Board of Directors

The Utah Avalanche Center is a collaborative effort between the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center and the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  The Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center is responsible for avalanche forecasting and accident investigation and reporting.  The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center is responsible for fundraising, avalanche awareness and education programs, events, the website, and business issues.  Both groups actively perform avalanche and user behavior research and regularly publish results.  About 2/3 of the funding for the Utah Avalanche Center comes from donations, grants, and events and we count on support from users like you.  The remaining funding comes from the Forest Service, the State of Utah, and Salt Lake County.

The Utah Avalanche Center is run by a group of volunteer board members.

Steve Achelis, President, Board Member since November, 2010

Steve Achelis is a member of the Brighton Ski Patrol, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, and the former commander of the Salt Lake County Search and Rescue team. When he isn’t in the mountains, Steve is a software entrepreneur whose projects include rope rescue software, a website devoted to avalanche rescue and survival (BeaconReviews.com), and apps and websites for prehospital medical providers. He is also the author of the Wasatch Backcountry Skiing paper map and website, and the book Mountain Responder which tells of his experiences as a backcountry rescuer.

 

Rich Mrazik, Vice President, board member since October, 2007

Rich Mrazik skied Alta for the first time in December 1999, called his mother that evening to say “I’m not coming home for a while,” and hasn’t strayed far from the Wasatch since.  Rich believes in directional skis and aspires to ski as well as Dexter Rutecki—albeit with better decision making.  When he’s not chasing sunset slackcountry laps, Rich is a shareholder in the litigation department of Parsons Behle & Latimer.

Dan Gardiner, Treasurer, Board Member since May, 2010

Dan Gardiner joined the Friends board in June 2010 with a deep interest in supporting the avalanche resources available to the snowmobile community.  He graduated from the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2010 with a Juris Doctorate and currently works as a bank examiner for the State of Utah.  Dan has been widely recognized as a backcountry snowmobiler, with appearances in multiple films and magazines.  At one point he held records for the longest jump on a snowmobile.  He spends most of his free time in the mountains, riding sleds or skiing.  When the snow melts Dan can be found running trails, mountain biking, or backpacking. 

Reid Persing, Secretary, Board Member since September. 2009

Reid grew up in northwestern Connecticut in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains.  His parents live just down the road from the local ski hill and snowboarding and spending as much time as possible on snow became a theme for his life from an early age.  Reid moved west to attend college at the University of Colorado where he competed in freestyle snowboarding, played a leadership role in developing a freestyle snowboarding program, and earned degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry.  He moved to Utah after finishing his degrees for “one more year of snowboarding before graduate school.”  He was introduced to snowboarding in the backcountry that winter and has never left.  Reid’s background in natural sciences grew into a passion for avalanche science and he used to bombard the forecasters with technical questions about snowpack mechanics at every opportunity.  He sent in regular snowpack observations and assisted with the UAC’s education efforts before joining the Board of Directors in 2009.  

In his time on a snowboard Reid has also competed nationally, traveled internationally, and spent summers at Mt. Hood and Whistler.  He coaches for a freestyle snowboard youth development team in Park City, gets around the backcountry on a splitboard and a sled, and still spends a good bit of time at the resorts.  He works as a biologist for Environmental Planning Group, a local environmental consulting firm.

Michael Brehm, board member 2008 - 2011, rejoined in September, 2016

Michael Brehm is a Professional Engineer on staff at the University of Utah.  He is currently the longest-serving, fully qualified member of the Salt Lake County Search & Rescue team.  His 15+ years of SAR service in the Wasatch, and his interest in Ski Mountaineering/Racing and the people who share that obsession, have led him to return to the Board of Directors in 2016.  Mike feels it is a critical community obligation – and a personal privilege – to serve on the non-profit board that works so hard to keep the nationally renowned UAC and our winter recreationists on top of “The Greatest Snow on Earth”.