Dan Mahle loves his role as Whidbey Institute Program Coordinator. “I’ve never had a job that felt so much like a livelihood,” he said. “I didn’t even know it was possible.”
Dan’s been here for just over a year, and brings immeasurable insight and energy to his work. “Now that I work here, there’s no going back. Everything I’m doing here is in alignment with what I care deeply about.” He’s primarily focused on design, coordination, outreach, and facilitation of our major annual programs. He’s also deeply committed to the work of intergenerational collaboration, and involved in the Institute’s strategic planning.
“One of my greatest passions,” he said, “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’s first experience with the Whidbey Institute came during a seven day Generation Waking Up leadership training retreat, in August 2012. Over the months that followed, he attended Whidbey Island Bioneers at Chinook and got to know the Institute board and staff members. “I had an intuitive sense that this was a home for me, and that I wanted to contribute to this place,” he said. “On Halloween night, 2012, I lay in Mushroom Cabin writing a proposal to create a position that didn’t exist, to work at the Whidbey Institute.” Those musings led to a video, in which Dan explained how his passions and skills were a good fit for this place. He shared it with the Institute team then, several months later, went so far as to move to Whidbey Island in anticipation of his someday job. “A week and a half after I moved, they were ready to bring me on.”*
And oh, how lucky we were! Dan’s passion for the work of the Whidbey Institute, alongside his energy, sensitivity, and skill, provides a well of inspiration to all of us who work with him. He remains engaged as a trainer and facilitator with GenUp, and co-leads a men’s group. He’s also been involved in starting a weekly improv music jam on the island, and recently made a splash as a budding blogger when one of his early posts went viral to the tune of 100,000+ views. He writes from the heart on matters of gender reconciliation, healthy sexuality, and, “moving beyond dichotomy to hold the paradox of gender.”
At the Institute, Dan’s currently working in the Cascadia Climate Collaborative to help plan our upcoming Climate Conference. “I’m really enjoying being part of a dynamic team of incredible local leaders,” he said, “and I’m excited about Bioneers.” As our 5th Annual Whidbey Island Bioneers conference (and the nation’s 25th) approaches, Dan will be deeply immersed in the work he so loves. About Whidbey Island Bioneers, he says, “no other program speaks to my heart as much, and I get to build the partnerships and teams that make it happen.”