Best-Selling Author Jon Krakauer Named Board Chair of the American Himalayan Foundation
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Acclaimed author, investigative journalist, and climber Jon Krakauer has been elected board chair of the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF), the nonprofit charitable organization announced today. The foundation, established in 1981 by the late private equity investor and philanthropist Richard C. Blum, works with local partners to provide targeted program funding for people in need in the Himalaya.
“I am thrilled and honored to be board chair of this extraordinary organization, which has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in one of the world’s neediest regions,” Krakauer said. “I am especially impressed with the Stop Girl Trafficking program, which identifies girls throughout Nepal who are at high risk of being trafficked to brothels, enrolling them in school, and then ensuring they remain in school to keep them safe. It has proven to be a spectacularly effective program.”
Krakauer succeeds David Bonderman, founder and non-executive chairman of private equity firm TPG, who served as interim chairman of AHF following the passing in February of Blum. “Jon Krakauer has been a vital and active member of AHF’s board for 24 years,” Bonderman said. “I and the other directors are delighted he is taking on this role now as the organization continues to strengthen programs that are supported by an enthusiastic donor base. Their impact is a tribute to Richard, a legacy of his four decades of compassionate vision and leadership.”
Erica Stone, AHF president, said, “We are excited and extremely grateful to have Jon embrace this key post for us. He is among the most talented, courageous, and honored nonfiction authors of his generation, as well as an accomplished climber and philanthropist. His best-selling books include what has become a mountaineering classic, Into Thin Air.”
The mission of AHF is to bring shelter, safety, education, health, and opportunity to people in the Himalaya, and create enduring, positive change in their lives. AHF maintains a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold rating from GuideStar.
The organization was started by a small group of climbers led by Blum who wanted to respond to pressing problems confronting people who live there. Its funding portfolio today supports more than 70 programs and touches the lives annually of 250,000 people. Stop Girl Trafficking alone has protected 28,000 girls from traffickers since beginning with 54 students in 1995, including 12,500 girls now in grades 1 – 12.
Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hillary Trust, building schools and hospitals for Sherpa people near Mount Everest, was AHF’s first funding partner. Like Hillary and Blum, Krakauer was inspired by the Sherpas’ gentle character.
“I first got involved with the American Himalayan Foundation shortly after the 1996 Mount Everest disaster as a way to repay some of my personal debt to the kind, courageous Sherpas who did so much to assist me and other survivors of that calamity,” he said. “Working in Nepal is never simple or easy, but I’m looking forward to collaborating with AHF President Erica Stone, Vice President Norbu Tenzing, their exceptionally talented staff, and my fellow directors to meet the challenges we encounter in the future.”
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