The Conservation Alliance lost a dear friend and dedicated board member this month when Ann Krick passed away after a long and brave fight with cancer. Ann was beloved in the outdoor industry that was her home and her community for decades. She is known most for her work at The North Face, and for her sustained commitment to promoting women in an industry that is dominated by men. But Ann was equally devoted to protecting the wild places that meant so much to her, and to the outdoor community.
Though we had both been a part of the outdoor industry for many years, I only got to know Ann when she joined The Conservation Alliance board in early 2015. Prior to that, hers was a name I’d heard repeatedly, but our paths, regretfully, didn’t cross in any meaningful way. But once our career trajectories did collide, it was a gift to me, and to The Conservation Alliance.
Ann embodied a rare combination of warm humanity and zero tolerance for bullshit. It turns out, these are perfect qualities for an effective conservationist. Much has already been said about Ann’s deep love and compassion for other people and her community. But those attributes extended to the special landscapes that mean so much to the outdoor community. Having explored our mountains, rivers, deserts, and forests, Ann knew first-hand the transformative power of these places.
Ann’s compassion did not inhibit her willingness to fight for our wild places; in fact it made her more of a warrior. We worked closely together during the final three years of the Obama Administration to demonstrate business support for protecting lands as National Monuments. Ann effectively wielded her connection to The North Face and her deep bond to our wildlands during meetings with members of Congress and Obama’s team. She was firm and convincing without being strident. In short, she was Ann.
The North Face’s commitment to The Conservation Alliance preceded Ann, but it flourished under her leadership. We held a board/staff retreat the week after Donald Trump as elected president. It was a memorable meeting because everyone in the room understood that the new political landscape would require a new approach to conservation. Ann instantly wanted to know what more The North Face could do. A mere two months later, we announced that The North Face would double its financial commitment to The Conservation Alliance to help us hire a new Advocacy Program Manager, and to seed our Public Lands Defense Fund. She saw the challenges that lay ahead, and used the resources at her disposal to put The Conservation Alliance in a strong position to face those challenges.
Ann always made time to build a personal connection. She and I shared a love of music. I learned that she had worked for Bill Graham, the infamous Bay Area music promoter who put on many of the memorable shows I enjoyed during the 12 years I lived in Berkeley. Once while sitting in her office, I admired a photograph on her wall of the Grateful Dead playing at the opening of The North Face’s retail store in San Francisco in 1966. (The Grateful Dead provided the soundtrack to much of my teenage and college years, and I have re-discovered their music later in life.) A few weeks later, a framed copy of that same photo arrived at my doorstep. Ann being Ann, again.
We will miss Ann, but know that her spirit lives on at The North Face, within The Conservation Alliance, and through the countless people she touched during her life. And we will bring that spirit to our efforts to protect and defend North America’s wild places.