I working group which will receive regular updates and engagement opportunities around specific priorities identified by the E&I Steering Committee. We are committed to providing regular updates through our blog as well, but if you're interested in more frequent updates, please email kristinac@mountaineers.org to get on the distribution list.


We've published a number of pieces over the years on the topic of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. We encourage you to peruse these blogs, and dive into the additional resources identified within each article.

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Timothy Newman
Timothy Newman says:
Jun 02, 2019 11:46 AM

PC in full force.