2017 Election Results

Friday, January 26, 2018 9:03 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

2017 NIA Election Results

Dave Durant, NIA Board of Directors


The recent NIA Election (November 17th - December 17th) gave members a chance to weigh in on six new Board Members, what the NIA’s top priorities should be for 2018, and whether or not NOLS Employees who aren’t active instructors should be able to join the NIA in the future.  Read on for results and analysis.


Board: Results


Incumbent Board Members Dave Durant, Drew Seitz, Annemarie Vocca, and Ira Slomski-Pritz were re-elected.  Expeditions Instructor and NOLS Wilderness Medicine HQ Staff Member Mike Froehly was elected to the Board.  Expeditions Instructor and NIA Northeast Branch Representative Hannah Darrin was elected to the Board.  All of the above are for terms ending in December, 2019.


Mike’s mini-bio on the NIA Board page reads: Mike was a student on the Semester for Outdoor Educators in 2011 and fell in love with NOLS. He took his IC in the Southwest in 2014. He works hiking, mountaineering, and climbing courses in the SW, RM, and PNW. Mike currently splits his time between being a field instructor and a Staffing Coordinator for Wilderness Medicine.


Hannah’s mini-bio on the NIA Board page reads: Hannah took the sailing IC at NOLS México in 2012. She balances sailing in the spring and fall with hiking and canoeing out of NOLS Northeast in the summer. Hannah got her first taste of the NIA in the Coulter Loft in 2015, and has been the Northeast branch rep ever since. Problem solving and collaboration that yield positive change are her passions.


For our first act of the new year, the Board of Directors appointed Expedition Instructor Julia “Pieps” Pieper to serve out the remainder of Casey Pikla’s term, which runs till the end of 2018.  (Casey stepped down, citing insufficient time to fulfill NIA duties.)  Pieps’ mini-bio on the NIA Board page reads:  Pieps first came to NOLS as a student on a Year in Patagonia in 2007. After a brief hiatus to study engineering, she returned for an IC in 2013. Since then Pieps has worked Backpacking, Canoeing, Canyoneering, and Winter courses. When not working in the field, she resides in the Teton Valley and spends free time aspiring to become a packrafter. 


On behalf of all the returning Directors, I’d like to welcome Mike, Hannah, and Pieps to the Board.  We are truly excited for your energy and contributions.  Volunteering your time to represent your fellow instructors is much appreciated.


 Board: Analysis


  • We are pleased to once again have a full complement of 12 Directors.  Although the Board has been full every year since I joined in 2013, this hasn’t been true throughout the NIA’s 43 year history.  Read about all 12 Board Members, and the NIA President here: http://nolsinstructorassociation.org/board.
  • Incumbents continue to be highly favored in the Board election.
  • Over the past two years voters have consistently rewarded candidates who work across pillars (e.g. Expeditions and Wilderness Medicine) or who work both as Instructors and in HQ.
  • As excited as we are to welcome our new Board Members, we will miss the concrete contributions of those Members who chose not to stand for re-election.  In particular, we appreciate the hard work over the past several years of Abbie Wehner, who served as Treasurer, and Allie Maloney, who as Visibility Coordinator oversaw our efforts at the Faculty Summit.


Poll Question 1: Results


The first poll question read: “What do you think the NIA’s priorities should be for 2018?”  Participants were then prompted to rank six potential priorities.  Here they are, in order of popularity:


  1. Calling for a stated long-term goal of a living wage for all employees and a middle-class income for Senior Faculty and Staff.
  2. Continuing to gather data about instructor cost of living and wage comparisons across the outdoor industry in order to support a "white paper" that will be submitted to the Board of Trustees to inform the next strategic plan.
  3. Championing Expedition travel reimbursement equal to 100% of average travel cost.
  4. Working to ensure Instructors are represented at ALL Board of Trustees meetings.
  5. Advocating for a Sal-Fac Faculty Chair to represent Instructors to the Executive Director Team.
  6. Filling out the NIA Platform so that we can better articulate what we stand for.


Poll Question 1: Analysis


  • Three of six options given touched on compensation in some way.  These three options were ranked first, second, and third.  The conclusion that compensation remains at the forefront of instructors’ minds is inescapable.  
  • Voters seem more enthusiastic about ambitious, broad goals rather than those which are narrower or attainable in a shorter time frame.
  • Submit your data on wage comparisons across the outdoor industry here: http://nolsinstructorassociation.org/Comp.


Poll Question 2: Results

The second poll question read: Article III, Section A of the NIA Constitution states that active Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Instructors are eligible to be Members in full.  There is no equivalent organization to represent other NOLS employees, such as in-town or HQ staff.  Should the NIA hold a vote in 2018 to amend its Constitution in order to open membership to anyone who draws a paycheck from NOLS? (Note: this is an opinion poll to inform future action, NOT a referendum to amend our Constitution.)


55.22% of respondents were in favor of opening up NIA membership to all NOLS employees. 46.27% were opposed.


Poll Question 2: Analysis


  • This is a striking change of opinion in just one year.  On the 2016 ballot, 44% favored expanding NIA membership.  Here, the proportions have inverted.
  • Anecdotally, this does seem to represent a trend, rather than a blip.  There was considerable interest by in-town employees in the Annual General Meeting last May (20% of attendees were NOLS employees who were not instructors), and in-town employees had a table at the Faculty Summit where they gathered ideas for organized representation.


Think creatively.

Act collectively.

Join the NIA.

The mission of the NIA is to communicate and advocate instructor views and to work within the NOLS community to promote the school's mission and values

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