Julia Goren returns to ADK as new deputy director
By Mike De Socio
Julia Goren, the incoming deputy director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, was not looking for a new job when she got a call from Michael Barrett, the organization’s executive director.
But the timing was right for Goren to accept Barrett’s offer to rejoin ADK. Goren is finishing up a three-year stint shaping the Adirondack Council’s VISION 2050 plan, marking a natural pivot and opportunity for her to return to the organization where she previously spent 15 years, this time with new insights and ideas in hand.
“I love ADK and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come back in a new role,” Goren said.
Barrett said he had been in talks with Goren generally about issues within the Adirondacks, and she was an obvious choice when the time came to fill this role.
“Not only has she had a history with us as a director of education, and that’s something that we want to do more of, but she obviously has a tremendous reputation in the Adirondacks and beyond,” Barrett said, “which makes her a great candidate for a dynamic position.”
As deputy director, Goren will have a range of responsibilities: Managing the Heart Lake Program Center; building partnerships with local governments and nonprofits; and growing ADK’s educational outreach.
She says ADK is at an important inflection point. The organization will celebrate its centennial next year, and has the opportunity to increase its role in addressing many of the park’s pressing issues, including overuse and environmental conservation.
“We have a world class park here, and we want to make sure that it is managed that way and that it stays that way.”— Julia Goren
Her No. 1 goal on that front is to see research and data play a larger role in driving management decisions at the local and state level. She supports the development of a comprehensive visitor use management plan, as suggested in the High Peaks Advisory Group Report. That will be essential to spreading out recreational impacts and preventing damage to the environment, she said.
“If I could put all my chips on one thing, it’s to say we want the research to drive the management and to adapt to what that says,” Goren said.
The Adirondack Council’s VISION 2050 report — which is yet to be released — will also serve as a roadmap for Goren’s efforts. She wasn’t able to share specifics from that plan, but said it focuses on education, job growth, and conversation.
Goren also wants to see ADK use its expertise to educate more visitors before they arrive. One current initiative involves playing “Leave No Trace” videos at Stewart’s Shops locations around the park. “That’s low hanging fruit, that’s an opportunity to educate people,” she said.
But Goren’s vision for the park goes beyond managing tourism.
“If I could accomplish anything in the park, I would see the park as having the infrastructure of a park of its scale. What I mean by that is, for the people who live here, that would mean the jobs in trail-building, the jobs in visitor education, the jobs in research, the jobs in planning, as well as the jobs that already exist here. And seeing the benefit for the people who live within the Adirondack Park, because we are really important stewards of the park for the visitors,” Goren said.
As a resident of Saranac Lake herself, Goren sees her work as an extension of the love she has for the place she calls home.
“It’s an incredible gift. Any of us who have the opportunity to live here and to give back to this place, we are really, really lucky people,” she said.