Our monthly donors provide sustaining support for this land and mission.


“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.”

—BEno Kennedy, Facilities manager


Staff • Board • Contractors & Volunteers • Senior Fellows

Staff Members

Small team, big hearts, hard work. Our staff works to care for this organization, its spaces and programs, and its future every day. We love what we do, and bring our fullest selves to work for you and for our shared future.

Thomas Arthur


Thomas lives onsite and works with the team to ensure all participants and visitors find a welcoming home at the Institute. He supports the land and facilities, 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.

Sommer Bowlin


Sommer started working with us in October 2018. In addition to her work with the Whidbey Institute, Sommer loves spending time with family. She’s a homemaker with a six-year old stepson, Reece, and a partner, Jason. They have two dogs and a cat, and enjoy baking, cooking, board games, and movies.

Lynne Carlson


Lynne oversees our housekeeping team’s scheduling and ordering and helps tend our spaces. Horses and horse rescue have a special place in her heart. She enjoys spending time with her human and animal family, being physically active, and drinking gigantic smoothies.

Madisun Clark-Stern

Community Event Hosting

When she’s not at the Whidbey Institute keeping our office in order, Madisun runs her own brand of community merrymaking as a freelance events coordinator and operates a non-profit program under the Whidbey Island Arts Council. In her free time, she can be found on a nearby farm with her husband, a rescued street-to-farm dog, and four hilarious ducks.

Holly Harlan


Holly is a mission oriented, passionate, and experienced business strategist. Her academic and professional expertise ranges from industrial engineering, manufacturing, and marketing to economic development, business development, and grassroots network development.

Marnie Jackson

Co-Executive Director

Marnie has been a member of the Whidbey Institute team since 2013. Prior to that time, she worked in nonprofit communications with the Humane Society of Skagit Valley and the Timber Framers Guild and as a writer for several magazines and newspapers. She’s also a former teacher with the Mount Baker Academy and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Suffolk University. She is a certified Language of Spaces coach and an enthusiastic member of our Symbiotic Enterprise, helping nurture and shape the evolution of self-organization at the Whidbey Institute. In addition to working with the Whidbey Institute, she volunteers with the Northwest Animal Rights Network, the Social Justice Solidarity Net (that) Works, and other social and environmental justice organizations.

Heather Johnson

Co-Executive Director

With a background in business administration and nonprofit management, and specialization in financial modeling and management, Heather’s focus is integral organizational development: growing an organization’s systems, structures, practices, mindsets, and culture in alignment with a deep and worthy purpose. A magna cum laude finance graduate, Heather is also graduate of Pacific Integral’s Generating Transformative Change in Human Systems program, and has held leadership roles with 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).

Beno Kennedy


Beno lives according to a simple philosophy: “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.” Beno has been involved for decades as a volunteer and for several years as a staff member, serving as a handyman/go-to-guy with extensive skills, a creative outlook, and a contagious attitude of honesty, service, and dedication.

Jules LeDrew

Westgarden Stewardship

Jules LeDrew grew up near Boulder, Colorado and loves nature, plants, and people. She is an instructor at Half Moon Yoga in Langley as well as a clinical herbalist, and holds a premed degree in Herbal Science from Bastyr University. She brings her passion for botanical medicine, Ayurveda, and the potential for thriving human/plant relationships to her work as our Westgarden Steward.


Marta Mulholland

Volunteer Engagement

Marta’s background is in the performing arts. She is finishing up a three year Movement-based Expressive Arts training with the Tamalpa Institute and holds a masters in psychology. Her work history is an eclectic mix which includes Sign Language interpreting, co-founding Calyx Community Arts School, coordinating hotline volunteers for the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services, landscaping, and short-term stints in China, Dominican Republic, and Nepal.

Rose Shirley


As a member of our housekeeping team, Rose helps keep our spaces clean, fresh and inviting! She is active in the arts, including singing and visual arts. She also sews, both at home and in her role with the Whidbey Institute. Most of Rose’s childhood was spent on Whidbey Island, and she still lives nearby with her cat Jasper, one of her most beloved friends.

Board Members

Our working board goes above and beyond, involving themselves as partners in the daily business of running our Institute. Their sleeves are rolled up, their hearts are invested, and they’re pulling with us every step of the way.

Larisa Benson


Larisa Benson is the convener of the Government Joy Network, ushering in new ways of serving the common good. She coaches executive teams in mindfulness practices, unleashing human potential to thrive in challenging conditions.

