Title: Development & Communications Director
Phone: 412-255-0564 x244
We launched a new series on the Venture Outdoors Blog that spotlights our staff. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes brain power that goes into planning your favorite programs, be it public, family-friendly, or custom outings. Learn about those who work inside so you can get outside.
This week we’ll be interviewing Donna Bour, our Director of Development and Communications.
1. Briefly tell us about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what brought you to Venture Outdoors?
My family is originally from the North Braddock/Rankin area but I grew up in the far east suburbs – Plum Borough actually. Not the ideal life for this city gal so – except for a brief stint in the late 90s – I have lived in city neighborhoods pretty much since I started working back in the dark ages. I got an Associates’ Degree from Robert Morris (which was only a college at the time and had only just started offering limited four-year degrees), a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Pitt, and a Master’s in Public Management from CMU. What brought me to Venture Outdoors was my sister’s midwife, Nancy, over 15 years ago. At that time Venture Outdoors didn’t even exist but the founder, Mike Schiller, was working with a group of other like-minded people to launch what is now the annual Venture Outdoors Festival. Nancy knew Mike was looking for an event planner to help with the Festival, I was just starting my business, we got together, he hired me, and the rest – as they say – is history.
2. Describe your role at Venture Outdoors in 10 words or less.
I raise money! And manage all outbound communications.
3. What does “getting outside” mean to you?
It means active and healthy and happy and feeling alive.
4. If you had to pick only one recreational activity to practice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
5. What is the craziest thing you have done?
Marrying my ex-husband. For way more reasons than I could go into here!
6. What are your top five favorite outdoors/travel destinations?
St. John, US Virgin Islands
Any place there is a beach and an ocean
7. What is your favorite forest/camping snack?
Not a forest/camping person. (I mean, in these shoes?) But when I am doing distance cycling I love sweet and salty mixes.
8. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to take on a Venture Outdoors program of your choice.
Helen Keller because I think she would bring a whole new perspective to “experiencing” the outdoors in a completely different way.
Eleanor Roosevelt because, well because she was Eleanor Roosevelt.
Queen Elizabeth because wouldn’t you just love to see her dressed in outdoor clothes and all muddy and messy from hiking or biking or something. I mean there’s got to be something else underneath that crown doesn’t there?
9. What is your favorite Venture Outdoors memory?
Oh my goodness there are so many. The first one that comes to mind is the year the Festival flooded on the North Shore. I remember it had been raining all week and it was raining that morning (at 5 a.m.!) as a few of us key people arrived. We stood under the bridge near the Heinz boat ramp and actually talked about canceling. In the end we all agreed that rain or shine meant rain or shine and we needed to walk the walk not just talk the talk. So we decided to go forward and show people that you can still get outside even when it’s a little wet or the conditions are not perfect. A few hours later as we were basking in our virtuousness for deciding to go forward and set up was well underway with vendors checking in and putting up tents and gear, Mike Lambert – who was then the Executive Director of Three Rivers Rowing Association and knew the rivers like the back of his hand – looked over the edge of the river walk and said (and I will never forget this), “You’ve got about an hour to get all of these people off this river walk. After that it will be flooded.” We had one vendor under the bridge who literally set up his entire gear shop the night before; it took him hours. We deployed every volunteer and cart we had, reassessed the space on “higher” ground, and found places to relocate everyone. I remember standing at the top of the hill and watching the tents “walk” up the sidewalk to dry land. Somehow we managed to get everyone situated and the Festival went off without a hitch. In fact, it was sunny, hot, and dry – one of the best days we ever had. Well, except for that flooding thing. By the end of the day the entire river walk up to the Pier was under water. But it was really a statement of who we are and what we do. We get people outside in all kinds of weather and we work together with a great group of volunteers to make it happen.
10. Describe your dream Venture Outdoors program/outing.
If it can’t be a beach, I’ll take a bike ride any day.
11. What is the earliest memory you have of being outside?
I don’t know that I have an early memory of being outside, but when I was growing up we were never inside during the summer. We didn’t sit around glued to televisions or computers. As long as it was light, sunny, and dry we were always outside – riding our bikes, swimming, playing hopscotch and jump rope. Anything we could think of.
12. What would the title of your autobiography be?
“Life is a Beautiful Ride but Sometimes You Hit a Curb, Fall, and Get Hurt Real Bad: My Life as a Biking Metaphor” by Donna Bour
13. Any hidden talents?
I can pick up things with my toes. Really.
14. What is your favorite song (or album) right now?
I have kind of eclectic taste in music and I don’t really have a favorite. But playing on my phone right now are “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” by Lucinda Williams, The Best of Leon Russell, Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hits, “Eveningland” by Hem, “Keep it Simple” by Keb’ Mo’, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits.
15. What is your biggest challenge nowadays?
Dealing with aging parents and getting old myself. As Linda Evans said so eloquently, “I don’t intend to grow old gracefully. I intend to fight it every step of the way.” That is my motto.