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Team Members

Abbi Ness, MRA Blog Editor and Writing Contributor, has been writing for MRA since she was 14. Now a journalism major at University of Montana, she is a passionate skier who wants to be a global ski bum when she grows up.

 

Alex Kaufman, an MRA Marketing Consultant, started showing his dedication to skiing back in the 1990s, living in a truck and ski bumming it in the cold Colorado Rockies. Deciding to add a college degree to his repertoire, he later held a range of marketing and PR roles representing some of the largest corporate ski resorts during times of ownership change or recovering from mismanagement. With the dawning of 2010, Alex took a much-needed break from the corporate regime traveling the country with his wife and daughter. During this same time he found MRA and connected with the passion.

Bryce Wilson, MRA Guest Relations Consultant, never kept secret his love and devotion to skiing and the mountains. As a toddler his family frequented Squaw Valley from his native hometown of Santa Rosa, CA. As soon as age permitted, Bryce found himself a permanent part of Squaw Valley’s operations from 1988 to 2002. In conjunction with work at Squaw, Bryce was also an integral marketing team member at Sitour and Couloir magazine. Throughout the years, Bryce has acquired extensive knowledge in avalanche and safety awareness; mountaineering and backcountry exploration; grooming and re-vegetation/soil erosion. Bryce brings an unparallel enthusiasm for all winter sports, and a devotion to nature and its inhabitants. Bryce’s passion lies in assisting others and having an awesome time doing it.

Colin Korst, MRA’s Social Media Manager hails from the flat lands of Illinois. He has cherished every opportunity since the age of 5 to go west and enjoy skiing the Rocky Mountains. He is passionate about spending time in the great outdoors, finding sustainable solutions for business problems, and learning about different cultures, both at home and abroad. Colin is working on his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL, and plans to graduate in May of 2014.

 

David Geere, MRA’s Web Guru, is a website, social and mobile strategist based out of the UK. Outside of work, he carries a passion for all things technology and online based, and enjoys spending time with his Eurasier dog, Kai, racing in Formula Rotax as well as social engagements such as the Komedia, local music events, and supporting community festivals and activities whenever possible.

 

Debbie Wilson, MRA Contributing Editor, loves being a part of a positive impact in the ski industry that is making a difference in the way our ski communities and mountains are respected. Assisting with creating visual pop from the molding of words, and streamlining the direct thought and factual information of MRA, Debbie’s prior experience in the formulation of engineering specifications provides for a strong attention to detail. Her enthusiasm, combined with her love of the outdoors, is a vital addition to MRA.

Doug Krause is an Operations Consultant for MRA. Doug has a passion for skiing forged from the age of two in the hills of Southern Vermont, cured in the Rocky Mountains and honed in the Andes, Chugach, and San Juans. He began postgraduate skiing studies in Colorado in 1993 and has been an industry professional since 1999 working as a guide, avalanche educator, ski patroller, and forecaster. Doug’s travels to all seven continents include nine seasons guiding and exploring in Argenina and Chile. He currently resides in Silverton, Colorado, where he is the Snow Safety Director at the local ski hill and is working towards an MS in Software Engineering. Doug likes maté and fried pork products and dislikes gout and faceted crystals.

Erin Bragg, an MRA Project Coordinator, was born and raised in the shadow of the Chugach where she began skiing. Since then she has spent about a decade playing in the Wasatch, with trips to areas in the southern and northern hemispheres for both ski racing and the Freeskiing World Tour. She earned a BA from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and began working in Boston upon graduation. Realizing you can’t sacrifice one passion for another, she moved back West. In the past year Erin received an MS from the Environmental Humanities Program at the University of Utah, where among countless interests she looked into the year-round impacts of dust on snow, the importance of place, and the cognitive benefits of spending time in nature. When she wasn’t reading or writing, Erin was making hot laps down Baldy at Snowbird, slinging whiskey at High West Distillery, and volunteering for SheJumps, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit that aims at getting more women into the outdoors. She understands the importance of community and hopes that MRA can help rejuvenate and strengthen local areas by providing quality mountain playgrounds a town can be proud to call their own.

Garrett Sutton, MRA Corporate Attorney and Legal Advisor, is the founder of Sutton Law Center, offering personalized and affordable asset protection, and business and corporate strategies. He is the author of five bestselling books in the Rich Dad/Poor Dad series. These include Own Your Own Corporation, How to Buy and Sell a Business, and Real Estate Advantages, as well as How to Use Limited Liability Companies and Limited Partnerships. He has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Along with traveling around the country to educate people on the benefits of asset protection, Mr. Sutton is firmly grounded in northern Nevada and enjoys assisting Nevada entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors.

