Welcome to the Board of Directors: Chris Gamache. We’re excited to have you and learn more about you.
I practiced law for almost 30 years, initially as a business litigator and eventually working in the healthcare sector as General Counsel. During much of my legal career, I assisted both newly formed and established companies with corporate formation, corporate and regulatory compliance, contracting, intellectual property and employment law. I have also participated in financial oversight and strategic planning activities, both in my capacity as General Counsel and while serving as a Board Member for the ACLU of Washington. During my tenure as an attorney, my wife, Judy, and I owned and operated two breakfast diners in Seattle, where I did the accounting and spent (too) many weekend days making toast or washing dishes.
I now teach skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho. When I'm not teaching, I love to snowshoe with Judy and our dog Zola and has started to do some backcountry skiing. Once the snow melts, I can be found backpacking, biking, trying to catch a fish, or paddleboarding with my sister. While our two kids were growing up, Judy and I spent lots of time with them exploring the outdoors and are happy that they both still occasionally want to tag along.
Q: Place of work, title, location.
A: I currently work in the winter as a Ski Instructor in Sun Valley, Idaho. Prior to teaching skiing, I spent just shy of thirty years practicing law.
Q: Why did you join SheJumps as a board member?
A: I have always believed in giving back to my community and have volunteered for several different nonprofit organizations. SheJumps has been on my radar for a couple of years and I have participated in a few SheJumps sponsored events. I firmly believe that engaging in outdoor activities builds self esteem, confidence and leadership skills, which can positively impact other aspects of a person’s life. I love that SheJumps is focused on creating safe, inclusive spaces for all women and girls to experience the personal growth that naturally comes with adventuring outdoors.
Q: What goal of the SheJumps Strategic Plan is the most important to you?
A: I am passionate about expanding the accessibility and inclusivity of SheJumps programs and offerings - the second goal of the Strategic Plan. I personally don’t witness enough diversity in the outdoors and support efforts to be proactive in not only encouraging women and girls from all communities to go outside, but also making access to the outdoors as barrier-free as possible. However, I also recognize that effectively expanding the reach of SheJumps programming is dependent on establishing a sustainable model for the future growth of SheJumps which requires a focus on funding and an investment in the staff (and volunteers) that run the organization. As such, I’d have to say the first two goals of the plan are of equal importance to me.
Q: What do you hope to contribute to the SheJumps Board of Directors?
A: I’d like to help SheJumps continue to grow by participating in discussion, problem-solving and decision-making around strategy, fundraising and outreach. I also hope that I can utilize some of my legal experience to help the organization anticipate and address potential “growing pains” before they arise.
Q: What is your vision for SheJumps?
A: SheJumps is already a great organization that has impacted the lives of many women and girls. I’d like to see SheJumps continue to grow its funding and staff so that it can (1) expand its geographic reach to more communities around the U.S., especially those where girls might not regularly get introduced to outdoor opportunities; and (2) minimize those situations where finances might be a barrier for young girls and women who want to experience the outdoors.
Now, it’s time for the lightning round:
Q: Outdoor activity of choice (pick one, two if you must)?
A: Skiing and backpacking.
Q: Who inspires you to go outside and why?
A: My parents took my sisters and I on outside adventures from a very young age and instilled their love for the outdoors in me. But my current inspiration is my youngest, Tillie, who doubles as my adventure buddy and challenges me to continue to grow and explore (and keep up!).
Q: Where is your favorite place to go outside or on an adventure?
A: I love everything wild and new but my favorite places tend to be alpine environments above the tree line.
Q: How has the outdoors benefited your health and overall physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing?
A: I find I am most centered, present and at peace when engaging in outdoor activities. It does not matter if I am challenging myself on a difficult hike, teaching a 5 year old how to ski, or simply taking an hour to paddle around our local neighborhood lake. The physical fitness that comes with playing outdoors is just icing on the cake.