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2017-2018 FELLOWS

We are a diverse community of educators in northwestern Washington who contribute to our campuses and communities in multiple ways--through teaching, research, leading community organizations, working through local government, and volunteering. We are also friends, neighbors, parents, and more.


We are life-long learners seeking to improve our campus-community collaborations through shared dialogue, cooperation, and reflection.


We know we need each other, and the support of the broader community, to do our best work.

I have just returned to the vibrant Bellingham community after completing my MFA in Dance at the University of Oregon. Before heading south, I graduated from WWU with a BFA in Dance which initiated my interest in further promoting dance education in Whatcom County. I started the dance program at Whatcom Community College, and taught as an Instructor at WWU until 2014. As a movement educator, my research is largely influenced by my experience as a Pilates Instructor and anatomy enthusiast. I am forever curious about the way in which dancers train and integrate anatomical information into their dance practice with my most recent research questioning the role learning processes, transfer theory, and somatics play in dance performance. Upon my return, I am working to grow the offerings in dance at Whatcom Community College, and collaborate with other departments across campus to highlight the importance of the Arts and Humanities in higher education. You can find me on the stage with Bellingham Repertory Dance.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Bellingham Bay and Chuckanut Bay is what brought us back here. The possibilities are endless!

Hannah Andersen

Dance, WCC


I’m a coastal Midwesterner – originally from Ohio, I’ve lived on the Pacific Coast for over ten years. I completed my Masters and PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and I lived on Orcas Island while I wrote my dissertation. From 2014-2016, I lived in California as a postdoctoral fellow with the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I’m glad to be back in the Salish Sea region, where I now work as the Assistant Director of Canada House Programs: The Salish Sea Institute, the Border Policy Research Institute, and the Center for Canadian-American Studies. I’m committed to facilitating place-based learning and connecting across borders and boundaries.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: One of my (many) favorite places on the Salish Sea is Snoring Bay on Sucia Island.

Natalie Baloy

Canada House, WWU


I am the Coordinator for the Opportunity Council out at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center (EWRRC) in the Early Learning and Family Services department. My work is, ultimately, ensuring the EWRRC is accessible and relevant to the community it serves. East Whatcom is a large area and includes the South Fork, Deming, Sumas, Maple Falls, as well as all of the areas of human habitation East of Everson Goshen Rd. Although I have yet to meet any folks who live near Ross Lake, if they stopped by some time I’d be delighted to share what we offer and receive feedback as well!


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: As local resident in E. Whatcom for nearly 10 years, I deeply appreciate the beauty of our more rural Whatcom areas for hiking, swimming, as well as my early morning walks. East Whatcom is a community of caring and fiercely independent folks who inspire me in my work on a daily basis.

Jessica Bee

Opportunity Council


Bellingham/Whatcom County became my adult home in 1975. I became immediately immersed in the broader community by working for Evergreen Legal Services and the Whatcom Opportunity Council. I co-wrote the first grant proposal for a Farmer’s Market, which began the process of many years of effort by other people working for it to become the special market it is today. While working my way through Huxley College for a second degree, I worked for the US Forest Service based in Glacier, WA as a firefighter and trail builder. After Huxley, I worked again for the Opportunity Council in the Home Energy Program. My next area of community involvement was working construction for the Whatcom County Parks at Hovander, Tennant Lake and other parks. Beginning in 1981, I continued to fund my studies at WWU working as a National Park Ranger for North Cascades both as an Naturalist and Backcountry Ranger. After years more education in teaching and English, I taught Upward Bound and later in the English department at WWU. Other community involvement work included coordinating the Watershed Masters Program for WSU Cooperative Extension and funding the program through the Department of Ecology and Puget Sound Water Quality. Since 1995, I have worked continuously as an instructor of English Composition, Literature, Environmental Literature, and writing intensive science courses at Whatcom Community College. I have also written grant proposals to fund environmentally oriented work study positions and supervised those students through Cooperative Education at WCC. I have been active on the college Sustainability Committee since its inception.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Point Whitehorn, which is a Whatcom Land Trust property. In the North Cascades: Hidden Lakes Peak and Scott Paul trail

Wendy Borgesen

English, Composition, and Lit., WCC


I am a cultural historian whose interests are located at the intersection of histories of medicine and public health; histories and philosophies of the state; and critical race and disability theory. Both my research and teaching are animated by inquiry into epistemology; the transmutation of knowledge as it circulates between popular, professional, and official spaces; and the role that emotion plays in both processes. I teach in the Liberal Studies Department at WWU, and I am also at work on a book project that rethinks the origins and agendas of American eugenics through the history of suicide.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: As a recent transplant, I’m still in the process of finding my favorite spot(s) in the region—suggestions welcomed!

Kathleen Brian

Liberal Studies, WWU


I am teaching Japanese, History, and Interdisciplinary Studies at WCC. I am doctorate in Education. My research interests include multicultural education, moral education, civic education, international education, global education, and Japanese language and culture. I am engaged in community work enhancing a global understanding and honoring diversity by serving for the boards of Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA) and Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) Washington State Chapter. This year, I am participating in the Equity project at Whatcom. These experiences are certainly helping me develop a sense of learning community. I look forward to learning more to enlarge our educational circle this coming year.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My favorite place is Boulevard Park, especially for boardwalk before sunset.

Setsuko Buckley

World Languages, WCC


I came to Bellingham to work at Western. At the moment – under the heading of ‘arts advocate’ – I’m the flack for the College of Fine and Performing Arts. I’ve worked in nonprofit theatres and community organizations off and on since I was a teenager. I volunteer when I can for the Washington Trails Association, and I’m a representative on the Executive Committee of WWU’s Professional Staff Association. I’m the parent of a kid in Sunnyland Elementary. 1000+ Smarttrips.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The icy creek that flows from the glacier on top of heliotrope ridge where it crosses the trail. Stick your feet in!

Chris Casquilho

College of Fine and Performing Arts, WWU


Since 2002, I have taught courses on law, courts, politics, and society in the Political Science Department at Western Washington University. I currently serve on the Academic Coordination Commission and the Committee on Undergraduate Education, and have actively participated since 2014 in WWU’s on-going effort to improve its general education (GUR) curriculum. Since 2006, I have also served on the steering committee of the Western Christian Faculty Forum, which seeks to encourage and support Christians in our diverse roles as faculty, staff, and administrators to contribute to WWU’s mission of cultivating “active minds, changing lives.” The WCFF holds brown-bag lunches, brings Christian scholars to give public lectures, and supports the student ministries at WWU. I live with my wife and 15 year old son, and have attended Hillcrest Chapel since 2002.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Clayton Beach, because it’s my son’s namesake (except for “beach”)

Paul Chen

Political Science, WWU


I teach literature and creative writing. Literature courses have included queer lit, literature of AIDS, literature of surveillance, and ecopoetry. Primarily, I teach creative writing, with a focus on experimental writing and hybrid genres, exploding what students know about writing and literature in order to expand for them the possibilities of language and form. Additionally, I encourage my students to explore the lineage of their writing style in order to situate themselves within the larger historical context and conversation. My current research interests involve hybrid poetics and epistolary forms.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: any beach or library

Elizabeth Colen

English, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, WWU

I am a writing teacher and writer with a PhD in English, who moved to the region in September, 2016. I am currently in my second year as a full-time tenure track English faculty position at Whatcom Community College. My dissertation and much of my scholarship has focused upon the historical and theoretical connections ecological thinking and writing, a thread that I call a literacy of sustainability. At Whatcom, I currently co-advise the sustainability club and am a member sustainability committee. During my time living in western Pennsylvania, I led and helped to develop numerous community and ecological groups, and I hope to become similarly involved in the communities here in the Salish Sea region. Particularly, I wish to focus upon activities which promote sustainability, equity and the massive opening of hearts and consciousness that needs to take place if humans are to persevere through the combination of climate change and job-replacing mechanization.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Though I love everything about the Salish Sea region, I have lately been enamored with the way the rain and fog focuses light in the Cascade foothills.

