IMBA Interim Executive Director’s Post Mike Van Abel Departure Message to Members

This message from Dan Brillion, Interim Executive Director of IMBA, was sent out to IMBA members as a follow-up to the recent announcement of Mike Van Abel leaving the organization.  Wyoming Pathways will continue to follow this story and how IMBA moves forward with new leadership.

Dear IMBA Member,

With last week’s announcement of Mike Van Abel’s departure I’m sure that has you asking yourself what is going on at IMBA. Fair question – I’ll attempt to answer that below.

Mike has been with IMBA for the last 12 years and has been instrumental in turning IMBA into the organization it is today. The Chapter model came about because of his vision. The Regional Director/shared ED structure was something he identified as an important step to connect Chapters at the local level directly with IMBA. And the list of initiatives goes on. As such IMBA will always be grateful to Mike for his contributions.

Organizations change and certainly, IMBA has seen its fair share of this over the last few years. If you look at the Chapter Program, what it looks like today is quite different than how it looked just two years ago in terms of size and geography. We’ve had a similar kind of development within Trail Solutions. To help manage all of this, IMBA has made some key hires at the senior management level, including people who come from leadership positions within Chapters. This is resulting in a more systematic approach to how we think about our business and programs. While it used to be that all mission was considered good mission, now we want to make sure that the mission work we are doing is actually being effective on the ground locally where it matters.

So where does that leave us and how is it going to look moving forward? First of all, we’re going to keep our eyes focused on the association. This means membership which is continuing strong with 19% growth over last year. Second, it means holding a world-class World Summit November 10th-12th in Bentonville, AR. Next week look for communications that summarize the key findings from the recent member survey. Also, the Fall Membership Drive is in full swing with digital assets for chapters to leverage available now through the chapter leader toolbox.

But perhaps more importantly than all the above, IMBA is going to start communicating more clearly and directly. Over the years IMBA has evolved into its current position with many different constituencies across the mountain bike community. One of the comments I regularly hear is “I don’t know what IMBA stands for.” There is so much good work going on out there by our volunteers, members, employees and partners. Quite frankly we just haven’t done a good job communicating those stories. We’re going to change that. We also want people to understand why we take the positions we do on key issues, and that will be a reflection of our values and beliefs as an organization – which we will also be having more to say about in the near future.

So for now, I ask for your continued support. This association is in good hands, with a committed Board of Directors and strong senior management team in place. We’re sad to see Mike leave, but confident that this opportunity is going to allow the IMBA network to become even more effective in achieving its mission to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences.


Dan Brillon
Interim Executive Director