Outdoor Foundation Announces Leadership Transition

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The Outdoor Foundation board of directors announced today that the Foundation’s Executive Director, Chris Fanning, is resigning to become the Natural and Historical Resources Chief for Prince George’s County (located just outside of Washington, D.C.). The Outdoor Foundation board has established a search committee to lead the process of leadership transition. Fanning will leave her post on January 24, 2017.

As the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the Outdoor Foundation was established in 2008 and works to inspire and grow future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. The Outdoor Foundation works with and supports the Outdoor Industry Association to advance the important outdoor participation pillar of the industry. The Foundation raises nearly $2.5 million annually to fuel three key strategic initiatives: youth engagement – activating the college market primarily through campus challenge events; community investment – providing and administering grants to local organizations that connect younger kids with nature; and participation research through its industry-leading participation reports.

 “We appreciate Chris’ strong vision and leadership which has helped drive the Outdoor Foundation’s impactful fundraising, grant-making and programming, reaching tens of thousands of youth annually,” said Jim Zwiers, chairman of the Foundation board of directors and president of Wolverine outdoor & lifestyle group. “These initiatives have mobilized resources within and outside of the outdoor industry to activate outdoor participation, and we want to thank Chris for her work and lasting impact. We look forward to collaborating with the OIA and industry leaders in this transition as we partner to accelerate outdoor engagement and participation for future generations.”

During Fanning’s tenure, the organization has made incredible strides in growing outdoor participation, including the following: 

  • Partnering with industry brands and supporters in other sectors over the past eight years to invest more than $5 million dollars in support of 600 nonprofit and campus programs that have connected 370,000 youth with the outdoors.
  • Youth Engagement – Under the Outdoor Nation brand, the Outdoor Foundation activates college students in outdoor recreation with the goal to build a stronger outdoor culture on campuses across the country. Over the past eight years, this initiative has engaged over 50,000 students in outdoor activities. Last year, through its signature campaign, the Campus Challenge, Outdoor Nation worked with 90 schools to activate 16,000 students in 125,000 outdoor activities.
  • Community Investment – The Outdoor Foundation has invested $4 million in grants to more than 500 organizations that have connected 320,000 young people to nature-based activities – from hiking to biking and camping to climbing.
  • Participation Research – The Outdoor Foundation produces the largest and most comprehensive research report on outdoor recreation participation – covering more than 40 outdoor activities and providing insights and analysis on geographic and demographic trends.

 “It has been a privilege working shoulder to shoulder with so many dedicated people who care deeply about the vitality of the outdoor industry and engaging a new generation of outdoor champions. I appreciate the tireless work and generous collaboration of my team, industry members, nonprofit partners and the many funders that I have had the honor to work with. I look forward to the continued progress of the Foundation in its mission,” said Fanning.

Chris was the Outdoor Foundation’s first executive director and worked with the board and staff to build one of the nation’s leading organizations that is inspiring a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Ivan Levin, deputy director for the Outdoor Foundation, with support from the board and OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts, will be leading the Foundation’s work during the transition.

Looking ahead, in partnership with OIA, the Outdoor Foundation will build on its success and continue to work with industry partners, nonprofit organizations and other funders and stakeholders to dramatically increase outdoor participation among youth.

About the Outdoor Foundation

The Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, youth engagement and community grant-making, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In just five years, the Outdoor Foundation has invested $4 million into 500 not-for-profit and college programs that have connected 320,000 young people to the outdoors. Importantly, 90Ac of every dollar goes directly into this critical work. Visit us at http://www.OutdoorFoundation.org.

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