NOVEMBER 30, 2022 – BOSTON, MA – The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), the nation’s oldest conservation and recreation organization, announced today that its Board of Directors appointed Nicole Zussman as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2023. Zussman, a seasoned executive with decades of experience building and leading high-performing teams, most recently served as Chief People Officer for Rue Gilt Groupe. The appointment follows an eleven-month national search.
“When the board’s search committee began this process, we knew that the needs of the Appalachian Mountain Club demanded a strong leader capable of both building on the organization’s past success and engaging broader audiences in its work for the future,” said Yvette Austin Smith, Chair of the AMC Board of Directors. “Nicole brings with her tremendous business acumen, a history of success in helping large teams and membership organizations grow, and a passion for the outdoors. She has the vision and skills AMC needs to reach broader audiences and grow in its mission.”
“As we welcome Nicole, we also thank Susan Arnold who has effectively led the organization during the search process,” said Austin Smith. “As AMC’s Interim President and CEO, Susan has thoughtfully steered the AMC through the past year and, prior to that, was the Vice President for Conservation for nineteen years. In this time, Susan helped grow AMC’s leadership in protecting the outdoors from Maine to the Mid-Atlantic Highlands. Conservation will continue to be a primary focus for AMC under Nicole’s leadership.”
As President and CEO, Zussman will oversee the day-to-day operations of an organization that owns and manages 48 properties and backcountry sites, builds and maintains nearly 2,000 miles of trails per year, hosts thousands of volunteer-led recreation activities and outdoor education programs and has more than 90,000 members. She will oversee key strategic programs, like the 100,000-acre Maine Woods Initiative, and continued expansion of programming in New York’s Harriman State Park. Zussman will also work closely with the Board of Directors, AMC’s regional chapters, and staff to grow the organization’s membership and set strategic goals for conservation and sustainability initiatives.
“For more than a century, AMC has been driven by thousands of members, volunteers, and a dedicated staff,” said Austin Smith. “Nicole brings the ideal mix of expertise in engaging teams, fostering a diverse workforce, and driving strategy in membership-model organizations to help AMC’s mission reach more people and to focus efforts on conservation and outdoor recreation for even greater impact.”
Zussman has been a key strategist and change agent at globally-recognized brands. From the Rue Gilt Groupe to Condé Nast and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, she played pivotal roles in building and leading teams, charged with developing programs to appeal to large audiences. Her work focused on creating inclusive environments in which teams could thrive and best serve members. Notably, she proved adept at building relationships to tackle challenges that required collaborative efforts, a key to AMC’s expanding conservation, recreation and outdoor education efforts.
“Nicole has a lifelong love of the outdoors and believes deeply in the mission of AMC,” said Stephen Rushmore Jr., Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and chair of the search committee. “Nicole understands the importance of AMC’s conservation work—to protect our land and waters and address the climate change emergency. Combined with her demonstrated experience growing and diversifying organizations, her skills and vision will be key elements in expanding the organization’s reach and increasing participation and appreciation of the outdoors for years to come.”
“As a member and a life-long outdoor enthusiast, I am thrilled to bring my decades of leadership experience to serve the mission of the Appalachian Mountain Club,” said Zussman. “I know the strength of the AMC community comes from the commitment of its many members, volunteers, partners, and supporters who believe in the enduring power of the outdoors. I am so grateful to the Board of Directors for the opportunity to serve this community and to Susan Arnold for her leadership and guidance as I begin this new role.”
Zussman holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Miami.
About the Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is the nation’s oldest conservation and recreation organization, committed to fostering the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors. Since 1876, AMC has encouraged generations to deepen their passions for the outdoors and helped protect some of the most precious natural environments in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Learn more at outdoors.org.