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Vermont: Donna Carpenter (Burton Snowboards) & Ilina Arsova

Our final stop in Vermont couldn’t have been timed better. The colors of the leaves changed from green to bright oranges, reds, and golds, the company hosted a “Bash” for employees around the world, and, of course, our Emerging Leader had designed her very own snowboard that was finished! After three weeks, it was high time we met our final match – Donna Carpenter, Founder and COO of Burton Snowboards, who mentored Ilina from Macedonia.

Ilina is an adrenaline sports enthusiast. She is a professional mountain climber, ski instructor, paraglider, and artist. In her words, she loves “feeling connected to the altitude, to the fresh air, and to the purity of nature.” Ilina uses her experiences on the mountain to inspire her artistic creations. Through mixed media, paintings, drawings, video, and installations, Ilina promotes ecological respect, discouraging pollution and overconsumption. She often re-uses materials considered waste and turns them into creative works of art. Her work has been shown all over the world, including China, Malaysia, New York, and Europe.

In addition to her artistic accomplishments, she is also the most respected female mountaineer in Macedonia. She holds the record in her country for the highest climb and most difficult assent. “Mountaineering is very fulfilling; I have learned a lot of lessons about how to survive. But also how to be grateful for the life we have and appreciate what is around us. Nature teaches us not only how to survive, but how to live.”

Donna and Ilina share a sincere appreciation for the great outdoors and a strong desire to increase women’s participation in outdoor sports. At Burton Snowboards, Donna started a Women’s Leadership Initiative to recruit, retain, and promote more females in the industry through mentorship. This professional experience is exactly what Ilina needs to jump start her own desires for more women to take part in the business of outdoor sports. Ilina’s vision is to organize the first Macedonian women’s expedition to climb the Himalayas and to encourage a younger generation of girls to take up adrenaline sports.

Looking back at each of the matches, we have a hard time believing what a great fit so many of them were. The personalities blended and balanced so well, the common interests and life stages that overlapped showed us the importance of getting to know each of these women – emerging leaders and mentors alike – the human side of a program that can so easily become limited by corporate structure and professionalism.