Sarah Brown has only just started seeing change in the outdoor industry, at least with regards to inclusivity. And that’s saying something: Brown has been working in the industry since she graduated college in 2014 and has been a participant for even longer (she learned to snowboard at Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs Mountain Resort when she was just six years old).
“I grew up in a male-dominated industry,” Brown (she/her) explains. “I had my dad get me into the sport [of snowboarding], and when I started to work in the outdoor industry, I never had a female mentor.” She didn’t let it stop her. In 2018 she was featured in the Blue Ridge Outdoors “30 Under 30” list, and by 2021 she was the general manager of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountain Ski Resort. And just because she didn’t have a female mentor doesn’t mean she didn’t have female role models, Brown adds.
“Lindsey Vonn has been a true trailblazer,” she says of one of her heroes, citing both the ski racer’s Olympic successes and her recent founding of the Lindsey Vonn Foundation, which helps provide scholarships and youth sports and education programming. In addition to proving to the world how hard women can ski, Vonn is also “an inspiration to show girls that they can achieve their dreams in the outdoors,” Brown says—something she’s tried to emulate in her own career.
Today, Brown is the assistant store manager of experience at the new Public Lands location in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania—and she’s got some big goals. First on the list: making sure everyone in the community feels welcome.
“When I saw the Public Lands opening, I thought, ‘Wow, this is fantastic—they’re trying to do something more than just a normal retail store,’” she says. Now she considers it her job to live up to that promise, going above and beyond to take an active role in the surrounding community. That’s everything from connecting with customers on a personal level, to helping build local green spaces, to cleaning up riverfronts with nonprofit Allegheny CleanWays and clothing brand United by Blue. And not just once or twice, either: Since the Cranberry Township store opened in the summer of 2021, its employees have clocked more than 700 volunteer hours.