Our People

Staff Members

Abigail Lazarowski | Westgarden Steward; Community Garden Leadership Training Co-Coordinator

Abigail, who hails from Vermont, co-coordinates the Community Garden Leadership Training program alongside Cary Peterson. Her skills in building community, growing organic food, and helping those in need through her expanding knowledge of small scale vegetable growing have served South Whidbey well since she arrived in 2014 as an apprentice in the program.

Abigail stewards our Westgarden, hosts work parties and service learning projects, and helps provide food for our kitchen and community food bank.

Amber Hamley | Housekeeping Assistant

In addition to keeping our facilities clean and tidy, Amber enjoys caring for the flower beds at the Whidbey Institute. When not at work, this mother of two devotes her energy to gardening and family.

Amber Herman | Housekeeping Assistant

Amber works in our housekeeping department, helping to care for our spaces and ensure comfortable stays for all of our Whidbey Institute guests. She's a dedicated mother of four, and enjoys time with her family, knitting, and jewelry-making.

Beno Kennedy | Facilities Manager

Beno lives according to a simple philosophy: “I feel like if you take care of what’s in front of you, close by, then by extension you’re helping to take care of the world.” He joined the Whidbey Institute this spring as a member of our Facilities Team, serving as a handyman/go-to-guy with extensive skills, a creative outlook, and a contagious attitude of honesty, service, and dedication.

Christyn Johnson | Executive Chef

Christyn has developed a love of abundant, vibrant flavor profiles and has a great reverence for food as an integral part of a healthy, balanced life. Chef Christyn's personal journey though food and nourishment includes a long career in fine dining and hospitality as well as vast experience and travel in global vegetarian cuisine.

David Baverman | Chef

David brings a lifetime of experience in food service to our kitchen at Chinook, infusing all his meals with love and creativity. He loves creating delicious, healthful food from organic ingredients. He lives in a multi-generational household in Greenbank, with his family including kids and grandkids.

Heather Johnson | Executive Director

Heather began working with the Whidbey Institute in July 2010, and is responsible for the resurgence in collaborative partnerships in our work. She is passionate about ongoing adult development and growing organizations that are committed to positive change. As a Magna cum Laude graduate in Finance from Western Washington University, and a graduate of Pacific Integral's 'Generating Transformative Change' leadership program, she brings an unusual marriage of head and heart: systems and business acumen that provide critical strength to organizations, combined with the heart for engaging individuals and groups in their evolution in service to the greatest needs of our world. Organizations that have benefited from her integrated focus are Sustainable Connections in Bellingham (as founding staff), Sustainable Seattle (as Interim Director), Excellence Northwest (as Interim Director), and Blue Marble Biomaterials (as Director of Finance and Accounting).

Hilary Wilson | Development Consultant

Hilary, formerly a Whidbey Institute board member, has transitioned into a contract position as a development consultant. In this role, she works closely with Jenna and other team members to build a robust development office to support our work in the world.

Hilary lives in Seattle with her husband Sawyer Gillespie and adopted bearded collie Gustavo.

Jessica Fuller | Housekeeping Assistant

Jessica joined our housekeeping team in 2015 and enjoys making spaces beautiful and comfortable for our guests. In her spare time, she enjoys arts and crafts: sewing, painting, and baking. When baking, she emphasizes beauty and artistry! Jessica also loves gardening, spending time with family, and enjoying her dog and birds. She also enjoys staying active, and works out and hikes when she can. Although she’s from Louisiana, she has lived on South Whidbey for about five years.

Kimi Hoover | Facilities and Group Logistics Coordinator

Kimi comes from a background in biology, teaching, and environmental science. With B.S. and Master's degrees in Biology, she has had careers as a chef, biologist, and educator. Her work at the Institute is supported by her deep care for people and the planet as well as by her eye for order and logistic details. She is an enthusiastic explorer of the outdoors, finding solace and rejuvenation in nature. When not hiking, birdwatching, or kayaking, Kim might be in the kitchen: originally trained in the French culinary tradition, she now honors both her palate and the planet by preparing vegan foods and teaching others about plant-based nutrition.

Lynne Carlson | Housekeeping Manager

Lynne and her staff work to tend to the beauty of the Institute’s communal and lodging spaces so that they feel like home. Horses and horse rescue have a special place in her heart. When she’s not on the land, she drinks smoothies bigger than she is and enjoys keeping her body moving!

Madisun Stern | Database Administrator

Madisun joined the Whidbey Institute team late in the summer of 2016 with a background in data management and a passion for non-profit service. Madisun was born and raised on Whidbey Island, discovering later on that no matter how far she traveled, the Island always called her home. Upon introducing her partner to Whidbey, they took up residence in 2013 and instantly immersed themselves in the culture and community. Madisun began volunteering and eventually working for local non-profits, specializing in events and outreach.

Currently, when she’s not at the Whidbey Insistute keeping data in order, Madisun runs her own brand of community merrymaking as a freelance events coordinator, in addition to operating a non-profit program under the Whidbey Island Arts Council. In her free time, she can be found on a historic pumpkin farm, living as a steward of the Reserve with her husband, a rescued street-to-farm dog, and four hilarious ducks.

Marnie Jackson | Communications Manager

Marnie came to the Whidbey Institute in mid-2013 with a background in non-profit communications and journalism with attention to animal issues, organic agriculture, the environment, and food sustainability. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Suffolk University (Boston, Massachusetts) but grew up here on South Whidbey. She's a passionate animal rights advocate and coordinates the Interspecies & Intersectional Justice program. When she's not at the Whidbey Institute, you can find her doing vegan outreach and advocacy, playing outside with her daughters, mules, and dogs, or waxing poetic about her four-legged family members.

Regent Brown | Equity and Justice Coordinator

Regent is a connector. Connecting people, ideas, systems, and opportunities. She draws upon her life experiences, education and almost 20 years of expertise in anti-racism training, leadership development and conflict management, to foster spaces where people can come together to strategize for equitable change. This is propelled by the belief that true change comes through the collective impact of changing one's self. She seeks to do this through authentic dialogue and skill-building. Regent focuses on working with those who are committed to building a learning environment to nurture all to reach their fullest potential.

Robert Mellinger | Land Care Coordinator

Robert came on board in fall 2014 to steward Chinook and support land-based programming. His academic and professional background includes experience in holistic science, wilderness ecology and education, transformative learning for sustainable living, permaculture design and landscaping, and ecological literacy. He is excited by the Chinook land and opportunities in collaborative organizational stewardship, community engagement, and land-based education.

Thomas Arthur | Resident Caretaker

As Resident Caretaker, Thomas lives onsite and works with the event team to ensure all participants and visitors find a welcoming and nourishing home at the Institute. He supports the land and facilities crews, helping to create an environment that facilitates the life-affirming work happening here. As a photographer, filmmaker, contemplative juggler, and teacher of movement awareness, Thomas seeks to inspire a sense of wonder and delight in our relations with Earth and Other.

Timothy Hull | Land Steward

Timothy grew up here and knows this land deeply. He's stewarded the 30 acre Legacy Forest for quite some time, and in his new staff role he's bringing additional energy to support land care projects throughout the 100 acres. He is an avid musician and songwriter.