2015 Burning Man Annual Report

About the Organization

Burning Man is a network of people inspired by the values reflected in the Ten Principles and united in the pursuit of a more creative and connected existence in the world. Throughout the year we work to build Black Rock City, home of the largest annual Burning Man gathering, and nurture the distinctive culture emerging from that experience. The hub of this global network is the 501(c)(3) non-profit Burning Man Project, headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Burning Man organization is to facilitate and extend the culture that has issued from the Burning Man event into the larger world.


The Burning Man organization will bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of culture, community and personal engagement.

Program Areas

Burning Man provides infrastructural tools and frameworks to support local communities in applying the Ten Principles through six interconnected program areas, including Arts, Civic Involvement, Culture, Education, Philosophical Center and Social Enterprise.

Burning Man Project Board of Directors as of December 31, 2015

Will Roger discovered Burning Man in 1994, through his life partner Crimson Rose. Together and with several others, they co-founded Black Rock City, LLC, which has overseen the Burning Man event for nearly twenty years. Will founded and managed the Black Rock City Department of Public Works — a team of several hundred people responsible for the pre-event and post-event construction logistics and production. He is a founding board member of Burning Man Project, and is the Vice-President of Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock. Will is heavily involved in conservation efforts of the Black Rock Desert, which is the United State’s largest National Conservation Area, and which is home to the Burning Man event. He served as Chairman of the Sierra Front – North Western Great Basin – Resource Advisory Council (RAC), and is currently a member of the RAC NCA Subgroup.

Will is also an accomplished photographer, and worked nearly 20 years at the Rochester Institute of Technology as a photo chemist, administrator, associate professor, and Assistant Director.

Larry Harvey is a co-founder of Burning Man and the Chief Philosophical Officer of the Burning Man Project. A thoughtful visionary whose focus is perpetuation of Burning Man culture, Harvey began a modest art project to build and burn an effigy on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986. Nearly three decades later, the event he initiated has become a global force on six continents in over fifty countries, and has had a dramatic impact on art, technology, and society. An acute observer of individual and social behavior, Larry also wrote the Ten Principles of Burning Man as a description of the practices that emerged from this vibrant social experiment.Larry is Burning Man Project’s President of the Board of Directors. He also co-founded and chaired the Black Rock Arts Foundation. In 2013 he co-founded the Burning Man Project, and was instrumental in the transition to a 501c3 nonprofit organization which now operates with 70+ year-round staff and a budget of $30+ million. He is currently Board President, and heads the Philosophical Center, which works to preserve and disseminate Burning Man’s unique culture. He also writes and produces Burning Man’s annual art theme, supervises the design of the iconic Man sculpture and its infrastructure.

Larry is well-known as a thoughtful and provocative writer and public speaker. He has represented Burning Man at renowned institutions of higher learning, museums, conferences, and other cultural crossroads. Among many other engagements, he has spoken at Harvard University, Columbia University, Walker Art Center, The Commonwealth Club of California, The Long Now Foundation, The Economist World in Conference, the Oxford Student Union, London’s Southbank Center, and Austin’s South by Southwest Conference. In 2014, he was interviewed on television by Charlie Rose, and is frequently quoted in the media as the voice of Burning Man. He lives in San Francisco.

Crimson Rose is a co-founder of Burning Man and the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), and serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors. She has focused on the arts and artistic expression for her entire career as an artist and model, maker and muse. Crimson began participating in Burning Man as a fire dancer in 1991, and since then she has overseen all aspects of things that burn in Black Rock City, including the ritual generation of the flame and leading the procession for the lighting of the Man. She developed the organization’s Art Department, encompassing everything that supports art from a structural, organizational, financial and creative point of view. Crimson has also been a crucial catalyst for Burning Man art in the world, supporting civic engagement through participatory art. She often speaks about Burning Man art to the press and cultural organizations. A few of her recent public speaking engagements have been at The MURAL International Public Art Festival in Montreal, Canada; she gave a keynote speech for the docents of the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art (LACMA), and at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI she was on a panel of judges on a live TV show. A champion of interactive art, Crimson is an advocate for the importance of art in society, “The participants’ interaction completes the artwork – and it is our job to protect that relationship.” Crimson lives in Gerlach, Nevada and Oakland, California with her husband, Will Roger.

