Steve Lesnard on The North Face’s Explore Fund Plans for Making the Outdoors More Inclusive

Too often, outdoor sports enthusiasts have been portrayed in advertising as white men and sometimes women, and non-white would-be adventurers are discouraged from pursuing outdoor sports. That’s a situation that Steve Lesnard, chief marketing officer and global VP of product creation for The North Face, and his company are seeking to change. The North Face has launched the Explore Fund Council, an expansion of the company’s 10-year-old Explore Fund that seeks to expand the mission by adding new voices and perspectives. The North Face has committed $7 million to increase support for the fund.

Steve Lesnard and The North Face tapped global athlete, climber, and Academy Award-winning director Jimmy Chin and Emmy-winning actress, producer, and screenwriter Lena Waithe to be the faces of this initiative. As part of the initiative, which The North Face has dubbed “Reset Normal,” Chin and Waithe “will work alongside additional creatives, academic experts, outdoor industry partners, and more so that, collectively, they can develop ideas to help create meaningful change. Together, this group will bring a new perspective and input for how The North Face develops, selects, and funds organizations through The Explore Fund,” according to a company press release.

Says Steve Lesnard about the Explore Fund

We’re so excited to celebrate 10 years of building equity in the outdoors through The North Face’s social impact and advocacy platform, the Explore Fund. We are launching the next chapter of the Explore Fund with the Explore Fund Council to continue working to reset the barriers to exploration and make it more accessible for all, now and in the future.

The first-year goal for the Explore Fund Council is to look for ways to create more culturally diverse exploration opportunities and connect diverse communities using outdoor sports. In the future, the organization plans to create additional programs, including some that will create mentorship opportunities for those who are interested in exploration but have limited resources.

Says Steve Lesnard

2020 has proven we need to radically accelerate that work and collaborate with a broad-reaching community to help us do so. We’re really excited to work alongside changemakers like Lena and Jimmy, and I believe the Explore Fund Council will help us foster a new, more equitable era for the outdoor industry.

About Steve Lesnard

Steve Lesnard is the CMO and global vice president of product creation for The North Face, the Denver-based purveyor of outdoor sports apparel, equipment, and footwear.