Alissa Sears is the Senior Strategist and Global Betterment Director for Christie Communications, a Public Relations and Marketing Firm that promotes environmentally sustainable and socially responsible companies and products. Prior to her involvement with Christie Communications, Alissa worked in disaster and conflict zones such as northern Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Burma where she created sustainable development projects and helped local agencies and organizations work together to solve community-wide problems. Alissa is a board member of six relief and development organizations and the Executive Director of the Christie Comm-Unity Foundation.
Luis Guillermo Benitez
Luis Benitez is a professional mountain guide, social activist, and founder of Endeavor Consulting. Benitez began his career working for Outward Bound Professional in Colorado, where he taught leadership, communication, and problem solving in an outdoor setting. Later, he worked as an international mountain guide and Director of Operations for Adventure Consultants, the famed New Zealand alpine guide company, during which time he guided the Seven Summits, including Mt. Everest which he summited six times. Luis’s first summit of Everest was with blind climber Eric Weihenmayer in 2001, which was documented in the film “Farther than the Eye Can See”. Benitez has been a champion for the rights of mountain tourism workers in Nepal for many years. Articles Benitez has written, such as “Do the Right Thing on Everest”, have appeared in Outside Magazine, while his eye witness account of the Chinese killing of Tibetan refugees was featured in the BBC documentary “Murder in the Snow”.
Dave is the Vice President of New Hope Natural Media, the leading media resource and information provider for the natural, organic, and healthy-lifestyle products industry. Prior to working for New Hope, Dave was a Senior Stategist with Crispin, Porter & Bogusky (CPB). CPB was ranked the number one digital advertising and creative agency in the US for nearly a decade. Clients included Burger King, Dominos, Kraft, Coke, Microsoft, Best Buy, Activision, and Volkswagon. Dave is especially proud of Bcycle, for which he was a founding member. Bcycle is the first modern bike-share system, which operates in 19 different cities across the United States.
Steven is the Director of Front-End Development at Sisu, an award-winning boutique design agency based in Los Angeles. Steven leads the internal development team and has spearheaded the advancement and application of responsive web design for high-profile clients such as Sony, DC Comics and Starz. Notably, he also developed the well-received prototypes and core web development approach behind the responsive relaunch of AmericanExpress.com.
When not in front of a computer, Steven enjoys trail-running in the Santa Monica Mountains, canyoneering in the San Gabriel Mountains, mountaineering in the Eastern Sierras, or rock climbing in Joshua Tree and Yosemite.
Rud is the Founder and former Chairman/Owner of The Ryzex Group, a global mobile technology services company specializing in the full lifecycle management of Mobile Computer, Barcode and RFID solutions. Started with a small personal investment in 1989 from his home, Rud built the company into the world’s pre-eminent mobile technology solutions company with $75 million in annual revenues and 360 employees spread across the US, Canada, UK, France and Australia. Rud sold Ryzex in 2011 and now divides his time between being an elected member of the Whatcom County Council and as the CEO of Ryanna Capital, an Impact Investment firm that focuses on environmentally sustainable business models.
John was the Director of International Affairs for Northern Michigan University from 1998 until 2008. John has been an active member of Rotary International since 1976, and has served on the board of three Rotary Clubs. John has traveled extensively through his work, which has brought him to Europe, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the South Pacific to work on service projects and visit with university partners. From 1987 through 1993 John worked with 30 to 38 inbound exchange students each year. From 1993 to 2001 John was the Asian Correspondent for Central States Rotary Youth Exchange Program, Inc. In this position he arranged approximately 90 exchanges each year with India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. Since retiring from Northern Michigan University in 2008 John has been a volunteer for the US Forest Service. For this work John received the Wilderness Legacy Award for his outstanding contribution to protected natural lands.
Ethan McKinley is the Superintendent of First State National Historical Park in Deleware. This is one of the newest additions to the National Park system in the United States. Before being selected as superintendent, Ethan worked in national parks across the United States, including Mt. Rainier, Yosemite, Glacier, and Gettysburg National Military Park. He was the Chief of Commercial Service in the Northeast Regional Office, and a Concessions Management Specialist for both the Intermountain Region and Northeast Region. Ethan has a degree in international business and French from the University of Denver and specializes in strategic planning, financial analysis, program management, and public-private partnerships. Ethan has contributed to national policy and developed innovative business opportunities throughout the Region. In 2015 Ethan led a precedent-setting initiative to leverage funds to buyout nearly all of the Northeast Region Commercial Services Program’s investments in park facilities (totaling $15 million). In his free time Ethan is an avid explorer of national parks, a mountaineer, and history buff.
With humble beginnings as a refugee from war-torn Vietnam in 1980, Truc Allen has embraced the opportunity to pursue the lifestyle of an outdoor professional and athlete. For more than 25 years, he’s participated in the evolution of the outdoor industry. Currently the Director of Marketing Communications for Vertical World Climbing Gyms and the General Manager of Operations and Marketing for Second Ascent Specialty Outdoors, he’s also the American Alpine Club (AAC) Cascade Section Chair, member of the AAC Corporate Partnership Committee, and Board Member of the Washington Climbers’ Coalition. His impact on the climbing and outdoor community has brought him recognition as Seattle’s leading catalyst for successful engagement and events. His business, Truc Allen Media, is a recognized name in backcountry sports photography in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, Truc provides professional contract and consulting services ranging from managing social media, graphic design, and marketing for twelve companies and organizations. In past experiences, he served for ten years as the Director of Activities for Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing Outdoor Adventure Center and Sales Manager for Outdoor Research’s North American Pro & Specialty Sales Program.
Jeff Crow is the Director of Risk Management for NatureBridge, an environmental education organization that delivers science and adventure programs to 30,000 youth each year. He is responsible for policies and procedures on 5 campuses encompassing 7 National Parks. Jeff has worked in environmental and adventure education for the past 25 years. His experience spans the range of directing summer camps with the YMCA, leading mountaineering courses with Outward Bound, and teaching natural history programs with Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel). Jeff spent many years traveling, climbing, skiing and paragliding around the world from 22,000 foot peaks in Argentina to areas in Thailand, Austria, Switzerland and the glaciated mountains of New Zealand. He continues to work overnight programs for the YMCA and attempts to bring a sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors to new generations of young people while advocating for exposure to calculated risks to build judgement and self-awareness.
Zoe McKinley is responsible for designing and running entrepreneurship programs at Philadelphia University that serve students, alumni, faculty and staff. Before working for the University Zoe served as the founding Executive Director of GoodCompany group, a social enterprise education non-profit in Philadelphia. While at GoodCompany, Zoe built a strong network of partnerships with individuals and organizations involved in social enterprise. She also developed two new entrepreneurship support programs, successfully brought in grants from national foundations, and led the organization through a merger and brand re-envisioning. Before working at GoodCompany Zoe worked as a public policy researcher at Rutgers University in Camden and was involved in urban revitalization projects in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Zoe holds a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado, Denver and a BA in Psychology from the University of Denver.