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Camber Outdoors, the 25-year-old nonprofit organization that helps outdoor businesses implement best practices in workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, has taken a page from its own book by naming Renita Smith as co-CEO.
Smith, who was chief programs officer at Camber since February 2020, was officially elevated to the position on Friday. She now joins Camber’s other co-CEO, Emily Newman, in guiding the membership-based organization.
As the result of this new leadership structure, Camber will now be a Black- and woman-led enterprise.
“I am energized to take on the co-CEO role at a pivotal moment for industry leaders to transform workplaces so that people from all communities, backgrounds, identities, faiths, and worldviews can thrive,” Smith said. “Our new leadership model will allow us to take action that is commensurate with the scale of this opportunity. Together with Emily and our Camber partners, I look forward to building workplaces that engage a broader pool of talent to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse consumer base. Camber is poised to be a catalyst and a model for meaningful and measurable systems change in our industry—and in our society as a whole,” Smith said.
In her most recent role as Camber’s chief programs officer, Smith “envisioned and operationalized an interactive, engaging suite of actionable resources to empower partners to build inclusive, equitable, and diverse workplaces,” the organization said. In the past year, Camber membership increased 50 percent and member engagement in Camber resources grew 300 percent.
Newman said the appointment of Smith as co-CEO makes Camber stronger and will bolster the organization’s mission of promoting DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) workplaces across the industry.
“I could not be more excited to be standing together with Renita—and the outstanding Camber team and board of directors—to make our community and companies stronger,” Newman said. “Inclusive, equitable, and diverse workplaces are vital to the future of the outdoor recreation economy. Our new co-CEO structure is truly an example of one plus one equals three—we can go further, faster, together.”
The promotion of Smith to co-CEO not only gives Camber more DEI cred, but it comes almost two years after Newman joined Camber as executive director—a move that brought stability to the organization at a time of great need.
Newman’s appointment in September 2019 followed a tumultuous period for the Boulder, Colo.-based organization, whose previous executive director, Deanne Buck, had abruptly resigned the previous February over a gaffe she made at the 2019 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show.
Buck’s comments about a CEO Outdoor Equity Pledge being “the first of its kind” were not only wrong, but they caused a backlash on social media and sparked an apology from Camber and, a few weeks later, led to Buck’s departure.
Diana Seung, then a director on Camber’s board, filled in as interim executive director for about seven months until she was hired as general manager of Jack Wolfskin NA and Newman was appointed as the permanent replacement for Buck. Seung then rejoined Camber’s board of directors.