Staff and Board of Trustees
Meetings of the Board of Trustees are generally held on the third Thursday of the month in the late afternoon. The next meeting is scheduled for October 19 in the community room at the Orcas Public Library, starting at 4:00 p.m.
OPAL’s Board of Trustees operates by consensus:
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Anne Bertino has lived on Orcas since 2009 and first became involved with OPAL through the building committee. The home she shares with husband Patrick is very efficient with rain catchment and solar hot water systems. She managed OPALCO’s Energy Efficiency program for four years and currently works as an energy efficiency / sustainability consultant and interior space planner. Her varied background includes green building and design and a career in the aerospace field. She has a B.S. degree in engineering physics and an A.A.S. degree in interior design. Anne has been a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional since 2008.
Bonnie Burg moved from Minnesota to Orcas in 2013. She and her wife Maryann Syers, both clinical social workers, have a psychotherapy practice in Eastsound. After receiving a BA in Psychology from Barat College, and her MA from the University of Chicago, she worked for 40 years in various mental health settings in Chicago. In 1972 Bonnie became a faculty member at the University of Illinois where she worked in the Psychiatry Department training psychiatric residents, medical students and social work interns. Several years later she opened her private practice in downtown Chicago. She joined the board of Horizons Community Services in 1986 and was president of this organization for 8 years. This marked the beginning of her “board career” and commitment to community service. Since coming to Orcas she has served on the Orcas Community Resource Center board as Program Chair, the Orcas Senior Center Committee as Vice Chair and Chair, and on SJC Human Services Advisory Committee. Bonnie sees OPAL as a cornerstone organization on Orcas and heartily supports the mission to create opportunities for of all islanders to have a place to call home.
Rusty Lynn Diggs moved to Orcas Island in 2003, and together with Christopher Evans began raising their twin girls in the Bonnie Brae neighborhood in 2005. Prior to Orcas Island, Rusty worked and lived at a non-profit, intentional community in Oregon for 8 years. While there she taught sustainable living skills as well as advocated for Old Growth Forests, social and economic justice. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Rusty first came to the Pacific Northwest in 1990 where she attended the University of Oregon for a degree in Cultural Anthropology. Her passion for community development inspires her desire to be a part of the OPAL board of directors.
Minor Lile and his wife Leonie Van Gelder have lived on Orcas Island since 1995. They purchased an OPAL home in 2018 after nearly twenty years as the resident managers at Indralaya. Prior to moving to Orcas Island, Minor worked for the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and later as a commercial real estate appraiser. His educational background includes a BA degree in History from Whitman College and an MBA from the University of Washington. Minor has been a member of the OPAL Board since 2019 and is currently serving as Treasurer. He also sits on the Loan Fund and Finance Committees.
Margaret Mills lives on Crane Island in a house her parents constructed in the 1970s as a weekend project of about three years’ duration. She joined construction phases during breaks from graduate school at Harvard, where she trained as a Ph.D. general folklorist/anthropologist specializing in the cultures of Persian language-speaking areas. With war and displacement overtaking Afghanistan and Iran, she became involved with refugee and immigration studies, critical gender studies, oral history, and truth and reconciliation topics. She taught and chaired academic departments at the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University and served on boards of related national/international academic organizations. A fan and supporter of OPAL since its inception, spending summers and sabbatical years on Crane Island and retiring here as a permanent resident in 2012, she is happy to be able finally to join the OPAL Board. She finds the stories of OPAL residents, staff and other members endlessly fascinating and illuminating.
Bob Morris and his wife Bonnie have been full time Orcas residents for four years after living in the Portland area for nearly four decades. It was amazing to them how quickly Orcas became their only home. Their two children and their families are also northwesterners and visit often. The last 15 years of Bob’s working life were spent in the non-profit world, equally divided between Oregon Food Bank and Feeding America. For 20 years he was a school board member, K-12 and Community College. In his distant past he got an Economics degree from Arizona State. Here on Orcas Bob has been an active Food Bank board member and he and Bonnie are Door 2 Door drivers. They were attracted to OPAL because of the obvious quality of the organization and the importance of the mission. Bob’s favorite quote is from Arthur Ashe – “Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can.”
Anne Marie Shanks and her husband Bern bought their home on Orcas in 1988 and became permanent residents in 2006. Prior to retiring 2009, she held administrative positions in State and Federal government, and with several non-profit organizations. Her educational background includes a BS from the University of Maryland and an MA from Georgetown University. Anne Marie has served on several community boards and committees including LIFT, the Local Area Immigrant Family Trust, The Orcas Women’s Coalition, Orcas Garden Club, Deer Harbor Community Club and the Deer Harbor Plan Review Committee. In 2018 Anne Marie joined the Yes for Homes Campaign and helped pass the Real Estate Excise Tax which now supports the San Juan County Home Fund.
