15 Female Leaders You Need to Meet at Outdoor Retailer

From entrepreneurs to storytellers and strategists, women are helping steer and grow the outdoor industry. Here are 15 women leading the charge to make the outdoors more inclusive, representative, and fun.

It may not be well publicized, but women make up nearly half of all people who play outdoors. To date, 46 percent of outdoor participants ages 6 and up are female, according to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2018 Outdoor Participation Report.

And the outdoor industry is ready to reflect that reality. More brands are making an effort to close internal gender gaps. Close to 80 companies have signed the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge to strategically accelerate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Beyond business ethics, DEI is an economic imperative for the outdoor industry, which is growing at a rate faster than the entire country’s GDP.

Who Really Runs Outdoor Retailer? Increasingly, Women
Who Really Runs Outdoor Retailer? Increasingly, Women

Next week, thousands of people will descend on Denver for the Outdoor Retailer trade show. And at the helm of the major industry expo are four women. Read more…

If you’re a professional getting started in the outdoor industry, or want to prioritize the expansion of female roles in an existing business, this guide for the 2019 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show is for you.

Here are 15 women of the industry, from paradigm-shifters to steadfast entrepreneurs, you’ll see at this week’s Outdoor Retailer show.

1. Angela Hawse, 56

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Hawse is the sixth American woman to become certified as an International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) Mountain Guide. She’s guided and instructed at a professional level for 35 years. This led to her accolade as the 2011 American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Guide of the Year.

Expertise: Beyond being a full-time IFMGA Mountain Guide, Hawse is an AMGA Instructor Team Lead. She trains and certifies guides across the disciplines of rock, alpine, and ski guiding. Hawse is a professional athlete sponsored by Marmot, Sterling Rope, Scarpa, and Metolius Climbing. She co-owns Chicks Climbing and Skiing and is also President of the Board for AMGA and a POW (Protect Our Winters) Riders Alliance Team Member.

Current projects: According to AMGA, only 8 percent of mountain rock climbing guides are women — and Hawse is eager to change that fact. This year, AMGA partnered with The North Face to launch the first Women’s Rock Guide Course. The professional rock guide training program is designed specifically for women and will debut in September.

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Show goals: “Build relationships with sponsors for Chicks Climbing and Skiing, and meet with personal sponsors to share my stoke.”

Connect with her: Hawse will speak on the POW panel (Jan. 30, 7-9 p.m., McNichols Building); and The North Face panel discussion (Jan. 31, 10-10:30 a.m., The North Face Booth #44005-UL). Email her at angela@chickswithpicks.net.

For Women, By Women: TNF, AMGA Collaborate on First All-Female Rock Guide Course
For Women, By Women: TNF, AMGA Collaborate on First All-Female Rock Guide Course

The North Face sponsored the American Mountain Guide Association's first guide course made specifically for women. Read more…

2. Jaylyn Gough, 38

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Gough is the Founder and Executive Director of Native Women’s Wilderness (NWW), an organization that provides access to the outdoors for Native women, nonbinary individuals, and girls. NWW also provides education regarding ancestral land history and seeks to bridge the diversity gap in the outdoor industry.

Expertise: Gough is a clinical therapist with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. She has worked in the outdoor industry for more than a decade.

Current projects: Gough told us she recently completed a fundraiser that collected more than $4,000 and brought in at-need items for women’s shelters and orphanages on the Rose Bud and Gila River reservations.

Show goals: “I’m currently working on a project with GreenLatinos regarding the Antiquities Act. At the show, I hope to connect with larger brand names in order to gain needed items for our gear vault as well as equipment and safety gear for my ambassadors.”

Connect with her: Gough will moderate Wild in Wellness (Feb. 1, 10-11 a.m., Ranger Station #V0119-SL). Email her at jaylyn@nativewomenswilderness.org.

3. Krista Dill, 36

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As Outdoor Retailer Sales Director, Dill plays a huge role behind the curtains of the show floor. She’s worked with Outdoor Retailer for 12 years.

Expertise: Dill is one of the masterminds behind “maximizing the Outdoor Retailer experience.” To that end, she helped revamp OR’s floorplan design after the show’s move to Denver. She also helps brands get creative with their marketing to stand out in a sea of booths.

Current projects: Now that Denver OR is in full swing with three shows annually, Dill is primed to tackle the six-to-eight-week planning process for Summer Market once Snow Show wraps up.

Show goals: “To connect with everybody! Our show is about gathering with your community and longtime friends, and attending a show is also about who you don’t know. It’s through coming to the show and participating in sessions, attending events, meeting with advocacy groups, and making new connections that you grow your business and your network.”

