Interview with NSP Executive Director Stephanie Cox

Stephanie Cox, Executive Director, National Ski Patrol

Stephanie Cox, Executive Director, National Ski Patrol

Stephanie Cox was hired as the Executive Director of the NSP just over a year ago, in October 2022. She is the third Executive Director of the NSP in the last few years. Trail Sweep asked Stephanie if she would agree to be interviewed to discuss the challenges of the job and her plans for the future. We asked her about what skills she brought to the job, how she felt about the turnover of her predecessors, her plans for the growth of sponsorships and fundraising, and her plans to help resolve issues with the NSP website.

We appreciate Stephanie’s willingness to respond and her openness in her comments.  Here is the interview:


What experiences and skills do you bring to the NSP as Executive Director?

My prior leadership roles, where I had to manage large, diverse teams, make critical decisions, and motivate others – especially in difficult, changing, and complex environments — likely prepared me for this role. Having spent a lot of time in high-pressure, changing situations, I honed my problem-solving skills to handle challenges effectively and developed a lot of grit, courage, and adaptability. I think that those are important traits when dealing with industry and organizational change.

Effective communication is crucial for any leader. My very first career was as a journalist, and I learned to be observant, listen, and be curious. I hope my ability to communicate with staff, volunteers, stakeholders, and the public will help bring the community together even more. Being a leader in the humanitarian aid world taught me to be resilient, compassionate, analyze risks, and be adaptable as I spent most of my time overseas in war zones and unstable environments. When I pivoted to the start-up world and became an entrepreneur, I learned to lean into my vision and became more decisive. Venture capitalists are a tough crowd and a boys’ club, albeit that is changing fast – so I learned quickly to develop and trust my confidence. All of this has helped shape my leadership style, which I like to think of as “intentional.” But this is also a role where a deep passion for skiing is a key motivator. My true love for the sport – and people in the industry, especially my team – provides great fuel for the long days.


There has been a lot of turnover in the NSP Executive Director position in the last few years. How do you feel you can improve the rapport between the Executive Director and the NSP Board of Directors?

When I assumed the role of Executive Director in October for the National Ski Patrol, I did so with equal parts excitement and caution as I knew that there was much work to do to help the organization continue to recover from a tumultuous few years. Leadership turnover, COVID, societal shifts, and a changing landscape in the industry introduced uncertainty and delivered shocks to the organization. And while our member numbers remained steady, our progress slowed. Developing a positive, productive, and trusting relationship with the board was a key priority in order to get anything meaningful accomplished. I am pleased to say that I am thrilled to be working collaboratively with the Board of Directors on faster decision-making, governance, and accountability. We have an open line of communication. I respect every member of the board and enjoy working with them and guiding them towards a true governance role.

I encourage the Eastern Division members to go to the NSP website to read my Annual Member letter, see the 3-year plan (knowing we will soon be working on YR 2!), and read the latest BOD reports. All can be found in the document library or on the Leadership Structure page.

I very much look forward to visiting the Eastern Division this season and getting to know our fantastic members.


The NSP has lost several key sponsors in the last year. What are your plans to grow new sponsor relationships going forward?

I welcome this opportunity to clarify that the only sponsor that recently moved on from NSP is Subaru of America after 25 years of wonderful support. Like all relationships, the one between NSP and Subaru evolved over time, and we found ourselves at the end of our journey together. The world has changed since our partnership began in 1995, and the automotive industry, like the ski industry, faces many new challenges and opportunities. While NSP and Subaru have had many great adventures together, the time is right to look forward to new destinations and travel partners, even as we continue to stay connected with old friends. Subaru will continue to offer VIP pricing to NSP members until further notice, and we continue to support the Subaru brand. In the meantime, the partnership team and I are cultivating relationships across different industries with many new brands and are excited about what the future holds in this arena for NSP. Stay tuned!


Along the same lines, NSP dues increased significantly last year and could increase again this year. What are your plans to improve fundraising and donations?

Diversifying income in any organization or business is very important to keep up with the overall changing industry and economic conditions, such as inflation, to ensure financial resilience and viability. Fundraising represents one income stream for NSP. In order to fundraise properly and sustainably, the organization has to be in a strong position with its brand, identity, direction, and plans. Fundraising was not a priority in my first year as we had much housekeeping and administrative clean-up to do, along with recovering our brand from years of public turmoil. In fact, I asked the board to suspend the fundraising committee for a year until I felt we were in a position to go out to our membership and the public to ask them for their support. If we are to fundraise, then we must do it right.