Rachel Arias works part time for OPAL as an Accounting Specialist focused on Accounts Payable. Rachel grew up in San Jose, California and moved to Washington in 2017 after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Accounting. She has a diverse accounting background and invites opportunities to expand on her expertise. Rachel is based in Mount Vernon, WA, where her and her husband are raising their two children. She is fluent in Spanish and looks forward to visiting Mexico once a year to see family. She also has a love of travel, reading, and enjoys hosting social gatherings.
Jeanne Beck joined the OPAL staff for the second time in 2009. She is the Director of Stewardship and Project Manager. Jeanne oversees the implementation of new construction and renovation projects, provides support to neighborhood homeowner associations, oversees the property management firm operating the Lavender Hollow apartments, and guides OPAL homeowners through the process to sell their homes. Prior to this job, Jeanne worked as an operations manager, project manager or executive director for nonprofit and for-profit organizations. She was the first executive director of the Funhouse Discovery Center (1998-2006) and also of OPAL Community Land Trust (1990-95). She has a degree in Criminal Justice from St. Ambrose University and completed graduate course work in economics at the University of Washington.
Julie Brunner has been OPAL’s Housing Director since January 2002, working part-time. Julie helps homebuyers through the process of buying a home, including obtaining mortgage financing and homebuyer education instruction. She also provides financial counseling to existing homeowners if the need arises. In addition to working for OPAL, Julie teaches courses for the national Grounded Solutions Network and works as an independent consultant. Julie has worked in the field of affordable housing since 1995 and prior to that in social service and international economic development. She has a B.A. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and an M.A. in city and regional planning from Rutgers University.
Lisa Byers has been OPAL’s Executive Director since January 1996. Prior to working for OPAL, Lisa worked as Land Steward for the San Juan County Land Bank, and for 10 years as a land and property manager for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England), based in Boston, Massachusetts. Lisa has an A.B. from Vassar College and an M.B.A. in public and nonprofit management from Boston University. In 2006 Lisa was elected to serve as the first president of the National Community Land Trust Network and was awarded the Friend of Housing Award from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.
Jocelyn Cecil works part-time as OPAL’s Assistant Project Manager. She is working with Jeanne Beck on current and new projects and is passionate about people and serving her community. She has lived on Orcas Island with her two children and partner for the last decade. She co-owns and manages Hogstone’s Wood Oven in Eastsound and has spent the last 25 years working in the hospitality industry, most notably in fine dining institutions in the Seattle and New York area.
Kim Jaeger has served as OPAL’s Interim Finance Director since March 2023, assisting with the transition of accounting software systems, creating and leading an accounting team, and improving standardized procedures and internal controls. Kim has her Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting) from Pennsylvania State University, CPA certification, and MATP (Organizational Development & Change Management). Providing strategic and implementation leadership in nonprofits, Kim’s focus at OPAL is to assist in its ongoing success. She lives in upstate New York, and enjoys yoga, music, multi-cultural travel, and community service.
Jen Krauss works part time as an Accounting Specialist for OPAL. After moving to the island from Canada in 2016, Jen and her husband quickly heard about OPAL and the work it was doing for the island. When their son was born, they applied to OPAL for housing and appreciated the CLT’s programs the more they learned about them. Jen started working at OPAL as a way to connect to the island community and to give back to the place she has chosen to call home. She loves walking with her dog, hiking with her family, frequenting the library, and works part time as a freelance bookkeeper for local businesses.
Alysha Sherburne is OPAL’s Community Engagement Manager and Housing Counselor. She is responsible for educating the public about the need for affordable housing as well as keeping the community informed on OPAL’s current projects and their impact. She is also a certified Housing Counselor, providing support for people seeking to purchase a home from OPAL. She has extensive experience in customer-relations, interacting with our community and visitors alike, and most recently worked for Windermere as a real estate broker. Alysha hails from the Skagit Valley and spent a few years overseas before moving to Orcas in 2010. She has a BA in Environmental Studies from Ashford University.
Elaine Shiozawa is OPAL’s Office Manager. Elaine greets visitors, manages the Reddick rental apartments and offices, coordinates accounts receivable and the membership database, and assists the Project, Outreach and Housing Managers as needed. Elaine previously worked at the front desk of Rosario Resort and as a manager for healthcare organizations in Honolulu. She earned a Masters of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from San Diego State University and for 18 years provided vocational counseling to persons with physical disabilities.
Judy Whiting is the Director of Outreach. She facilitates positive relationships with individuals who share OPAL’s values and wish to donate in support of OPAL’s mission. Judy previously served on the board of trustees of OPAL for three years, and returned after four years of working in a range of office management positions on the island. Prior to island life, Judy and her husband owned and managed a KOA campground, and Judy worked for six years at Microsoft in user education and print management. Judy has a B.A. in editorial journalism at the University of Washington.