Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer

American Alpine Club

Golden, CO   |   February 4, 2020

About American Alpine Club

The American Alpine Club, established in 1902, is a national, unifying body offering an inclusive voice to represent and support the climbing community. The Club, based in Golden, CO, promotes and preserves the climbing way of life by sharing authoritative climbing resources, promoting conservation through advocacy and leadership, and supporting climbers through community.

The American Alpine Club produces and disseminates authoritative climbing information for current and future climbers and provides opportunities for climbers to connect with and learn from each other. The Club advocates and leads to advance climbers’ interests and promote conservation, publishes two of the world’s most sought-after climbing annuals (the American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Climbing), cares for the world’s leading climbing library and country’s leading mountaineering museum, and manages lodging facilities nationwide.

The Club brings together thousands of individual climbers who, together, form a community of climbing ambassadors that creates positive ripples throughout the world. This community of AAC members includes representation from every state, crag and climbing gym in the United States.


Whether you’re new to climbing or have been at it for decades, AAC Education has resources to support your learning journey and fuel your curiosity. The AAC’s Education department offers in-person clinics across the country as well as free written and video resources built on principles that honor the immense variety and uniqueness of the American climbing landscape. We’re proud to support a national distribution of volunteers with resources, including training and certification, that empower them to provide excellent local climber education.


The AAC strives to be a leader in national climbing policy issues and special use permitting. Data collected from 5,000 climbers in AAC’s 2018 Annual Climbers’ survey found that 94% of climbers believe climate change poses a risk to the places we climb and ski. They also recognize that as the climate changes, so does the state of climbing. In partnership with the Access Fund, the organization has coordinated the annual Climb the Hill lobbying event in Washington D.C., organized Hill to Crag events that get legislators out to climb in threatened areas, led coalitions including the Alpine 5 and Climbing Alliance. The Club’s policy department continues to build its expertise by researching and publishing policy briefs annually.


In 1970, the AAC took on its very first lodging facility. Now, the AAC network includes six lodging facilities, plus headquarters in Golden, Colorado. Over the course of a year, the AAC reaches over ten thousand individuals at these locations.

As the sport of climbing grows in popularity nationwide, the Club has seen tremendous growth and interest. The American Alpine Club has 75 club chapters and sections across the United States and is now over 25,000 members strong. In 2019, the Club added an additional 2,000 members, representing 9% growth in membership during a year already characterized by 16% revenue growth. Today, there are an estimated 35 million climbers worldwide and 7.7 million climbers in the United States alone, and AAC is proud to see the sport of climbing making its debut at the 2020 Olympics.

The American Alpine Club’s recent accomplishments include:

  • Educating over 3,000 climbers per year at Craggin’ Classic events across the country,
  • Releasing the first-ever State of Climbing Report, a comprehensive and quantitative look at the American climbing community and its impact, in partnership with a dozen other climbing organizations,
  • Awarding $150,000 in annual grant awards to fund scientific research expeditions, improve infrastructure at climbing areas across the country, and pursue projects that better the climbing community and climbing landscapes, and
  • Gathering sixty professional climbers and advocates on Capitol Hill in partnership with the Access Fund for the Club’s fourth annual “Climb the Hill” event in 2019 to lobby for climbing landscapes and action on climate change.

For more information on the American Alpine Club, please visit

The Chief Executive Officer Opportunity

This is a rare opportunity to lead a historic organization into the future by leveraging its talented staff and reputation. The Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of the American Alpine Club (“AAC”) will assume responsibility for operational excellence of the AAC. Reporting directly to and working closely with an engaged and dedicated Board of Directors, the CEO will drive the strategic direction for AAC, strengthen existing programs and partnerships, and sustainably develop the AAC’s human capital, operations and financial practices internally.

The CEO will be an influential voice for the climbing community and will embody the AAC’s strong commitment to climbing and conservation. This new leader will build on AAC’s strong reputation and record of results, continuing to elevate the organization as the premier membership organization for climbers. As such, they will work closely with donors, elected officials, members, and volunteers to evaluate and deliver on the needs of climbing community.

Internally, the CEO will provide impactful leadership to AAC while maintaining excellence in the content and delivery of AAC’s programming and services, ensuring the organization continues to adapt and innovate. The CEO will oversee day-to-day operations of the Golden headquarters and be a highly capable manager who is excited to partner with the AAC’s smart and committed staff and exhibit a presence among the Club’s expansive volunteer and regional networks. This leader will thoughtfully contribute to the vision for a multicultural and inclusive organization and advance strategies to achieve those goals. They will partner closely with a seasoned Board of Directors and communicate effectively to provide the Board with all information necessary to make informed decisions.