Brian Cope

English, Composition & Lit., WCC


I serve as the Deputy Director for the Whatcom County Library System, a position which allows me to work in-depth with the many amazing communities we serve in Whatcom County. As a former Children’s Librarian, I am always ready to tell a story, and I understand the power of interest-based learning. I believe that reading and stories are vehicles of empathy and inclusion and that libraries are important community building tools.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The elusive Chuckanut Island beach that appears only at low tide, a reward only for those with good planning or incredible luck.

Michael Cox

Whatcom County Libraries


I have been teaching people about sex and sexuality for about 30 years now, in my role as a big sister, best friend, Planned Parenthood community educator, family therapist, parent, auntie, and most recently, health educator in Prevention and Wellness Services here at Western. I think it's one of the most important (and fun) things to teach about and I dream of a world in which every person grows up comfortable with their own sexuality and respectful of others'. I also like getting involved in things I care about, which is a lot of things, like Sunnyland PTA, Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, local dance/theater, and creating welcoming spaces in our community.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I'm in love with the San Juan Islands and some of my favorite spots are Obstruction Pass (Orcas), Iceberg Point (Lopez) and Young Hill (San Juan).

Tracy Dahlstedt-Rienstra

Prevention &

Wellness Services, WWU


I joined Western Washington University’s Department of Communication Studies in 2016 as an Assistant Professor. My research emphases are Intergroup Communication (specifically, issues related to gender and cultural identities) and Organizational Communication. I am interested in the notions of gender that are encouraged, accepted, and deeply woven into the social fabric and how these notions influence the identity of individuals and their communication thereof. I am also interested in the processing and use of messages between and within organizations, and how people from different cultures communicate and form intercultural relationships. My research has been published in refereed journals in the field of Communication Studies.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The beautiful islands in the region

Rita Daniels

Communication Studies, WWU


I am engineering faculty at Whatcom Community College. I came to Whatcom in 2016 after previously teaching engineering at Everett Community College since 2001. I moved to Bellingham in 2009 to help start MillWorks Cohousing community. One thing about my transition to Whatcom that excites me is that I am finally teaching and working in the same community in which I live! So I look forward to getting more involved in the community in other ways.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Squamish, BC, specifically the Stawamus Chief when I'm several hundred feet up one of its walls. I'm an avid rock climber and Squamish is host to world class climbing of all types.

Eric Davishahl

Engineering, WCC


I am a tenured faculty member in the engineering technology department at Bellingham Technical College. In addition to teaching engineering, I enjoy developing new curriculum and degree programs, mentoring students, and working on student centered engineering projects with our industry partners. I am currently managing a National Science Foundation grant focused on advancing training pathways in sustainable energy which has involved the development of a new degree program, contextualizing general education curriculum, and offering undergraduate research opportunities to the technical college student. I strive to inspire others to learn with intent. I aim to motivate students to explore engineering, teach them to be curious and inventive, and help them find a career in whatever realm will allow them to make the world a better place.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Clayton Beach

Jill Davishahl

Mechanical Engineering Technology, BTC


I’m a professor of Linguistics at Western where I have been since 1996. My research interests involve the integration of linguistics into K-12 education; I work with pre- and in-service teachers, on language task forces, and with kids in before and after school World Language programs. I am interested in connecting more with the larger community around language, especially as it relates to social justice.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Church Beach on Lummi Island

Kristin Denham

Linguistics, WWU


I have been adjunct faculty teaching Early Childhood Education/Education at WCC for over 20 years. Also was a parent educator for 21 years and recently let go of that to become co-advisor of WCC's PTK program. My special area of interests include infant/toddlers, brain development, and gender. I am also volunteer with our local synagogue, GRADS advisory board, Bridget Collins, etc.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Whatcom Falls Park is one of my favorite places in the Salish Sea region. It's close to my house and beloved by my two dogs too!

Darcie Donegan

Early Childhood Education, WCC


There’s a saying in the field of early childhood education that “the first years last forever”. This clearly suggests that whatever happens in a child’s early period of development has a profound effect on their success later in life. I’ve worked in the field of early childhood for over 35 years, the past 9 of which has been as an instructor of Early Childhood Education and Education classes at Whatcom Community College. I am committed to raising awareness of the importance of early childhood, to the role that educators of young children play, and to the responsibility we all share to ensure children have the opportunities they need and deserve.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Olympic Peninsula

Kim Doyle

Early Childhood Education, WCC


I am an associate partner at the Natural Resources Consultants, a fisheries consulting firm in Seattle. I specialize in developing and managing projects aimed at reducing negative impacts of lost and abandoned fishing gear. I’ve worked for many years in the Puget Sound region addressing that issue in the non-profit sector. I’ve also been very involved in nearshore habitat restoration work regionally. In addition to my professional work, I have been a 4H club leader for several years and an active volunteer for the Whatcom Humane Society.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Ebey’s Landing Historical Reserve. I love the bluff habitat overlooking Admiralty Inlet. And I appreciate the preservation of the agricultural landscape.

Joan Drinkwin

Natural Resources Consultants Inc.


Over the past 30 years, I have worked as a small business manager, in corporate communications and media, restaurants, IT, and education. After nearly nine years with Renton Technical College, I joined Whatcom Community College’s business faculty in September. My instructional focus is helping students find their voice and helping them connect the textbook concepts to the business world through group projects and interactive learning. My educational background includes an AA from Peninsula College in Port Angeles, a BA in Communications from WSU, and an MBA from City University of Seattle.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: This is a return to Whatcom County for my wife and me. We met while working in Bellingham in the 1990s and I officially proposed to her at Larrabee State Park. So, I would say that’s the most special place in the area to me.

Jim Drinkwine

Business, WCC


I teach English at Whatcom CC after previously serving as Assistant Director of Composition at WWU. My teaching seeks to blend social justice, mindset theory, learning for transfer, and habits of mind. I enjoy researching and practicing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (recent question = what do we mean by “student success”?) and have been active in the WWU Teaching and Learning Academy, as well as facilitating Faculty Learning Communities and Faculty Education Workshops at WCC. Prior to teaching I practiced law and thus sometimes subject students to participating in mock trials.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: So many great spots, but I’ll go with Teddy Bear Cove since it’s just far enough from the North Chuckanut trailhead for me to take my young daughters for a “hike” while still being easily accessible.

Justin Ericksen

English, Composition & Literature,

Writing Across the Curriculum, WCC


I am currently Assistant Professor for Creative Writing and Literature at Fairhaven College for Interdisciplinary Studies. My research interests include: border poetics, hybrid forms and cross-genre writing, life writing and memory studies, documentary literature, and translation. As part of the CE Fellows program I am developing a series of Literature in Practice courses that allow students to make connections between themes explored in the classroom with the lived experiences of their own communities and beyond. I am also currently partnering with a new arts organization downtown, Bruna Press + Archive, on a reading series that aims to bring together students, contemporary writers, artists and local residents for crafts talks, workshops and readings.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Chuckanuts, Bellingham Bay, and the view from my window.

