John Gans has served as executive director of NOLS since 1995.
He is responsible for overall strategic planning, mission leadership, and building institutional community and commitment with 1,200 faculty and staff.
During his tenure, the school has significantly diversified student body and staff and more than tripled scholarships. In addition to NOLS' traditional wilderness expedition courses, under John's leadership NOLS acquired and integrated the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) and started the NOLS Professional Training Institute.
John began his NOLS career in 1981 as an instructor. In 1984, he was named director of NOLS Alaska before directing the marketing and admission department and then becoming director of operations.
NOLS has also been recognized nine times as one of the best employers in the country under John's leadership. In 2012, John was recognized by President Barack Obama, as a White House Champion of Change for his commitment to youth, wilderness and leadership.
John and his wife, Stephanie Kessler, have three children. They reside in Lander, Wyoming.