As the organization’s  first CEO, Marian Goodell oversees Burning Man’s year-round staff of 70+ employees and its annual operating budget of approximately $30 million. Marian first attended Burning Man in 1995, and in 1997 was a co-founder of the management organization that eventually became Black Rock City, LLC, which produces the Burning Man event. Throughout her leadership in the Burning Man organization, she has been the Director of Business and Communications, and also oversaw the Black Rock City Department of Public Works. She has steered the development of the Burning Man Regional Network, which is now on six continents, with more than 250 representatives in 30 countries. Marian is a founding board member of the Burning Man Project, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, and Black Rock Solar. She is currently leading the organization’s efforts to facilitate and extend the Burning Man ethos globally.

Marian holds a BA in Creative Writing from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland and an MFA in photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has worked in sales and public relations, and was a project manager for a software development firm when she first arrived as a participant at Burning Man in 1995.

A founding member of Black Rock City LLC, Harley K. Dubois has over 25 years of project management, art and city planning experience. As the City Manager of Black Rock City for over 10 years, Harley oversaw both the Playa Safety Council and Community Services departments, ensuring the citizens of BRC are happy and safe, including ingress, life on playa, and egress. She originated theme camp placement, the Greeters, Playa Info, and Burning Man Information Radio, and has kindled the development of all other Community Service teams. Harley also created and maintains a comprehensive training and self-development program for the Burning Man staff, fostering volunteerism and cross-departmental communication.

Harley was a founding member of the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), where she created and chaired the Grants to Artists committee and acted as the foundation’s liaison with the Burning Man Project. She worked closely with the Executive Director and other staff members in conducting day-to-day operations. As Chief Transition Officer Harley was responsible for the merging of Black Rock City LLC, BRAF, and Burners Without Borders into the Burning Man Project. She helped to complete the merging of art related programs into a unified Burning Man Arts program. She is passionate about seeing volunteerism fully integrated into all BMP operations, and is continuing to integrate and develop BMP programs and infrastructure to support Burning Man’s role as a network node for our global expansion.

Harley has an extensive background in the visual and performing arts, and has been a fitness director and a San Francisco fire fighter.

An avid futurist with an interest in technology and social communities, Michael Mikel joined Burning Man in 1988 and initialized much of Burning Man’s progress over the years. In 1992 he drove the first art car to Burning Man, founded the Black Rock Rangers, and edited the first on-site newspaper. In 1995, he developed the logo design which has become the symbol of the Burning Man community. In 1997, he launched containerized storage and transport for the Burning Man festival with the acquisition of the first shipping container. In 2001 he visited Regional communities across the US during his Tour of America as an ambassador for Burning Man. In 2008, he managed the development of Burning Man’s presence in the virtual world of Second Life.He has also been involved with many San Francisco social, cultural and technology institutions. He was a founding member of San Francisco’s Cacophony Society, and also a crew member of the machine performance group, Survival Research Labs. During the 1970′s his Silicon Valley career began in the early days of the personal computer as an electro-mechanical systems engineer for Fairchild Semiconductor. During the early 1980s he was a consultant to Caltrans, doing research on intelligent freeway systems in Los Angeles. Branching into automated systems in the mid-1980s, he developed the first robotic assembly line for Apple Computer’s Fremont plant in 1986. In 1988 he was a co-founder of Jasmine Technology, the first technology company to be located within San Francisco’s city limits. As a content contributor and social catalyst, he was influential to many local technology startups, including Wired, Laughing Squid, Boing Boing and the Internet Archive.

He has contributed printed and written material to the Cacophony Society archive in the San Francisco Main Library, and also to the Burning Man archive in the Bancroft Library in Berkeley. Within the Burning Man community, he is best known by his playa persona: Danger Ranger.

Terry Gross has engaged in significant complex litigation on behalf of private clients and civil liberties organizations for over 25 years. He has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer from that recognition’s inception. He has an extensive focus on the changing face of copyright, trademark, and media law in the digital age and in matters of intellectual property. As Chief Legal Adviser to Burning Man, he has negotiated, advised and litigated numerous trademark, copyright and privacy matters on its behalf, including a successful defense of a lawsuit challenging the event’s major trademarks. Terry also represents authors, artists, performers and their agents in negotiating contracts for publication, performance, and sale of motion picture and television rights.

Jennifer Raiser is Treasurer of the Burning Man Project and serves on the Senior Executive Committee of the Board. Jennifer is also a journalist, covering the people and places of San Francisco for her website, SFWire.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post. She is the bestselling author of, Burning Man: Art on Fire (2014) from Race Point Press, and is currently writing numerous other books.

