FAQs about our new Executive Director, Rob Sadowsky


Questions for Rob:

  • What are you most excited to work on at Bark? Or learn?

    I am very excited to work with a passionate group of board, staff and volunteers who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to work, fight the good fight, and appreciate a good time. I’m also excited about working with a unionized outreach team. I have so much to learn about our work, but am surrounded by a great team that already knows their stuff. I’ll do my best to stay out of their way and do what I do best: focus on great team work, build internal leadership, raise more money to do more great work, and help fine tune our communications. I like homework, so feel free to send me readings, videos, articles, etc. that you think would help me get a better leg up on this work.

  • Where is your favorite place to hike in Mt. Hood National Forest?

    There are so many places. Recently I fell in love with Elk Meadow. It had truly amazing views of the mountain and a great mix of riparian, forest and meadow habitat. I’d love to hear your thoughts on where I should hike next. Send me an email at rob@bark-out.org.

  • What lessons can you take from your work in affordable housing and community development in Chicago?

    It is far more powerful to work in partnership with other organizations, but to do so, you need to build trust, learn about shared interests, and meet the other group where they are. To do that, you need to start with listening first. Secondly, it is important to simply show up and be present for your partner’s issues, events, and needs. Building collaboration also means learning a common language, discussing organizing strategy, getting buy in and consensus building from the beginning, and sharing the victories and the defeats together.

  • What lessons can you take from your work in bike advocacy?

    Bikes are fun:  Advocacy needs to connect with people on a deeply personal and emotional level, and when you can do that, it can be magical.

    Keep it simple: Once you start explaining, you’re losing.

    No matter where you’re relationship is going, you’ll get there faster on a tandem: Building partners can be very, very powerful. But it takes work, communications, patience and strength.

    Get the best made equipment you can afford: When your bike isn’t working well, the long haul can be a drag and you work extra hard. So, build a great team, make sure the parts work together. Know your theory of change, stick to it, and build an organizing philosophy that matches.

    Bikes are polarizing for some: Language, appearance, and history matter. Never come into someone else’s community and tell them what to do (you don’t have the right and it won’t work). Equity, diversity and inclusion work is essential, hard and never ending. Start from where you have common ground and agreed on assumptions and build from there.

    If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu: Show up when invited and sometimes when you’re not invited. Take notes. Be present. Listen. Be attentive.

    If you don’t know where you’re going, pedal harder, but first look at a map: Good planning and good systems help. But even then, sometimes you just need to try to get moving and not let perfection get in your way. Some of the best experiences are the ones when you think you’re lost.

  • Are there other ways that bicycles and forests are interlinked?

    Yes, I suggest listening to this news report: http://www.theonion.com/audio/bicycle-riding-circus-bear-pedals-back-to-natural--28194

  • What do you think are the components of a great campaign?  

    All good campaigns have a beginning, middle and end with clear points of engagement for partners, volunteers and the general public. I believe it is essential for the campaign to be rooted in a core organizing philosophy and theory of change. Some campaigns are “owned” by a single organization and some campaigns are “owned” by a coalition. Even if the campaign is headed up by Bark, I’d love to see the campaign have a steering committee composed of key stakeholders with clear roles. Ideally, if funding is available, these stakeholders should be compensated for their involvement.

    Campaigns also need clear and developed messaging that keeps things simple, is founded in truth and appeals to people’s emotional connection to the issue. In today’s world, there are so many competing forms of communication systems, that a good campaign needs to tap into a wide variety of methods including social media and networking. But unless your campaign staff are willing to go face to face with people and also pick up the phone, it's hard to engage with people. We are fortunate at Bark to have a great outreach team that get out there and talk.

  • Speaking of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, how will your work help Bark in our goals?

    Let’s be honest, Bark needs to get better on issues of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). This will take an all-out effort to be honest, confront our own racism and privilege, gain understanding from communities of color, and ACT. We know that action is more powerful than words. I am personally committed to help Bark engage at a much deeper level than Bark has gone before on EDI. I have also asked to be held accountable by the board for Bark’s progress on EDI.

