Leader Spotlight: SuJ'n Chon

Leader Spotlight is a monthly blog to showcase our incredible volunteer leadership at The Mountaineers. Meet this month's featured leader: SuJ'n Chon, a Seattle branch leader who has volunteered with The Mountaineers for the past 11 years.
Michelle Song Michelle Song
Associate Volunteer Development Manager
March 29, 2022

For our Leader Spotlight this month we talked to SuJ'n Chon a volunteer leader with the Seattle Branch who has volunteered with the Equity & Inclusion Committee and overcame her fear of heights through the Basic Alpine Scrambling Course. 

Name: SuJ'n Chon
Branch: Seattle 
How long have you been a leader? 11 years
What activities do you lead?  Equity & Inclusion Working Group, Backpacking, Hiking, Wilderness Navigation, Alpine Scrambling, and Snowshoeing.

Leadership Questions

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO volunteer WITH THE MOUNTAINEERS?

Before I discovered snowshoeing, I would get the blues in the fall in anticipation of being cooped in during the many cold wet months of late fall to early spring. After taking the snowshoeing courses, I felt the whole year's calendar open up and genuinely feeling excited about the winter. Johnny Jeans approached me asking that the Snowshoeing Committee needed support - and because I'd become such an advocate for snowshoeing by then, I was happy to jump in. By the next year, I was co-chair!

WHAT IS THE BEST, FAVORITE, OR MOST MEMORABLE experience YOU'VE HAD WITH THE CLUB?

Somewhere in my mid-30s, I'd started developing a mild fear of heights/exposure. I wanted to nip that in the bud so I took the Basic Alpine Scrambling course. Within a few months of repeated exposure to exposure, my fear of heights went from needlessly irrational to thoughtfully healthy. That felt great!

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

While I have had to work with diverse groups of stakeholders over the past three decades in my work, The Mountaineers offers opportunities to bring very different people together. I've expanded my leadership toolbox, learned to adapt to personalities and ideas that I don't typically encounter in my daily life, and find new ways to create trust and shared accountability with individuals and within the group.

What is one thing you do on trips to create an inclusive experience for people of all skills and backgrounds?

Ask questions and be curious; and model that behavior with the group.

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

Take advantage of the excellent free resources that The Mountaineers provide, both in materials and in workshops, to build that leadership muscle. I've been in leadership positions in my work for three decades and still take Mountaineers leader workshops when I can. I always come away feeling like I've refreshed or learned new ways of deepening my leadership. If you keep and exude a learning mindset, this also helps create a group environment that is open and welcoming.

Is there aNYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU?

My personal circumstances, including a move to Skagit County, has kept me from being able to lead or teach more than a couple times a year recently. Some upcoming job-related changes for my partner should help open our household calendar for 2022, and hopefully I can start leading more trips again!

Lightning Round

What's your go-to place for a post-trip meal? Sultan Bakery
What's your favorite close-to-home adventure? Goat Rocks Wilderness
What 11th Essential do you bring on most trips? A little dry bag with toileting essentials
What's next on your bucket list? New England!

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

Send an email to Michelle Song to make a recommendation for one of our upcoming Leader Spotlights!