Mitsu Iwasaki

The Executive Council has completed the search for a new Executive Director and I am thrilled to announce that Mitsu Iwasaki will be joining the Mazamas as Executive Director starting on August 30, 2019. Mitsu brings extensive experience as a leader in the outdoor industry as well as a lifetime of demonstrated passion for the mountains. We are excited for him to step into this role to lead the Mazamas forward and to set the stage for the next 125 years and beyond. 
"I feel the greatest sense of gratitude and responsibility for this opportunity to lead an iconic organization and its members, the Mazamas. With my identity forged in high mountain places, stewarding our collective mission to inspire everyone to love and protect the mountains speaks to me deeply." –Mitsu
Mitsu arrives at the Mazamas with nearly three decades of experience in the outdoor industry. His career started in 1996 as an assistant instructor for Outward Bound. From there, he spent the next ten years working as instructor and guide, climbing, skiing, and traversing mountains and mountain ranges from the Southern Sierras to the North Cascades. Transitioning from field-based to administrative roles, he has been the Director for Operations and Safety for Big City Mountaineers in Denver, Colo., Executive Director for Northwest Outward Bound School in Portland, Ore., and most recent served as Interim CEO for the Association for Experiential Education, and Partner at the Outdoor Policy Outfit based in Seattle. 
In addition to his professional roles, Mitsu has been very active in our local and national community as a board and committee member with organizations such as Outward Bound, Big City Mountaineers, American Leadership Forum, Friends of Gateway Green, Paradox Sports, and the Free Forest School among many others.  
Mitsu brings professional experience in the nonprofit sector with exposure to teaching/instruction, program development and evaluation, operations, safety, finance, budgeting, fundraising, and board relations. He has extensive experience in conservation, outdoor education, training climbers, and youth outreach, and development.
When not in the office, Mitsu can be found climbing, running, and skiing high peaks in the Northwest and around the world.
As Mitsu gets started in his role, we will be announcing opportunities for you to get to meet him and get to know him. Please stay tuned for announcements to follow in the Bulletin and E-News.

The Mazamas owes a huge debt of gratitude to Sarah Bradham for her contributions as Acting Executive Director from December, 2018–August, 2019. Sarah’s professionalism, skills, experience,  and dedication to the Mazamas kept the organization steady during this time of transition. Sarah will continue to serve as Acting ED through the end of August, before resuming her role as Director of Operations. She will be working closely with Mitsu to ensure a smooth transition.  
The Transition Team will stay intact during the onboarding process; for any questions please feel free to reach out to We look forward to staying in touch with more updates as Mitsu joins the team.
For the ♥ of mountains,

Laura Pigion
President and Board Chair


Mitsu Iwasaki joined the Mazama team in September of 2019. Somewhat restless and inspired by exploration, Mitsu’s identity is shaped by a life-long journey of adventure on high mountain summits and enduring love for wild places. He has well over 1,500 nights under the stars and countless days traversing our wild and iconic places. 

Mitsu’s career in the outdoor industry spans 30 years with broad experiences ranging from wilderness instructor to leading nationally recognized non-profits. Mitsu brings his experience building, evolving, and operating organizations; engaging stakeholders and developing resources; and building and delivering programs and curriculum.  

When not behind a desk, he can be found running, climbing, and skiing throughout our great Northwest and beyond.