Meet Our Board: Spotlight on Gabriel

Board President Gabriel Shirley has loved the Institute since he first participated in our Spirited Work program in 1999.

“When I was asked, about four years ago, if I would consider board service, it was really easy to say yes,” he said. “I really believe in the organization and what it’s about. [The Whidbey Institute] helps take peoples’ lives to the next level.” Gabriel describes himself as a “connect-the-dots” person who serves from a whole-systems perspective. He highlights strategy, development, and land and facilities work as particular areas of interest.

Gabriel is a Senior Partner at BigMind Consulting, a firm that focuses on the intersection of people and technology, and he leads the Workforce Design team at Avanade, Inc, helping to strategically identify and grow talent for the future. At the Whidbey Institute, he is deeply engaged in our strategy work, which he says is a blend between vision and a grounding in practical reality. “It’s important to have a compelling vision that people can get behind and support,” he said, “but it’s also important that it be doable. I am comfortable in the visioning, and on the practical side I have sensitivity to whether something can be implemented given our capacities.” We’ve appreciated Gabriel’s heavy lifting in our strategy and development work.

Gabriel said that one of the things he’s come to love about the Whidbey Institute during his service has been its continuing openness to questioning its own identity. “It’s a good thing,” he said. “It keeps us open to growth, and to growing our sense of who we are in ways that are responsive to the needs of the world.”

When not working or serving, Gabriel attends to his interests as an outdoorsman and athlete. He was an avid whitewater kayaker in the past, but has recently turned in the direction of running. “I’m currently training for my first ever half marathon,” he said, “and I’ve always spent a lot of time in the woods.”


May 5, 2014

People & Partners