We are pleased to introduce Hilary Wilson: Event Wrangler Chief, Community Sourced Capital Product Development Manager, and new Whidbey Institute board member.
Hilary combines artistic energy with business acumen, macro sensitivity with attention to detail, and a knack for relationship building with an eye for strategy. Describing how her career as a fundraising consultant evolved, Hilary goes back to the beginning. “It was determined by the time I was six or seven that I would do something artsy.” That “something artsy” turned out to be as diverse as violin-playing, visual art, and event planning.
With a B.F.A. degree from the California Institute of the Arts and a demonstrated knack for producing events, Hilary found herself helping the city of Los Angeles plan cultural festivals. That evolved into event planning for the Gates Foundation in Seattle, then political fundraising in New York. Somewhere in all that, between fundraising, strategy, and event production, Hilary recognized an opportunity for growth. “There was something—like a protein in my diet—missing. That thing was a more core understanding of business. That’s why I went to BGI.”
It was through Hilary’s participation in the MBA program at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute that she found her first opportunity for service to the Whidbey Institute. Bringing her deep understanding of the value of network-buiilding and some new insight she’d gained as a student of sustainable business, Hilary reached out to propose bringing a team of students-in-service to the Institute over spring break in March, 2012. The idea took root, and soon nine BGI students and alumni were onsite for two and a half intensive days of work with staff and stakeholders, helping to clarify current purpose and direction of the Whidbey Institute.
“We had people who were able to listen with their best ears and best heart, and because we [BGI and the Whidbey Institute] were centered in some of the same language and vision, we could get a lot done,” Hilary said. It came at a perfect time, when the Whidbey Institute was ready for the students’ honing influence on an evolving vision. Hilary credits Heather Johnson, Institute Associate Director, with helping to make the effort a success by welcoming the students and taking the intensive session seriously.
Hilary was invited to join the board in the fall of 2013, shortly after presenting an inspiring and insightful “IgniteTalk” at our 40th Anniversary Festival. Hailing from Seattle, where she lives with her husband Sawyer Gillespie and adopted bearded collie Gustavo, Hilary is tapped into a demographic that we at the Institute are eager and ready to serve. “The work with Bioneers suggests there’s a need, and a resonance, with a whole new group of people who aren’t island residents but who love the work you do,” she said.
Hilary’s introductory board experience, at our November board retreat, allowed her a first glimpse of the work to come. “It’s amazing to work among this rich diversity of minds,” she said. “Even coming out of different circumstances, [the board] still has an ability to hold a collective vision. You can’t not be inspired sitting among this group of people and talking about this idea that’s more than an idea: it’s a place, a collection of hopes and dreams that are being realized.”
In addition to bringing her expertise in development to the table, Hilary is excited about working with the governance committee to build team agreements and structures to hold, support, and serve the board through change and over time. While she’s busy serving other organizations, consulting, and helping to get Community Sourced Capital off the ground, Hilary is excited about her future with the Whidbey Institute. “I want to spend time at the Institute,” she adds, “enjoying all it has to offer.” Oh, and one more thing: if you have any informal fiddling planned, this violinist wants to hear about it.