Meet the Crew

Bryan Rust Executive Director

Bryan brings over 10 years of experience developing skill and passion for watersports in communities around the world. Most recently, Bryan served as Director of Programs at Sail Sand Point in Seattle, where he worked toward a vision of inclusion and access. During his tenure, he was responsible for pioneering an award-winning therapeutic recreation program, offering people with physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities the opportunity to experience the profound benefits of being on the water. 

“Using wind and water to affect personal change in people has been the highlight of my career; the water consistently proves itself to be a remarkable therapist.”

Bryan originally learned to sail as a student at Western. He joined the WWU Sailing team as a freshman and by the time he graduated, he was the captain of the team and competing around the country. After college Bryan spent extensive time traveling Central and South America, perfecting his Spanish and teaching kiteboarding, windsurfing, sailing and surfing. He lived in Puerto Rico for three years before making his way back to the PNW.

Bryan returns to Bellingham with his 1957 wooden boat, and first mate Hobie (the cat) and is very excited to, once again, call Bellingham home.

“I am honored to be able to work toward such an incredible mission in such an incredible community. The legacy of CBC is visible and I’m very proud to be part of the important work that takes place here. Now more than ever, our communities need to feel connected and inspired by the experiences we offer. ”

You can reach Bryan at Bryan@boatingcenter.org

Sara Welsh
Director of Education & Outreach

Sara first stepped on a sailboat for a PE class at Western, and was hooked. She loved the new perspective of sailing, and the ability it gave her to connect with nature and her community. Throughout college she spent her evenings practicing on Lake Whatcom & her weekends on road trips up and down the coast competing with the Western Sailing Team. After graduation Sara continued her oceanic exploration by teaching SCUBA in Cabo San Lucas, leading a coral rehabilitation program in the Maldives and developing marine education programs for the Ritz-Carlton under the guidance of world renowned explorer, Jean-Michel Cousteau. Sara looks forward to bringing her passion and knowledge to the CBC and is working to develop a marine science curriculum for all of our programs.

You can contact Sara at sara@boatingcenter.org.

Amber Crabb
Program Manager

Amber is a recent graduate of WWU where she studied Environmental Policy, Political Science, and Environmental Justice. Amber fell in love with sailing and racing small boats as a member of the WWU Sailing Team and has been a staff member here at the CBC since 2019. This season, as the Program Manager, Amber is stoked to revamp curriculum, especially that of our youth programs, to be more accessible, equitable, and focused on climate justice principles. Overall, Amber is “excited to reconnect with community members and have a great summer by / on the water!”

You can contact Amber at programs@boatingcenter.org

Waterfront Operations

Anna Wohnoutka
Marketing and Communications Intern

Anna works as a sailing and kayaking instructor, as well as operations staff at the CBC. This year, she is also our Marketing & Communications Intern! In her free time, Anna enjoys hiking, photography, and water sports (of course) just as much as the next Bellingham girl! She is currently a senior at Western Washington University majoring in International Studies and minoring in International Business.

You can contact Anna at marketing@boatingcenter.org.

Leah Swenson

Leah is majoring in Public Health at Western Washington University. She became obsessed with the water when she went to kayaking camp. Since then, she has worked as a paddle boarding and kayak instructor in Seattle and now am excited to be back at Community Boating Center! Off the water, she enjoys relaxing with coffee and fun movies.

Declan Tracy

Declan is a student at Western Washington University, and loves nothing more than being on the water! He moved from California to Bellingham to be closer to nature and rain. Declan is currently majoring in Marine and Coastal Science, and hopes to put his knowledge of sailing and kayaking to good use studying the ocean. Nothing makes his day like a marine wildlife sighting!

Cece Nielsen

Cece is a junior at Western Washington University, majoring in Physics and Geology with an Astronomy minor. She learned to sail on the WWU sailing team as a freshman, and is now co-captain of the team. She loves being on the water sailing, kayaking or paddle boarding, and is grateful to pay those experiences forward at the CBC! Off the water Cece enjoys roller skating, baking and star gazing.

Paddle Programs

Christine McCormick
Lead Paddle Instructor

Growing up on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Wisconsin, Christine spent her early summers camping in sailboats, kayaking through the sea caves of the Apostle Islands, and canoeing through the multitude of lakes and rivers in the area. This instilled an early love for the natural world around us. After high school she moved to Utah in pursuit of water in the frozen form. She graduated from Utah State University with a Psychology major, Art minor and an unofficial degree in ski bumming. In the winter Christine works as an adaptive ski instructor in the Wasatch Range in Utah. Seeing people fall in love with outdoor recreation is what drives Christine to instruct skiing and kayaking, and she feels grateful to be able to pursue her own passions while helping people explore in an environmentally conscious way. Christine also enjoys climbing, camping, backpacking, traveling, art, woodwork and learning new skills and hobbies!


