After three and a half years as the Sierra Business Council's president, Jim Sayer is leaving to head the Missoula, Montana-based Adventure Cycling Association, one of the nation's largest cycling organizations.During Sayer's tenure the Sierra Business Council saw its years of research and support for a Sierra Nevada Conservancy pay off when legislation creating the state funding agency was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in September. He also guided the organization to innovative ways to replace private funding that began to drop with the economic downturn of early 2001. The leadership change comes at a busy time for the 10-year-old non-profit, which will soon be releasing its latest publication, a template for commercial and mixed-use development in the Sierra Nevada. The organization will also be involved in outreach and strategic planning as the Sierra Nevada Conservancy gets off the ground."Jim has been so successful on working with the partnerships across the Sierra Nevada with the [creation of] the Sierra Nevada Conservancy," said interim President Paquita Bath, who served as vice president under Sayer.
"This is a great moment for us because we've had some very successful programs," said Bath. "We've got a lot of momentum going."Sayer, who previously headed the Greenbelt Alliance and served as an external affairs director for the Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco, took over for the council's founder and first president, Lucy Blake."When I came on board the organization was successful and renowned, and, now that I am leaving, the organization is successful and renowned, but in a different way," said Sayer.When he joined the non-profit in April of 2001, the financial climate had caused funding to slacken, forcing the organization to search for innovative way to keep its array of programs functioning.
"Just as I came on board the stock market took a dive and some of our private funding sources dried up, so it made the Sierra Business Council more entrepreneurial," said Sayer. Now the group offers businesses access to databases and electronic networks that give models for success in the region drawing on examples from across the Sierra Nevada."When I got here our business members gave because they cared about the Sierra," Sayer said. "Now our members still give because they care about the Sierra, but we have increased the kind of services that we offer them." With his departure, Sayer said the council has an opportunity to reevaluate itself, and possibly even change direction slightly, depending on who comes on board as the new president. But whatever the changes, he is confident that the non-profit will remain firmly in its position on the leading edge of innovation in the Sierra Nevada.
"What we do in these two buildings has an impact throughout the West and throughout the U.S.," said Sayer. And in Missoula, Sayer hopes to be on the cutting edge of cycling promotion that ties into issues far greater than fitness and recreation."I am a big believer in the power of bicycling. I just think that people-powered transportation is so important to the future of the country and the world," said Sayer. "It sounds grandiose, but if you look at the stats on climate change right now and also on the energy market, we are getting to the point where most energy analysts have predicted the peak, we've hit the peak for oil reserves and production. We could very well see oil starting to run out in the next 35 years or less."The Sierra Business Council plans to finish their search for a new president by early next year.