Words from Board President Kate Snider
In an early 2016 interview welcoming her to the Board Presidency, Kate Snider (pictured, far left) said, “when we come to the Whidbey 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. 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 Whidbey Institute.”
Exemplary board service
This team of volunteer servant-leaders engaged wholeheartedly and with tremendous skill, energizing our capacity-building campaign launch with their ongoing contributions of time, treasure, and talent. In 2016 this remarkable team embraced many challenges, meeting them as opportunities to step up and support the growth of the organization. We recognize these particular time and energy investments: Barbara Schaetti played major Organizational Development roles. Sheryl Harmer and Kate Snider provided extraordinary leadership in every aspect of our development work, including building the launch of the Whidbey Institute 2020 campaign. Phyllis Shulman, Ted Sturdevant, and Christie Lynk joined staff in wrestling through questions of our evolving organizational purpose and impact.
We are collectively inspired and catalyzed by Kate Snider’s extraordinary engagement as board President, and her ability to call all of us to greater levels of commitment, passion, and efficacy.
We thank our 2016 board of directors:
- Kate Snider, President
- Barbara Schaetti, Vice-President
- Cole Hoover, Treasurer
- Ted Sturdevant, Secretary
- Chris Clark
- Sheryl Harmer
- Christie Lynk
- Michael Maine
- Jill Sheldon
- Gabriel Shirley
- Phyllis Shulman
- Sam Wright
Thanking our volunteer finance committee
Our volunteer Finance Committee–Tom Buxton, Don Luby, and Cole Hoover–meets monthly with Executive Director Heather Johnson and our bookkeeper, diligently supporting the organization with financial oversight and important contemplations that inform our organizational strategy.
Board member Gabriel Shirley completes final term
We owe a great debt of gratitude to Gabriel Shirley, who completed two terms (six years) of board service in October, including significant service as Board President. He has been involved with the Institute since he first participated in our Spirited Work program in 1999.
Gabriel’s future includes continuing in his role as Head of Organizational Effectiveness at Avanade, Inc.; an upcoming wedding with fiance Marybeth Dickerson; and working with Marybeth on growing her grain-free foods company, Primal Island. He continues to reside on Whidbey Island, where he balances work, family, and a passion for the outdoors.
In addition to the end of Gabriel’s term of service, we accepted the resignation of three other board members in 2016 due to pressing—and exciting—commitments. We thank Michael Maine, Sam Wright, and Chris Clark for their work on behalf of the Whidbey Institute.
Welcoming Database Administrator Madisun Stern
Madisun Stern joined our staff team in September 2016 as Database Administrator. She brings skills in event planning, community engagement, and non-profit marketing as well as a profound appreciation for our organizational mission.
When Madisun joined the team, she said, ”when I’m not here, I plan fun events and I run a non-profit program, Pink Parasol Productions, and a photography business with my husband David. Our non-profit, a program of Island Arts Council, was developed specifically to hold all my many ideas for providing the community with free, fun opportunities.”
Madisun’s energy, heart, and tremendous competence make her an invaluable member of our team, and she’s taken on office management duties and event coordination duties in addition to her database work.
Saying goodbye to Dan Mahle, Melissa Dowd, and Jenna Barrett
Former Program Manager Dan Mahle relocated to Colorado in 2016 to be closer to family, including a new niece, while former Database Administrator Melissa Dowd and her family of snow bunnies moved to Idaho where they’re enjoying snow sports and the great outdoors. Jenna Barrett completed her service as Development Manager in October 2016, and remains on South Whidbey. Upon leaving the role, she said, ”I carry into my next chapter the deep learnings, belly laughs, and great respect for everyone who devotes their resources to the Whidbey Institute.”
In his farewell letter to our community, Dan wrote, “my improbable journey with the Whidbey Institute began when I was 27. I felt a deep calling to be here, unlike anything I’d experienced before. In the three and a half years since I began my work here, I’ve had the honor of supporting many incredible programs, including Salish Sea Bioneers, Thriving Communities, Cascadia Climate Collaborative, Winter Gathering, the 40th Anniversary Festival, and Generation Waking Up. It’s been incredible to witness the Whidbey Institute grow and evolve so much over these few short years. Our team is stronger than ever, and our work is deepening in powerful and important ways. While I am stepping out of my staff role and moving across the country soon, I will never really leave this place. The Whidbey Institute will always be a home for me, as it is for so many across the globe. I look forward to witnessing the continual evolution and growth of this place that I love—that we all love. It could not possibly be in more loving or capable hands.”
Thanking our 2016 Consultants Chris Clark, Hilary Wilson, Crissi Mora, and Regent Brown
Chris Clark served as Organizational Development Consultant from July 2015 to August 2016, and as a board member from September 2016 to December 2016, helping our team grow through our transition to a distributed leadership model. He continues his work with next-stage organizations as a consultant with Anthem and Future Considerations, splitting time between the Seattle area and abroad.
Hilary Wilson (a current and former board member) took a break from board service to serve as a Development Consultant, providing vital assistance in capacity-building campaign and grants-readiness strategy.
Crissi Mora of CatchWord Grants served as a grants-readiness consultant during the autumn of 2016, guiding our staff team toward greater clarity in communicating our mission, vision, purpose, and program areas.
Regent Brown served as an Equity and Justice Consultant, guiding our Board and Staff team through explorations on our learning journey toward becoming an equitable organization. She is the founder of Fostering Real Opportunities, a consultancy specializing in personal and organizational coaching to create transformational growth for those striving for equitable and thriving communities.
Words from Executive Director Heather Johnson
There are times when our spirits can feel crushed, and 2016 presented many such moments—on global and national levels, and close to home. This team of people who are together in service to the Whidbey Institute rode the waves together. To be a part of such a group of people coming together for shared purpose, I feel honored, grateful, and inspired every day. Knowing that we hold one another in deep regard and commitment – it is a joy to experience what’s possible when people work to “walk the talk”.