Leader Spotlight: Nataliya Semez

Leader Spotlight is a monthly blog to showcase our incredible volunteer leadership at The Mountaineers. Meet this month's featured leader: Nataliya Semez. She is a trail running leader who never imagined herself running in the mountains, and now loves introducing others to her favorite sport!
Sara Ramsay Sara Ramsay
Volunteer Development Manager
May 28, 2020
Leader Spotlight: Nataliya Semez

For our Leader Spotlight this month we talked to Nataliya Semez, a volunteer leader with the Seattle Branch who is proud to represent The Mountaineers on the trail and in all aspects of life!

Name: Nataliya Semez
Branch: Seattle
Where do you live? Seattle, WA
How long have you been a leader? 2 years (member since 2016)
What activities do you lead? Backcountry and Frontcountry Trail Running

Leadership Questions

What inspired you to lead trips for The Mountaineers?

I was really inspired by brilliant leaders who I met when I first joined The Mountaineers. They created an inclusive environment where I felt welcomed to learn and participate, offering support and knowledge every step of the way.

What is the best, favorite, or most memorable trip you've led for The Mountaineers?

My favorite trip was a backcountry run that I was mentoring for a new leader on the Thunder Creek trail in early December last year. It was a new trail to me, my dog Leo got to join us, and the weather was perfect. We got to run almost 15 miles in magical-looking, dark, getting-ready-for-winter woods with no other people on the trail. But the best part was supporting a new leader and meeting new runners who share the same passion for running and the outdoors.

How has your leadership style evolved as you've gained experience?

With experience I've gained a new perspective on what leadership means. Especially leadership in a diverse setting where I get to bring people into a sport that can be perceived as intimidating and may even seem hostile from the outside. The trail running community is small and, by nature, hidden in the woods. With races in far away places, it can be hard to find or connect with other runners. My favorite runs are still on longer secluded trails, but I now really enjoy leading shorter, frontcountry runs where I can invite participants of all levels/paces and share the space and my love for the sport.

Any learning experiences you can share, such as take-aways from a close call or a near miss?

Conflict situations can be challenging and something you may want to fix right away. Take a moment before reacting and always assume positive intent.

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in The Mountaineers community?

Think of a person who inspired you in life because they were knowledgeable, patient, kind, understanding, and took time to share the experience with you. Be this person to someone else.


Hardcore sports like mountaineering and trail running always seem so elite. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined myself running in the mountains or climbing them. Besides raising a wonderful daughter, this is the second most amazing thing I've ever done. I am beyond proud to represent The Mountaineers on trails and in life where I can invite friends to join me and be absolutely sure they will have a great experience in the organization.

Lightning Round

What's your go-to place for a post-trip meal? Las Tres Marias in Monroe
How about your best trail snack? Skratch Lab Bars (Raspberries & Lemons)
Who is your Mountaineers hero? Peter Tran! He was my SIG lead and my first climb leader and he made be believe that I can do it.
What "luxury item" do you bring on most trips? Castelevantro Olives
What's next on your bucket list? The Oregon Coast 50K ... and I really need to summit Rainier because everyone keeps asking.

is there Someone that you'd like to see in the spotlight?

Send an email to Sara Ramsay to make a recommendation for one of our upcoming Leader Spotlights!