Our membership is watching, and I want to show them results from the first and second years and then ask for their support. That means having a strategy, having good systems to back up the strategy, having human resources to direct it, and most importantly, follow-up and stewardship. By demonstrating accountability, transparency, and effectiveness in utilizing funds, we’ll be in a stronger position to ask for support from members and the public. We do currently offer online donations, and we absolutely want our members to especially consider NSP in planned giving. It’s all available right now on the new website. In fact, we are currently fundraising for Powderfall scholarships.

Visit the Donate Page

Donate to the Powderfall Scholarship Fund


Patrollers have complained of many problems with the NSP website. What are your plans to help resolve these issues?

These systems will always be a work in progress as we continue to optimize functionality and keep information fresh for our members and partners. We completed phases I and II (cloud migration and minimal viable product) of our member management system, website, and store upgrades recently. There have been a lot of changes this year, and we are moving at high speed toward a common goal. At the same time, we have been conscious of the impact of this on the staff and membership. I am pleased to say that we are now on the upside of this tech adoption curve, with our new systems in place and functional. Every day you check back, you are likely to see something new and improved.

5 Common Mistakes When Writing NSP Awards

National Appointment presented to Mike Wallace and Peter Buss at Hidden Valley, PA, October 2023Awards are a great way to recognize our patrollers for their outstanding performance and dedication. Yet, many patrols either don’t have an awards advisor or don’t submit awards because they find the award process daunting. Making these five mistakes is the biggest source of frustration to patrol awards advisors, especially new advisors.

1. Waiting until the last minute – The process of writing an NSP award application can be intimidating. It’s easy to put it off until the last minute. Awards have their busy seasons – fall refreshers, spring end-of-season events, and the end of February when the Outstanding awards are due. To be a successful award writer, you need time to prepare, research, and write the award application. The fall and winter are too busy. The best time to start is in the summer when fewer distractions exist. If you have a presentation date in mind, be sure to submit the award application at least 50 days before it’s needed. During the busy award season, it’s a good idea to allow even more time.

Tip: Step one should always be the re-reading of Chapter 12 — the Policies and Procedures (P&P) manual on the website to learn the rules and requirements for each award. Step two is to read about the Eastern Division Awards available on the Awards page of

2. Trying to do it all by yourself – The research needed to write a successful award application can be intimidating. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Ask your shift or team supervisors for background information about the nominee. A best friend or spouse can be a great source of information that will help the application stand out among the others. The Outstanding Awards require a lot of information. Recruit a team of 2 to 4 people to help you. Outstanding awards are due no later than March 1st, though some regions have earlier deadlines to allow for review and corrections.

3. Using an out-of-date form – Nothing will stop an award from moving up the line faster than using the wrong application form. Even if you wrote an award recently, always check to make sure you’ve got the most current version. Get the National award forms from the Documents page or get Division award forms from the Awards page every time.

4. Spelling errors – The second fastest thing to kill an award is poor writing and bad spelling. You don’t have to be Hemingway. Just put the facts into a story that’s interesting and compelling. The award application forms don’t have spell check. Nominations must be submitted in WORD format. Write your nomination, spell-check it, then copy and paste it into the form.

Tip: Before starting to fill in the nomination form, put the cursor behind the grey box and click the backspace button twice. This will remove the grey box and make it easier to return to make corrections.

5. Starting with the toughest award first – Everyone wants to go for the gold – Outstanding awards – first. Start with the easier stuff and learn the award process – Years of service, the Patroller Cross for an injured patroller, the Patriot Star for a patroller with military service, and the Patroller Achievement award. Then, move up to Merit Stars, which require more research and documentation.

Outstanding awards are the toughest to write and the least rewarding (pun intended.) We’re lucky to have so many great patrollers in the division. Your nominee could be great, but they are competing with many other wonderful people. I’ve been an award judge. Everyone looks good, so the judge makes the best decision he or she can. If your nominee doesn’t win, don’t be discouraged. Gather more information, rewrite the award, and try again next year.

Should you have any problems or questions, a good source of information is your region awards advisor. You can find a list of advisors and their contact information on the Eastern division website under Programs, Awards.