FOFAC Leadership Updates

November 8th 2023

With gratitude and appreciation, we say goodbye to three longtime board members: Dow Powell, Becky Smith-Powell, and Roland Frey.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of their tireless effort on avalanche safety in Northwest Montana. Where we are today has a lot to do with these three. Thank you so much, Becky, Dow, and Roland!” FOFAC Executive Director Emily Struss says. “We have a great team coming on board for the next chapter of FOFAC, but they have big shoes to fill.”

As sad as we are to see them go, we are thrilled to announce Ted Steiner as President and Zak Anderson as Secretary of the FOFAC community Board of Directors.

Zak Anderson‘s family moved to Whitefish in the winter of 1990 after falling in love with skiing at Big Mountain.  As a youth Zak became an avid skier and an athlete on the local ski racing team.  Zak is a University of Montana graduate with work experience in real estate development, marketing, sales and public relations.  After pursuing a career that took him to Phoenix, New York, and San Francisco Zak returned to the Flathead Valley to be closer to family and the recreational activities he is passionate about (skiing!).  He worked for the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation for more than 10 years serving as assistant coach whilst bartending at nights at the Whitefish Lake Golf Club and Abruzzo Italian Kitchen to make ends meet.  Zak has volunteer experience from his time as a member of the Whitefish City-County Planning Board and the Whitefish Visitors & Convention Bureau; serving as Chairman for 4 years.  Zak now lives in Coram with his family where he is the General Manager of Green Valley Ranch.

Ted Steiner lives in Whitefish with his wife, Lisa and son, Ruedi. He has been based out of Whitefish since the early 80s and although he has left for seasons at a time, this is his home and he considers himself so fortunate to be part of this community.

Beginning in the mid 80s through early 90s he began pursuing a profession in snow safety, learning winter rescue skills as a volunteer with the Flathead Nordic Ski Patrol and working as a ski patroller at the Big Mountain Resort. In 1998 Ted obtained a BA degree in Physical Geography with a minor in Hydrology in 1998 from Montana State. Following graduation from MSU, he decided to continue working in the avalanche safety arena, ski patrolling in Utah and transitioning back home, to the Valley, where he was hired as the Executive Director (ED) for the Friends of the Glacier Country Avalanche Center (GCAC). GCAC, for those that may not realize, was the precursor to what is now the Flathead Avalanche Center. It was in existence for 17 years from 1995 to 2012. Ted worked with GCAC as the ED starting in 2001 and eventually moved to a new position, Education Director, as demand for avalanche safety courses in the Valley increased. 

In 2005, he stepped down from his position at GCAC to start working with David Hamre as an avalanche safety specialist. His focus back then was to assist Hamre and BNSF Railway management in starting an avalanche safety program for Railway ops in JFS Canyon. Establishing the Railway avalanche program was successful endeavor and, now, 17 years later he continues to work with Hamre and provide avalanche safety assistance to the Railway. Whew! 

“I’m so excited to be getting involved once again with the non-profit leadership side of FOFAC. Thank you to all on the FOFAC Executive Committee and Board for having confidence in me to assist FOFAC and our community,” Ted says.

It’ll be hard for all of us to say goodbye to Becky and Dow! Luckily they will stick around as FOFAC board alum. It’s hard to overstate the impact their tireless effort has has on our organization’s rebirth almost a decade ago, during the transition from GCAC to FAC.

“”Safe backcountry travel to all!” Becky and Dow say. “Developing and crafting FOFAC from a group of dedicated backcountry users to a fully functioning organization with over $100,000 annual operating budget has been an exciting and rewarding experience. We’ve proud to have been part of FOFAC’s awesome group of board members.