    As part of this work for The Street Trust, I was part of a team that worked with The Intertwine Alliance to first assess the organization through a formal process and develop a work plan on EDI. This includes attending an intensive anti-racism workshop led by Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training. I’ll be bringing a process developed by the Coalition of Communities of Color to our team. I am also committed to working to build Bark so that people of color want to join our team through working hard on leadership development, recruitment, and staff development.

  • What do you see as Bark’s greatest assets?

    When I look at Bark, I see tenacity, passion, devotion, and amazing smarts. These qualities are found in staff, board, volunteers, and members. That’s a huge recipe for success in a time when it will take every ounce of tenacity, passion, devotion and smarts to challenge the growing attacks on what we hold dear that we expect to see from this federal administration. I also see the ability to be nimble and respond quickly.

  • Where do you stand on mountain biking in National Forest Land?

    I love mountain biking. There is a place for recreational activities, where we can safely limit the impact they have on the environment and where partnerships with mountain biking advocates can add stewardship opportunities. But there are areas that are sacred, that are vital to preserving endangered species and natural habitat, where any encroachment on that ecosystem can damage a variety of species.

    I strongly support Bark’s current stance which supports mountain bike trails at places like Dog River and Sandy Ridge where they don’t adversely impact salmon or water quality.

  • Downhill skiing, cross country skiing,  snowboarding or snowshoeing?

    I try, please teach me, never, and I’d love to learn.

  • How do you like to be contacted? Or what’s the best way to get a hold of you?

    I can be reached by phone at the Bark office at 503-331-0374 or email me at rob@bark-out.org. I prefer not to have a dialogue through chat or messaging programs.

  • When do we get to meet you?

    The easiest way is to get involved with our work. You can find a listing of our events at http://bark-out.org/upcoming-events.  We are also planning a formal meet and greet on Giving Tuesday, November 28th from 5-8pm at Cider Riot. Click here for more information and to RSVP. At that link, you can also share with me your favorite story of Bark or Mt. Hood National Forest!

  • What kind of chocolate is best for s'mores?

    I like dark chocolate, with or without graham crackers and marshmallows. But since I’m lactose intolerant, any s’more would have to have dark chocolate (leaving out Hershey’s Milk Chocolate) and ideally a chocolate that meets the standards of Organic and Fair Trade. Chocolate should do no harm…

  • How do you like your marshmallows?  

    Heavily charred.

  • Are you trading in your bike shoes for walking poles?

    False choice. I can have both. And don’t even think about asking me to sell one of my six bikes.


Questions for the board:

  • Tell us about the hiring process?

    The process of finding a new Executive Director took countless hours and began early in 2017. We developed a transition team that included board members, staff, and volunteers. We reached out to dozens of community members for help in developing a process that held the highest standards to equity and inclusivity. We’re excited that we can incorporate the excellent resources we found on issues like unconscious bias into our regular hiring repertoire. We reviewed almost a hundred applications and as part of our vetting process, we even received feedback from Bark’s founding Executive Director Greg Dyson and former Executive Director Sandi Scheinberg.   

  • Why Rob?

    We’re so excited that we found Rob and that Rob found us! We’re thrilled for the passion, dedication, and experience that he will bring to Bark. He will continue Bark’s commitment to skill building and leadership development for both our amazing staff and our awesome volunteers. As an experienced Executive Director, we think Rob is going to help us strengthen our organizational processes. Rob is committed to helping Bark take the next step in our internal equity, diversity, and inclusion work, a priority for our Board of Directors. Finally, we know that Rob cares as much about our public lands as we do! We are confident that Rob is going to help take Bark’s work to protect the waters and wildlife of Mt. Hood National Forest to the next level.  

  • So, what’s happening with Joy? How did you all keep things moving so well during the transition?

    We cannot thank Joy Keen  enough for stepping up to the plate as Bark’s Interim Executive Director. Leadership during transitional moments is especially difficult. Joy came to this challenge with an impressive skill set, her passion for Bark’s mission, and her deep knowledge of Bark gained years of volunteer leadership. Joy has been volunteering for Bark for a dozen years. She served as President of Bark’s Board of Directors for seven years, and was also on the Personnel Committee. We are grateful for Joy’s willingness to serve in this short-term position while we searched for Bark’s new Executive Director.