American Mountain Guides Association E~Newsletter
July 2008
In This Issue
Words from the President
AMGA's Executive Director
A Letter from the Technical Director

As the 2008 AMGA Board of Directors election approaches, we would like to share with you some valuable insight from three important AMGA figures prior to voting.  Below you will find letters from the AMGA President, Executive Director and Technical Director.

We encourage you to take the time to read the following information and consider their thoughts on what makes a successful board member. 

  Words from the President - John Bicknell
Hi Everyone:

The AMGA Board elections are upon us.  Paradoxically, I am even more interested than usual in this Board election because I will not be on the Board in 2009-I've served the maximum two terms, the last term as Board President. I've done the best I can to serve and support the AMGA and it's time for something new. In terms of the Board, I am very curious to see what (and who) comes next. Will they strike out in new directions? Will they make a university partnership a high priority? Continue to partner strongly with the CGF? Continue looking to involve climbing instructors as well as mountain guides? I don't know and neither do you, and you'll have very little say in it unless you vote-and we've had Board members elected in the past with fewer than twenty votes. So most of all, I encourage you all to vote. The AMGA is still a young, small organization, and it's still deciding essential structural issues. I know plenty of people who don't vote in national elections because in such a large country they don't feel their vote matters. Believe me, that's not the case in the AMGA-you have a role in determining our future.

Directly from our By-laws, here's what the Board does.
The Board Of Directors develops long-term vision designed to accomplish the mission of the AMGA by :
1) establishing clear goals and accountability for the staff as well as the Board itself,
 2) leading the organization on behalf of its members,
3) clarifying the values and goals of the Board, and
4) empowering the Board President, committees, and the staff.
In essence, the Board creates the vision, and the AMGA staff executes the vision.

Running for the Board this year are the following:

Current Board members running for a second term:
Margaret Wheeler and John Race (both IFMGA)

Former Board members:
Dick Jackson (who was a superb Board President from 2001-2005) IFMGA
Clint Cook (running again after a year off) IFMGA
Jon Tierney IFMGA-also Education Director and founding member of the PCIA  (Professional Climbing Instructors of America) which runs courses very similar to the AMGA Single Pitch and Climbing Wall courses.

Majka Burhardt-AMGA Certified Rock Guide, writer.
Nate Disser-AMGA Certified Rock Guide, Southwest Adventure Guides
Brady Robinson- Access Fund Executive Director, long term Outward Bound and NOLS instructor
Todd Rutledge-Mountain Trip owner, long term Alaskan guide
Dave Secunda-AMGA Certified TRSM and founder of Avid4 Adventure
Scott Strode-AMGA Certified Single Pitch instructor, founder Phoenix Multi-Sport
Joey Thompson- AMGA Certified Rock Guide and Single Pitch Instructor

There are twelve people running for five open spots. I think it's a strong group who will represent the AMGA well. I am pleased so many former Board members have the time and energy to be willing to recommit to the Board-they know what's involved. I'm pleased to have IFMGA mountain guides, non-certified mountain guides, and climbing instructors all running for the Board-the AMGA needs to listen to all its members.

Jon Tierney's candidacy is an interesting case, worthy of further discussion. He is a former Board member, former IP member, and former TC member. He has contributed greatly to the AMGA over the years in areas ranging from Accreditation standards to the creation of the initial Top Rope Site Manager Program. At the same time, he has left the AMGA Single Pitch Program and helped create a second climber's organization, the PCIA, which runs single pitch and climbing wall courses similar to AMGA offerings. The most recent PCIA newsletter solicits AMGA students to recertify thru the PCIA, so there is direct financial competition in some areas. Largely due to this direct competition, he has been removed from the Technical Committee and Instructor Pool.

All AMGA members have the right to run for the AMGA Board. At the same time, all Board members have a duty while serving to put the interests of the AMGA ahead of any personal interests and agree to abide by a conflict of interest policy. If Jon is elected, it will be interesting to see how the Board interprets the conflict of interest policy. It will certainly be an issue.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Everyone who responded to my spring article supported the idea of eventual university affiliation. I'd like to think that can happen in the next 3-5 years. Read the Board candidates position statements, communicate with them, voice your priorities, and again-please vote. This is your organization, shape it as you desire.