Mr. Sutton received his Juris Doctor Law Degree in 1978 from Hastings College of the Law, the University of California’s law school in San Francisco. He received a BS in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1975. He is licensed to practice in Nevada and California.

Mr. Sutton has been an integral part of helping MRA strategize its corporate structure and setting up its various entities.

Garrett Ziegler, an MRA Sustainability Consultant, first started skiing at the age of three at the small local hills scattered around his childhood home of central Pennsylvania. Garrett fell in love with the big mountains of Colorado during family ski trips out west and decided to further explore the Rockies after graduating from Penn State University with a degree in Ecology, by moving to Jackson Hole. Garrett spent his three years in Jackson skiing as much as possible during the winters and enjoying all the wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities the Tetons have to offer during the summers. While in Jackson Garrett realized that the tourism industry was a vital part of the local economy and could be the main driver for preserving the natural wonders that surround the town. This has led Garrett to pursue a master’s degree at the nation’s first Sustainable Tourism degree program at East Carolina University. During his time there he has worked mainly on a renewable energy and tourism initiative, helping inform small businesses of the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy use. Garrett is currently in his last semester and finishing his degree with a project focusing on sustainability in the ski industry and how MRA can best integrate what other resorts are doing into their Mountain Playground blueprint.

Grant Bowen, MRA Sustainability Consultant, grew up in southwest Michigan riding 300′ hills, playing ice hockey, wake boarding, and enjoying all outdoor activities. He headed out east for school and graduated with degrees in Business Economics and Organizational Studies from Brown University. After graduating he quickly moved to San Francisco to work for a small construction management company specializing in high-end sustainable residential and commercial projects and to snowboard in Tahoe as much as possible. At night he scours the web for environmentally and socially conscious snowboard products and industry news to post on his blog snowboardgreen.com. During the winter he’s in Tahoe every weekend from opening day to closing day and keeps himself busy with surfing, soccer, and crossfit during the week. He recently earned his LEED AP.

Greg Seitz, MRA Contributing Writer, has spent his adult life in the Rocky Mountains. A passionate skier with a degree in wildlife biology, he has grown an interest in renewable resources and interaction with the landscape in general. He graduated with an MBA from University of Montana in 2011.

 

 

MRA’s Sponsorship Consultant Jamie Bianchini’s philosophy in life is “Live Big, Give Big, Love Big”. He lives big by following his passion of world travel and staying healthy by riding the globe on a tandem bike and sharing rides with strangers, promoting peace along the way under the title Peace Pedalers. He believes in a healthy balance of indulgence in our passions with contributions to society. Believing that every day is an opportunity to make a difference in the world, he tries to foster an extremely loving and giving attitude that balances his hedonistic side. This intention to be of service has manifested to numerous grassroots projects that have been formed with people and organizations from around the world, including MRA.

Jeremy Evans, MRA Concept Developer, is author of the recently released book In Search of Powder: A Story of America’s Disappearing Ski Bum. While he admits that disappearing doesn’t mean “extinct”, he came away from his years of research rather saddened by the state of the ski industry and its current direction. Jeremy was appalled by rampant overdevelopment and connected with concerned ski bums living in ski towns in the American West, where ski bum culture was ignited and popularized. He learned to ski, embarrassingly enough, at Mount Lemmon outside of Tucson, Arizona. His breakthrough moment as a skier occurred at the age of 10, when he mustered up the courage to navigate the steeps and moguls of Mount Lemmon’s gnarliest runs, Hot Dawg and Lemmon Drop, which he now admits were never that gnarly and that he would be comfortable riding down both of them on a cookie sheet.

He eventually broke out of his shell, skiing other resorts in Arizona and even as far away as British Columbia. A competitive soccer player, he earned a scholarship to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he yearned for the American West and grew tired of soccer and more interested in mountains. Upon graduating from Marquette with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, he landed his first job as a sports writer at the Nevada Appeal in Carson City, Nevada, where he quickly connected with somebody – anybody – who was willing to move to Lake Tahoe. It was there that he made the switch to snowboarding, and while he’s skied since being in Tahoe, he said snowboarding has an unfair advantage because his first real powder day was on a snowboard. He’s also an avid mountaineer, having climbed peaks throughout the American West and in Peru, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Mexico. He’s a dedicated pass holder at Kirkwood and an English instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College. He’s also working on his next book about a group of surfers fighting to save one of the world’s best waves from an environmental disaster. As with In Search of Powder, he gravitates toward stories of concerned citizens who are passionate about something – climbing, skiing, surfing. It’s that connective process that allowed him to meet Jamie Schectman, who discussed MRA over pizza and beer on Tahoe’s north shore. He came away convinced from that meeting that he wanted to partner with an organization that values the very things he cherishes most: mountains and people who love mountains.

