Spencer Stuart Recruits President for the National Outdoor Leadership School

November 6, 2023 – Spencer Stuart has assisted in the recruitment of Sandy Colhoun as its new president of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). “With a strategic mindset and a keen ability to assess operations and bring clarity to the school’s complex finances, Sandy met and exceeded these critical requirements,” said N. Stuart Harris, NOLS board of trustees chairperson. “Sandy has also shown an abiding commitment to DEI, recognizing that the NOLS mission benefits from building a warm, inclusive, diverse, and vibrant community.” The presidential search committee co-chairs, Jane Fried and Danielle Dignan, also shared their sentiments about the competitive nature of the selection process and echoed their support for Mr. Colhoun as the new president of NOLS.

“It’s natural to focus on the appointment as the outcome of the search,” said Ms. Fried. “In this case, Sandy Colhoun, with his energy, humanity, leadership in higher education, and unwavering commitment to NOLS, was the best person to lead the school at this moment in its history. In addition, the search committee, through Spencer Stuart, met many admirers of the school who have a vested interest in our success and who are eager to help us extend our reach to more students and institutions.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Sandy as the new NOLS president,” said Ms. Dignan. “It was a tough and rigorous selection process, especially with such a diverse and talented pool of candidates. As interim president, Sandy exhibited a strength of character and a focus on the mission that he will carry into his presidency. The future of NOLS is bright.”

Mr. Colhoun brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to the school’s mission to this role, having served as the interim president for the past eight months. He was awarded the position after a lengthy and highly competitive search process, which included experts in outdoor education, leadership, the sciences, a university president and a dean, writers, Mount Everest climbers, teachers, and senior business leaders.

Mr. Colhoun was previously the chief campaign officer at Colby College, responsible for leading the college’s $750 million campaign. In addition, he has directed scores of campaigns, raising nearly $1 billion for non-profit organizations. Before his fundraising experience, Mr. Colhoun was the editor-in-chief of the Antarctic Sun based in McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and a staff reporter for the Christian Science Monitor.

“Being elected to serve as the president of the world’s preeminent leadership organization is humbling,” said Mr. Colhoun. “In the weeks and years ahead, I will look forward to partnering with the community to ensure that our school continues to thrive, that our impact grows and scales to serve evermore students, and that together, we help make our students’ lives and the world a better place.”

Related: Spencer Stuart Recruits CEO for Tivity Health

Established in 1965, the National Outdoor Leadership School is a provider of wilderness education. What began in a small cabin in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountain range has evolved into a global, multifaceted non-profit school offering a proven leadership curriculum through expedition courses, wilderness medicine certifications, risk management training, and custom education solutions for organizations. Today, NOLS operates 14 campuses worldwide and provides classroom instruction in over 40 countries.

Veteran Recruiters

Privately held since 1956, Spencer Stuart focuses on delivering knowledge, insight, and results through the collaborative efforts of a team of search professionals — now spanning 56 offices, 30 countries, and more than 50 practice specialties. The firm helps boards and leaders address their leadership needs in areas such as senior-level executive search, board recruitment, board effectiveness, succession planning, in-depth senior management assessment and many other facets of organizational effectiveness.

Spencer Stuart’s education practice works with research universities, liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, independent schools, research centers and institutes, and early and secondary education organizations. It has conducted more than 300 senior-level executive and board searches over the past five years. Ninety-six percent of the firm’s executive search placements in academia and research in the past five years are still in their roles today, said Spencer Stuart. The practice has placed leaders across all functions with a particular focus on presidents, provosts, deans, chief financial officers, chief information officers and vice presidents. Presidential searches conducted by Spencer Stuart include those at Brown, Colgate, Cornell, Northwestern, Wesleyan and Yale universities.

Related: Spencer Stuart Selected by the St. Louis Fed to Lead CEO Search

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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