Yanara Friedland

Fairhaven, WWU


As a humanities instructor, I encourage students to explore multicultural expressions of memory and identity. I also support making connections between students, their environment and the way they live their lives.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Two places I love in the Salish region are Edison and La Conner.

Anne George

Visual & Performing Arts, WCC


I organize the Salish Sea Experience field trip to San Juan Island for intermediate students as an independent contractor with Bellingham Public Schools. The only way the next generation will care about this diverse environment around them is if they have first hand experience of it. I have loved watching the excitement on faces of students discover the creatures of the tide pools, see real marine mammals just off shore, and just be in such a beautiful place. My goal is to use my connections in the school district to expand opportunities for other grade levels.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My favorite place in the Salish Sea is Lime Kiln Point on San Juan Island. The whales have blessed me with so many exceptional memories there. It is truly my place of piece and renewal.

Krista Gordon

Salish Sea Experience


I have been a psychology instructor at Whatcom Community College since 2013. I teach both General and Lifespan Psychology and am thrilled to introduce students to the field. I maintain a continuing interest in studying obesity and weight management at all ages, including both prevention and treatment, whether formal or informal. I am also interested in gifted education, mindful parenting, and nonviolent communication. I have served on the boards of several parenting groups and my local PTA.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Any view of the water, especially at sunset.

Erin Graham

Psychology, WCC


I am a lecturer in the Biology Department and have been teaching molecular and cellular biology here for the past three years. My research interests center around characterizing membrane morphogenesis in early liver-stage parasites during the sporozoite/liver-stage transition of a malaria infection. I strive to integrate research and teaching, highlighting the importance of hypothesis testing and independent research project development while emphasizing a Public Health perspective.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I live on the Olympic Peninsula so I absolutely love the Puget Sound. I have had to commute via ferry across the Puget Sound for many years and it is always my favorite part of the journey because I get to start and end my day with the feel the ocean breeze on my face. I’m also a fan of watching the seals blow kisses at the ferry dock and the orcas swimming alongside the ferry when they come to visit.

Anna Groat-Carmona

Biology, WWU


As Western Washington University’s Assistant Director for Contracted International Programs in Extended Education, I serve to cultivate relationships among our university’s students, faculty and staff, and our longstanding and emerging international partners. My dissertation research explored the implementation of a mandated, rural education policy in China. Also, I am continually inspired by how when educators from different countries share ideas over a meal, ties of heart and collaborative initiatives develop. I look forward to exploring ways we may develop reciprocal partnerships that integrate WWU’s growing number of international students into the supportive fabric of our community.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The textured granite of Squamish, BC. Nothing quite compares with witnessing the late-day sun reflecting off Howe Sound from a few rope-lengths up the Chief, Squaw or Papoose.

Dean Hagin

Extended Education, WWU


Having recently completed writing Western’s first 20-year Sustainability Action Plan, I am now supporting its implementation, connecting people and resources across campus and the greater Bellingham community. My work includes overseeing communications of Western’s sustainability initiatives, giving voice to the efforts and achievements of students, staff, and faculty. Passionate about social and economic justice and their deep ties to ecological protection, I believe that the earth will be safe when people have what they need and feel secure. Beyond sustainability, I practice and promote individual and collective resiliency as both a volunteer with the Whatcom County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and a member of the Ferndale Emergency Resource Network (FERN). I study ballet at Opus Performing Arts and am a member of the Woodside Sangha.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I have an affinity for Tennant Lake and surrounding wetlands.

Susanna Hamilton

Office of Sustainability, WWU


My commitment to building partnerships between adult learners and their community is a common thread throughout my educational and professional experience. I continue to facilitate this dynamic relationship in my current role at Western Washington University’s Center for Service-Learning. This year I am partnering with campus staff and community organizations to create a process to connect communities through Western’s 8-hours of Community Service. I believe in the value of investing in our communities and I enjoy living in this beautiful corner of the country.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I feel most at home at the top of a mountain in the winter months. The Cascade Range still takes my breath away. There is nothing quite like going East on 542.

Laurel Hammond

Center for Service-Learning, WWU


This will be my fifth year teaching Sociology at Whatcom Community College. In terms of research, I am finishing up a project that explores the experiences of couples in mixed-sexuality marriages within the Mormon faith. Previous research includes looking at the barriers faced by women parolees (in particular, mothers) and their reentry into the community, as well as gender equity issues within academic STEM fields. I'm currently working on developing a new course that takes a cross-cultural comparative look at social issues in the Himalayan region, and am planning a research trip to Nepal this spring as part of my preparation. My goal is to incorporate more hands-on community oriented learning into my coursework in general.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Stanley Park

Anita Harker

Sociology, WCC


I am an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Woodring College of Education. As a new member to the community, I have not had much local experience. However, I am a member of the Developmental Disabilities Advocacy Board for Whatcom County. I am also on a committee to help Bellingham School District adopt a new Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum. I have been an elementary school teacher 20 years, I have held teaching certificates in three states. I taught 1st-6th grade, science, social studies, technology, PE, and special education. I received my doctorate from Penn State and focused my research on the effects of physical activity and the classroom benefits for children with disabilities. I am also passionate about doing research on reading interventions for struggling adult readers, especially those who have a desire to become teachers.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: As an avid outdoor enthusiast, I am often mountain biking Galbraith, ultra distance running in the Chuckanuts, rock climbing in the North Cascades, or any number of other activities. This place is amazing!

Jeffery Hart

Special Education, WWU


Playful creative meets social entrepreneur. As CEO and Vibe Chancellor of Six Degrees, my work is focused on shifting perspective and social impact through human connection. I do this by designing engagement strategies and events that influence the way we live, work and play. My role as a Western Alum has proven you can keep creating life post WWU: I'm co-developer of the entrepreneur incubator Hatch (a partner with IDEA Institute) and the Urban Transition Studio (a partner with Huxley college of the Environment). I'm an advocate and instigator for large scale interactive art, mischief and shaping stories that inspire cities to become better communities. Life is short, share your dream and live your passion.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Desolation Peak

Nick Hartrich

Six Degrees, Artquake Collective


I am an English Instructor at Bellingham Technical College. In addition to English courses, I also teach GED in the IMPACT! Youth Re-Engagement Program at BTC. Also at BTC, I am an advisor for the Gender/Sexuality Alliance Student Club. Outside of work, I am a member of the local Kulshan Chorus.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Woodstock Farm on Chuckanut Drive

Lauren Hatch

English, BTC


I am the Assistant Director of Western's Hacherl Research & Writing Studio, where we are developing a studio-based learning model that centers around invitational, community-based learning and brief "microconsultations." In the Studio, I develop curriculum and mentor our student staff to support not just the technicalities of the academic literacies we offer assistance with, but also skills for negotiating conflict, for helping students address issues of oppression with their professors, and for becoming more reflective and engaged learners. I have also worked with Ferndale School District as a Graduation Coach and substitute teacher, and I am currently pursuing a master's degree in Environmental Education with the Huxley College of the Environment. I have an enduring interest in making meaningful community impact the norm and not the exception when it comes to education.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Chuckanut Drive when the leaves start falling.

Pippa Hemsley

Hacherl Research &

Writing Studio, WWU


As adjunct faculty at Whatcom Community College in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, I help facilitate our students in the process of growing the academic information and clinical tools necessary to become a physical therapist assistant. It is an amazing experience each and every year. I have had the privilege of teaching various foundation classes (Clinical Kinesiology, Clinical Neuroscience) and PTA procedures courses for the past 20 years. I also work part time as an ergonomics consultant and am the onsite ergonomist for WCC. Additionally I work very part time as a PT at Performance PT. I look forward to collaborating with this diverse community in the Community Engagement Fellows Program.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Shaw Island County Park campground overlooking the water – it is especially magical during a full moon.

