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

Alison is an adventurer, explorer and mountaineer. She has climbed peaks on every continent, served as the team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, and skied across the Arctic Circle to the geographic North Pole. 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. In May 2010 she completed the Adventure Grand Slam – climbing the 7 Summits (highest peak on each continent) and skiing to both Poles, an accomplishment fewer than 30 people in the world can claim. Her success in extreme environments is noteworthy given she suffers from a neurological disease that causes the arteries that feed her fingers and toes to collapse in cold weather, leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.

Levine’s expeditions have been documented by more than 450 media outlets. She is the subject of the PBS documentary Living Courageously (2007) and has made numerous appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC, FOX, CBS’ Evening News, and other national programs. She is featured prominently in the book More Than 85 Broads (J Hanson, McGraw Hill), the book that captures the efforts of women on Wall Street to find success and take risks on their own terms. Her accomplishments are also featured in other books including Smart Moves (Curran & Greenwald, Ten Speed Press) and In Extremis Leadership (T Kolditz, Wiley & Sons). Her story has been the subject of articles in Oprah Magazine, National Geographic, Entrepreneur, Sports Illustrated, Outside, and other publications. She recently wrote her first book, On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership, which is a New York Times best seller.

In addition to having tackled some of the most extreme environments in the outdoors, Levine has also spent more than two decades in the business world. Her professional career has encompassed healthcare, technology and finance. After earning her MBA from Duke University she moved to New York to work for investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. In 2003, she left Wall Street to serve as deputy finance director for Arnold Schwarzenegger in his successful bid to become Governor of California.

Levine also served as an adjunct instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she taught in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership.  She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Thayer Leader Development Group. She is also the founder of her own consulting firm, which focuses on organizational effectiveness. Having spent months at a time in some of the world's most dangerous and extreme environments, Levine addresses the topics of creating cohesive teams, taking responsible risks and developing no-nonsense leaders that can succeed in times of uncertainty.

In 2005, she founded the Climb High Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of jobless women in Africa by training them to be trekking guides and porters in their local mountains so they will have the skills to earn a sustainable living wage through climbing-related tourism.

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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