by Marnie Jones
Dale Schweppe joined the Whidbey Institute board this summer and has already been working closely with staff to add focus and clarity to our external communications. With a professional background in business development, marketing, and strategy, he brings a talent for big picture thinking. These skills have been honed in the professional realm, but apply equally well to the Institute’s mission-driven work. “My career seems to have been about getting into the strategic vision, then developing the tactics that support it,” he said. Dale’s current professional role, as Director of Business Development at Technocel, engages his strategic and marketing skills as he collaborates closely with the product group in strategy.
Dale rolled up his sleeves early on in his board service, leading the staff and board in an exercise to clarify our mission and vision statements. “When you’re writing for the world,” he said, “you’ve got to condense the language down. It must be clear: ‘This is what we do. This is our vision.'” With Dale’s help, we at the Institute have clearly defined our vision and mission statements, while our resources, practices, and guiding principles—previously conflated—are described elsewhere. Staff, board, and collaborators now have a more precise tool with which to describe and measure what it is we do and seek to accomplish.
Dale’s role with Technocel was preceded by work in brands at Quaker and Dolby, and his career has taken him around the globe. “I’ve been blessed to go around the world, and not on my dime,” he said. “working on projects in the UK changed the country for me—I was no longer a tourist, I was a commuter! What an experience!”
Dale’s husband Jamie, who works in integrative somatics and photography, often travels as well—and, between them, Dale and Jamie spend a fair portion of their time in California and abroad. “We make our travel work together. When he teaches in Hawaii, I go to Hawaii. If it pours the whole time, that’s ok,” Dale said with a laugh.” It’s a Hawaiian rain!”
Dale grew up in Tacoma and Gig Harbor, but said that he’s become a fan of country living in his adult life. “I don’t do well in cities anymore,” he said. “As a child, I came to life when we moved to my great-grandparents’ property in Rosedale, Washington. I went into the woods and blossomed there.” On the subject of their arrival on Whidbey, Dale said that connections from as far away as California, Wisconsin, and Hong Kong all contributed to nudging him and Jamie here. “Circumstance and coincidence brought us to Whidbey, but we couldn’t have been welcomed more fully. The community embraced us almost overnight.”
Dale credits Jamie with helping him grow in his love of nature, as well as with prompting him to envision the next stage of his career outside the boundaries of what he’s experienced thus far. “Jamie once went to an Anna Halprin workshop that changed his whole life trajectory,” Dale said. “His work has meaning—it’s a calling. He helps me ask what I want the rest of my working life to look like. It’s scary to step outside the self-imposed trap—to face that I’m not going to be in corporate land for the rest of my life—but that’s where the awakening lies.”
Dale said that one of the questions he’s asking today is what meaningful work he can do with his next twenty years. “I feel pulled toward working on something that can make a difference in the bigger picture. That’s what drew me to the Whidbey Institute,” he said. “I came to the Winter Gathering, and I brought that program and this organization together in my mind. ‘Who are these people? What is this place? What comes next? What are the distinctions between programs and Institute? How do people come back?'”
The answers to these questions lie at the heart of the Whidbey Institute’s strategic work, and it is both helpful and timely to have Dale with us in this effort. As one of his collaborators on staff, I feel that Dale adds particularly vital expertise to our board—and that his service will be long remembered as a gift to this organization and all of those we serve.