Brenda Henoch

Physical Therapist Assistant Program, WCC


I am a second year assistant professor in the Kinesiology Program at Western Washington University. I teach four different courses, but my favorite topic in the classroom is Exercise Physiology. My research interests and focus are on the healing effects of regular physical activity for adolescents living with chronic stress. Before moving to Bellingham, I volunteered for several years at a residential home for at-risk youth, an equine program for troubled youth, and an equine program for individuals with motor difficulties. I am looking forward to learning more about the programs in Whatcom, and beginning to experience and contribute to the community here.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: View of Bellingham Bay ~ Unfortunately, with the crazy happenings of a first-year assistant professor, I was not able to explore the region last year...a deficit I aim to remedy this year! I certainly enjoy the tranquility of watching the colors on the water as the sun rises and sets through the seasons.

Kari Jo Hilgendorf

Health & Human

Development, WWU


I am an environmental scientist with more than 25 years professional water quality experience in Whatcom County. I earned a Bachelor's degree in Biology at WWU and a Master's degree in Applied Microbiology at Northern Arizona University. I supervised the drinking water and wastewater laboratories and water education programs for the City of Bellingham before starting Hirsch Consulting Services, LLC in 1997. Since 1999, my efforts have focused on shellfish growing area recovery in Whatcom County. In 2012 I founded Garden of the Salish Sea Curriculum (GSSC) on Lummi Island while my son attended Beach School there. GSSC is a K-12 education and community stewardship program focused on shellfish and intertidal ecosystems. We are an affiliate of the Olympia based non-profit, Pacific Shellfish Institute. I see shellfish as the perfect organism to demonstrate stewardship and inspire the practice of watershed healthy habits!


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I feel fortunate to call Lummi Island my home!

Julie Hirsch

Garden of the Salish Sea


I have recently have taken on a new role at the Whatcom County Health Department as the Assessment & Informatics Specialist. The work of this position focuses on community health assessments, community health improvement planning, and improving data and information systems. Prior to this transition, I have spent the last six years working in the field of substance use disorder, substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion. As a Behavioral Health Specialist for the health department I routinely worked with advisory boards and community coalitions in researching, planning, implementing activities related to prevention that promoted health youth development. This experience has grounded me with the understanding of and passion for asset-based community development, bridging resources and building relationships that result in positive changes for healthier communities.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Pacific Northwest Trail system, particularly the trail system that crosses the Olympic Mountains and up the coast.

Amy Hockenberry

Whatcom County

Health Department


I teach in a few different disciplines at Whatcom Community College, but I am especially passionate about teaching English to immigrants in our local community. In these classes, I have special empathy and understanding for the challenges and barriers these diverse students face on a regular basis. In my “spare” time (a bit of sarcasm here J), I like to advocate for bicycling and sustainable transportation. I recently joined forces with a local group called Walk, Bike, Bus Bellingham – which is slated to do some great in Whatcom County. I’m really excited that this is getting off the ground. I’m also supporting the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and they have recently been re-energized and have a lot on their agenda, including Intercultural Dinners. A local Women of Color group also has my vote and a slice of my life. There are myriad ways to connect right here in Bellingham!


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I take advantage of many of our local hiking trails, connector pathways, and interurban trails – these are gifts that keep on giving!

Catalina Hope

English as a Second Language, Health Professions, WCC


I'm a network weaver. I help people become superheroes by the community engagement strategy of LEARNING, VOLUNTEERING, ADVOCATING, GIVING, and COORDINATING. Professionally, I help research and educate about what it's like to be poor in our Skagit County communities, especially in the context of the housing affordability and homelessness crisis; how to volunteer to meet immediate needs; how to advocate on public policy to change power for long-term solutions; how to financially invest wisely in common strategies; and how organizations and sectors can better collaborate in coalitions and community initiatives. I've taught nonprofit management and program planning and evaluation at the University of Wyoming, Snowy Range Nonprofit Institute, and Western Washington University's Human Services Program. In my free time, I serve on the national board of directors for the human rights organization Amnesty International USA; the Community Development Advisory Board of the City of Bellingham; and on the state association for Volunteer Centers of Washington. My community includes bowling on league every Thursday night, and co-production of mind-bending Halloween performance art every year. One of my personal goals is to build the pipeline of new, young and diverse nonprofit board members in Skagit and Whatcom Counties, as a training ground for our future local, state and national elected officials. So far, it's working.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Skagit and Whatcom County communities. People who are making a difference learning about anti-poverty and housing issues, volunteering to meet immediate needs, advocating for longer-term public policy solutions, donating time and money for all of the above, and coordinating coalitions and initiatives to get shit done.

Liz Jennings

Community Acton of Skagit County & Skagit Volunteer Center


I have enjoyed my role as an instructor in the early childhood education program as part of the social sciences department at Whatcom Community College since 1998. I currently teach Health, Safety, and Nutrition; Math and Science Exploration; and Observation and Assessment. I also work with Child Development Associate candidates through Bellingham Technical College. As a community member, I am an avid fan of my children's youth sports teams and attend multiple games per week. I enjoy running and hiking our many trails and I participate in taekwondo where I have a black belt through the Ferndale studio.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My favorite spot in the region is anywhere on Lummi Island, rain or shine, any time of year. I think it is the brightest gem in our many-jeweled crown.

Cindy Johansen

Early Childhood Education, WCC


I am starting my 45th year of teaching this fall. My passion is to engage and challenge people of all ages to stretch themselves; to set up an environment where students are encouraged to develop good habits of mind and to make sense of mathematics. Until recently, my “spare” time was spent speaking and consulting on mathematical applications ranging from river flow management to DNA testing in the courtroom to minimal surfaces to animal physiology. Three years ago, a student and I started the WWU Great Puzzle Hunt, a fun outdoor adventure that requires versatility and teamwork and promotes critical thinking. Our goal is to mobilize minds in support of a city of thoughtful citizens. Last year, participants ranged in age from 8 to 70. The event is growing beyond what I can handle. We are very interested in collaborating with local businesses and organizations on this project.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: If I’m not working or making music, I’m hiking or biking with my dogs in the Chuckanut Mountains behind Lake Samish. I am so grateful for the incredible natural wonders at my doorstep!

Millie Johnson

Mathematics, WWU


I’m an adjunct instructor within WCC’s English department. I tend to teach creative and technical writing, both activities I am happily engaged in outside of my instructing life. This year, I finished editing and designing the memoir, The Gift of Laughter: The Story of a California Mennonite Family, which is now available at Village Books. I yearly organize a reading at Make.Shift gallery for my creative writing students, and this year have been doing this event collaboratively with Melanie Sehman’s music improv class. I’m an avid gardener and Whatcom Master Gardener, living on a working farm out in the county, where I grow too much produce and meander the fields. From time to time, I can also be found participating in various artistic activities and events, writing articles about vegetables and soil for the Bellingham Food Bank’s Garden Beet, and hawking my organic egg wares to unsuspecting colleagues.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The trail that runs along the east side of the Nooksack River from Marine Drive up to Hovander is an easily accessible place to toodle, dog-walk, observe fisherpeoples, daydream, and watch birds and wildlife.