Joel de Jong

Joel de Jong is a consultant at Limen and host of the Emerging Future podcast. Combining diverse experience, he approaches projects and life in general with an eco-centric, shared commons mindset that leads with authenticity and integrity and creates space for others to make novel contributions.

Casey Dilloway

Treasurer & Secretary

Casey first encountered the Whidbey Institute in 2012 as part of a students-in-service program with the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. He has been visiting Whidbey for as long as he can remember despite growing up on an entirely different island in Hawaii. He now lives in Seattle with his partner Shane. Casey spends most of his professional time working to grow the solar energy industry in the Pacific Northwest.

Phyllis Shulman

Phyllis is an organizational alchemist and founder of two consulting practices. She focuses on community resilience and regeneration (Resilience Collaborative) and organizational renewal (Civic Alchemy). She is a former Senior Policy Advisor to the Seattle City Council, and helped create the Puget Sound Regional Food Policy Council.

Kate Snider

Kate is principal and owner of Floyd | Snider, Inc., an environmental consulting firm, as well as a certified mediator and former Seattle Girls’ Choir board chair. She’s played a key role in fundraising, event production, and strategic leadership.

Tucker Stevens

Tucker is a Whidbey Island resident, father, and senior project manager in the Property Development group at Point B where he enjoys applying his strategic thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills on complex real estate development projects. He has been volunteering at the Whidbey Institute since 2010 when he helped spearhead a Beaming Bioneers conference. Tucker is passionate about cultivating intergenerational conversations, leadership development, and broadening the reach of the Whidbey Institute.

Dani Turk


Dani brings over 20 years of non-profit management experience and a deep commitment to social justice, equity and inclusion. Her passion for transformative change includes building innovative programs that lift marginalized members of our community from a space of surviving to thriving; her areas of engagement have included fostercare, homelessness, and food insecurity. Dani is a graduate of Pacific Integral’s Generating Transformative Change in Human Systems program.

Debra Baker

Advisor to the Board

Lead. Love. Live. Liberate. Debra offers a successful history of serving and leading at various organizational levels. Her extensive background in criminal justice, government, spiritual development, adult and youth development, and change management makes her a knowledgeable practitioner. Her clients include local, national, and international organizations.

Debra has become known for creative, human-centered program development and insightful change work along with her zesty inclusive social learning and facilitation skills. Most recently, Debra’s work includes serving as an educator consultant where she enjoys growing the talents and mindsets of employees in government. Debra was recently named one of Training Magazine’s 2018 Emerging Training Leaders, an award based on the nomination of her course participants.

Contractors & Volunteers

Our community includes countless individuals who pour their time, talent, energy, and wisdom into our organization. Those listed below are especially involved in recent and ongoing work.

Mara Grey

Appletree Garden Steward

Mara Grey is a botanist, Celtic harpist, storyteller, master gardener, and author of The Lazy Gardener and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Flower Gardening. Mara has studied Scottish Gaelic for many years, and enjoys experiencing the world from a multicultural perspective. She values the role of storytelling in work and life. 

Christyn Johnson

Executive Chef

Christyn has a great reverence for food as an integral part of a healthy, balanced life. She has had a long career in fine dining and hospitality as well experience and travel in global vegetarian cuisine. In addition to running the Whidbey Institute kitchen, she owns Raw Indulgence, a gourmet organic raw meal service on Whidbey Island.


Robert Keeney


Bob frequently comes to the land for a day or a week at a time to build trails, remove hazard trees, clear windfall, and support our land care team with his labor, skill, and wisdom. “My personal belief has been that everybody who’s any good at anything ought to float a certain amount of that talent on the water,” he said. “Since the thing I’m best at is being a sort of a forest handyman, that’s what I’ve got to donate.” Bob is also skilled as a machinist, model railroader, and student of nature.

Matt McDowell

Web Designer

Matt McDowell designed and maintains our website, working closely with our team to understand our organization’s audience and needs, shape content decisions, and provide great design solutions as well as ongoing technical support. He lives in Langley with his wife and two sons, and provides design and consultation services to a number of other organizations and businesses in our community and around the nation.

photo © McDowell www.screenthumb.com

Barbara Schaetti

Board Emeritus

Barbara lived on five continents in ten countries before age 18. Her work with Transition Dynamics, a consultancy she founded to serve expatriate and repatriate communities, is informed by her global upbringing. Before joining the Whidbey Institute Board in fall 2013 and is continuing on as a volunteer after her board term ended in December 2019. In addition to her work with Transition Dynamics, Barbara co-founded Personal Leadership (PL) Seminars and the PL Facilitator Community of Practice.

