Leadership you can trust
Our Board of Directors oversees the policies, procedures and operations of Whidbey Community Foundation and serves as volunteer ambassadors and fundraisers to build and grow the Foundation. Because we are governed and operated by committed local leaders with a stake in our community, you can trust that we will care as deeply as you do about the charitable organizations and causes you work for or support.
Executive Director and Board Vice President
A lifetime resident of Coupeville, Nancy Conard retired in 2004 after a 30-year career as business manager of the Coupeville School District. She was first elected mayor of Coupeville in 1997 and served in that role for two decades before becoming a founding board member and volunteer executive director of the Foundation. She has been active in many community organizations and nonprofits, including Coupeville Lions Club, Soroptimists of Coupeville and Coupeville Arts Center.
“I love this community and have personally benefited from many of the Island’s nonprofit organizations that contribute so much to the quality of our lives,” Nancy says. “I am excited about the potential of the Foundation to broaden support for nonprofits and to match donors to causes they care about. We will manage funds wisely, strengthen nonprofits, and serve as a trusted base of support for our community’s philanthropists and charitable organizations.”
A native of Washington State and an Island resident since 1993, Robin worked as the finance director of the Town of Coupeville and served as executive director of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation before starting a grant writing firm to raise funds for nonprofit organizations and municipalities. She has helped raise more than $20 million for 150 nonprofit clients both regionally and nationally. Robin has served the Whidbey community as a board member of organizations including South Whidbey Good Cheer, Gifts From the Heart Food Bank, Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce and the Community Health Advisory Board.
“As a grant writer and community volunteer, I know first-hand what an impact nonprofit organizations make on our community,” Robin says. “Our semi-isolated island location means that we need to support each other, and Whidbey Community Foundation can be the backbone to support the great work of all our local nonprofits.”
Helen Price Johnson
Elected to the Island County Board of Commissioners in 2008, Helen Price Johnson became the first woman ever elected to that office. She served as County Board Chair in 2010 and 2015 and was elected president of the Washington State Association of Counties in 2014. Before her election to the County Board, Helen owned and operated small businesses in the retail and construction trades on South Whidbey for 25 years. She served two terms and is a past president of the South Whidbey School District Board of Directors. A Clinton resident, she and her husband grew up on Whidbey Island, raised their four grown children there, and now have two grandchildren.
“We are fortunate to live in a place where so many people give so much to create a resilient community,” Helen says. “Working collaboratively with donors, nonprofits and community leaders, the Foundation will fuel an even stronger community for the future.”
Steve holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a medical degree from the University of California Davis School of Medicine. Steve and his wife, Debora Valis, a physical therapist, were working at Group Health Hospital in Seattle in 1976 when the opportunity arose to buy the family practice clinic in Langley, where they worked until 1988. From 1983 until 1998 Steve worked part-time in emergency medicine at Swedish Hospital/Ballard. Motivated by their personal and professional commitment to physical fitness, the couple opened Island Athletic Club in 1996. Steve and Debora retired in 2013, leaving the athletic club in the hands of their daughter and son-in-law.
“Whidbey nonprofits help our neighbors, fulfill unmet community needs, and protect the places and spirit that make our Island special,” Steve says. “The Foundation will attract more support for our nonprofits, make them more efficient and accountable, and help donors make smarter decisions about where to invest their contributions.”
The mayor of Oak Harbor, Bob Severns has lived on Whidbey for more than 40 years. As a business owner and manager on the Island, Bob served our community in dozens of capacities including as a member of the Oak Harbor Rotary, Civil Service Board and Chamber of Commerce. He also has held board positions with the Child Abuse Protection Foundation, the Navy League and Oak Harbor Main Street. He holds a degree in business administration and management from Central Washington University.
