Meet Incoming Board Member, Karel Hilversum!

Karel Hilversum photo
Why this year, did you choose to run for the BOD?

2020 has been a year of unprecedented changes. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was forced to rethink what outdoor education meant and how it would be delivered remotely and at a physical distance to our students. At that moment, I turned to the AORE community for support. It was extremely reassuring to see my peers collaborating and seeking solutions. I was inspired by these selfless efforts. Most importantly, I felt that I wasn't alone and that we could successfully pivot our programming to meet our student's needs. I felt that this was a space I wanted to contribute with and where I could best leverage my energy.

What do you bring to the table for the strategic framework?
Our field has an urgent need to fill the talent pipeline with people of color. Simply put, there are not enough PoC being trained, mentored, and developed to truly diversify our organizations. I am particularly interested in exploring ways AORE can further strengthen the strategic areas of networking, professional development, and career advancement for all.

Why is AORE important enough to you to give your service and time?
I believe that the greatest challenge and opportunity for transformation that outdoor recreation and education organizations face today is that of diversity equity, and inclusion, with particular attention to racial and socioeconomic underrepresented minorities. As a Latino male leader in the outdoor industry, I have often been the only person of color in predominantly White spaces in this industry. For over 30 years, I have seen how organizations have struggled to overcome these challenges. We have gained important ground in this journey, but we certainly are not where we would like to be in terms of representation and participation. This is what drives me both as a professional and as a scholar (I conduct Ph.D. research on the topic of diversity and leadership in organizations). I want to hear the voices of those practitioners who are doing the diversity work, who are coming up with creative programming ideas and understanding the problem in a new way in order to guarantee the enjoyment of the natural world for all. I want to use this position in AOREs board to learn from these practitioners and help them move their initiatives forward.

What expertise or connections will you bring to AORE to move us our new direction?
My professional journey has been at the intersection of three main fields; Outdoor/Adventure Education, Organizational Leadership, and Higher Education. I bring a foundational understanding of higher education outdoor program design and management, entrepreneurship, business acumen, fundraising, organizational development, technical outdoor/expeditionary skills, experiential learning, risk management, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.