Founder, Ascent Inclusion Consulting (she/her)
For more information, see Annie’s professional profile on LinkedIn:
Annie Kao (pronounced with a soft K like “gow”) is in the pursuit of an outdoors for all. Her passion and expertise in advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in outdoor industries is a culmination of her personal and professional experiences. She was born in Utah and raised in Colorado, developing a love for skiing and the outdoors at an early age. In 1998 after college, she got her first outdoor industry job as a ski instructor.
Annie’s extensive legal career followed, which included over a decade as an attorney and Assistant General Counsel within the ski industry, as well as top leadership roles in state and national Asian Pacific American professional organizations advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Annie’s in-depth legal and business experiences uniquely informed her subsequent launch of her DEI consultancy practice specializing in the outdoor industry. As a professional DEI strategic advisor, her analytical and communications acumen quickly led her to become a sought-after DEI expert for a range of prominent outdoor brands and organizations.
Today, Annie is the Vice President of Social Responsibility at Alterra Mountain Company, where she focuses on developing and implementing best practices to advance fair access, inclusive cultures of belonging, and equitable systems in the ski industry. Her professional experiences, coupled with a wide range of unique personal stories, fortify her compelling public speaking and advocacy skills.
Annie spends her volunteer time aligned with her firm belief that achieving an outdoors for all means opening more doors to a lifelong path of opportunities.
To advance outdoor opportunities for youth, she has been a Board Member and Secretary of the Share Winter Foundation, which is a grantmaking and resource hub with a mission to improve the lives, health, and fitness of youth through winter sports and to create a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming winter sports community. Click the link below to read Annie’s article written for Share Winter Foundation: Why My Kids Ski.
To advance DEI in higher education programs, she has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business and Colorado Mesa University Outdoor Recreation Industries Studies program, while also serving as a partner to the Outdoor Industry MBA program at Western Colorado University.
To promote DEI and advance career opportunities in the mountain resort industry, Annie is a Board Member of the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). NSAA is a trade association for ski area owners and operators, representing over 300 mountain resorts that account for more than 90 percent of the skier/snowboarder visits nationwide. Additionally, NSAA has more than 400 supplier members who provide equipment, goods and services to the mountain resort industry.