Connect with her: Find Dill at the Industry Party held in the Buell Theatre on Wednesday, January 30, 6-8 p.m. You can also email her at krista.dill@outdoorretailer.com.

4. Kristin Hostetter, 50

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Hostetter is editor-in-chief of SNEWS and The Voice. She’s also been Backpacker Magazine’s gear editor for 20 years.

Expertise: Hostetter has worked in the outdoor industry for 25 years and specializes in outdoor industry trade journalism. Formerly Backpacker’s gear editor, she now sees herself as “guardian of the brand” at the helm of SNEWS. There she oversees the content and general direction of the publication and works with marketing, circulation, sales, and production to keep it on track. She was also named the Outdoor Media Summit’s 2018 Editor of the Year and received the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award.

Current projects: The big news is that SNEWS just launched a new print and digital magazine, The Voice. Hostetter called it “the mag we’ve always wanted to produce but couldn’t,” because for many years SNEWS ran The Daily at Outdoor Retailer.

“The Voice tackles big, important, sometimes uncomfortable outdoor industry issues — like sexual harassment and assault — in a fair, balanced, and head-on fashion,” she told us. And in 2019, SNEWS is launching the #CoolShop Award and a retailer-based gear testing program.

Show goals: “I’m looking forward to listening to our readers and hearing what they think of The Voice and what sort of issues are important to them and their businesses. After the show, we’ll dive into planning for our June issue of The Voice.”

Connect with her: Hostetter will be at The Voice booth #56131 (daily, 8:30-11 a.m.) and is hosting a launch party for the magazine (Jan. 30, 4-6 p.m.) Email her at khostetter@aimmedia.com.

5. Jennifer Pattee, 46

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Pattee is the CEO and co-founder of Public Recreation, a new type of gym that’s all outdoors and offers unlimited classes — including strength training, boxing, and yoga — for the competitive monthly price of $60. “Our mission is to have classes across cities across America that are a 10-minute walk from where people live and work,” Pattee said.

Expertise: Pattee has worked in the outdoor industry for 13 years. Her prior company, Basic Training, was one of the top 25 highest-rated boutique fitness studios in America in 2016, according to Yelp reviews.

Current projects: Day to day, Pattee works to find and hire the best instructors in America as well as grow her business.

Show goals: “I’d like to connect with women who want to start a company but aren’t sure how. This is a very Silicon Valley thing to say, but I believe that startups can change the world, and we need more female founders. I’d also love to talk to anyone passionate about working outdoors and lives in Denver, LA, San Diego, Austin, or San Francisco (or wants to move there) because I may have a really great job for them.”

Connect with her: “I will be walking around with a Public Recreation T-shirt on! Come talk to me.” You can also email Pattee at jenn@publicrecreation.com.

6. Sam Killgore, 39

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Killgore is the communications manager at POW, a climate advocacy nonprofit focused on turning passionate outdoorspeople into effective climate advocates. She’s worked in the outdoor industry for 17 years.

Expertise: As a marketer and communicator, Killgore’s specialty is to build and integrate brands — like Outdoor Research and Scarpa — in the outdoor community. A year ago, she shifted into the nonprofit sector. Working with POW is a dream come true for her. “Jeremy Jones once told me, ‘Awesome job, Sam!’ If that doesn’t boost your ego, I don’t know what would,” she told us.

Current projects: For 2019, POW will focus its work in states where it sees an opportunity to move climate policy forward. In 2020, Killgore said, that policy focus will shift to electoral work to have a positive climate impact on elections.

Show goals: “Connecting with media to help empower the outdoor community to become climate advocates and connecting with brand partners.”

Connect with her: POW Party (Jan. 30, 7-9 p.m., McNichols Building, 2nd floor.) Email her at sam@protectourwinters.org.

7. Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, 48

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Carpenter-Ogden is the founder of Verde Brand Communications, which works with the active and outdoor lifestyle industries. The brand also produces a podcast called Channel Mastery, which has a mission to help level the playing field for specialty businesses competing with huge companies like Amazon. She was also a journalist for a decade before launching Verde.

Expertise: Outside Magazine chose Verde as one of its Best Places to Work. SNEWS honored Verde as the best PR agency of the year and also tapped Channel Mastery as the best Outdoor Podcast.

Current projects: Carpenter-Ogden has her eyes on “bridging the active outdoor lifestyle markets with vehicle-supported adventure markets/industries like overland and RV.”

