Rue Mapp

The Mapp to Discovering Natural Places

This week, Kristin Carpenter-Ogden interviews Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro on the Intrepid Entrepreneur podcast. In addition to being a visionary entrepreneur, Mapp is becoming a nationally recognized leader who is highly committed to connecting African Americans to the outdoors and nature.

Rue Mapp founded Outdoor Afro six years ago, first as a blog and now as a national organization that specializes in connecting African Americans to nature and outdoor experiences through community and outings. The inspiration behind Outdoor Afro came from Rue’s upbringing. She split her time between her family’s home in the Bay Area of California, and their second home in the country. She is an alumni of Outward Bound and attributes so many of her most influential memories in life to being outdoors.

Outdoor Afro was a risk-taking, and passion-driven endeavor for Rue. As a mother of three it was not easy to step into the unknown to launch and lead the organization. But she asked herself what she really wanted to do at a critical juncture in her career six years ago, with the important caveat, “if money and time were not an issue.” Her answer emerged so clearly it even surprised her. … It was to start a website to reconnect African-Americans with the outdoors and nature.

Rue had a great background from which to launch Outdoor Afro. Rue has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was inspired by her study of the artistic representation of the American forests. She is also a successful entrepreneur whose game and hobby store start-up (It’s Your Move) remains an important part of the Oakland community.

Mapp’s journey from blogger to, now, the leader of a national organization in Outdoor Afro is cause for entrepreneurial envy. But to her, it’s more about inspiration and offering an open invitation to all who want to participate and belong to an outdoor tribe!

Outdoor Afro has built a national entourage of outdoor leaders/community connecters within its leadership team. The team is now 30-people strong and located in Atlanta, GA, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and up to Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis, Gary, Indiana, in the Carolinas, Virginia, Louisville, KY.

Outdoor Afro partners with KEEN Footwear and REI to provide gear education and being outfitted for success.

In 2010, Rue was invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference where President Obama signed an historic memorandum to help reconnect all Americans to the Great Outdoors. She was invited back to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. She was also appointed program officer at the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment where she served for two years to manage its grant-making program. Just last month, she was appointed the California State Parks Commissioner. Read the news release that KEEN Footwear posted, here.

Recently, Rue was named a Hero in Backpacker Magazine, honored as part of the Root 100 of the top black achievers and influencers for 2012, and received the Josephine and Frank Dunaneck award for her humanitarian efforts. In early June, Outdoor Afro and Rue will be featured on NPR.

Bravery in Business Quote:

“Once I knew what it was I wanted to do, I was unstoppable. I would not have passed up this moment to pursue what I was passionate about.”


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