You can contact Christine at paddle@boatingcenter.org

Dashiell Potter

Growing up in Wisconsin, Dash developed his love for the outdoors as a kid paddling on lakes and climbing the highest trees in the forest. At 12 years old, he discovered the magic of the Boundary Waters and began embarking on backpacking and canoeing trips. He hasn’t stopped since. After graduating high school, Dash followed his passion for the outdoors and began working as a backcountry guide leading trips from Montana to Alaska. Wanting to pursue his love of the outdoors as a career, he went on to study Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies at Northland College in Northern Wisconsin while continuing guiding in the summers. Looking for more adventure after graduating college, Dash spent some time biking in Vietnam and fishing in New Zealand. His travels landed him in the Tetons (on the Idaho side), where he has spent the last few years working at Grand Targhee Resort in the winters and as an outdoor educator in the summers. The fulfillment of working in the outdoors community and the opportunity to connect with like-minded people is what inspires Dash to continue his career in the outdoors industry. After embracing the snowy mountains of winter in the Tetons, he couldn’t be more stoked to spend a summer on the water with CBC!

Yukiko Saburi

Yukiko is currently a student athlete at Western Washington University, studying for a major in Kinesiology and minor in Japanese. She grew up swimming, kayaking, doing CrossFit and is currently on the rowing team at Western. Yukiko loves being outdoors and is super energetic, and summer is her favorite season!

Megan Bullard

I am a senior at WWU majoring in Public Health with a minor in Psychology. I’ve been kayaking for a few years and love being on the water. I’m excited to share the incredible experience with the community here Bellingham at the CBC! I enjoy backpacking, skiing and biking in my free time.

Wavey Shreffler

Wavey is from the Olympic Peninsula and considers growing up on the Salish Sea a treasured and formative part of her identity. During her time as an undergraduate student at Western Washington University studying environmental education, Wavey became passionate about geography, environmental justice, and outdoor accessibility. She will be attending graduate school starting this September to earn her Master’s in Teaching and become a high school geography and environmental science teacher. Wavey is a seasoned camp counselor, peer mentor, student leader, and outdoor enthusiast and is excited to bring her knowledge and experience to her work with the kayaking and youth programs at the CBC.

Sailing Staff

Harry Saliba
Lead Sailing Instructor

Harry is originally from Boston MA where he learned to sail in the summer time. He lives in Bellingham attending Western Washington University seeking a degree in computer science. He loves spending time out on the water as a way of relaxation and mediation. Beyond sailing and computer science, Harry’s hobbies include: motorcycles, hiking, kiteboarding, skateboarding, and rowing.

 

You can contact Harry at sail@boatingcenter.org

Yumi Shridhar

Yumi is a graduate student at Western Washington University, pursuing her master’s degree in Urban Planning. Having been a sailor since she was little, Yumi has grown passionate about sharing her love for sailing and the water with everyone through community outreach programs, and is excited to be a part of the CBC community. Outside of sailing, you can find Yumi painting, going on adventures with friends, playing the ukulele, and sunset chasing.

Cooper Snell

Cooper was raised in Boise Idaho, growing up he enjoyed climbing, skiing, and sailing. He is currently a sophomore at Western Washington University. He is pursuing a degree in Physics and minoring in Computer Science. Cooper hopes to share his passion for sailing and physics with the Bellingham community.

Maxwell Dodd

Max was raised on Whidbey Island where he fly fished, gear fished, shrimped, crabbed and clammed with his family. After high school he moved to Bellingham to pursue a degree in Computer Science at Western Washington University and joined their sailing team. He also enjoys backpacking along Washington’s coast and by alpine lakes with friends.

Sandy Rost

Sandy grew up on Orcas Island where she learned to sail and grew passionate about The Salish Sea. She is a sailing instructor and office support staff member who has been with CBC going on three seasons. After spending 3 years at Western studying Environmental Education, she spent the last school year in Florida and worked as a jet ski tour guide. Sandy is passionate about marine stewardship and education. Outside of CBC she loves sailing, kayaking, SCUBA, and spending time at the beach.

Marine Science Interns

Rachel Geiger

I was born and raised in Puyallup, WA and was heavily active in nature from a young age. As a kid we spent a lot of time hiking, kayaking, swimming, and paddle boarding and these activities really helped develop my passion for environmental conservation and giving back to nature so everyone can have a similar connection and responsibility to our planet as I do. I’m currently studying Environmental Science at WWU which I’m excited to keep learning about.

The Board

Todd Shuster

Captain Todd has worked on the water for over 30 years and started serving on the CBC board in 2017. For the last 19 years, he has been the owner and operator of Gato Verde Adventure Sailing in Bellingham www.gatoverde.com . Todd holds a 100-ton US Coast Guard license. He is a former US SAILING instructor and instructor trainer. He has taught wilderness sailing courses in Baja, Mexico for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and has run several sailing programs for universities, yacht clubs, and summer camps. His additional experiences include work in the sport and commercial fishing fleets of Alaska, offshore yacht delivery, and five years live-aboard cruising.

