People and Places

People and Places

Rivers takes helm at Wilderness Inquiry

Wilderness Inquiry’s Board of Directors has announced the selection of Erika Rivers as the new executive director, as of November 30.

Rivers brings two decades of experience in the field of conservation and outdoor recreation, with a specific focus on strategic planning and communications, as well as creating welcoming outdoor environments for historically underserved audiences. She will help strategically advance the organization’s mission to connect people to one another and the natural world through outdoor adventure.

Rivers most recently served as director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Rivers’ passion, energy, and expertise is clear,” said Ed Spencer, Wilderness Inquiry’s board chair. “She also brings a collaborative leadership style that is a perfect fit with the current team at Wilderness Inquiry.”

Understanding inclusion and lifting up the organization’s mission are crucial parts of the executive director’s job description. Rivers’ past experience positions her strongly to do this.

“Wilderness Inquiry has an outstanding team and a national reputation for ensuring all people feel welcome in America’s outdoor spaces, regardless of ability or background,” said Rivers. “The organization is poised to enrich even more lives through innovative expansion of its programs to new audiences in the coming years, and I am thrilled to be part of that journey forward.”

Rivers succeeds Kim Keprios, who provided interim leadership,. and Greg Lais, who founded and led Wilderness Inquiry for more than 40 years.

Appointees named to state groups

Appointees have been named to state boards, commissions and committees, including some disability-related groups. Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced the appointed.

Mohamed Mourssi-Alfash of Woodbury was reappointed to the Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing. The Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing serves as the principal agency of the state to advocate on behalf of the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing Minnesotans by working to ensure those persons have equal access to the services, programs, and opportunities available to others.

Thomas Heinl of Maplewood was appointed to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, representing an advocacy organization. He replaces Ronald Woelfel. The State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind’s duties include advising the Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development about programs of State Services for the Blind (SSB), coordinating between SSB and centers for independent living, and advising the governor on vocational rehabilitation programs.

Brent Olson of Ortonville was named to the Council on Disability. Olson replaces Lauren Thompson. The Council on Disability advises and aids the governor, state agencies, and the public on policy and the administration of programs and services for people with disabilities in Minnesota. The council works to empower all people with disabilities and expand opportunities and improve the quality of life for its constituencies.

Kyle Shelton of Minneapolis was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Connected and Automated Vehicles. Shelton replaces Laurie McGinnis. The Governor’s Council on Connected and Automated Vehicles studies and prepares for the opportunities and challenges associated with the widespread adoption of connected and automated vehicles and other transportation technologies. The council’s work includes reviewing connected and automated vehicle developments and trends, exploring partnership opportunities, proposing policies to safely test and deploy connected and automated vehicles, and consulting with communities experiencing transportation barriers not represented on the council.