SAC hires avalanche educator David Reichel as executive director
Sierra Avalanche Center has hired avalanche educator and California Avalanche Workshop founder David Reichel as the organization’s new executive director.
In his new capacity, Reichel will lead the nonprofit’s avalanche awareness, fundraising and avalanche forecasting support missions.
Reichel is a longtime avalanche educator, mountain guide and professional avalanche observer in the Tahoe region. He spent the last several years coordinating Sierra Avalanche Center’s social media presence while also working in the field as a professional observer. In 2014, he founded the California Avalanche Workshop. He has nearly two decades of professional snow and avalanche experience across three continents, as well as a track record of nonprofit administration.
Reichel replaces Mark O’Geen, who led the nonprofit for the past three years. O’Geen is moving on to help develop an avalanche safety program for the Union Pacific Railroad over Donner Summit. O’Geen worked with Reichel to ensure a seamless transition, handing off responsibility for the many moving parts of the Sierra Avalanche Center.
Reichel comes to the organization with a full array of both nonprofit and avalanche industry knowledge. He has been both the former executive director of the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association and a senior guide and avalanche educator with Shasta Mountain Guides and was a wilderness instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College. He counts a multi-day, winter traverse of the Sierra High Route in low-tide conditions, navigating “areas of three-foot-high suncups and too much walking,” over 40 summits of Mount Shasta, and teaching approximately “a bazillion” avalanche courses as some of his top personal achievements.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors we couldn’t be more excited about the hire of David Reichel as executive director. David brings a unique blend of both technical and leadership experience that is very rare,” said Sierra Avalanche Center Board President James Brown. “We believe that David has the vision and expertise to help Sierra Avalanche Center move forward and grow even through COVID and any uncertainty that lies ahead.”
Reichel said he had been interested in increasing his involvement with the organization, and the timing was perfect to take on the leadership role with Sierra Avalanche Center.
“I have long been impressed with the board and Sierra Avalanche Center’s remarkable success, and I’m excited to work with great people and build upon that,” said Reichel.
Reichel will work with Sierra Avalanche Center’s volunteer board of directors to lead the organization’s avalanche outreach mission. The nonprofit financially supports the U.S. Forest Service’s daily avalanche forecasting operation for a large swath of the Sierra Nevada — from Sonora Pass in the south to Yuba Pass in the north — including all of the areas in and around the Tahoe Basin.
The nonprofit also puts on dozens of avalanche awareness presentations, grant-funded avalanche education courses and supports backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers with scholarship programs for avalanche education.
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