Joanna Kenyon

English, WCC,

Whatcom Master Gardeners


I am a senior instructor for the Compass 2 Campus (C2C) program housed in Woodring College of Education at Western. C2C is a Youth Mentoring Initiative that is the Pilot Program for the state of Washington. C2C mentors complete their service learning component in Title I schools in Whatcom and Skagit Counties where they engage in purposeful academic tutoring, encouraging the young mentees to set goals that include graduating high school and considering post-secondary education. Each year, our program brings a new cohort of fifth grade mentees to tour the Western campus to inspire the young students to visualize themselves as university students. I have a B.A. in Psychology from Gonzaga University and a Master’s degree in Education from Western. I taught in the K-12 public school system for 10 years and as an online teacher for one year before joining C2C.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My cottage set within 2.5 acres of bird and bee friendly gardens and land that is slowly returning to its natural state in south Lake Samish.

Theresa Kingma

Compass 2 Campus, WWU


I am an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at WWU and teach courses on analyzing data from the environment.  My research uses environmental genomic techniques to study microbial community diversity from in marine and alpine systems, and I'm interested in how these communities respond to changing environments.  I have created citizen science programs for both my projects to encourage community engagement in local science and to help me collect large-scale data for addressing how climate change impacts biology in our region. In addition to my work as a scientist, I have been active in social justice work at WWU, and I run workshops helping scientists understand issues of equity and inclusion.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love sailing in Bellingham Bay and climbing in the North Cascades.

Robin Kodner

Biology, WWU


I am a Professor of Human Services in the Department of Health and Community Studies at WWU. My scholarly interests are situated within family culture and human ecology, particularly related to youth and family efforts to deal with and depart from cycles of poverty and violence. Included here is attention to college access and attainment for low income and first-generation college goers. Having worked in numerous capacities in low-income neighborhoods in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Washington, my professional experiences range from primary school teacher, high school coach, mentor, and counselor in school settings to therapist, program director and Executive Director in the human services field (among many other roles!). I actively engage in the community, serving as an advisor and consultant to numerous local, regional, national and international organizations and programs.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Salish Sea Region spoils me. From the islands and the sound to Chuckanut Mountain Range to Mt. Baker. Could have a new favorite each weekend!

John Korsmo

Health &

Community Studies, WWU


I am an assistant professor with appointments in the Department of Chemistry, Advanced Materials Science & Engineering Center, and Institute for Energy Studies at WWU. My research as a computational materials scientist involves translating quantum mechanical and chemical concepts into computer code that my research group develops and uses to simulate how molecules interact with light. I teach courses in general and physical chemistry, energy science, and materials science. I am a Community Friend for Japanese exchange students in the Asia University America Program, and I am currently developing an Energy Ambassadors initiative to bring student researchers in the Institute for Energy Studies together with local high school students to promote energy literacy through interactive presentations and demonstrations.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Peace Arch Park

Tim Kowalczyk

Chemistry, Advanced Materials Science & Engineering Center, Institute for Energy Studies, WWU


I am a passionate educator teaching students about the world around them through the lens of geology and oceanography. My research is on how students most effectively learn and how our teaching and institutional practices can best support student persistence and as such I am able to translate my research into teaching practices. I have worked to develop student opportunities to engage in undergraduate research at the introductory level through community service-based research experiences. As a result, I’ve had the chance to bring the work of Growing Veteran’s (a local organic farm that serves returning veterans from military combat), a local condo boards concerns about slope stability, and the Lummi Island Heritage Trust land preservation goals into my classrooms. I have recently been appointed the faculty sustainability coordinator on our campus, and I’m looking to find ways to make connections across our broader community in ways that serves our students and our community.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My favorite place in the Salish Sea are more moments in time: listening to the cobbles tumble from the waves on Lummi Island after a long day of field work, the misty air slowly rising as I walk through the forests with boughs covered in moss…

Kaatje Kraft

Geology, Oceanography, WCC


I am a professor with a split appointment between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Chemistry. I was the first faculty hire for the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center back in 2008, and this past summer became its Director. I’ve recently gotten excited about community engagement through a program that I organized in collaboration with the Northwest Indian College (NWIC) as well as through organizing Science Week in Bellingham, a series of community events leading up to the Bellingham March for Science earlier this year. My current interest is in supporting underrepresented students in finding opportunities and success in STEM through collaborative efforts with the broader educational community in Whatcom County.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Deception Pass

Janelle Leger

Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry, Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center, WWU


I am a Chinese teacher at Western since 2016. My research interest is in Chinese Linguistics and Pedagogical Grammar of Chinese. I have taught Chinese language courses at all levels. I organized two interviews for students in Chinese program, in which they not only practiced the language but also got a broader view. I have been attending some activities (e.g. the Chinese New Year Celebration) among the Chinese community in Bellingham, and encouraged my students to participate. I like art, so I went to the Art Walk, museum and Mt. Baker theater in downtown of Bellingham. I participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Arch of healing and reconciliation to commemorate contributions of immigrants.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Chuckanut Bay, Mount Baker, Boulevard Park, etc.

Yu Lei

Modern & Classical

Languages, WWU


This will be my second year teaching and researching in WWU’s English department. I am an assistant professor of Writing Studies, which means I study how writing works, and how to best teach writing at the college level—especially for students who arrive at college severely underprepared to write. Most of my research emerges from the classes I teach, so I write about experiments in course design and teaching technologies. I also have an interest in disability studies and issues of access more broadly. In my free time I sing tenor for the Whatcom Chamber Chorale, and I also volunteer for the Whatcom Crisis Resolution Center.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Heliotrope Ridge

Andrew Lucchesi

English, WWU


I am currently an adjunct biology instructor at Whatcom Community College. At my previous institution, I attended a workshop on Project-based learning, which is an evidence-based practice that encourages the use of authentic student projects. I would love to collaborate with the community to create a project for my students.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Boulevard Park

Lauren Maniatis

Biology, WCC


I have taught biology in a myriad of places including Skagit Valley College, Woodland Park Zoo, Oregon State University, and Central African Republic but most of my time is currently spent at Whatcom Community College as an adjunct instructor. My past field work included surveys of terrestrial and aquatic amphibians, fish, gastropods, owls, small mammals, and vegetation in forest and aquatic ecosystems as well as documenting various environmental parameters. More recently, my focus has been to engage my community college students in biology and environmental science by providing accessible, student-driven, and motivating material. I have witnessed how powerful field work and service learning can be and am inspired to incorporate more of this into my courses.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Tide pooling at Washington Park

Kirsten McDade

Biology, WCC


Michael is a descendant of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He earned his BA in American Indian Studies at UW-Milwaukee and his MA in English/American Indian Studies at Cornell University. Michael has taught reading and language arts at K-12 urban Indian schools, Native American literature and academic and professional writing at two and four-year colleges and worked as a writing tutor and faculty advisor. He has also worked closely with various community-campus projects such as the Prison Humanities Project culminating in . Michael loves working with people to help them make informed decisions towards attaining their goals and interests. Currently, Michael serves as an Academic Advisor at Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Nation. 


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Having recently relocated to Bellingham from Madison, WI, one of my favorite places is walking around town in winter rains rather than blizzards.

