The Climbing Wall Association (CWA) announced last month that it will start restructuring the organization, starting with the leadership team. Industry growth was cited as the primary reason for the changes, although the current crisis was also mentioned. Since the CWA formed in 2003, the number of climbing gyms in the U.S. has grown from less than 200 gyms to more than 500 at the end of 2019.
“We have concluded that the CWA must also grow to better serve our community of members and stakeholders specifically and the indoor climbing industry generally,” reads the announcement on the CWA website. “The on-going coronavirus pandemic has only highlighted this conclusion more.”
New Executive Director
The news came in the form of a letter from the CWA Board of Directors, which aims to shift the trade association towards “a more traditional non-profit governance model.” Planned changes include replacing the President/CEO position with an Executive Director, effective immediately. Bill Zimmerman, the previous President/CEO, has departed from this position but may remain in a consultancy role. Zimmerman led the organization since 2005, establishing the CWA Summit and improving certification programs during that time.
During the transition period, The Board of Directors named Garnet Moore the Interim Executive Director. Moore previously served as Director of Operations and has played a significant role for the CWA amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The CWA has been providing resources and community calls for climbing gyms throughout the crisis; this month the CWA released a comprehensive guide for climbing gym reopenings. Given the challenges of hiring during this period, Moore will continue in this capacity “for the foreseeable future.”
“With all the recent turmoil in our indoor climbing world, I have been privileged to be witnessing the incredible leadership and community in indoor gyms first hand,” Moore told Climbing Business Journal. “I hope that the CWA and I can deliver those same things for the owners and operators in our industry indefinitely.”
Policy Position Created
Another hire the Board of Directors plans to make is for a new Policy Director. The CWA has long advocated for climbing gyms in government affairs and educated its gym members on policy matters. This work has included distinguishing climbing gyms from amusement centers in the eyes of lawmakers and developing liability protection. More recently, the CWA drafted a petition for the federal government to add climbing gyms to the emergency stimulus funding. Now the goal is to devote more resources towards these issues, given “the industry’s ever-growing needs for regulatory work and standards development.”
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