2. DONNA CARPENTER: Burton’s Change Agent
Donna Gaston Carpenter was just 19 when she married Jake Burton Carpenter in 1983, a year after they met at the Mill Tavern in Londonderry. She worked closely alongside him until his death in 2019. While Jake was snowsports’ disrupter and the face of Burton, Donna was often the behind-the-scenes change agent for the company and for the sport. In the early years, that meant lobbying ski areas to even allow boards and establishing Burton’s distribution in Europe. At 25, she became company CFO in 1989 and served as CEO from 2016 to 2020. Donna helped ensure the values she and Jake shared ricocheted though the sport. In 1995 they founded the CHILL Foundation, since then it has helped more than 25,000 disadvantaged kids participate in action boardsports. An advocate for women, Donna has worked hard for gender equality, ensuring that The Burton Open paid equal prize money for women from its first year. In 2017, Burton also sponsored the travel costs for employees who wanted to travel to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Today, more than half of the leadership team are women. Donna has also been an activist and leader in the push to make the company and sport more sustainable. The Burton Open has been carbon neutral since 2017 and the company aimed for a “20% reduction in carbon emissions and to divert 75% of waste from the landfill by 2020.” It also set a dashboard to track progress toward a number of other sustainability goals. In October 2019, Burton became a B Corporation, legally binding it to balance purpose with profit. Lastly, while so many companies of the size and growth trajectory of Burton could have either sold to a larger company or moved out of state, Donna and Jake worked hard to keep Burton in Vermont and to make the Vermont brand part of its DNA.