Michael McDaniel

Advising NWIC


I have worked for Habitat for Humanity for over 15 years, nine of which have been with the local affiliate, Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County. Locally, Habitat is building super-energy efficient homes emulating the Passive House standard and providing access to capital (0%) for very low-income residents to purchase these homes. In a county with an affordable housing crisis Habitat partners with other non-profits, business, government, civic groups and the faith community to provide homeownership solutions. Habitat is currently working on a 52 home development of Telegraph Road in Bellingham in partnership with Kulshan Community Land Trust and a community infrastructure/ neighborhood revitalization project in partnership with Hope House and Catholic Community Services.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My home

John Moon

Habitat for Humanity

of Whatcom County


I am in my second year at Western, where I am an assistant professor of journalism and public relations. I am particularly interested in environmental communication and sustainability, corporate social responsibility, civic engagement, and public diplomacy. My research looks at environmentalism and global resources extraction issues through the lenses of media and communication, and I am excited to bring this perspective to Bellingham and the Cascadia region.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Lily Point Marine Park for the amazing wildlife and Mt. Baker views. Honorable mention to the Whatcom Creek Trail.

Derek Moscato

Journalism, WWU


I have worked with Children’s Administration for the State of Washington for the past 14 years. I facilitate family team decision making meetings for families involved in the public child welfare system due to allegations of child abuse or neglect. I serve on the Whatcom County Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) task force and the East Whatcom Regional Resource Team. I strive to partner with other community, governmental and private agencies and resources in order to continually better our social service delivery to families in our community. I live with my husband, two children and two dogs in Sudden Valley and I am part of the Geneva Elementary and Kulshan Middle School communities.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Odlin County Park on Lopez Island

Sunshine Nelson

DSHS- Child Protective Services


I am a linguistic anthropologist, and an Assoc. Prof. in the Department of Anthropology. My primary research is in Southeast Asia and southwest China. I’ve taught at Western since Fall 2008, and have engaged in outreach to local schools on Asia- and language-related topics, and with a local youth arts organization on the topic of African-American Vernacular English. I am also a member of the Task Force on Language and Social Justice, an organization within the Society for Linguistic Anthropology. The work of the task force inspired me to develop a lecture for the CHSS Dean’s Lecture Series, on the myth of a language gap and the reasons this myth has been taken as truth by government and non-profit leaders. I am really looking forward to building more local connections who can help me find ways to bring my skills to bear on local issues in useful and productive ways.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Neah Bay

Judith Pine

Anthropology, Linguistics,

Southeast Asia Studies, WWU


I have worked at Whatcom Community College for 20 years– 16 of those years I taught in and helped to build the ESL program. After a 7-year stint as an ESL teacher in Taiwan, I returned to Whatcom as the first Director of the English as a Second Language Academic (ESLA) Program, which primarily serves International students. It’s been four years now, and I’m happy to say I enjoy the variety of tasks that come with administering a program and supporting teachers in their work with students. My community involvement is mostly centered on the college itself, such as managing the Bulk Bus Pass for faculty and staff and organizing activities for the Combined Fund Drive which support scholarships and a variety of local charities.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The small town of Indianola, Washington.

Robin Preisinger

English as a Second

Language, WCC


I am a professor in the Department of History at Western Washington University. I teach North American and Atlantic history from colonization through the U.S. Civil War, specializing in the American Revolution, the Early American Republic, borderlands and frontiers, and American religions. My research and writing explain how settlers in the United States in the years after the American Revolution used religious institutions to form communities and pursue spiritual and material benefits in a time of social upheaval.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Ptarmigan Ridge

Hunter Price

History, WWU


For three decades I have lead nonprofit art organizations that have been vital to the Pacific Northwest contemporary art scene. In 2014, with great enthusiasm, I moved to Bellingham from Seattle to take the position of Executive Director at Pickford Film Center. I find great joy in working to create important and memorable experiences that help us explore the many possibilities that film offers. Working at the Pickford allows me to encounter the full deck of characters that make Bellingham a great place to be — through creating K-12 educational programs that involve the entire county, presenting live scores to silent films, producing the Bellingham Children’s Film Festival, running a business downtown or eating popcorn in a darkened theater.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Happy Valley Community Garden and the boardwalk on the South Bay Trail.

Susie Purves

Pickford Film Center


I am passionate about energizing and equipping everyday people to do extraordinary things through conversation, collaboration and community building. As a recent WWU Fairhaven alum, I feel blessed to continue growing my roots in Bellingham while serving as an intern at the INN University Ministries. My work in this community includes mentoring and learning alongside college students to discover understandings of calling and vocational discernment, identity, and sense of belonging. It excites me to help connect students with their passions so they may bring positive and impactful cultural influence to Bellingham and beyond. For the past six years, I’ve also worked as a freelance photographer and love telling stories through creative avenues.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My heart melts when I'm able to take in the breathtaking views of South Beach on San Juan Island.

Jessie Raetz

The INN University Ministries


Ten years ago I began the process of fulfilling one of my life long dreams. I started and ran Laura Jeffery Academy a girl-focused, STEM middle school in St. Paul, MN. With passion, spirit and community collaboration we developed a space where girls from broad and diverse backgrounds could hone their voices, be rooted in practices of empathy and social justice, and develop their intellects to be critical thinkers and leaders in their communities and future work. My work with Laura Jeffrey Academy led me to accept an opportunity with the School Leadership Program through WA Charters to start a public Intergenerational High School and the Intergenerational Sustainability Institute in Whatcom County and beyond. The high school will be rooted in progressive, phenomenon-based learning with a focus on social change and will serve 9-12 graders, high school graduates seeking an internship for gap year and create opportunities for elders to be integral partners in the learning program. 


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love the little cove In Boulevard Park where I toss the ball to my dog Maddy and I saw my first purple star fish in the bay.

Cindy Reuther

Educating for Change


I am an English Faculty member at Bellingham Technical College and alumni of WWU. I teach Composition and Technical Writing, along with forming BTC’s very first Creative Writing Club and co-sponsor the Gender & Sexuality Alliance Club. Working with students beyond the classroom is my goal, as I see education as a community experience and valuable well beyond graduation. My passion is challenging students to think past their constructions of the world around them, to ask important questions and explore the life they’ve been given on a deeper level. I want them to leave my classroom with a broader sense of not only who they think they are, but to evaluate everything they believe in and why that matters. Ultimately, I see myself more as a coach than a writing instructor – someone who challenges students and motivates them to reach for more within themselves. In my spare time (what is that, again?) I write creative nonfiction, dabble with charcoal sketches, quilt, obsess over film-making, and read anything non-academic.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My front yard – I live on Drayton Harbor in Blaine

Jan Richards

English, BTC


I am a Community Health Specialist at the Whatcom County Health Department where I help guide Whatcom County's Community Health Improvement process. I passionately believe that communities hold the wisdom needed to transform systems and lives. Prior to my time at the Health Department, I was a Senior Program Manager and helped girls develop global citizenship skills through international travel and cross-cultural experiences. Last November I had the incredible pleasure of joining the Board of Directors for the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, an organization that helps individuals approach conflict in collaborative and constructive ways.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love Salt Spring Island, for its beautiful spaces and bright red docks that stretch out over the water.

Amy Rydel

Whatcom County

Health Department


I am a faculty member in the Department of Art and Art History at Western and currently serving as chair. My research focus is Japanese art history so I am excited to be on the “Pacific Rim,” accessible to Asia and close to many Asian diasporic communities on the west coast of North America. My teaching revolves around Asian visual cultures, indigenous cultures of the Northwest, and issues of visual representation across cultures and identities. I see my role in all of these endeavors as helping contribute to understanding through opening dialogue. I am involved in local arts organizations and always looking for ways to increase connections between my department and the community.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love many aspects of the Salish Sea region but my favorite spot may be Marrowstone Island—or the view of Mount Shuksan from Chair 8 at Mount Baker Ski Area.

