Even as Britt Nelson prepared to start her new position as executive director of Plateau Outreach Ministries last week, she took time out to answer some email questions for Patch about her background, what she loves most about Enumclaw and what she hopes to accomplish with POM.
Q: How did your being considered for the POM director position come about? Where you actively seeking this position or did the Board come to you?
I was not actively seeking employment at the time I heard that Kimberly (Fish) was resigning. I attended the last spring and was so impressed with what I saw. The people involved, the services offered and the mission presented, really settled within me. When I saw the posting, it felt like the right thing for me to apply. It seemed like a very good fit given my background, experience and my desire to serve my own community.
Q: The POM newsletter announcing your appointment said you worked with Enterprise for Equity. Were you there immediately prior to this position? If not, what were you last doing?
I have been an independent consultant with Enterprise for Equity since 2008 and also worked as the accounting comptroller for a law firm in Fife. This week I am finishing up my work with both, but expect to have continued relationships with both in a new capacity. As a non-profit also serving low-income clientele in Washington, Enterprise for Equity is a great resource for funding sources, trends at the state level, and programs that are working well to support low income families. At the law firm I also worked closely in the area of consumer finance counseling and short sale coordination, so I expect they will also remain a continued resource.
Q: What's your professional and educational background?
Most of my professional career was spent in commercial mortgage banking. I started as a HUD 202 housing consultant and moved into traditional real estate finance. I worked in commercial lending, providing loans for shopping centers, apartment buildings, offices, warehouses. I worked at Seattle Mortgage Company for over ten years and then with a partner, owned an independent mortgage company for 10 years. We were successful through many ups and downs of the economy, but in 2007 we ended the partnership as business slowed. It was actually lucky to have ended at the front end of the current recession. It was then I began consulting for Enterprise for Equity as they needed someone to establish and manage their micro-loan fund.
My education includes a BA from Pacific Lutheran University. My degree was in International Studies with an emphasis in economics. I spent a year studying abroad in Norway. I learned the language, studied cultural arts, and experienced a winter of -25 degree weather, six feet of snow and darkness for six months. The rain here isn't so bad. Since PLU, I have had continuing education courses in Real Estate Law, Valuation, and Management.
Q: Having lived in Enumclaw so long, you are of course familiar with POM and its outreach. Now at its helm, what are your goals for the organization? For yourself as its director?
I am very excited to be continuing the work that is so well established in this community. I am grateful for the staff, the board, and Kimberly Fish for their work in balancing the services of the organization to serve our community. As I get to know POM from the inside, I hope to work with the directors in setting priorities to strengthen the organization. They have grown so fast over the past year, accomplishing some major projects in their move and renovation. I think it is an opportune time to assess the support needs throughout the organization. I would like to be sure that systems are in place to allow for staff and volunteers to be their best for those served.
Q: What challenges do you see for POM in the current economy? How do you see POM meeting the growing needs of the community?
It is definitely a difficult time throughout the economy with funding sources so tight. I am hopeful that the longtime partners and supporters of POM will continue, even though it may be more of a stretch. I also believe there may be additional resources available. It is a unique strength that Plateau Outreach offers multiple services through the food bank, More Pennies from Heaven thrift store and the Samaritan Project providing additional support to families. As more awareness is raised of the combined services offered to our community through one organization, my hope is to increase support from within the community and also to explore additional resources at the regional level.
It is important for Plateau Outreach to continue serving our community especially as needs increase. It is important to continue the partnerships and referral sources that support this work, but also to expand the network of support. Things are always changing and working together with other partners and agencies strengthens the services we are able to provide.
Q: Are you an Enumclaw native yourself? If not, where did you come from? If so, what EHS grad year were you?
I am not an Enumclaw native. I grew up in the Dash Point neighborhood of Tacoma and graduated from Stadium High School. My husband (Enumclaw Schools Superintendent ) grew up here and we moved here when our children were little.
Q: You and your husband are active members of the community here. Can you talk about how important it is for you to have your family here and have kids grow up in a community like this? You don't have to drive very far out of Enumclaw to see alot of towns and municipalities that have lost that small-town feel.
Moving to a small town was definitely new to me coming from more of a city. My new neighbor knew all about me before we had even moved in. What I do appreciate about the small town is that neighbors truly care about each other. It was important for us that our kids went to their neighborhood school, rode the bus, played with friends after school in a safe place. There are such great memories of their growing up and how supported they were by friends, family, teachers, and coaches. I don't think that happens everywhere. It is really nice to know people wherever you go, the grocery store, the bank, the football game. Even with our kids away at college, I feel connected enough to the community to continue supporting other kids at school events. I know there were people that did that for our kids and now I see how easy it is to do for others. I think that's what keeps the older generations involved and the younger generations learning how to be a community.
Q: What is your favorite thing about living in Enumclaw?
Aside from the salted caramels at , I really appreciate how involved people are in our community. I appreciate that people look out for each other and support each other. It's a beautiful and friendly place to live.