Join us in welcoming REI's new CEO
Updated: Feb 18, 2019
K. Douglas Erdmann has held a variety of positions. In the for-profit world he worked as a Systems Analyst at the United Technologies Research Center, and as litigation attorney for two of Maine’s largest law firms. In the nonprofit world, he’s worked in Korea, at Dartmouth College, and most recently in Singapore, before moving to Colorado in 2017. Doug has also raised five kids with his wife Joyce.
Asked why he left the law, he explained, “For me, law was primarily about researching and writing, all with the intent of winning a dispute. In essence, my job was to fight. People definitely need lawyers who will fight for them, but the nonprofit world seemed better suited to me as it gives me a chance to build.”
Leaving law, Doug moved into a world of leadership development focused on investing in the younger generation. It was here that he was eventually offered a pivotal role in Singapore, serving as the national director of an organization there. He flourished as it gave him an opportunity to direct, shape and expand. Being an outsider was actually advantageous as it allowed him to bring in new methods and perspectives, which in turn revitalized and grew the work.
“I love cross-cultural situations; it is so interesting. The nuances, the nonverbal communication, and the diverse customs. Even though there is stress that comes from living in a foreign country, I find the complexity fascinating.”
Upon his return to the States, Doug was looking for another opportunity to engage internationally. He was familiar with REI, and after exploring the open position of CEO, Doug felt that this role in REI was exactly what he was looking for.
“REI is a non-profit that takes seriously the importance of addressing people's practical needs. I like the way they do it too, focusing on people who can have great impact. REI is training professionals and other influencers, who can then train others, resulting in the growth of developing countries.”
REI is excited to be stepping into a new season with Doug at the helm. As a leader focused on building, Doug would love to see REI grow to be involved in even more countries, sending more staff overseas, while continually working on the sustainability of our programs and support base. There is a lot of work ahead, but Doug is optimistic.
“The direction of nonprofit work is changing. Younger people more readily embrace an emphasis on the needs of the whole person, and that is a good trend for REI. What can I bring to REI? I love the motto of New Zealand’s America’s Cup team … ‘what will make the boat go faster?’ I hope to be asking this question about all aspects of REI’s work … its direction, staffing, finances, etc. To some extent, my job is to do the things no one else wants to do, supporting all of our staff and volunteers so that they can focus on investing in others.”