Julia Sapin

Art & Art History, WWU


I teach in the Audio Technology, Music and Society program at Fairhaven College. My teaching here integrates applied music studies and audio technology with the larger cultural contexts those things exist in. This means examining the web of relationships and meanings within the artistic works we create, and then taking the important next step of better understanding how that work looks outward and finds meaning in culture at large.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Lake Padden. What an amazing urban multi-use lake

Steven Sehman

Fairhaven, WWU


Born in the winter snow of Idaho, I then grew my roots in Conway, WA. After 15 years in Nursing, I have pursued my passion for youth by attending Trinity Western University’s wonderful Adult Degree Completion Program in Leadership. This has led me to work in my community as the Mt. Baker Community Coalition Coordinator. I am privileged to work with many generous community members and partners to bring evidence based substance use/abuse prevention and healthy development programs to the youth and families of Mount Baker. I enjoy volunteer work with my church’s youth group, as well as the Nooksack Valley Youth Dynamics group. My passion is to equip youth and families with skills that build resilience and speak to their identity. In my off time ,I especially enjoy running, hiking, kayaking, and snuggling with my three children Celeste, Jeremiah, and Elizabeth.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My family’s river house on Fir Island. From family roots and tranquility to fishing and sunsets… truly fabulous!

Wa'Lynn Sheridan

Whatcom Family &

Community Network


I have a passion for food and the people whose job it is to produce and cook great food. I work in the Food & Farming program at Sustainable Connections, where we work to make sure that the food grown and raised in Whatcom County stays here. I support new local farmers through our Food to Bank On farmer business training program, as well as working with farmers, chefs, and other people involved in the food industry. When I’m not focusing on food, I love backpacking, rock climbing, playing soccer, and grooving to music.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Obstruction Island

Alex Smith

Sustainable Connections

360-647-7093 ext. 111

In 2010, I left my native Southern California, packed up whatever items fit in Bridget Jones (my Suzuki Aerio) and drove roughly 1,500 miles north to a town where I knew no one: Bellingham, WA. I came to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University’s graduate program in creative writing, during which I studied poetry and cross-genre writing and taught composition in the English department. Since, I have worked at Western in the Ethnic Student Center, Student Outreach Services, and currently in the Center for Service-Learning. My role as the First-Year Engagement Coordinator is to design and oversee community engagement programs for first-year students through partnerships with campus departments, faculty, and community organizations. During my time in Bellingham, I have been an advisor to the Black Student Union at Western, served on the board for Bellingham YWCA, and volunteered with Lydia Place. Around town, I love to explore the arts scene, especially live storytelling. You may even catch me sharing a story at Honey Moon.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Boulevard Park. I love to walk Taylor Dock, then sit on a bench while I silently admire the water and puppy watch.

Danielle Smith

Center for Service-Learning, WWU


I am the co-facilitator of Community Engagement Fellows, and WCC's Service-Learning Coordinator working to connect WCC students and faculty with over 30 community partners in Whatcom County.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Sehome Arboretum. It offers shade in the summer and shelter from the wind and rain in the winter. It’s our go-to spot for a walk or run.

Kristine Smith

Parenting, Human Development,

and Service-Learning Coordinator



I currently am an English faculty member at Whatcom Community College. I have worked at the college for eighteen years. In addition to my role as a faculty member, I also work with the International Program accompanying international students on recreational and cultural field trips. I am on the board of the Happy Valley Neighborhood Association and am the representative for the Coalition of Southside Neighbors. For the past 23 years, I have been an active member of the People’s Land Trust where I have participated in governance and helped with restoration projects on the Morgan Block Building in Fairhaven. I have also participated in various gardening projects in the community.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Kayaking between Post Point and Larrabee State Park is quite lovely.

James Spaich

English Composition & Lit., WCC


I am the Volunteer and Event Coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County at the Opportunity Council. My passion is connecting people with causes they care about. Whether this is through volunteering or donating at a fundraising event, it is all about individuals getting excited about the work being done in the community and deciding to get involved. Though I am a native to Whatcom County, I have a background in international development and worked in India and Africa, so I have a pretty broad view of community and this shapes my perspective of the impact of our local decisions. I am also very involved in a contemplative retreat center, Stillpoint at Beckside, where I deepen this sense of connection to the act of creation we are all involved in every day.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Point Whitehorn Marine Preserve: When I returned from 4 years of living in Mumbai, India I took a walk here with my mom and I remember crying when we got to the beach. I couldn’t believe that I was fortunate enough to live in a place with such amazing natural beauty. This has become one of my favorite places to walk - the forest is really special.

Summer Starr

Volunteer Center

of Whatcom County

360-734-5121 ext. 212

I am the Associate Athletic Director for Community Engagement at Western Washington University. I am responsible for overseeing external relations functions for the athletic department including sponsorships, season-ticket holders, marketing, promotions, advertising, special events, and community outreach. I majored in Chinese Studies at Pacific Lutheran University and received my masters degree in education with an emphasis on student development administration from Seattle University. I am the founder and owner of a lacrosse company, coach high school lacrosse in Whatcom County, and serve on the board of the US Lacrosse Washington Chapter. I enjoy sharing the championship culture that Western athletics has built with the community and raising funds that will provide life-changing opportunities for our student-athletes.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Interurban Trail

Courtney Stringer

Athletics, WWU


I am Executive Director at Sean Humphrey House, a nonprofit residential care facility that optimizes the quality of life for low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS. I am a social services veteran with more than 30 years’ experience in a variety of operational, administrative, development, and education positions. My experience includes lectures and presentations at regional and national conferences, and published articles on HIV/AIDS, addiction, cultural competence, and ethics. Volunteer work in the community focuses on engaging the right people in key initiatives and enlisting their support during times of change. I am a former member of the Governor’s Council on Substance Abuse, Visiting Lecturer Faculty at DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals, and Snohomish County HIV/AIDS Council. Education involvement includes 12 years as an instructor in the Social Services Department at Edmonds Community College.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The beautiful town of La Conner sits along the Swinomish Channel that leads to the Salish Sea, a busy commercial and recreational saltwater waterway. Mount Baker is in the distance. Nearby tulip fields are just one reason I visit this peaceful paradise. Flowers, sculpture gardens and classic courtyards add to La Conner’s charm. The scenic Swinomish Channel and the Rainbow Bridge put La Conner at the top of my favorite boats and boardwalks list.

Roy Sykes

Sean Humphrey House


I am a geographer and community educator fascinated by the evolution of human-environment systems through time, and our species’ struggles to live more peacefully and gently. Through my work in Western Washington University’s Center for Service-Learning, I seek to infuse an ethic and practice of place-based learning throughout the university and the region. I created and co-facilitate Community Engagement Fellows, and was a founding member of Salish Sea Neighbors, a group that facilitates place-based learning opportunities for newcomers to the region. I also serve on the editorial board of the journal Archipelago: Perspectives on Life in the Salish Sea. I moved to the region with my family about 3 years ago, and have enjoyed becoming involved in the many good things happening.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: On the ferry. We always seem to make friends, and the passing scenery can't be beat.

