Welcoming Kate Snider to the Board Presidency

I recently had an opportunity to speak with Kate Snider, Board President about her continued board service in this new role. Here’s a transcript of that interview. —Marnie

MJ: We’re excited to welcome you into the Board Presidency. Will you continue to work with outgoing president Gabriel Shirley?

KS: Yes!  Gabriel remains on the board for another year until his term is up. By transitioning the presidency role at this time, Gabriel is modeling a smart focus on thoughtful leadership transitions, in which we will be able to work closely together this year. We are very appreciative of Gabriel’s continued focus with the board in 2016.

What have been some highlights from your time on the board thus far? 

When I joined the Board in 2013, I took on leadership for the Whidbey Institute 40th Anniversary celebrations, and with that base of understanding of the community and major event planning, moved into developing the new tradition of an annual Gratitude Gala and Community Festival (mark your calendars for October 8 & 9 this year!) I have been personally very richly rewarded by this deep dive into Whidbey Institute community events and history, and made some of my best friends doing it!

What excites you about the year ahead with the Whidbey Institute?

So many things! First and foremost, the opportunity to work with an absolutely exceptional staff and board team. It is an incredibly wonderful group of individuals. Together we bring real joy to the work, inspire each other, and learn from each other continually. It is a very fertile time for the Institute, during which we have the opportunity and resources to deepen and broaden our relationships and community throughout the region, strengthen our network of program partners, live into our identity as an Institute, and improve our physical and financial sustainability. Such wonderful work.  

You’ve had a long and rich relationship with the Whidbey Institute. What brings you to this organization? 

My mother and role model, Jan Hively, first brought me to the Institute in 2005 through her admiration of the work of Larry and Sharon Daloz-Parks and our joint mother-daughter participation in their Powers of Leadership program. Sharon and Larry have become extremely important mentors to me in my work across domains. Like most people reading this newsletter, I can say that my time at the Institute—participating in multiple programs and professional retreats—has brought me a deep love for the Chinook lands and an incredibly strong love for, and reliance on, our community.

Why does the work of the Whidbey Institute matter to you? 

When we come to the Institute, we know that we can enter into important, honest, open conversation about the issues that matter most in the world. We expect to learn from one another, and learn from the land. We have a safe place to be challenged, to experiment, to enter into deep inquiry and meaningful connections. As a mother, an entrepreneur, a business owner, an environmental consultant, and a citizen of our region and planet in this unprecedented time of change, challenge, and opportunity, I find the engagement and connection that the Institute provides extremely meaningful—to me, and by extension, to everyone that my life influences. I know this to be true for all of us who have opened ourselves up to the Institute throughout its 40+ year history. I can’t think of anything more important than this kind of base from which to build the creative and resilient communities necessary to navigate our futures.  

How are you serving the world through this organization? 

I would like to see everyone, everywhere, have access and connection to the kind of community, support, and challenge that I feel that I am part of at the Institute. I want this and more for future generations, as I see these kinds of communities of inquiry becoming more and more vital to our survival and our partnership with the earth. I want to strengthen, broaden, and deepen the reach, connections, and sustainability of the Institute. It is important work that I feel able to accomplish and that has the potential for exponential benefit. 

Have there been any surprises for you during your board service?

Hmmm, like life there are surprises all the time! Change, challenges, opportunities . . . that is why it is so important to have such a wonderful team of folks to work with. We’re able to evaluate surprise from multiple perspectives, and adapt together. Personally, I guess I have been surprised by how much this work for me is driven by love for the place and the people. 

Are there any unasked questions you’d like to answer?

I’d like everyone to know that there are multiple opportunities for service on behalf of the Institute—not just as board and staff, but as key volunteers on initiatives, events, stewardship of the place, programs. If you have time or treasure to give to the work, please get in touch!

February 1, 2016

People & Partners


  1. Heather Johnson says:

    Kate, how fortunate we all are that you found your way to the Whidbey Institute. I learn from and am inspired by your leadership every-single-day.