Greetings from the new Executive Director

By Nan Maysen

The new year has brought exciting changes for both Janet St Clair, SWS former Executive Director, and myself as SWS new Executive Director. Janet left SWS to fill her new position as Island County Commissioner, and I am very much in gratitude to her for the guidance she provided over the past 16 months. I am also very enthusiastic to serve the volunteers, staff, and board of this remarkable organization!

I bring a lot of familiarity with the SWS mission and history and programs from my 23 years in Bellingham where I was involved in watershed education with the city and county – even including WSU and Beach Watchers! For several of the past 18 years, I have integrated program development and business management into my work in conservation, education and tourism mostly in the southern Salish Sea (Whatcom and Skagit Counties) but also stints in South-central Alaska (Prince William Sound and Southeast). Prior to 2015 when I moved to Coupeville, I lived on Samish Island and worked for WSU Beach Watchers and Friends of Skagit Beaches and Skagit MRC to coordinate volunteers, manage grants, and develop “transitional programs” including Salish Sea Stewards and Beach Naturalists. (Some name confusion might arise with my past history, as people in Whatcom knew me for 25 years as “Nancy May” and in Skagit County for 5 years as “Nancy Olsen” – but I am happy to say my name will NEVER change going forward – and I can advise anyone of the downside of name-changes!! )

We all know how special these communities are on Camano and Whidbey that we have chosen to call “home” – and probably all of you have stories of how you came to care enough about them to learn and contribute to the wellbeing of the shoreline habitat through Sound Water Stewards. It is both the natural and the human communities of these two islands that brought me here to settle. I knew I wanted to be somewhere with people enjoying, understanding, caring for and securing the health and beauty of our natural systems. And it is the remarkable commitment of members and contributions of SWS that has me excited to serve in this capacity as Executive Director.

The changes coming in the next couple of months – with my own new role and shifts in coordinator positions – remind me of the littoral drift waves that lap the shore and collectively move little grains of sand and pebbles incrementally down the shoreline to build the beach. My first weeks of working with SWS have me grateful, reassured and excited: grateful for the efforts and guidance of the board and staff the past 3 years, reassured that the corps of volunteers are as capable and enthusiastic as ever, and excited to become a part of the team!

I look forward to getting to know all of you better and work with you.