Jess Portmess, MRA Legal Assistant, is currently a law student at American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, DC, and is dearly missing the mountains and her skis. She grew up a snowball’s throw from Song Mountain in central New York before studying at the University of Vermont where she balanced putting time in the books and on the slopes with pushing gear at the local ski shop. From the red-plastic skis in her yard in NY to the slopes of Mt. Mansfield in VT, skiing has always been a big part of her life. Jess fuels her love for skiing while sharing in the MRA vision for a sustainable future, and for now, it’s books on environmental law until she can get back to the mountains.

James C. Reed, MRA CPA, is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, specializing in tax planning and preparation for individuals, business entities, trusts, and estates. Jim also offers small business accounting, financial statement compilation, financial and business consulting, and personal financial planning and management.

Jim began his career with Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Company in 1983, then one of the “Big 8” international accounting firms, giving him an introduction to a variety of industry’s complex tax and accounting situations. Working with a local CPA firm in Tucson early in his career gave him valuable experience in business and individual taxation.

Jim attended the University of Arizona in Tucson where he earned a BS in Business Administration with majors in accounting and finance. He is an avid outdoor sports enthusiast: he runs daily and has completed several marathons, ultramarathon distance runs, and Ironman distance triathlons. Other sports interests include alpine and Nordic skiing, and hiking. Jim has a wife, Pam, and 5 sons.

John Mletschnig, an MRA Operations Consultant, is an outspoken renegade of the modern “ski renaissance”. John’s opinions stem from his number one priority: to ski the best snow in the best terrain possible. He believes that everyone should have the opportunity to ski for skiing’s sake, and that skiing and friends are what make the sport enjoyable and little else. John grew up skiing in New England, and has one of his earliest memories of his life skiing with his mom as a four year old in an area that is now a southern Vermont condo development. The University of (skiing in) Utah drew John west where he attained a degree in Geography. Based out of Salt Lake City, he has continued to spend the majority of his adult life wandering about the Wasatch Mountains when not following work and play elsewhere. John has worked as a guide, patroller, forecaster, instructor, and avalanche educator in Utah, Alaska, New Zealand, and the Antarctic, but formalized his opinions of the ski industry while working for several years managing ski patrol and snow safety programs of club ski fields in New Zealand. John also maintains the website and blog Utahbackcountryskiing.blogspot.com.

Jonathan Miller, Communication Specialist, has been riding mountains with a toboggan, skis, or snowboard for the majority of his life. Jonathan is an avid social media user and has helped a wide range of organizations communicate more effectively with their audiences over the past five years. Currently, Jonathan is a full-time MBA student at University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business and spends his time away from the classroom playing in the Rocky Mountains.

Kainoa Casco, MRA’s Director of Sustainable Operations, is an expert in sustainable business management and operations. Born and raised in Lahaina, Hawaii, Kainoa is an avid surfer with the passion for everything outdoors including snowboarding and cold water surfing. He caught the snowboarding bug while visiting his older brother in Utah and maintained his stoke for the snow at Mt. Hood while attending undergraduate school in Portland, Oregon. Kainoa is the founder of sustainable business consulting firm Casco Pacific based on Maui while also dedicating much of his time to MRA’s sustainability operations. He is passionate about his responsibility to guide the implementation of sustainable business practices across all aspects of MRA. Previously, Kainoa has worked on sustainable business initiatives across five states with organizations such as Pacific Gas & Electric, New Resource Bank, Dowling Company/Makena Resort, Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification (WAVE), KYA Sustainability Studio, and Hali’imaile Pineapple Company. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. Kainoa is a 2008 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellow and also serves as a board member for the Sustainability Association of Hawaii, Maui Community Work Day, and Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.

Kristine Hunt, MRA copy editor, has been a freelance copy editor and proofreader since 2001 as the sole proprietor of Crystal Clear Copy Editing. Aside from proofreading business documents and websites, she has edited over 175 arcane scholarly nonfiction books. After living in California and New York, Kristine now enjoys life in the Rockies in Pocatello, Idaho. She has a BA in English from the University of California, Irvine. In her spare time Kristine fields questions on random topics from her two children and watches movies with her husband, and is working on an MA in history. She is thrilled to help MRA achieve its vision.

