• GPRF

New Board Member Spotlight: John Bottum

Updated: Oct 11, 2018

As the Pocock Foundation grows, our fans see photos of new people coming to boathouses, read interviews with new rowers, and meet coaches who mentor young athletes. Rarely, do our fans see the hours that are poured into our work in the backend: the hours of discussion about our mission; the strategic planning that takes our visions to new heights; and the tactical partnerships built with paperwork and planning.


The stalwart supporters of the Foundation who run the behind-the-scenes operation see it all, help with it all, and stick by us. John Bottum, one of the newest board members shares why they pour in the long hours: “When you are young you want to change the world. Now, I appreciate the positive difference you can make to a community one family member at a time. It seems more real, more rewarding, and lot more fun.”  


John Bottum, third from the right, presents the Spirit of Renton Award at Renton Rowing Center's Evening on the Docks Benefit.

Recently, the Pocock Foundation Board said farewell to two faithful, long serving board members: Bruce Lamka, who served for 3 years, and Jennifer O’Brien who served for 3 years as a member and 2 year as Board Chair. The Board also welcomed a few new members: Dr. Sara Lopez, John Bottum, and Scott Woodworth. Several months ago, we featured Dr. Lopez in a blog article.Today, we turn the spotlight over to John.


With a background in restaurant management and human resources leadership, John brings a lot to the board room table. We find ourselves most frequently thankful for his gregarious heart and passion for rowing. When asked why he serves on the board, John responds with personal stories about his journey into the sport through his loved ones. He speaks about making our community a better place and his love for the greater Seattle area in the Pacific Northwest.


We asked John to answer four choice questions so that you could get to know him, and enjoy his humor and kindness as much as we do.


What is motivating you to serve on the Pocock Foundation Board?

Lot’s of reasons.

1) It’s personal. You have own it. All my boyfriends were rowers and they got me out on the water. My husband of 20 years is the only non-rower in the bunch, though I believe he would make a great sculler. Rowing has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, and that journey led me to the GPRF.

2) It’s important. Rowing has played a pivotal role in the maturation of two of my favorite people on this planet, my niece who rows at #2 Cal (Go Bears!) and cousin who captains the women’s varsity 8 at Wesleyan (See you at Nationals!). These are intelligent, unselfish, accomplished and confident young women, who I admire greatly. (And, yes, I am completely biased.)

3) Have impact. When you are young you want to change the world. Now, I appreciate the positive difference you can make to a community one family member at a time. It seems more real, more rewarding, and lot more fun. Come watch an Erg Ed Class or one of the youth team practices, and you will immediately see and feel what I mean. Every young person should have that opportunity, and many do not.


What is your favorite thing about the city of Seattle or the Northwest region in general?

I grew up in Chicago where windchill factor reaches -30ºF in winter and humidity climbs above 90% in summer. I love that you can do something outside year-round in our region. Life is not a spectator sport; we are so fortunate to have this amazing playground right outside our door. I am also a die-hard foodie; specifically, I love how food brings people together.  I am shameless and insufferable in proclaiming that Seattle is lucky to have some of the best food on the planet. And, I am always looking for a next culinary adventure – the dive-ier the better.


If you were trying to convince a 12 year-old to jump in a boat and try rowing for the first time, what would you say?

No twelve year-old will listen to somebody my age. That’s why the Erg Ed® program is so important. Experiencing rowing with your friends is a brilliant way to get kids active and interested. Otherwise, I would try bribery. Perhaps, a visit to Menchie’s with unlimited toppings for every learn to row class they attend? No doubt, they will return the favor years later to thank you for what you did.


Challenge: Use the concept of a rowing boat to describe the realities of your professional life.

We all have our own ideas and opinions, but to accomplish anything in rowing, you have to learn to work together. What great training for anything in life, no?

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