An overflow crowd attended the semiannual Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition (OIWC) gathering at Abravanel Hall during the third night of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market to network and meet other women (and the occasional man) involved in the outdoor industry.
The party kicked off with a lively hour of mingling, followed by a moving presentation by Jim Nowak, executive director of the dZi foundation. Attendees watched a 13-minute DVD by the foundation introducing its Girls at Risk, Dental Camps and Nutrition Centers for the Severely Malnourished Children programs in Nepal. More than one participant had wet cheeks by the end of Nowack's presentation, and it wasn't just the moms in the crowd.
Then, the three women who have all made significant contributions to the Outdoor Industry were presented as finalists for the 2005 Pioneering Woman Award including: Kim Coupounas, co-founder and CEO of GoLite; Jeannie Thoren, women's skiing advocate and member of the Skis Dynastar product development team; and Ann Krcik, founder of Extreme Connection, who took the award home. Krcik talked briefly about the people that have mentored her along the way.
"I have certainly benefited from being mentored by others in the outdoor industry during my 20-plus-year tenure," Krcik said. "Mentoring is an unbroken chain. When someone thanks me, they are thanking the people who mentored me and the people who mentored them.â€
Synergy was at work as Krcik donated her $1,000 charity prize to the dZi Foundation's Girls at Risk program, which provides services to young girls to help keep them out of the sex trade through a shelter in Kathmandu, Nepal.
OIWC also announced a new award at the gathering: the First Ascent award to recognize a woman who has been in this industry less than five years and demonstrates strong leadership potential. Nominations will be solicited by email in May. Award finalists and the recipient will be announced at the OIWC Gathering at Summer Market.
Afterward, participants gathered into small discussion groups on mentoring, sharing their own mentoring experiences and stories. OIWC board members introduced a May 2005 leadership training program through the Strozzi Institute available at a discount to OIWC members.
SNEWSÂ® heard from participants that they want to see the networking hour stretch to two since that's what holds the crowd, and according to gathering participants, it's the most valuable for them.