Ann Bancroft is one of the world’s preeminent polar explorers and an internationally recognized leader who is dedicated to inspiring women and girls around the world to unleash the power of their dreams. Through her various roles as an explorer, educator, sought-after speaker and philanthropist, Ann believes that by sharing stories related to her dreams of outdoor adventure, she can help inspire a global audience to pursue their individual dreams.

Ann’s teamwork and leadership skills have undergone severe tests during her polar expeditions and provided her with opportunities to shatter female stereotypes. The tenacity and courage that define her character have earned Ann worldwide recognition as one of today’s most influential role models for women and girls. She has been named among Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year” (2001); featured in the book Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century (1998); inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (1995); named Ms. magazine’s “Woman of the Year” (1987); and honored with numerous other awards for her accomplishments.

Ann is the first known woman in history to cross the ice to the North and South poles. In 1986 she dogsledded 1,000 miles to the North Pole as the only female member of the Steger International Polar Expedition, and in 1993 she led the 4-woman American Women’s Expedition to the South Pole, a 67-day 660-mile expedition on skis. In 2001 Ann and WINGS Fellow and polar explorer Liv Arnesen completed a 1,717-mile, 94-day trek to become the first women to sail and ski across Antarctica.

In 1991, Ann founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation (ABF), which “empowers girls to imagine something bigger” through grants, mentorship and ongoing development opportunities. Ann and Liv Arnesen also formed Bancroft Arnesen Explore (BAE) to inspire people, particularly women and girls, to follow their dreams. Their current project, BAE Access Water, is an initiative to complete an expedition on a major waterway on one continent every other year to bring attention to, and create a movement around, access to clean water. In 2000, they launched the BAE badge with Girl Scouts of the USA, engaging girls in all 50 states with leadership programs and activities focused on health, wellness, and fitness.