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Leadership Kitsap alum returns as new executive director

Kathy Nelson is Leadership Kitsap’s new executive director and is a familiar face to the non-profit volunteer organization, having been a class member herself.

The 2004 Leadership Kitsap graduate has experienced first-hand the program’s curriculum and will provide leadership to those now volunteering with Leadership Kitsap. Nelson follows Mickie Hartman, who stepped down from the position after five years to spend more time with her family.

Nelson, however, didn’t completely part ways with the organization after graduating. She managed to stay connected by serving on the alumni board.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” she said of Leadership Kitsap. “It was awesome, it really humbles you to what’s going on in the county, there’s a big need for volunteers ... I love the program, it serves such a great purpose.”

She describes the organization’s curriculum as “a year-long educational program for existing and emerging community leaders in the county.”

The most recent projects taken on by members of the Class of 2005, which have already graduated, included organizing the Reuse-A-Shoe collection which made the new Nike Grind surface at Silverdale Waterfront Park possible as well as organizing Teen Fest at Kitsap Mall in April.

“I suspect this (2006) class also will come up with some wonderful projects,” Nelson said.

As executive director, Nelson’s main duties include organizing challenge days, which are part of the program’s curriculum, and supporting the board of directors.

“I act as a liaison between class members and the board,” she said.

In fulfilling her role as executive director, Nelson’s vision for Leadership Kitsap is “to bridge business, community and government and strengthen and grow leadership in the county.”

She adds that the organization’s purpose is to “educate, prepare and connect a new group of committed leaders for community involvement in Kitsap County.”

Nelson’s main reason for becoming a part of Leadership Kitsap, initially as a student, was to become more involved in what she could give back to the community.

She was born and raised in Tracyton and graduated from Central Kitsap High School. She and her family moved to the Redmond area for 20 years before returning to Kitsap County in 2000. While living in Redmond she and her husband owned their own business that specialized in product fund-raising for schools. After they sold their business, Nelson went on to work for a toy company in sales and marketing before returning to Kitsap County. She then worked as a marketer for a telecommunications company.

This year’s Leadership Class is made up of 26 class members and next year the class size may increase to 28.

“Hopefully they’ll feel more connected with the community when they’re done,” Nelson said of this year’s class.

For more information about Leadership Kitsap visit leadershipkitsap.org or call Nelson at (360) 782-1058.

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