2018-2019 Skagit River Poetry Foundation Board Members
Molly McNulty, Executive Director
Molly Beth McNulty is a retired language arts teacher from Skagit County. She joined the board in 2003 and became executive director in 2007. A visual artist, angler, and hunter, she has a great passion for poetry.
Jason Benson was planted on the Samish River flats by third-generation Scandinavian immigrant farm folk. He still resides there on his grandparent’s ten-acre homestead in Bow with his partner, dog, cats, hens and resident barn owls. His working life has been dedicated to preserving access to open space and cultural resources through various park organizations. He is a lifelong consumer of poems and longtime volunteer for SRPF.
Kathleen Bisagna has long been a supporter of poetry’s power to transform the content of life into the context of love. She enjoys writing, long-distance cycling, and is co-conspirator of Skagit Book & Paper Arts.
Eric Bowen, Board Treasurer
When he’s not swimming laps across the Skagit River, Eric can be found singing Welsh folk songs at the Mount Vernon Highland Games and Celtic Arts Festival. He supports his hobbies by working as an accountant.
Sally Hansen Bowen
An artist in poetry, music, dance, and theater, Sally recently joined the SRPF with the hope of supporting poetry in schools. Admitted to Western Washington University with the “Certificate of Distinction,” Sally has degrees in English literature and communication. She was awarded “Best Character Actress” by the Bellingham Theater Guild and recognized as “Outstanding Teacher” for writing, directing, and producing three plays for high school students. With a background in design, including designing décor for large Microsoft affairs, Sally owns Green Century Events and is on the fundraising committee for local charities as the lead event coordinator. Raised by her father, Roger P. Hansen, a founder of Earth Day and co-author of the National Environment Protection Act, Sally is the happiest hiking in the mountains and sitting in front of a campfire with her husband.
My husband and I moved to Skagit County in 1990. We live in La Conner, where we have raised our two daughters. I achieved my Ph.D. in Leadership from Gonzaga University in 2010 (Go Zags!) For fun, I am taking piano lessons again after years of lessons as a child. For the most part, I have always worked in higher education and enjoy helping others to reach their goals. I believe that an educated society is important not just to the individual who achieves the degree, but for all of us.
Tim Bruce, Board Member Emeritus
Tim Bruce is the co-founder of the Skagit River Poetry Project and has been an adjunct instructor in the School Administration program in Woodring since 2011 and in the fall of 2016 he joined WWU as an Assistant Professor.
Sherry Chavers is a recent retiree from the Anacortes School District with a passion for promoting literacy skills through poetry with children of all ages. She has been on the board since 2013.
Erik Christensen is the head of the English Department at Oak Harbor High School, and an adjunct professor for Central Washington University. In addition to songs and poetry, Erik writes the “Play That Song Again” music blog for Whidbey Life Magazine.
Amy Cushman teaches English at Squalicum High School in the Bellingham School District. She has hosted poets in her classroom seven times (so far!) and is passionate about their value and impact.
Gail Davern is a poet and a professor of English at Skagit Valley College on Whidbey Island. She has been on the board since 2012. Her new poetry collection, From the Island at the End of Winter was just published by Finishing Line Press.
Steven Dolmatz, Board President
Steven Dolmatz is a retired English teacher from Squalicum High School in Bellingham. He joined the board in 1998, and has been on the Skagit River Poetry Festival’s music committee since 1999 and the poet selection committee since 2002. Steve has been Board President since 2016.
Anna Ferdinand teaches English and journalism at Sedro-Woolley High School. She has worked in Education since 2008 and has had the privilege of working in classrooms that have hosted poets through the Skagit River Poetry Foundation for most of those years. Prior being an educator, Anna worked as a journalist, a baker, and an index proofreader. She has two wonderful kids in high school who she loves to the moon and back and then some.
Jessica Gigot is a poet, farmer, teacher and musician. She has a small farm in Bow, WA called Harmony Fields that makes artisan sheep cheese and grows organic herbs. Her first book of poems, Flood Patterns, was published by Antrim House Books in 2015 and her writing has been published in several regional and national journals, including Floating Bridge Press Review, Pilgrimage, About Place Journal, and Poetry Northwest.
Elli Gildnes spent several years as a teacher at The American School of Paris where she co-hosted an international digital poetry/film festival and facilitated the visits of US poet laureates to schools in the Paris region and ambassador’s residence. Later, as an administrator at The French American School of Puget Sound in Mercer Island, WA she worked to bring bilingual poets into area schools. With more than 20 years in public and private education, she holds degrees in teaching, administration and curriculum design with a focus on dual language, arts integration and social emotional learning. Elli has enjoyed serving as a volunteer at SRPF and currently teaches English to high school students. Her summers are spent running Maison Monet, a French art and culinary camp.
Sara Harlan was raised in La Conner. Within the 28 years that she was a teacher, she worked in five countries and at every age level. She hosted poets in her classrooms while teaching in La Conner and in Sedro-Woolley. She now works as a public librarian in Sedro-Woolley for the Central Skagit Library District. Sara lives in Bow with her husband and their family of critters. She is in perpetual search of the simple life and is thrilled to be the new Poets in Schools coordinator.
Heidi Herder is an educator for the Burlington-Edison School District. She has been teaching for over 20 years. Heidi is the past Board Secretary. She retired from the board in June 2017, but continues to be a liaison for Burlington-Edison School District.
Georgia Johnson, Board Secretary
Georgia Johnson is a poet and culinary arts instructor who directs the La Conner School District Food Program. She has taught at the high school in La Conner for more than a decade. She has been with the board since 1999. Her new poetry collection Just Past Dew Point was published by Flying Trout Press.
Ken comes from Cincinnati and is the new La Conner Weekly newspaper owner. Stern holds two masters degrees: one in resource development from Michigan State University and a second in English from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Stern’s background is in agricultural food production economy. We welcome Ken to La Conner and the Skagit River Poetry Foundation board.
Cindy Tracey moved to Skagit Valley in 2003 when she and her husband purchased Katy’s Inn Bed and Breakfast in La Conner. After selling the Inn she continues to be a community volunteer and is excited to be a member of the Skagit River Poetry Foundation.
Kathy Willins, Board Member Emeritus
Kathy Willins is a gatherer of tales as a member of the Communal Studies Association and an advocate for the power of poetry as a board member of the Skagit River Poetry Foundation. She is a community volunteer, appreciates good art, good food, and the company of good friends. She has served on the board since 2000.