Francis Janes has been bringing his skill, passion, and energy to the Whidbey Institute Board for several years, siting a deep admiration of the Institute’s core values as a motivating factor in his engagement. Today, he serves as the Secretary of the Board and plays a crucial role on our Development Committee.
“When I was first exposed to the Whidbey Institute,” he said, “I could tell very clearly that the organization had a lot of great core values that I admired: love of nature, of land, of creation. The people we hire, that come to our programs, and with whom we partner make tangible expressions of love of nature and love of the land.” Francis points to the tranquility, serenity, and peace that he senses at Chinook as making him feel at home, and said he loves giving people that opportunity to connect with nature and find an inner voice of inspiration.
Francis has had several arcs in his professional career, moving after 20 years in the IT industry as an account executive into the entrepreneurial track—as owner of a vegetarian restaurant in Seattle, which he said was fantastic—and then into a role in financial services with a regional credit union. Now, his work includes the joyful responsibilities of a father (his daughter, age 6, is a delight). He’s also a passionate board member and current Treasurer at iLEAP, where he has served for five years.
During our interview, Francis spoke to some of iLEAP’s principles with great admiration. “If you can identify, empower, and nurture social community leaders and give them the tools, confidence, and emotional support, they will be a leverage point for sustainable change in their communities. They can find the passion, motivation, and energy to do incredible things.” Going on, Francis added, “we believe in that model—that theory of change—at the Whidbey Institute as well.”
Francis feels a sense of cohesion on the current board, calling it, “the finest group of board members I’ve worked with.” He points to the group’s age diversity, openmindness, and willingness to partner with staff as contributing factors to the current synergy. For the Institute as a whole, Francis sees a trajectory into greater influence and a growing regional network.
“We’ve developed really strong ties with a lot of organizations, individuals, and families on South Whidbey Island, and that’s been a source of strength, funding, and partnerships,” Francis said. “Now we’re evolving partnerships . . . as a bioregional organization that’s continuing to evolve, bringing thought leaders together and convening and hosting those doing great work in this region.” Francis said he enjoys strategizing with our team around how to bring this talent, energy and wisdom together to look at issues from a holistic perspective.
On a lighter note, Francis admits to a passion for science fiction and, after growing up in Canada, he’s become a self-labeled sports junkie who follows Seattle teams and holds a deeply ingrained love of hockey. During our interview a couple of weeks ago, Francis said, “I’m still in the glow of seeing the Seahawks at the Whitehouse.”