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Future outdoor movers and shakers take on early leadership roles

Learn how younger generations in outdoor industry workforce are getting some early leadership experience.

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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 21 – 25. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

On the eve of each Outdoor Retailer, a group of young leaders from industry brands, retailers and organizations meet to discuss the most pressing issues in the industry. Monday night marked the fifth Futurist Project, led and facilitated by Stasia Raines of Outdoor Foundation and Deanna Lloyd of Patagonia.


Blair White, Christian Folk, Kat Guay and Kyle Cassidy were introduced as the group’s new leadership team to “prepare, unite and be a voice” for young leaders in the outdoor industry. The four, from The North Face, Outdoor Research, Prana, and The Clymb, respectively, are tasked with figuring out how the group can be of service to companies and organizations.

The project fills a gap for so many young people in the industry, who may not have a chance to take on leadership roles at their companies for some time, Lloyd said. “We represent the leadership for this demographic.” To date, Lloyd and Raines have gathered more than 150 futurists to network and incubate ideas, some of which have turned into grants that have helped execute projects.

In the coming years, board member Kyle Cassidy sees the Futurist Project playing a central role, not only as the space for a next generation of leaders to network, but as an avenue for current leaders to pick the brains of youthful minds. “It’s about instigating then capturing dialogue around topics that transcend our day-to-day roles,” Cassidy said.

While the group doesn’t claim to have all of the solutions, they seek to bring a fresh perspective on industry-wide issues that already are being discussed. The topics of conversation may range from market trends (“What brands appeal to the next generation and why?”) to social and environmental issues (“How can we make the outdoors a greener and more diverse place to work and play?”).

Lloyd and Raines started the Futurist Project in 2012, believing that younger employees can be a valuable addition to broad overarching conversations, and that when made available, their input can provide decision-makers with additional perspective. Since then, the project has grown and is looking to invite more people to join the conversation.

If your organization has a young leader who would make a good fit for this group, or you feel like you should be a part of the conversation, send an email to

–Yoon Kim