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Alison Levine
(University of Arizona, 1987)
Adventurer, Explorer and Mountaineer; Founder, DareDevil Strategies; Founder Climb High Foundation

Alison Levine is a history-making polar explorer and mountaineer. She served as team captain of the first AmericanWomen’s Everest Expedition, climbed the highest peak on each continent and skied to both the North and South Poles—a feat known as the Adventure Grand Slam, which fewer than forty people in the world have achieved. In January 2008, she made history as the first American to complete a 600-mile traverse from west Antarctica to the South Pole following the route of legendary explorer Reinhold Messner. Levine completed this arduous journey on skis while hauling 150 pounds of her gear and supplies in a sled harnessed to her waist. She made history once again in 2016 when she completed the first ascent of Antarctica's Hall Peak. Her success in extreme environments is noteworthy given she has had three heartsurgeries and suffers from Raynaud’s disease, which causes the arteries that feed her fingers and toes to collapse in coldweather— leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.

In addition to having tackled some of the most challenging environments in the outdoors, Levine also spent time climbing the corporate ladder. She worked in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, earned an MBA from Duke University, and spent three years working for Goldman Sachs. She left Goldman in 2003 to serve as deputy finance director for Arnold Schwarzenegger in his successful bid to become Governor of California.

Levine spent four years as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership and is a strategic advisor for the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point. She was a contributing author to the book Leadership in Dangerous Situations: A Handbook for the Armed Forces, Emergency Services and First Responders (Naval Institute Press). She also served as a Senior Fellow at the Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics at Duke University.

A sought-after consultant and keynote speaker on the subject of leadership development, Levine has addressed audiences ranging from Fortune 500 companies to professional sports teams to the prestigious World Economic Forum at Davos. She is the author of the New York Times best-sellerOn the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and other Extreme Environments. Having spent prolonged periods of time in some of the world's most dangerous and inhospitable places (including Wall Street), she tackles the topics of creating cohesive teams, taking responsible risks and developing no- nonsense leaders that can succeed in times of uncertainty.

Levine is the founder of the Climb High Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of jobless women in western Uganda by training them to be trekking guides and porters in their local mountains, thus allowing them to earn a sustainable living wage through climbing-related tourism. Her efforts enabled the first group of local women toclimb Uganda’s highest peak—Mt Stanley, and her work in Africa is the subject of the PBS documentary Living Courageously.

Levine’s newest role is that of executive producer of the upcoming documentary film The Glass Ceiling, which chronicles the life of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa (1961- 1993) and her quest to become the first Nepali woman to climb Mt. Everest.

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Leadership Quote

"The fear of failure is the main factor that prevents people from taking risks, which is unfortunate. I think it's good to fail at times. When you don't achieve the goal you set out for yourself, you can still learn from that experience."
Alison Levine

Related Publications



On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership


Related Blog Posts

Bookclub: Levine’s "On the Edge" demonstrates the importance of leadership in a VUCA environment

Choosing Your Team: Experience, Expertise, and Ego