Deborah Dempsey

Capt. Debbie Dempsey comes from community sailing programs on the mouth of the Connecticut River. She's a lifelong professional mariner whose non-traditional career has been documented in film, books, many articles and is the recipient of numerous awards. She recently retired as a pilot on the notorious Columbia River Bar. Deb's recreational sailing spans racing Blue Jays to Whitbread contenders. Her passion lies in teaching others how to recreate safely on the water leading her to help start the Community Boating Center on Bellingham Bay and presently serves the board of directors as treasurer. It's been said she has salt water in her veins and is definitely more comfortable afloat than ashore.

Lisa Brennan

The CBC offered Lisa's first big welcome to Bellingham when arriving a few years ago with a kayak and a bike but no car. It offered a place to launch and store her kayak, to connect with new neighbors, and to explore the astonishing beauty in our front yard. As she became more involved with the center as a volunteer and frequent visitor, Lisa discovered it offered so much more. She joined the board in the spring of 2017 to support the CBC mission more fully, helping to maintain access to the waterfront, preserve its extraordinary beauty and vitality, and teach practical and problem-solving skills that build confidence and connection with the natural world. After previous incarnations as an academic, a small businessperson, and a wanderer, Lisa now works in communications at Western Washington University, still wandering when she has the opportunity.

Jim Johannessen

Jim has been a lifelong boater, starting with incessantly capsizing a sunfish at age 9 or so and moving through racing many small sailboats. He raced for URI and ran a junior sailing program a few summers, led a field a program collecting oceanographic data in the Arctic, and for many years has mapped shorelines of the Salish Sea through his consulting business, Coastal Geologic Services in Bellingham. Jim designed the local beach restoration (and water access) projects at Marine Park, Boulevard Park, and Waypoint Park and others in the region. He has co-owned or owned a series of larger sailboats for cruising and racing and has worked to share boating experiences with others through the CBC.

Dirk Vermeeren

Dirk's exposure to water based activities started as a child growing up in Holland where he and his friends would fish the myriad of canals lining the countryside and jump across the narrow canals draining the farm pastures. After his parents immigrated to the US settling in Indianapolis, IN his teen years continued to evolve around the water, fly-fishing the tail waters of local reservoir dams. Over the years Dirk owned both power boats and a Thistle sailboat while enjoying the warm waters of south Florida. He became more seriously involved in sailing over the 11 years while working and living in Saudi Arabia. His understanding of sailing started with a Sunfish and progressed to racing a Laser with other expats, primarily British, Kiwis and the Saudi Coast Guard cadets. He has grown to appreciate the life lessons of sailing; increasing self confidence, increased awareness of the winds and water. Upon retiring in Bellingham his desire to introduce others to sailing and be part of a likeminded community/family is what encouraged him to become an ASA instructor and be an active member of the Community Boating Center.

Mike Passo

Mike is the Executive Director of American Trails. Mike has also served as the Executive Director of the Professional TrailBuilders Association and the owner and operator of a sea kayak outfitter out of Bellingham, WA called Elakah Expeditions. Mike has led groups of all backgrounds, ages and abilities on sea kayak expeditions in the San Juan Islands of Washington, Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and in Glacier Bay Alaska. Mike worked with Wilderness Inquiry to conduct an extensive study of outdoor developed areas nationwide to determine the cost implications of construction according to proposed American's with Disabilities Act standards, and a Congressional study on improving access to outdoor recreational activities on federal land. He has a B.S. in Recreation Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, including three years coursework in Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering. He has presented on Universal Design and Programming at several national conferences and served on the Board of Directors of American Trails since 2000. His love of the outdoors and his own paraplegia has given him a great interest in the creation of an accessible outdoor environment that does not ruin the characteristics and value of that environment.

Bri Snell

Bri is an avid sailor, paddler, and community member. Her nearly life-long residence in Bellingham has created deep and lasting roots which she is grateful for everyday. After many years of working in the marine industry with various trades and professions, she now brings skills from the tech world to her membership on the board. Growing up kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, being on the water has always been in her blood. After learning how to sail on a Nor’Sea 27, she knew this was her life’s passion. She now lives on her 40’ sailboat Madrona with her dog Luna. You can find her sailing most weekends, playing cribbage, and drinking a gin and tonic.

Craig Cooper

Craig has called Bellingham home since 1996 having moved here from the East side of Seattle to attend WWU. He had a college friend get him into sailing and another friend take him kayaking and he has been hooked ever since. He now has a young family that he gets out on the water in the same way. Water access for all has always been a passion for Craig. Giving back to the CBC by serving on both the board and the advancement committee allows him to combine volunteering and helping others have affordable and safe access to Bellingham Bay.

Greg Zimmerman

Greg started his relationship with the CBC when he was pointed to the Fairhaven location in 2013 when he asked around for local sailboat rentals. He also helped as a volunteer that season, and made the most of his season pass on the J/24s. Two kids, a number of job changes, and half a dozen boats and years later, he's excited to once again be participating with the CBC, but now as a board member! He is passionate about working with the Advancement Committee to enhance programming and secure the CBC's future. He tries to be out on the water as much as possible, and you can find him racing with the Thursday night cruising fleet or out in the San Juans.