I hope to see you in Bend. I'll be the one looking far more relaxed than in the last few years.


John Bicknell
AMGA President
AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine Guide

AMGA's Executive Director - Betsy Novak

The board of directors' election is right around the corner and after taking a moment to read each candidate's position statement I have to admit we are in for an exciting and close competition. The ballot is packed with 12 strong candidates. There is no doubt in my mind that each individual would contribute his or her own unique qualities to the AMGA board of directors. However, there are only 5 seats open and it is up to our voting members to determine who will fill those very important positions. The future of our professional guides' association falls on our shoulders. The time is NOW for all voting members to cast your ballot and help determine the future of the AMGA.

Fundamentally, the primary responsibilities of a board are to: help define the mission, develop the long-term vision necessary to fulfill the mission, and be responsible for implementing the necessary policies to govern the association. A valuable board member should be committed to doing all of the above.

An effective board member is one who is dedicated to helping the AMGA achieve success and in doing so knows when to exercise their responsibilities by asking thoughtful and timely questions.

Because AMGA board members are not just representatives of the membership, but are representatives of the organization to the membership, potential members, other organizations and the general public, directors should reflect that geographical and vocational diversity.

A desirable board member is an ambassador for the AMGA and advocates for what it stands for. He or she should serve the organization as a whole rather than any special interest group or constituency.

A constructive board member brings a unique blend of skills and expertise to the table to: help the AMGA strengthen its' programs and services, set fundraising goals, as well as, enhance the organization's public standing.

Most importantly each board member is bound by legal and moral standards of fair and ethical behavior. Directors should maintain the confidentiality of AMGA affairs and are expected to act at all times in the best interest of the AMGA.

Each candidate running for the AMGA Board of Directors has the potential to offer valuable and distinctive qualities to our association. In the end, the final vote lies in your hands. When reviewing each candidate's position statement I encourage you to consider the qualities I have listed above.

Thanks for your time.
Looking forward to seeing you in Bend!!!

A Letter from the Technical Director -
Rob Hess
   I have learned a great deal about organizations and their governance these past years with the AMGA. I had little experience with Board of Directors before getting involved with the AMGA, but with some time under my belt, my thoughts on what a board is and should do for an organization has evolved considerably. It occurred to me that the upcoming Board elections are particularly important, as there are many individuals on the ticket of which there are some very dedicated members looking for re-election. I decided it important from the technical side of things, to discuss what I have found to be important in a board member.

    First and foremost I think that passion and commitment are two key words that should describe a-would-be member. We all have our own personal agendas, and for this reason our motivation for being involved in the AMGA may vary greatly. To expect one to be totally selfless when deciding whether they would be good as a board member is unrealistic, however we can and should expect one to be passionate about what the AMGA stands for and committed to helping the AMGA succeed. This should not be a popularity contest!

    So what is the responsibility of the Board? The AMGA Board of Directors is believed to develop a long-term vision designed to accomplish the mission of the AMGA. This can only be done if the members of the board bring a variety of skills and knowledge that can help the organization see the big picture. The big picture to me means strong leadership, effective training and certification, proper business practices, fiscal responsibility, legal responsibility, marketing, scholarship, access and guide advocacy. 

    In the technical branch of the AMGA, we, the members of the instructor pool and technical committee, must make decisions with regards to the education and certification process that we feel is in the best interest of the participants and the long-term health of the program. When I bring technical related items to the board, the most effective members either understand the nuances of what I am saying due to being certified members and or members of the Instructor pool, or possess enough experience and savvy in other fields to allow them to ask the pertinent questions to clarify points and or avoid potential issues in the organization. I hate to say this, but a board made up of guides and instructors only would likely prove disastrous. A healthy balance is necessary. We need instructor pool and guides perspective, we need the credibility of the IFMGA guide/members, but as much or more so; we need the help of those that are successful in other fields.

    Come this fall, when you view the position statements of the individuals running for the board, I ask that you consider your choices very carefully. Ask yourself "what skills do they bring?" "Are they committed to the AMGA and its ideals?", "Have they and/or will they work hard for you and your organization?"



Thank you for taking the time to read what our President, Executive Director and Technical Director have to say about the upcoming elections.  Coming soon.....2008 BOD Position Statements and Ballot!

Katie Kelly
American Mountain Guides Association