“I’ve lived in Washington my entire life and know first-hand how much nonprofits and caring community members contribute to the lives of everyone who lives here,” Bob says. “The Whidbey Community Foundation will give every Island resident the opportunity to make an informed and meaningful difference for local charitable causes. I’m honored to help guide the Foundation and to support philanthropists and nonprofits.”
A Whidbey Island native, Sara earned her B.A. from Connecticut College in 2003 and her J.D. from Vermont Law School in 2009. Prior to attending law school, Sara spent several years working in the non-profit sector in New York and Montana. Following law school, Sara spent a decade practicing law in Seattle, clerking at the Washington State Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington before entering private practice. She is currently an active volunteer with the South Whidbey School district, a part-time attorney, a full-time mom, and thrilled to be serving her community on the board of the Whidbey Community Foundation. Sara lives in Langley with her husband and their two daughters.
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Jerry was raised in the Midwest. He graduated from Denison University and received his Master of Arts in Teaching from Antioch Putney-Yellow Springs, OH. He spent his first 18 years after college as an educator in independent schools in Dayton, OH; Boston, MA; Toledo, OH, the last 7 as Director. Following years included a startup in the software field, becoming Director of varying organizations in Seattle, WA; Glen Rose, TX; and San Francisco, CA, assisting them through transition challenges. In 2011, he became the Executive Director of the Whidbey Institute and served until 2015. During that time, he helped launch Thriving Communities which focuses on filming and gathering people to share the work of common (grassroots) people doing uncommon work for the common good. It is now in its 9th year having produced over 45 films in 20 communities in the Northwest.
Jerry has lived on Whidbey Island since 1994 and loves every day in this extraordinary community. He has 2 grown children, a daughter in Ballard and a son in New York, each with 2 grandchildren.
“This island has grown immensely in this last decade! With the growth there are increasing challenges for many who live here; many are neighbors, friends, or those just one degree of separation from each of us. I believe that our community life is important and much of that culture of caring is provided by an array of nonprofit organizations on this island. As Whidbey has grown, I feel there is an important role for an organization like Whidbey Community Foundation to assist our many nonprofits while providing organizational neutral space for philanthropy to thrive both in receiving and supporting the amazing work done on Whidbey. I see WCF as a vital part of sustaining the positive life and culture on this island and feel honored to help in this process.”
Dr. Lance Gibbon has been a public school educator for 26 years. His career includes serving a superintendent, assistant superintendent, elementary principal and music educator. Currently, Dr. Gibbon is in his seventh year as superintendent of Oak Harbor Public Schools. Dr. Gibbon serves on a number of regional boards and has twice been recognized as the Best of Whidbey Community Leader of the Year. He received his masters and doctorate in Education from Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Gibbon is also a long-time professional musician and arts supporter. Oak Harbor has been Dr. Gibbon’s home for the last 12 years where he lives with his wife Michelle and youngest son, Samuel. His oldest son, Noah, is a WSU graduate.
“There are so many terrific nonprofits and other groups serving our communities on Whidbey. I’m excited to serve on the Whidbey Community Foundation because it is developing and investing in all of these organizations, building bridges and helping us learn from one another. Thanks to Whidbey Community Foundation, our island is growing stronger through unity.”
Jessie Gunn joined WCF in April 2019 as Program Manager. She has over 10 years of experience in the social sector having worked with national foundations, government programs, nonprofits, and corporate philanthropy. Most recently she was Grants Manager with Ballmer Group, and prior to this she earned her Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy at the University of Washington, specializing in Nonprofit Management. Jessie and her husband own and operate Whidbey Pies, and reside with their family in Central Whidbey.
“I feel very fortunate to live with my family on Whidbey Island. When I first moved here I was struck by the diverse nonprofit community on the island supporting critical causes from basic human services, to environmental conservation and animal welfare. The Whidbey Community Foundation strives to build the capacity of these organizations so they can have greater impact, and to connect donors to causes that matter to them. I am honored to lend my services to the Foundation in order to build a stronger community together.”
Photos: Michael Stadler, Stadler Studio Photography