Lyndsay Strange, MRA Contributing Writer, is a professional alpine ski coach and digital media production expert in the ski industry. She has most recently lived in Government Camp, Oregon, running the Reliable Racing store and representing the Bomber Ski, a brand new, handmade world cup race ski.

 

 

Mark Detsky, General Counsel, specializes in matters related to water, energy, electricity, transactions, corporations, and real property in his practice. His clients include developers of renewable energy projects, governmental entities, private and nonprofit corporations, as well as individuals. In 2004, he was attorney for the Amendment 37 campaign, which resulted in the first popular vote on passage of a renewable energy standard in the United States. Mark’s passion for skiing started in the low-lying Catskill Mountains of New York, and caused him to ski bum in Breckenridge during the 1990s. Now living in Boulder, Mark has successfully negotiated a powder clause into his work contract, and you can usually find him at his home areas north of I-70. Mark is interested in bringing the ski industry into the 21st century as net power producers, community centers, and eco-tourism destinations. Originally from New York, Mr. Detsky is a 2003 graduate of the University of Colorado School of Law and a 1997 graduate of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Meaghan McKasy, MRA Contributing Writer, was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where the concept of respecting nature seemed to be in the subtext of everyday life. Growing up, weekends were spent skiing at Crystal Mountain and later Whistler Blackcomb. Meaghan moved out east to attend Boston College and earned a BA in Communication before realizing that she missed the west. Having spent time on both coasts, she chose Salt Lake City as her new home in order to attend the Environmental Humanities Graduate Program at the University of Utah (and ski a lot). She focused her master’s thesis project on sustainable actions in the ski industry and hopes that one day soon the ski community will be a driving force behind addressing global climate change. Meaghan currently works for Utah Clean Energy with a focus on residential energy efficiency improvements.

Pete Blanchard, of the MRA Finance Development team, grew up ski racing at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. He studied history at Duke University in North Carolina, and then moved to the Bay Area after graduation. Spending the last 10 years between San Francisco and Tahoe, with as much time as possible in Tahoe during the winter, he felt a calling to connect his love for skiing with his day job. With a background in finance, he felt a growing disillusionment with the ski industry and decided to link his passion for the outdoors and the mountains to his career path, leading him to enroll in the sustainability-focused MBA program at the Presidio Graduate School, based in San Fransisco. Having received his MBA in 2012, he is heading a student team that is working with MRA to assist in the development of the financial component of the MRA model.

Phil Sarnoff, MRA Contributing Writer, lives in Salt Lake City and is currently walking the fine line between ski bum and PhD student at the University of Utah. Phil is researching the use of persuasive messages about climate change and how those can be utilized by the ski industry to influence the environmental attitudes of skiers and snowboarders. He also works for Salt Lake City in the Division of Sustainability.

 
Robbie Steiner, MRA Acquisitions Analyst, is an avid in-bounds snowboarder in the winter and hiker and traveler in the summer, and lives in Denver, Colorado. He enjoys assisting MRA by analyzing and modeling potential Mountain Playground transactions. Robbie is an equity analyst, investing in small and mid-cap companies in the energy and technology industries. Before Denver, he worked as an investment banking associate, helping execute around $350 million of M&A and financing transactions in the small-cap biotechnology and healthcare services sectors. Robbie is supportive of entrepreneurs pursuing innovative business models with the potential to disrupt incumbent public and private-equity backed companies. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, with an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Scott Johnson, MRA Development Consultant, moved to the Alps at the age of 21, and chose from that moment on to base his life around his ski habit. Over 25 years later, his love for skiing is still as strong. As a small business owner in a ski community, he is concerned about the current direction that the majority of the ski industry is taking. Known for his genius brainstorming, especially after midnight, Scott brings an immense amount of creativity and passion to the team.

Veronica Imbert, MRA Graphic Designer, was born and raised in the flatlands of Rosario, Argentina, and grew up swimming and playing field hockey at the local sports club. Athletic and energetic, she developed a strong passion for board sports and nature in her teenage years. In 2003, still searching for that “something else” in her life, and facing the economic crisis in South America, she applied for a work & travel visa at Squaw Valley in California, where she spent 5 winter seasons working as a lift operator and in retail stores and hotels for that precious season pass. As her love for the mountains grew stronger, the Andes called her back home where you can now find her riding in Patagonia or surfing the Atlantic Ocean. With a degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communications, her passion in life is to “spread the message, inform, inspire, and educate”. Her bubbling positivity is an integral part of our MRA community, bringing our verbal mission into visual eye candy.