News & Stories

Meet the Loppet’s New Executive Director

Loppet Members, Staff, Community and Friends,

On behalf of the Loppet Foundation Board of Directors, I’m pleased to share some exciting news. The directors have unanimously appointed Claire Wilson to serve as the Loppet’s new Executive Director. Claire will start her new post on December 14, 2020.

Claire was selected following in-depth, nationwide executive search. Claire is a founding member of the Loppet and was our first full-time employee before leaving in 2005 to pursue leadership opportunities outside the organization. Among the milestones achieved during Claire’s tenure was the creation of the Loppet’s first youth program – “Get Outside!” – which has since developed into the popular TRAIL KIDS program. She rejoins us after a 15-year career in executive leadership roles in the government and non-profit sectors, during which she has developed a proven track record as an effective, inclusive leader. Throughout her career, Claire has focused on expanding programming opportunities for underrepresented communities.

Together, the Loppet community has achieved several milestones since our founding in 2003, including: the growth of the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival, including the Luminary Loppet, into a cherished celebration of Minnesota winter; our successful partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to construct The Trailhead, a world-class outdoor hub located in Theodore Wirth Regional Park; and our successful bid to host a Cross-Country Ski World Cup event on U.S. soil for the first time since 2001. Claire has articulated a vision for the Loppet Foundation as we approach our 20-year anniversary, guided by the core principles of Focus, Balance and Joy. We couldn’t be more pleased to have her returning to the Loppet as our Executive Director at a time when the Loppet, its community and programming are needed more than ever before.

The board is grateful to Ray Aponte for his leadership as Interim Executive Director since July. During his time as Interim Executive Director, Ray has demonstrated authentic leadership and successfully adapted the Loppet’s programming to fill community needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to announce Ray’s promotion to a new senior leadership role with responsibility for all facets of the Loppet’s youth and adult outdoor programming and the management of the Trailhead. 

Please join the board in welcoming Claire back to the Loppet and congratulating Ray on his promotion. Thank you all for your continued support.

Jonathan Van Horn
President, Board of Directors