Show goals: “I hope to meet more of the leaders behind the State Offices of Outdoor Recreation. I had the honor of serving Luis Benitez as he launched his Colorado office, galvanized a national movement of this office, and developed a voice around what we do in the outdoor industry.”

Connect with her: Carpenter-Ogden is hosting the panel “Managing the Gap: How Successful Retailers can Bridge the Digital Divide and Create Emotional Connection with Omnichannel Consumers” (Jan. 29, 2:15-3:15 p.m. Colorado Convention Center, Room 401.) Email her at kco@verdepr.com.

8. Jeanine Pesce, 37

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Pesce is the founder of RANGE, an independent agency and magazine inspired by the culture of the modern outdoor movement. She’s worked in the outdoor industry for 13 years.

Expertise: Pesce’s specialization includes trend and color forecasting, strategy, consumer insights, and content production.

Current projects: “On the agency side, I just wrapped fall 2020 color and concept for a footwear client and a brand experience exercise for an iconic sportswear company. On the media side, we just went to print on RANGE Magazine Issue 10,” Pesce said.

Show goals: “To connect with movers and shakers, talented creatives, emerging voices, and big thinkers!”

Connect with her: She’ll be holding down The RANGER Station (Booth # VO119-SL), a central hub within Venture Out that focuses on education, art, and community. RANGE Magazine Issue 10 will launch, plus a lineup of panels, workshops, and activations. Check out the schedule here. Email Pesce at jeanine@thisisrange.com.

9. Mina Yoo, 44

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Yoo is the founder, inventor, and CEO of Heroclip, a company that makes hybrid gear clips.

Expertise: Yoo has worked to bring Heroclip — an adventure-ready tool to hang backpacks, hydration systems, and other gear — into mainstream retailers like REI. She fundraised more than $2 million to start the company and was a Camber Pitchfest 2018 finalist. She was also a professor at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Current projects: Heroclip recently launched to new sizes. And Yoo said she is hard at work on additional products.

Show goals: “I am preparing to pitch the Heroclip line to major retailers and to form high-value brand partnerships. I am also hoping to connect with other brands who want to collaborate!”

Connect with her: At the Camber Executive Roundtable (Jan. 30, 5 p.m.); GearJunkie Pitchfest (Jan. 31, 7 p.m.); Camber Breakfast (Feb. 1, 7 a.m.). Email Yoo at mina@myheroclip.com.

10. Emma Murray, 24

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Murray is a staff reporter for The Daily. She’ll be covering live industry news, gear, and advocacy efforts at OR. She’s worked in the outdoor industry for three years.

Expertise: Murray was named second-place columnist for mountaineering and climbing news coverage by The Society of Professional Journalists. The Association of Alternative News awarded her third place for beat reporting on the outdoor industry. She’s also a featured writer in the published anthology “Alone Together” (2017).

Current projects: Murray told us she is working on a novel-memoir that will “trace my experiences as a woman navigating unknown landscapes, new philosophies on love, and internal reckonings with societal expectations.”

Show goals: “I’m excited to help people tell their stories, and to collaborate on innovative media strategies that can get these stories out and into the public.
I want to connect with forward-thinking people interested in developing creative ways to tell difficult stories, solutions-oriented folks invested in making the world a better place, and critical thinkers with the energy for fun, productive conversations.”

Connect with her: Email Murray at eathenamurray@gmail.com.

11. Justine Barone, 30

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Barone is co-founder and CEO of Gearo, the OpenTable for the outdoor gear industry. She bills the company as a “marketplace that automates gear rentals and sales and simplifies the booking process by connecting gear seekers to specialty retailers.” Gearo also includes software that retailers can use to manage inventory.

Expertise: Barone is a Camber Outdoors Pitchfest Finalist and Winner of the Tech Stars DSW Pitch Competition.

Current projects: Barone recently added hourly range functionality to Gearo’s booking platform. And in April 2019, the brand will relaunch in Denver with more than 50 retailers on board.

Show goals: “To connect with everybody and anybody.”

Connect with her: Barone will be pitching Gearo at The Pitch event at Wayfinder Co-op (Jan. 31, 7-9 p.m.). Email her at jb@outdoorgearo.com.

12. Jennifer Gurecki, 41

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Gurecki is the CEO of Coalition Snow and editor-in-chief of Sisu Magazine. Coalition Snow makes skis and snowboards designed by women, for women. Sisu Magazine is a new quarterly print publication whose mission is to uncover the untold stories of the outdoors.

