Katherine Gunness Williams
First term: February 1999–2005
Second term: June 2009 – ~2014
NOLS Courses: 1985 Wind River Wilderness, 1987 Mountain Instructors Course
Kate took her first NOLS course five days after her high school graduation in 1985, and NOLS has always been a passion and inspiration in her life ever since.
Kate earned a bachelor degree in history from Princeton University in 1989 and a master's degree in management from MIT's Sloan School of Management in 1997. Her professional work has been in the fields of outdoor education, conservation, and recreation management, including positions at High Country News, the Trust for Public Land, and Albuquerque Academy.
Since 2004, Kate has been the executive director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), a 740-mile water trail tracing traditional Native American travel routes across New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire, and Maine. During her tenure, NFCT (incorporated in 2000) has published a 13-map set and a Guidebook covering the route, and developed nationally recognized models for water trail stewardship, community economic development linked to recreation, and rural youth outdoor programming. NFCT has also gained recognition for its innovative organizational model in which a small staff stewards extensive networks of partners to accomplish shared goals along the length of the trail.
Kate lives in Waitsfield, Vermont, where she co-founded the Vermont Yak Company, a three-family farm business and served two elected terms as the first woman on her town's Select Board. Kate is married to Rob. They have two children, Anneka and Theron. She is an avid distance runner, hiker, and Nordic skier, with aspirations to keep up with her kids in the glades at Mad River Glen.