Travis Tennessen

Center for Service-Learning, WWU


I am an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. My interests are in severe communication impairments in children, often resulting in the need for alternative methods of communicating outside of spoken language (sign language, graphic symbols, etc.). My research has focused on features of the design of the visual supports that can be used to communicate when speech is not effective. I am also interested in literacy development for children who use alternative communication modes as well as clinician/parent communication and collaboration. I stress in my classes that although my students will become experts on language and communication, parents are the expert on their child.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Chuckanuts

Jen Thistle

Communication Sciences and Disorders, WWU


As an alum of Western, it was a pleasure to return to WWU three years ago to pursue my career as the Director of the Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI). The BPRI is an inter-disciplinary applied research unit on campus that studies the cross-border relationship between Canada and the United States. I work with a wide variety of stakeholders in the region to increase cross-border collaboration and cooperation. I also work with students and faculty at Western to produce research that is relevant to policy-makers in both the U.S. and Canada. I am involved in numerous outreach activities both regionally and nationally.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Clark Island

Laurie Trautman

Border Policy

Research Institute, WWU


I am an avalanche specialist with the Forest Service National Avalanche Center. Our goal is to improve public safety by reducing avalanche risk. In this regard, I work with backcountry avalanche forecasting and ski area military artillery programs across the United States – with a focus on hazard communication, worker safety, and technology transfer. Washington has lots of mountains, lots of avalanches, and lots of people … and is a great home base. I work closely with the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) and am looking forward to exploring other ways to work within our community. Cheers!


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Strait of Georgia

Simon Trautman

National Avalanche Center,

USDA Forest Service


In 1985, I relocated from San Francisco to Bellingham in search of radio work, having just learned the audio arts at the Columbia School of Broadcasting. Previous academic endeavors included Religious Studies and Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara, and the Episcopal ministry at Yale Divinity School. Clearly, I had no sense of personal direction. Hence, the Pacific Northwest. I wound up owning a small business in Bellingham, and eventually found my way (thanks to my wife Donna, who was raised in Deming) to the hinterlands of eastern Whatcom County. I call it “Bucolia,” because, well, you’ll have to read my book! Here, everything has fallen into place: I serve as the Communication Coordinator for the South Fork Valley Community Association, alleged station manager at KAVZ-LP FM, instructor at Whatcom Community College, writer, political gadfly, and wedding officiant (huzzah for Yale!). I am now, at long last, home.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The South Fork Valley, including beautiful downtown Van Zandt.

Matthew Thuney

South Fork Community Association,

KAVZ-LP 102.5, WCC Continuing Ed


I am the coordinator for the Learning Contract (independent study) and Prior Learning program at Whatcom Community college. I love helping students think about the variety of ways learning takes place and helping them design meaningful learning experiences outside the classroom. I am never bored as at any one time I am working with students on projects as diverse as the “Art and Geography of Morocco” , “Humans of WCC” ( a photo essay), “ Innovations in 3D Printing and Engineering Applications” to name a few. Some of the most fulfilling projects for students involve connecting with a community partner to apply academic theory to real world issues. Personally I am passionate about the role of the arts in creating community, local theatre, greenspaces and the value of a hammock and a good book.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on Vancouver island- camping at China Beach and tidepooling at Botanical Beach!

Beth Tyne

Learning Contracts,

Prior Learning WCC


Erin Uloth is a district ranger for the Mt. Baker Ranger District, which is on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This essentially means she is responsible for things that happen on the FS lands in her district. In reality, she helps to facilitate things happening on FS lands, whether via the government, the Tribes, the public, partners, etc.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: When she’s not somewhere on the National Forest, she’s likely bike camping with her family in the San Juan or Gulf Islands.

Erin Uloth

Mt Baker Ranger District,

USDA Forest Service


A recent Bellingham transplant, I am adventuring into the community to connect and find ways to love it. I’m currently volunteering with the Max Higbee Center, Washington Trails Association (WTA), and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). In addition, I am a new Wild Whatcom board member. I’m originally from Romania, grown up mostly in Ohio, and have been working out West for tribes, non-profits, and multiple government agencies since 2004. Prior to moving up north for my husband’s farming position, I spent the last three years as a student services facilitator at Seattle World School where I assisted immigrant and refugee families navigating Seattle Public Schools and adjust to a new life. I have an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies and Psychology and a master’s degree in Natural Resource Sciences.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I have fond memories of Useless Bay where I attended a stand up paddleboard and yoga weekend workshop all about finding balance. With the support of amazing women from all around the Puget Sound, I learned new skills and learned more about myself in this unassuming beautiful spot.

Daniella Vingelen

Wild Whatcom


I am the Community Engagement Coordinator for the North Sound Accountable community of Health. I engage community member around the work of the healthcare transformation in the North Sound (Whatcom, Island, San Juan Snohomish & Skagit counties). With an equity lens, I engage communities that suffer the poorest outcomes and health disparities and train community members in leadership and health advocacy skills. In my spare time, I am also a full time Master of Public Health Student at the University Washington School of Public Health and in a prior life I worked with the Opportunity Council in low income weatherization and healthy homes, so I also am passionate policies and programs that promote safe and affordable housing in our beautiful city.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Guemes Island because in the summer, you can watch the sunset for hours while eagles catch fish right out of the ocean. All from our back porch!

Leah Wainman

North Sound Accountable Community of Health


In addition to teaching in the Elementary Education department at Western, I am also an entrepreneur. I am the director of Global Peaceful Paths, a consulting company that focuses on equity, inclusion, liberation and social justice. At Western, I am on the Social Justice and Equity Committee where I currently co-chair the Campus Wide Dialogue on Race and other social justice issues. I also facilitate workshops for the Campus Equity and Inclusion Forums. My workshops in both the community and Western focus on implicit bias, microaggressions, creating a positive white identity, race based conversations, and women supporting women in the workplace. My recent TedxWWU talk focuses “From Sabotage to Support: Women Supporting Women in the workplace”. I also write for WhatcomTalk for the Whatcom Women section where my articles focus on women in business. Finally, I’m writing a book based on my Ted Talk. I have a 6 year-old daughter, five chickens and a murdering cat named Max.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: So many….I really love the San Juan Islands especially Lopez, Lummi and Orcas. I also love to explore new places all over Washington especially the Olympic Peninsula.

Joy Wiggins

Elementary Education, WWU, Global Peaceful Path


My traditional name is Ku se maat and I am an enrolled member and resident of the federally recognized tribe of Lummi Nation. I am a Community Medicine RN and Co-Founder of Whiteswan Environmental, WE (One Mind for the Purpose of the Work). WE are the organizers of the “Coast Salish Mini University” – A hands-on field program that builds upon the spirit of cooperation between treaty tribes and the federal government, non-government and academic institutions. As well as the Lummi and Saanich Nation Storyboard Dedication to the San Juan Island National Parks Service 100th Anniversary. WE are also the vision keepers for the "Coast Salish Tribal Heritage Field Institute" and Interpretive Center. As a measure of ecological health protection, WE have been working on short to long-term restoration projects with an interdisciplinary team who are committed to supporting community healing through the natural, cultural and historical restoration to the Salish Sea for the next seven generations, as a measure of ecological health protection.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love all the regions of the Salish Sea, as this has been the ancestral homeland of my people since time immemorial.

Shirley Williams

Whiteswan Environmental


I am an assistant professor in the music department and director of the jazz studies program. I frequently perform and present workshops on jazz styles and improvisation around the region. I enjoy building confidence in younger musicians to take the musical (and emotional) risks involved with improvised music. I love living in Bellingham with my wife, new daughter, and our two dogs. In addition to teaching at WWU, I teach for the local non-profit jazz organization the Whatcom Music Jazz and Arts Center (WJMAC). I look forward to working with others who love the Bellingham area and want to make it an even better place to live and learn.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The walk along the boardwalk between Boulevard Park and Fairhaven.

Kevin Woods

Music, WWU


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