Expertise: Gurecki is a founder and entrepreneur who focuses on building businesses that address social justice and gender equality in Africa and the U.S. She was listed among Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs and was the Pitch Competition Winner at the Nevada Governor’s Conference on Business.

Current projects: Gurecki helped launch Sisu Magazine in December. Sisu will be a quarterly publication with three more issues coming up in 2019. Even more exciting, Gurecki said Coalition Snow will introduce a new powder ski that “has women losing their shit!”

Show goals: “We are looking to connect with individuals who would like to collaborate on Sisu Magazine — contributors, artists, photographers, brands — and are always looking for retail partners to carry the magazine and our line of skis and snowboards.”

Connect with her: Gurecki is speaking on two panels: One Bold Idea, Five Minutes (Jan. 30, 1:30 p.m., The Camp) and When Womxn Lead: An Evolving Conversation (Jan. 31, 1:30 p.m., The Camp). She’s also co-hosting the Patch the Patriarchy Happy Hour (Jan. 30, 4 p.m., Noso Patches Booth 44103-UL). Otherwise, find her sitting at a picnic table at The Ranger Station or at jen@coalitionsnow.com.

13. Cassie Abel, 35

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Abel is the founder of White Cloud Communication, a marketing and PR consulting service, as well as Wild Rye, which creates beautiful, technical mountain apparel for women.

Expertise: “Leadership, strategy, and connecting (the right) people,” Abel said.

Current projects: Abel recently bought out her business partner to become the CEO (and co-founder) of Wild Rye. She also launched Women-Led Wednesday, a shopping holiday to “celebrate and support women-led businesses.”

Show goals: “I’m at the show first and foremost for White Cloud clients — Awayco, Skida, and gogglesoc — but also to build new relationships and to connect with suppliers and retail partners for Wild Rye.”

Connect with her: Abel will be jumping between a few booths (Jan. 30-Feb. 1): Awayco (44128-UL), (Skida #42020), and gogglesoc (VO417-SL). Email her at cassie@whitecloudcommunication.com or cassie@wild-rye.com.

14. Julia Stamps Mallon, 40

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Mallon is the creator of The Outbound Pursuit Series, a multiday adventure experience for outdoor brands and enthusiasts. It has also become known as a summer camp for grown-ups. In addition, Mallon started Outessa, a series of outdoor events designed by women, for women.

Expertise: Mallon’s goal is to create experiential outdoors opportunities and to connect brands with inspiring individuals and outdoor enthusiasts. “I am a community builder, strategist, revenue driver, and purveyor of fun,” she said.

Current projects: Mallon said she is hard at work securing brand partnerships and perfecting strategy to grow The Outbound Pursuit Series, now in its third year.

Show goals: “We want to bring brands that we love together in order to drive conversation, share ideas, make connections, and help inspire community.”

Connect with her: She’ll be roaming the floor! Email her at julia@theoutbound.com.

15. Marinel Malvar de Jesus, 42

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Marinel Malvar de Jesus founded Peak Explorations, a company that connects adventurers with local trek operators around the world while promoting the roles of women and indigenous communities within the tourism industry. She also founded Brown Gal Trekker, a social platform that highlights inclusivity and equity in travel and promotes two female-driven online columns: Outdoor Women’s Voices and Women Trail Leaders.

Expertise: Before de Jesus launched Peak Explorations and Brown Gal Trekker, in 2016, she organized global treks for 12 years and practiced law for 15 years. With bachelor of arts degrees in American Ethnic Studies and Social Work, her aim is to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and allyship while creating systematic change in outdoor tourism. She’s also on the steering committee for the CEO Outdoor Pledge of Diversify Outdoors.

Current projects: This year, the University of Pennsylvania’s Global Social Impact House selected Peak Explorations as a fellowship recipient. Through its local partner in Peru, Evolution Treks, Peak Explorations has worked to promote the roles of the Quechua women as guides and porters on the classic Inca Trail. In 2018, two Quechua women officially became porters on the classic Inca Trail, a historic change in the trekking tourism industry, according to de Jesus.

And in summer 2019, de Jesus said she plans to study the roles of women as guides in Kyrgyzstan while scouting mountain trails there. That trip will be in partnership with the Kyrgyzstan tourism board and Lindsey Hagen, the executive producer for Stept Studios.

Show goals: “I am looking for partnerships with brands and outdoor companies that wish to support Peak Explorations in our upcoming research in Kyrgyzstan and a potential documentary film with Stept Studios. And our work with the Quechua women in Peru. Our female porters need uniquely designed backpacks and gear to help their work.”

Connect with her: Email de Jesus at bgtrekker@peakexplorations.com.