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Access Fund welcomes four new board members

Abby Dione, Tom Adams, Julie Reed, and Justin Brown have joined the group's board of directors.

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Access Fund, the national climbing advocacy organization based in Boulder, Colorado, made the announcement last week that four new members have joined the organization’s board of directors, bringing the group’s total directors to 13.

The new members are Abby Dione, Tom Adams, Julie Reed, and Justin Brown—all professionals with various ties to the climbing industry.

Dione, an AMGA-certified climber and USA climbing coach, is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She owns Coral Cliffs Rock Climbing and teaches clinics at outdoors climbing festivals like Color the Crag and the Women’s Climbing Festival.

Adams, based in Salt Lake City, currently serves as chief operating officer at Petzl America. From 2016 to 2020 he directed Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation and helped 23 states create OREC offices of their own.

Julie Reed, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an environmental attorney who has served as both a board member and president of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. She has also offered pro bono legal services to the group.

Finally, Washington, D.C.-based Justin Brown is a Navy veteran who founded both the HillVets Foundation, an organization that helps veterans influence policy decisions, and and The Nimitz Group, a government relations firm.

A quick word from the new board members

To celebrate their appointment to Access Fund’s board, we asked the new members a critical question: In your opinion, what is the biggest threat facing the future of climbing, and what is the first step in addressing it? Here’s what they said.

Dione: Entitlement is the biggest threat to the future of climbing. It is at the root of some of the most harmful behaviors that affect our precious outdoors from overcrowding to global warming. The first step in addressing it is an education in self-awareness. This education can allow us to take a long hard look at ourselves. Through questions like “how are you contributing to the world instead of taking?” and continued partnerships with grassroots organizations and national campaigns, Access Fund is helping to deepen the importance and rewards of stewardship. It is an exciting time to be a part of this thoughtful organization.

Adams: While Covid shut down restaurants, movie theaters, theme parks, and the vast majority of public spaces, it never really shut down outdoor recreation. The outdoor industry’s shift to welcome and eventually realize an outdoors for all has been eclipsed by a record number of users rightfully flooding climbing areas and public lands, in large part due to the ongoing pandemic. Unfortunately the masses are coming at a rate the infrastructure was never designed to hold. (Nor was it designed accommodate social distancing.) It is up to long-standing advocacy groups like Access Fund in partnership with local climbing organizations and communities to help educate all climbers while doing all we can to show elected officials the importance of properly funding these local and iconic treasures.

Reed: The greatest challenge for the future of climbing—the increasing number of users in outdoor recreation spaces—may also be the greatest opportunity. It’s exciting to see so many people discovering the joy that a life of climbing can bring. At the same time, many of our beloved outdoor spaces are being stressed to the breaking point. Access Fund is uniquely positioned to help educate climbers regarding stewardship, best practices, and sustainable use. And, if equipped with knowledge and the right tools, this larger community of climbers will also become a larger community of protectors and sustainers.

Brown: Climate change is the number one issue facing the climbing community and the globe. Access Fund is uniquely positioned to highlight the effects of climate change through direct interaction with our globe’s shrinking wilderness. Access Fund members can act as climbing ambassadors by highlighting the changes they make to lead to a sustainable planet while also documenting the visual impacts of climate change on our wild places. We all must collectively work toward significant and rapid reductions in our carbon footprint.