The CEO will oversee a senior leadership team of three and a staff of 45, with 75 chapters and regional sections across the United States. They will collaborate with the Board to direct the organization’s $4.5 million-dollar budget towards growing the AAC’s most critical and impactful programs.

Specific responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

Strategic Leadership and Execution

  • Set priorities decisively, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results.
  • Implement and maintain best-in-class management practices and build the infrastructure required to ensure consistency of high performance and stability.
  • Ensure that all AAC financial standards, operating policies, and programmatic goals are met.

Organizational Management and Leadership

  • Provide inspirational and motivational leadership for extraordinarily passionate, committed, and skilled staff members. Foster a culture of openness, transparency, and collaboration.
  • Manage day-to-day operations, including setting financial and programmatic goals, analyzing results and taking corrective action in close collaboration with staff and Board.
  • Analyze facility, technology and workplace design needs and administer resources to ensure a comfortable and productive workspace for AAC staff.

Ambassador and Spokesperson for Climbers

  • Engage with elected officials and lobby for policies in support of conserving public lands and climbing areas.
  • Act as a spokesperson for the climbing community, exhibiting a passion and excitement for all things climbing.
  • Cultivate collaborative relationships with partner organizations in the climbing, outdoor, and recreation space.

Fundraising and Membership Growth

  • Deepen and foster strong relationships with AAC’s existing funders; oversee capital campaigns, cultivate major gifts, and steward AAC’s most significant current and potential donors.
  • Leverage the growing popularity of climbing to attract new members and encourage current members to stay engaged with the organization.

Partnership with Board of Directors

  • Partner closely with an active Board of Directors to drive strategic vision, leverage its experience and expertise, and thoughtfully grow and evolve the Board as the organization moves forward.
  • Design and implement clear expectations, in partnership with the Board, for its contributions to the governance and success of the organization.
Candidate Profile

The American Alpine Club (“AAC”) seeks an experienced organizational leader with a passion for climbing and preserving recreation spaces. The successful candidate will bring a deep understanding of and connection to the climbing community, its history and the impact that its growing popularity will have for years to come. The new CEO must identify as a climber at heart; regardless of ability or resume, they will bring a genuine love for the sport and its community.

The ideal candidate will have business acumen and organizational leadership stemming from experience in top or near-top leadership of an organization or business. They will be a creative collaborator with a track record of setting and driving the success of an organization’s mission and strategic plan, and as such will understand the confluence between vision and execution. The new CEO will ideally have an understanding of local and national policies affecting the climbing community and will bring the political acumen needed to engage with elected officials and advocate for progressive conservation efforts.

Ideally, the new CEO will have experience leading an organization where membership and volunteers are key constituents. They will have strong business acumen and a background in driving the sustainable growth of an organization or company. In addition, they will bring knowledge of operational excellence and an understanding of how to implement best practices in operations, human resources, and finance. Partnering with and reporting to the Board of Directors, the successful candidate will be able to drive strategic and operational planning processes collaboratively.

A skilled communicator and relationship-builder, the CEO will have humility and will be genuinely invested in building a strong rapport with staff, donors, volunteers, policymakers and partner organizations. The successful candidate will have experience meeting ambitious growth goals, specifically overseeing capital campaigns and securing large gifts from a range of funders.

Based in Golden, CO, the CEO will be a natural leader with the capacity to foster a culture of transparency and accountability. They will be committed to developing all levels of their staff through ensuring that there are structures in place for growth and learning and will be purposeful about creating a culture around values of equity, inclusion and diversity. A creative problem solver, they will work collaboratively with the team and be able to listen and evaluate to make and build support for decisions.


Kara Teising and Libby Cornelssen of Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

As a proud supporter of the Camber Outdoors CEO pledge and the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, the American Alpine Club seeks to attract a skilled workforce that reflects the demographics of current and future outdoor enthusiasts. Together, we are building a company and an industry where great ideas, born from a diversity of experiences, thrive.

At Koya, we don’t just accept difference – we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team, our clients, and the communities we serve. Koya is an equal opportunity employer fully committed to creating an environment and team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and experiences.

We encourage all to apply because we believe a diversity of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.

Koya does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, military status, veteran status, genetic information, gender identity, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that partners exclusively with mission-driven clients, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our clients and ensuring they have the strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit