Change and Growth | August 2015 Newsletter

Life, in all its evolutionary wisdom, manages ecosystems of unfathomable beauty, ever evolving toward more wholeness, complexity, and consciousness.” —Frederic Laloux

This issue includes an open letter from Executive Director Heather Johnson to the Whidbey Institute; reports on Community Garden Leadership Training field trips, our recent BioBlitz, and Farmhouse and Sanctuary roof maintenance; a report and video from Women of Color Speak Out; and more! Click here to view the entire newsletter and read on.

Bill Koenig steps down as Whidbey Institute Co-Director; Heather Johnson named Executive Director 

Dear Community Members,

The Whidbey Institute at Chinook has served for over 40 years as a learning organization dedicated to the common good in a world of accelerating change. Today, our rich history continues to inspire us to be the change we wish to see—to evolve our practices, share our learning, and deepen into new and generative inter-relationships within the Whidbey Institute community and our regional and global networks.

Board and staff have worked closely together since May 2014 to evolve our organizational structure, evaluating and implementing the best principles of self-management from among many emerging and successful models. In this work, we’ve better aligned our internal policies and practices with our external mission, values, and purpose. The Whidbey Institute has moved into new strength—financially, programmatically, and in spirit, and the response from our community of donors, program leaders, and program participants confirms our belief that the new systems we’re putting in place truly enable our best possible work.

Bill Koenig joined the executive team in October 2014, and was formally introduced on January 1 as Co-Director alongside Heather Johnson. In his role as our designated champion of self-management principles, Bill helped evaluate and implement our systems of self-management; established methods for improving intra-organizational transparency; supported staff in defining clearer roles and accountabilities; and facilitated the learning of new, more efficient and empowering processes for meetings and decision-making. At this time, Bill has chosen to step down as Co-Director.

As a staff and board team, we wish to express our gratitude to Bill and his wife Carole for their support of the Whidbey Institute. We thank Bill for his recent service, as well as for his long history with the Institute as board member, board chair, advisory council member, and governance task force member. His contributions have helped shape the Institute in ways seen and unseen.

As a result of our organizational evolution, the full team is accountable to the whole in new ways: sharing facilitation of decision-making processes; stewarding our budget; and holding our guest services, our program engagement, and our care for Chinook and our community to the highest standards of excellence. In May 2015, staff members crafted a Statement of Our Mutual Commitment in order to name the deeper purpose of this shift toward self-management.

The board and staff have full confidence in Heather Johnson’s continuing leadership as she moves into the Executive Director role. She embodies the deep purpose of this place, has held and nurtured many of our most valuable program and community relationships, and works every day to expand our reach and financial strength. As a result of Heather’s work with our program partners, we have a rich, full calendar of mission-aligned offerings in the coming year and beyond, and we are confident that both our learning and our organizational effectiveness will continue.

Finally, we so appreciate the ongoing support of the Whidbey Institute community. You make this organization what it is and enable our collective accomplishments. Thank you for being with us in this work.


Gabriel            Kate
Gabriel Shirley                Kate Snider
Board President              Board Vice-President