Jennifer also works with her family business on strategic planning and commercial real estate investment. Previously, Jennifer was CEO of Raiser Senior Services, a full-service provider of luxury retirement in the Bay Area, combining health care, dining, and long-term care. She is the co-author of Designing Retirement Communities for the Future. Her experience includes marketing with Procter & Gamble and BBDO/Omnicom Advertising, and management consulting with Fortune 500 corporations. A longtime non-profit volunteer, Jennifer has served as a Director of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Peninsula Community Foundation, the Junior Statesmen Foundation, Community Gatepath, and the Coyote Point Museum. Jennifer received a BA in English Literature and MBA from Harvard University. She resides in San Francisco with her English professor husband, two college-age teenagers, three flat-coated Retrievers, and a basement filled with costumes. Known on the Playa as CocoCabana, she is a Black Rock Ranger and decade-long Burner who is happiest riding on her mutant vehicle, The Kazbus, or nesting in her eponymous leopard-upholstered 1968 Airstream.

Chip Conley is an entrepreneur, business leader, and author. He is currently head of Global Hospitality and Strategy for Airbnb, and Founder of Fest300, a website dedicated to festival culture. Previously, he was the founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hotels, a boutique hotel company known for transformational leadership practices and innovative design. A committed and creative philanthropist, Chip is the founder of San Francisco’s annual Celebrity Pool Toss to benefit inner city youth programs. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, EMOTIONAL EQUATIONS: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness + Success, as well as PEAK: How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow, The Rebel Rules: Daring to be Yourself in Business, and Marketing that Matters: 10 Practices to Profit Your Business and Change the World.Chip has been attending Burning Man since 2000. He has been involved with the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) and has presented the keynote speech at the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference, a four day event for Burning Man Regional Network organizers and community leaders. He says, “My favorite Principle is Immediacy as that one usually brings a bounty of serendipity.” Chip holds a BA and an MBA from Stanford University. When he is not travelling to his favorite festivals, Chip works around the world and lives in San Francisco.

Born in Santa Monica, California, David Walker joined the Nevada Museum of Art as Executive Director and CEO in 2007. In addition to establishing vision and strategic plan, he launched the museum’s Center for Art and Environment, an internationally recognized research initiative. Prior, he served 11 years as the Dean of Public Programs at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he successfully created the school of Public Programs and provided the vision and leadership for the colleges’ 100,000 square-foot South Campus. During this time, he founded The Design High School, a public charter school that employs design-based learning across the curriculum. David also served as Director and Founding Partner of the Walker and Walker Gallery in Santa Monica from 1989 to 1992 where he represented more than 20 artists, established the curatorial tone and oversaw construction of the new exhibition space. His background also includes serving as an associate with McBain Rose Partners, an investment banking firm specializing in leveraged buyouts, and as an editor and publisher for Element magazine, an internationally-distributed arts quarterly publication. Along with his wife, a drummer, he formed two original rock bands that signed deals with Warner Brothers Music and Chrysalis Music. David received a Bachelors degree from Humboldt State University, and did his graduate work at the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design.

Based in Seattle, Kay Morrison has been honing her skills in community business development since 2000, which was also the first year she ventured into the Black Rock Desert. In that time she has worked with the likes of: the Seattle and National offices of NPower, a nonprofit organization that brings information technology services to nonprofits; Capitol Hill Arts Center, a multidisciplinary art and community center; and Shunpike, a nonprofit fiscal sponsorship organization for small to mid-range arts businesses. In 2005 she helped found Ignition Northwest, a 501c3 organization whose mission is to fuel community through participatory arts, events, and education. She has been supporting the Burning Man Regional Network for many years in her role as a Co-Regional Contact for Seattle, and also as a member of the Meta Regional Committee. When not helping start or maintain businesses Kay can be found in the workshop with the Iron Monkeys, a blacksmithing collective that builds stuff out of steel and then sets it on fire. The Iron Monkeys have displayed their art in Black Rock City, Reno, Seattle, and at many local Burner events.