Casey Sutton

Land Volunteer

Casey received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology while growing up in Virginia. After graduating and relocating to Chicago, he worked in the corporate world for 7 years before deciding he never wanted to be separate from nature or simply working for a paycheck, ever again. He currently divides his free time between development work for the Awakening Life Organization, researching healing practices and spiritual disciplines, facilitating retreats here on Whidbey Island, wandering around in the woods talking to trees, and working to build a way of life that is sustainable and regenerative for all.

Senior Fellows

The Whidbey Institute’s Senior Fellows are individuals whose relationships with the Whidbey Institute have been enduring and formative. We thank them for their commitments not only to this place and its mission, but also to the ongoing evolution of our organizational development, programs, and purpose. Our Fellows continue to teach, facilitate, participate in, and learn from our programs and in our communities.

Sharon Betcher

Sharon Betcher, M. Div., M. Phil., Ph.D., works as an independent scholar and writer.She has specialized in disability or “crip” theology, environmental theology, including an emphasis on emergent urbanism, and progressive Christian, secular, and post-religious theologies. Sharon received her B.A. (1978) in Religion from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, and her MDiv (1982) from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.  She later studied with Dr. Catherine Keller at the Graduate School of Drew University, receiving her PhD in 1998. While at Drew she served as teaching associate at the Theological School, then moved to Vancouver, BC, where she taught at Vancouver School of Theology (2000-2012).

Larry Parks Daloz

Larry served as the first dean of the Community College of Vermont and taught at Lesley, Norwich, and Columbia Universities. A member of the founding group of the Whidbey Institute, he was an Associate Director and faculty member from 1997 to 2006. He is the double-award winning author of Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners, and co-author of Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World. He helped develop and facilitate several current and former Institute programs, including Powers of Leadership, Leadership for the New Commons, and Cascadia Climate Collaborative.

Kate Davies

Kate Davies, M.A., D.Phil. has worked on environmental issues for more than 35 years. In the 1980s, she set up and managed Toronto’s (Canada) Environmental Protection Office and in 1990 she established a successful environmental policy consultancy. In 2002, she became core faculty at Antioch University Seattle and in 2007 she was appointed director of its Center for Creative Change. She served in this role for 3 years, taking an early retirement in 2016. Kate is also clinical associate professor at UW. Her first book, The Rise of the U.S. Environmental Health Movement, was a top ten book on sustainability in 2013. Her second book, Intrinsic Hope: Living Courageously in Troubled Times was published in 2018.

Diana Gale

Diana is Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the Evans School of Public Affairs, UW. She has spent 20 years as a department director at the City of Seattle—most recently as director of Seattle Public Utilities. Diana has received several awards regionally and nationally for outstanding civic leadership. Diana served on the Institute board for 6 years and is both an alumna and a former teacher of Powers of Leadership. Along with Larry and Sharon, she led the Institute’s Leadership for the New Commons, a program which has since informed many of the Institute’s programs and practices.

Sharon Daloz Parks

Sharon’s publications include Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Approach for a Complex World (2005) and Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith (2011). She served for 16 years in faculty and research positions at Harvard University in the schools of Divinity, Business, and the Kennedy School of Government, and now teaches at Seattle University. She served on the Institute’s founding Board, and as Associate Director and faculty. She helped develop several current and former Institute programs, including Powers of Leadership and Leadership for the New Commons.

John Palka

Johnny is a retired professor of biology at the UW with a specialty in neuroscience, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships for teaching in India and a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in England. He co-founded and co-directed the UW’s Program on the Environment and authored My Slovakia, My Family: One Family’s Role in the Birth of a Nation as well as over 60 research papers and book chapters. He served 6 years on our board and was the main organizer of the annual Lyceum Lecture Series, a collaboration of the Whidbey Institute with other organizations.

“One of my greatest passions is to build a sense of belonging in the world—a sense of belonging to ourselves, belonging with each other, and belonging on Earth, and that’s what I get to work on every day! I love bringing people together to have deep conversations about what matters most.”

—Dan Mahle, former staff member