Class of 2017: Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy Welcomes New Participants and Guides


The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) extends a special welcome and congratulations to the newest participants and mentors of the Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy (SYFLA). Following a successful pilot year, the new class of 33 individuals will be joined by 24 industry veterans who will offer mentorship and direction while they guide this next generation of outdoor industry game-changers.

The new class, chosen through a rigorous selection process, will receive development opportunities including education about important outdoor industry issues, leadership training and mentoring from industry leaders, and they’ll work together to make the outdoor industry stronger and better in the years to come.

The 2017 Future Leadership Academy students (including two individuals from non-profits who will be participating in the program with full scholarships paid by REI):

Aaron McCready Camelbak
Adam Sanders Trango
Alia Salim Trust for Public Lands
Alli Rowe Patagonia
Amanda Schreier Sea to Summit
Brian Fisher Grand Trunk
Bruce Dotterrer NPD
Christopher Fidler Burton
Colin Moynihan Uncle Dans
Conor McElyea Cairn
Courtney Hans REI
Dana Howe Grassroots Outdoor Alliance
David Duron Toad&Co
Devin Hewlett Simms Fishing
Erin Weimer Sterling Rope
Jake Wheeler Roots Rated
Jill Sanford Freelance Journalist
Johanna Andrews Eddie Bauer
John McCauley Outdoor Alliance
Josh Weichhand Chaco
Justus Hyatt Cascade Designs
Kat Dierickx Outdoor Project
Katie Hawkins Marmot
Katie Wade Timbuk2
Lance Johnson Ultimate Direction
Lauren Beaudoin Osprey
Lisa Janssen Goal Zero
Mary Bean Columbia
Michael Genauer La Sportiva
Robert Thomas Smartwool
Sarah Fansler Scarpa
Sarah Langston Outdoor Retailer
Vanessa Fors Helly Hansen

The 2016 Future Leadership Academy Graduates (FLAGs) credit the Academy with providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn with and from the industry’s most influential leaders.

“The Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy reassured me that the outdoor industry is my home and I am here to stay,” said Joe Bustos, retail relations manager at Outdoor Retailer. “The education and mentorship I received from the Academy also gave me more confidence in my current position and a new outlook on what the future of the outdoor industry can look like.”

“Our industry and world are rapidly changing; in fact, change may be the only constant. I believe the future state of our industry is highly unlikely to look anything like the present, and I feel an obligation to the industry I love to help prepare our future leaders,” said Ted Manning, CEO of Ibex. "The Future Leadership Academy provided exactly this opportunity, creating a chance to engage the future leaders and to be inspired by them."

The 2017 guides who will serve as mentors and leaders:

Amy Beck Lucy
Amy Roberts OIA
Beaver Theodosakis prAna founder
Chris King Arc’teryx
Georgina Miranda Altitude Seven
Hilary Dessouky Patagonia
Jen McLaren Smartwool
Jen Mull Backwoods
John Sterling �� Conservation Alliance
Kelly Kraus Stanley PMI
Kelly Neel REI
Kevin Hogan The North Face
Larry Harrison Outdoor Retailer
Lori Nuss Gramicci
Luis Vargas The Clymb
Matt Kaplan OIA
Pam Theodosakis prAna
Scott Whipps Toad&Co
Steve Barker Eagle Creek founder
Steve Workman Merrell
Ted Manning Ibex

“Last year’s Future Leadership Academy class was amazing and helped us create an incredible and useful program for the next generation of outdoor industry leaders. As a measure of success, seven out of 22 participants last year received a promotion or favorable job change during or directly after the program,” said Stasia Raines, OIA director of the Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy. “This year, we’ve streamlined the education, invested in technology to enhance the experience and grown the program by 50 percent. I cannot wait to see the output as a result of these changes. Our Skip Yowell Future Leaders are the ones who will grow our outdoor industry, shaping it for the better in the years to come. In fact, they already are."

For more information about the Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy or to get involved in future years, contact Stasia Walker (, the program’s director.

Outdoor Industry Association

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. OIA unites and serves over 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit or call 303.444.3353.


Stasia Walker

Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy

(619) 957-9891

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