Leo Villarealʻs light sculpture and installations have been presented at museums in the United States and around the world. In 2010, the San Jose Museum presented a traveling survey exhibition and monograph of the artist’s work. Villareal has created many large scale, site-specific installations with renowned architects such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and in architecturally significant buildings like I. M. Peis East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Villarealʼs work is part of the permanent collection of major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. He has been commissioned by both Federal and State agencies to create public works for such sites as a courthouse in El Paso, Texas and a New York City subway station.

Villareal attended Yale University where he studied installation sculpture and went on to receive his Masters Degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. From 1994-1996 Villareal served as a member of the research staff at Interval Research, a private think tank in Palo Alto, CA founded by Paul Allen. Villareal has attended Burning Man every year since 1994 and is a founder of Disorient. He currently lives in New York with his wife, Yvonne Force Villareal and their two children, Cuatro and Lux.

Matt Goldberg was named Senior Vice President of Global Market Development at QVC, Inc. in October 2013. With more than 20 years of experience in global business development, new market expansion, strategy and operations, Goldberg is responsible for driving QVC’s overall global market expansion for the nearly $9 billion multichannel retail organization. Previously, Matt served in a number of leadership positions in media and technology, most recently as Chief Executive Officer of Lonely Planet Publications Pty. Ltd, where he focused on the transformation of the business and driving the geographic expansion into China, India, Brazil, and Russia. He also worked at Dow Jones & Company, where his various responsibilities included the chief operating role for The Wall Street Digital Network, including WSJ.com, MarketWatch, Barrons.com and All Things Digital. Mr. Goldberg held several positions at Bertelsmann, Inc. in New York, rising to Senior Director, U.S. Business Development. He previously served as Director of strategic planning for the Illinois Housing Development Authority in Chicago; as Campaign Officer for the Liberty Party of Australia; and as an Assistant to the Governor of Illinois.

Matt serves as an adviser and board member for a number of nonprofits, including The Conversation Media Group in Melbourne Australia, Cornell University Council in Ithaca, New York, and previously Winning Workplaces in Evanston, IL. Matt earned his Bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University, a Master’s degree in International Relations from The University of Melbourne, and an M.B.A. from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Matt has been attending Burning Man since 2003.

Mercedes Martinez followed a career as a teacher and performer with work in film production. She has combined the most challenging aspects of all three in her latest vocation, parenting. She currently also serves on the boards of Homeboy Industries and Seven Arrows Elementary School.

Michael Farrah has worked in government and politics at the municipal, state and national levels for the last 20 years. Farrah has worked as an advisor to public officials including San Francisco Mayors Edwin Lee, Gavin Newsom, and Frank Jordan, San Francisco Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, Bill Maher, Angela Alioto, Annemarie Conroy, and Barbra Kaufman, and United States Congressman Tom Lantos.

In 2004, Farrah traveled to the Black Rock Desert and experienced Burning Man for the first time. The immersion in community and the arts altered his life in ways that he never imagined possible; it fundamentally changed the way that he viewed government and its responsibility to the arts and changed his perceptions about how community could be built.

He has previously served on the Board of the Arab Culture and Community Center in San Francisco. He is married to Maya Draisin and lives in Manhattan, New York with his two sons.

Rae Richman is a senior philanthropic leader with more than fifteen years experience providing strategic consulting to organizations of all sizes, including family and corporate foundations, leading nonprofits and a wide range of Fortune 500 global corporations. She is currently the Head of Global Citizenship for Airbnb, responsible for the company’s philanthropy, volunteerism and other activities related to it being a good neighbor. Before joining Airbnb, she was the Vice President of the Bay Area office of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). There, her funding expertise included climate change and environmental protection, education, and social entrepreneurship. She was also actively involved in RPA’s leadership on the issue of impact investing.

Rae is formerly a consultant with expertise in corporate social responsibility, meeting facilitation and organizational development. In this role, she worked with corporations and nonprofits to develop and lead projects, meetings and retreats to ensure maximum goal achievement, productivity and creativity.

Prior to starting her own consultancy for values-based organizations, she was Senior Manager of Consulting Services at Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), working with Fortune 500 companies to facilitate their stakeholder engagement efforts, assist them in implementing more socially responsible policies and practices, and provide counsel on issues of global corporate community engagement. Rae brings to her work a decade of marketing and production experience at entertainment, multimedia and high-tech companies. She received her BA from the University of Virginia and her MBA from the UC Berkeley/Columbia University Executive MBA program. Rae also formerly served as a board member and officer of the Black Rock Arts Foundation and has attended Burning Man every year since 1996.