About Ann Bancroft


about_ann.jpgOur founder 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.

Major Accomplishments

  • February 2001 - Ann and Norwegian polar explorer Liv Arnesen become the first women in history to sail and ski across Antarctica's landmass - completing a 94-day, 1,717-mile (2,747 km) trek.
  • 1993 - Ann leads the American Women's Expedition to the South Pole, a 67-day expedition of 660 miles (1,060 km) on skis by four women, earning the distinction of being the first known woman in history to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles.
  • 1992 - Ann leads the first American women's east to west crossing of Greenland.
  • 1986 - Ann dogsleds 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from the Northwest Territories in Canada to the North Pole as the only female member of the Steger International Polar Expedition, earning the distinction of being the first known woman in history to cross the ice to the North Pole.


Born in 1955 in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, Ann's love of the outdoors began early in life. Aside from the two years she spent with her family in Kenya (in fifth and sixth grades), Ann was a student of Minnesota's vast wilderness. Her father often took her on camping and canoe trips in northern Minnesota. At age eight, she began to lead her own mini-expeditions, cajoling her cousins into accompanying her on backyard winter camping trips.

Ann's passion for exploring our natural world is matched by her enthusiasm for teaching children. After earning a bachelor of science degree in physical education from the University of Oregon, Ann taught physical and special education in Minneapolis and Saint Paul and coached various high school sports.

Ann founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation (ABF) in 1991 to support the educational mission of the historic all-women's Antarctic polar expedition in 1993. ABF was originally called the AWE Foundation (All Women's Expedition) which produced curricula based on the expedition that reached more than 200,000 students worldwide. In 1997, the AWE Board of Directors and Ann decided that the Foundation would better achieve its mission by focusing on honoring and encouraging girls and women to reach, explore, and discover their own dreams and thus the Ann Bancroft Foundation was born. The vision of the reborn organization is for every girl and woman in the United States who dares to dream to have the support, inspiration, and resources that will help make their dreams come true.

Visit Ann’s Expedition Website

An internationally known entity, Ann's expeditions have been followed by BBC, CNN, National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News and NBC's Today show. She also has been featured in Time, People, USA Today, Ms., McCall's, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Glamour, National Geographic, Outside, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids and Sports Illustrated for Women, O, the Oprah Magazine and Time for Kids. Ann is a spokesperson for the Learning Disabilities Association, Wilderness Inquiry and Girl Scouts of the USA. She serves on the board of Youth Frontiers, co-chairs the Wilderness Inquiry capital campaign and is a judge for the Nuclear-Free awards and the National Women's Hall of Fame inductions. Ann serves on the advisory board of the Melpomene Institute and Medica.

Ann currently lives in Marine on Saint Croix, Minnesota.