Updated: Jun 1, 2020
New Year's Resolution achieved!
One of our New Year’s resolutions was to find the find the GPRF’s next dynamic Executive Director. The Board of Directors is thrilled to share with you that following a six-month, nationwide search and working through 150+ applicants, Jenn Gibbons has accepted our offer to lead the organization through its next phase of growth. Jenn is currently Executive Director of Recovery on the Water (ROW) in Chicago. She will transition out of her role this summer and arrive in Seattle sometime in August to be ready to start September 1st.
“We couldn’t be more excited for the organization and for Jenn,” shared Board President John Bottum. “She is the right person to lead the charge in our work to bring Northwest boathouses and communities together to innovate ways to get more kids on the water.” Through the interview process, we learned that Jenn first fell in love with rowing as a freshman when she was recruited in the cafeteria at Michigan State University. After graduation, she moved to Chicago and began coaching junior athletes at St. Ignatius. In the fall of 2007, she met Sue Ann Glaser, and together, they co-founded Recovery on Water (ROW), a rowing team for patients and survivors of breast cancer. Jenn went on to be hired as ROW’s first full-time staff member in the fall of 2012. Since then, she has helped grow ROW into a sustainable nonprofit, providing weekly programs on and off the water as well as a Power10 Camp, a summer camp for women diagnosed with breast cancer. All while somehow finding time to raise funds rowing and biking the 1,500 miles around Lake Michigan! In her time at ROW, Jenn has had an opportunity to do a little bit of everything from leading grassroots fundraising for a boathouse, to partnering on marketing campaigns with top brands like Athleta, to filling gas tanks, to coaching and developing innovative programming, all with the purpose of changing lives. Her contributions to the sport have been recognized by USRowing as Masters Coach of the Year in 2011 and more recently with the Anita DeFrantz Award in 2018. Jenn and her work have also been honored with the Athena-Foundation Chicago Young Professional Award and Michigan State Alumni Sparty Innovator Award among others.
“Like you, I have seen and know from my own experience the transformative role rowing has in young peoples’ lives, I cannot wait to get to Seattle to meet you and to get to work sharing our passion for this sport and its limitless potential.”
The Board would like to thank and recognize the many individuals who supported the search process. We are grateful to those who served on the search committee, networked our job posting, shared the qualities they through would be most important in our next Executive Director, and participated in the interview process. We would also like to express gratitude to Lindsey Hochman, her mom Nancy Hochman, and her mom’s dear friend and longtime board member Shirley Wilson who represent the three degrees of separation that led us to Jenn. Finally, thank you to our longtime Executive Director Matt Lacey. Matt scheduled his last day for April 11 to coincide with our since cancelled Benefit Breakfast. He generously extended his tenure and his experience and leadership has been a critical reassuring and steadying presence in navigating our response to Covid 19. One of our other resolutions is to “Celebrate the achievements of our outgoing Executive Director.” How to rightfully honor his eleven years of leadership in the middle of a pandemic? You can’t, so stay tuned for information on an event to celebrate Matt and his legacy to be held this Fall.
Here’s to getting kids back on the water (and more of them) soon and the talented leaders and their teams who make it all happen!