Board of Directors
The Challenge Mountain Board of Directors is made up of a group of dedicated and actively engaged leaders from our local communities with diverse backgrounds and skill sets that contribute to the overall success of Challenge Mountain. Board members volunteer their time and support recognizing that planning for the future of Challenge Mountain is an ongoing commitment to ensure continued success in fulfilling our mission. The Board of Directors is instrumental in evaluating the organization’s effectiveness and working with staff to implement strategies that contribute to long-term sustainability.
Bill Aten | President Retired Boyne Falls School Principal
Bill has always been an active participant in various outdoor recreational activities, and understands the value that that participation has contributed to his life. He became interested in volunteering at Challenge Mountain because he believes everyone should have the opportunity to feel the joy and rewards that participation in recreational activities can provide. His participation at Challenge Mountain has also provided him with a great deal of personal gratification and sense of fulfillment. As an educator, he has always loved the joy that comes from seeing others feel success when they achieve new goals.
Hugh Conklin | Vice President City Commissioner, Boyne City
Hugh was introduced to Challenge Mountain’s work through the Challenge Mountain Resale Store. Learning about The Store led him to discover the mission of Challenge Mountain and the great group of dedicated volunteers involved in making it so successful. Hugh has seen Challenge Mountain make a big difference in the lives of many, many people. As a volunteer and Board member, he feels fortunate to be involved in working with great people who show such commitment to the cause and experience the joy of seeing people living with disabilities enjoy the exhilaration of outdoor recreation in ways their families never imagined were possible.
Becky Harris | Treasurer Market Manager, Boyne City Farmers Market
Becky was introduced to Challenge Mountain by a friend who is now her husband. It didn’t take long for her to understand why he volunteered there every Saturday in the winter. One day experiencing Challenge Mountain and she was hooked.
The joy she sees in participant’s eyes is heartwarming and it has kept her coming back for 14 years. Today, Becky is volunteering at a level where she assists with areas that are aligned with her career background and she is honored to serve on the Board at this exciting time of growth for the organization.
Mary Towne | Secretary Corporate Settlement Solutions & Parent of Participant
Mary chose to be a board member because she wanted to make a difference in the lives of people living with disabilities. Being a parent of a special needs child Mary feels it is perfect fit.
Tyler Sharpe | Director PSIA certified adaptive ski instructor and State Park Store Operator
Tyler is a PSIA certified adaptive ski instructor and at Challenge Mountain he is able to give back to a sport he loves while sharing the skiing experience with individuals living with disabilities. He has served on the board for many years and each year brings new opportunities to expand his leadership skills and grow the organization.
Chris Akins | Director Physician, McLaren Northern Michigan
Chris became involved with Challenge Mountain because it is a special place dedicated to helping people living with disabilities to overcome perceived physical limitations and excel through activities in a supportive environment. It is all inclusive regardless of economic means making Challenge Mountain a truly special place for everyone involved which he believes provides even more reason for him to volunteer his time.
Anneke Rader | Director Challenge Mountain Participant
Anneke was drawn to Challenge Mountain because it gave her a chance, as a person with a disability to do things she didn’t think she would be able to do. She has chosen to volunteer her time at Challenge Mountain because it is a worthwhile cause that provides great opportunities to many people.
George Armstrong | Director Special Education Teacher Petoskey High School
George has been involved with Challenge Mountain and its mission since it was brought to his attention by the Coalition of Advocates for the Impaired in 1983. He was introduced to the founder of Challenge Mountain, Darla Evans, and was encouraged to start SPIRIT Day Camp, a summer program that brings individuals with and without disabilities together in a summertime extravaganza of leisure activities. Since then, he has been involved with Challenge Mountain in a variety of ways spanning over three decades and is honored to be on the board.
George believes that Challenge Mountain is all about the people; a majority of the significant relationships in his life have been forged from his involvement in causes that help make the world barrier free for all. George has chosen to volunteer his time with Challenge Mountain because he believes in and is inspired by the many participants.
Bryan Leavitt | Director Vice President Mortgage Lender, Chemical Bank
Brian has chosen to volunteer his time with Challenge Mountain simply because he believes there is no cause that could be more worthy of investing his time. In addition to that, the activities that Challenge Mountain focuses on are activities that resonate deeply with him, but more importantly those activities provide an improved quality of life to those Challenge Mountain is fortunate enough to serve.
Elizabeth Gertz Looze | Executive Director
Elizabeth brings 20+ years of non-profit service experience and a lifelong passion for skiing and the outdoors to her position as Executive Director of Challenge Mountain. She graduated in 1991 from Michigan State University with a BA degree in Political Science and recently earned a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Elizabeth is committed to the organization’s long-term sustainability, ensuring Challenge Mountain will continue to connect people with opportunities that change lives.
Linda Winn-Armstrong | Program Director
Being the Program Director for Challenge Mountain is a dream come true for Linda. She started working with individuals living with disabilities in 1982 while attending Central Michigan University, where she received a BA degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Linda finds it very rewarding working with all types of individuals in helping them achieve their goals.
Dick Katz | Facilities Manager
Dick has been working and volunteering at Challenge Mountain for over 15 years. He started as a volunteer at the Lodge on Saturdays in the winter driving snowmobiles and fixing equipment. During his time at Challenge Mountain he has met some outstanding human beings and on his off time he volunteers at The Nightmare, Boyne Thunder and other Challenge Mountain events.
Staci Payton | Resale Store Manager
As a lifelong member of the Boyne City Community, Staci has shopped and donated goods to Challenge Mountain knowing of the positive impact that her donations would have on individuals in surrounding communities. In 2015, she was overjoyed to be given the opportunity to join the Challenge Mountain team and a short time later became the manager of the Challenge Mountain Store. In her role, she strives to ensure that every customer is met with a smile when they walk through the doors of the Resale Store and are given an exceptional shopping experience.
Alaina Farrington | Boyne City Resale Store Assistant Manager
As Assistant Store Manager of the Challenge Mountain Resale Store, Alaina loves the circle of community involvement that Challenge Mountain Resale Store offers. From servicing as a donation center for the community, to supplying merchandise at an affordable price to customers, Alaina believes in the role that the Resale Store plays in making a difference in our communities and in the lives of individuals living with disabilities. She loves working with all of the volunteers in the store and appreciates the hard work and time they give so generously.