Alison Levine is an adventurer, explorer and mountaineer. She has climbed the highest peak 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 has had 3 heart surgeries and 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. 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 spent three years as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership. Having spent months at a time in some of the world’s most dangerous and extreme environments, Levine focuses on the topics of creating cohesive teams, taking responsible risks and developing no-nonsense leaders that can succeed in times of uncertainty. She serves on the advisory board of the CoachK/Duke University Center on Leadership & Ethics and is a strategic advisor for the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point.
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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“Her comments aligned well with the challenges that we are facing and I think her comments will help this organization shake off any doubt and cynicism and work through challenges with more optimism and belief in the future.”—