Henri Rivers, the president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, has been named by U.S. Ski & Snowboard as the inaugural recipient of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Award. The award is focused on recognizing a person, group, organization, or program that has contributed significantly and sustainably to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in skiing and snowboarding.
The new award recognition was implemented by U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding, as part of its initiatives to support DEI in the sport. Rivers has engaged productively to help the organization plot its course and to raise awareness across its membership and the entire sport community.
“When Henri got involved with U.S. Ski & Snowboard, he did not hesitate to step up into a leadership role,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “He had many connections which he immediately leveraged to join his efforts surrounding DEI with us, including many hours working on our DEI Committee as well as leading two well-attended virtual roundtables.”
Rivers has been an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast for more than 45 years. He is a professional ski instructor, certified master teacher, and children’s specialist as well as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard alpine coach, jury advisor, referee, and official, coaching in the alpine race program at Windham Mountain in the Catskill region of New York.
He was selected for the award by U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s DEI Committee. Moving forward, annual recipients will be selected by the DEI Committee based on a matrixed review of various factors reflecting the nominees’ impact on advancing DEI. The criteria include leadership of DEI in ski and snowboard, advancing education, collaborative coalition-building, development of equitable systems, and implementation of effective programs.
The DEI Committee, chaired by U.S. Ski & Snowboard Club Development Manager Ellen Adams, was founded in 2017 to increase racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic diversity at all levels of skiing and snowboarding.
“Henri has shown great patience, an indomitable spirit, and quiet conviction in his engagement with those of us who have a great deal to learn,” said committee member Sheryl Barnes.
“He is really the main inspiration for the work done by our DEI Committee. He is the reason we continue to educate ourselves, evolve our strategies as an NGB, and push for a more diverse ski and snowboard community in the United States.”
- U.S. Ski & Snowboard DEI committee member Elise Saarela
“I consider myself an ally for inclusion and equity,” said committee member Jamie Nagle. “Yet, as I listened to Henri speak recently about his experience as a black man, an athlete, and a coach, I couldn’t help but ask myself if I was really doing all I could to advance diversity, equality, and inclusion. He has taken the trials and experience of his past as a call to action to effect positive change.”
“Watching our supporters and allies awaken over the past 15 months and supporting the cause of racial equality, inclusion and diversity have been deeply felt,” said Rivers. “I believe what we are witnessing is a new era of challenge - white America is awakening and understanding our foundation was not put in place to the benefit and equality of all citizens. Our existing system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt for the betterment of society.”
Rivers cited U.S. Ski & Snowboard for adopting principles to nurture diverse communities rooted in understanding and respect, educating constituents emphasizing diverse communities, and supporting innovation to enhance retention of underrepresented groups.
“I look forward to U.S. Ski & Snowboard amply funding its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative over the next four years, leading the way to an equitable future for all sports organizations and our global community.”
An engineer and project manager by trade, Rivers is the founder of Drumriver, a New York-based renewable energy company. He first became involved with NBS in 1996. He became an NBS national team coach in 2003. Five years later, he was appointed administrator of its Olympic Scholarship Fund, growing the national team to 15 athletes. He became competition director in 2016 and was elected president in 2020.