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
Assistant Director

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.

Christine McCormick
Community Programs Manager

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

Cooper Snell
Youth Program Coordinator

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

You can contact Cooper at youth@boatingcenter.org

Angela Morovic
Adminsitrative Assistant

Angela grew up on the beaches of Westport, WA and started working on her family’s boat in SE Alaska at the age of twelve. Her time on the ocean fostered a deep love for the water and passion for protecting it. She graduated from WWU with a degree in Recreation Management and Leadership and has been serving the Bellingham community through volunteer work with Shifting Gears over the last 4 years. She plans to bring her passion for creating inclusive outdoor experiences into her work as our administrative assistant. Some of her favorite things to do are go kayaking, roller skating, and taking walks with her dog Charlie. She believes in practicing Leave No Trace principles and is always prepared to pick up trash on her adventures!

You can contact Angela at info@boatingcenter.org

Waterfront Operations

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 is excited to be back at Community Boating Center! Off the water, she enjoys relaxing with coffee and fun movies.

Emma Gramling

Emma is originally from NorthShore, Massachusetts. She graduated last year with a degree in Nutrition from UMass Amherst. During the summers you can find her backpacking, paddleboarding, and gardening. She is excited to be a part of the CBC team this year!

Paddle Programs

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

Megan grew up in Seattle, WA and moved up to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University. She was introduced to sea kayaking through a class at western and was eager to continue getting out on the water in her kayak. At WWU Megan studied public health and psychology, and she is the Community Enrichment Intern at the CBC this summer. This is her second season with us and she is excited to become more involved with the community, continue kayaking and continue learning how to sail. Outside of work Megan enjoys backpacking, mountain biking and skiing!

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 is currently attending a Master’s in Teaching to become a high school social studies and environmental science teacher. Wavey is a seasoned camp counselor, peer mentor, instructor, and outdoor enthusiast and loves sharing her knowledge and experience through her work with the kayaking and youth programs at the CBC.

Sky Hall

Sky is a Recreation Management and Leadership graduate from WWU who for the last three years has been working at her local ski area. She first discovered the draw of the water in a sailing class at school and has been excited to explore more ever since. In her free time, Sky enjoys skiing/snowboarding, mountain biking and long walks on secluded beaches with her trusty four pawed companion.

Maya Giss

Maya is currently a student at Western Washington University where she’s studying Marine & Coastal Science and is also a member of the sailing team! Her love for the ocean and outdoors came from growing up in a small town on the Oregon coast where she’d spend her free time surfing, camping, hiking, and snowboarding. On the rare occasion she’s not outside, she enjoys playing guitar and reading. Maya is excited to learn from the CBC community and share her passion for the ocean with anyone who cares to listen!

Takoda Jessen

Takoda grew up in Seattle and spent a great deal of time around (and in) the waters of Puget Sound on various types of boats, though kayaks were the most common. They’ve been going on kayak tours through the San Juan Islands and Hood Canal during the summer since they were a teen, and spends the rest of the year hiking, biking, and skiing in the Cascade Mountains! When they’re not lost in the woods or out on the waves, they’re studying for a biology degree at the University of Washington or spending their time reading, writing, or in choir.

Sailing Staff

Emily Hammond

Emily is a doctoral student at Western Washington University, pursuing a career in Audiology. She is in her third summer here at the CBC as a sailing and kayak instructor. She began sailing in college and now feels passionate about sharing her love of sailing with others and improving access to recreational water sports for all. She is working to help develop adaptive programs here at the Community Boating Center. In her free time, she enjoys beach combing, cooking, sourdough baking, painting, rock climbing, and hiking.

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.

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.

Anna Wohnoutka

Anna has worked as a sailing instructor in the PNW for the past 5 years, and has been at the CBC for the past three years, primarily as a sailing instructor but also as a kayaking instructor, operations staff, and marketing intern. Anna learned to sail at a non-profit sailing center in Seattle, and is a primary example of the positive influence that accessible maritime recreation can have on an individual. She is especially passionate about teaching people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to feel confident sailing on Bellingham Bay. In her free time, Anna enjoys hiking, photography, and water sports (of course) just as much as the next Bellingham girl! She is currently finishing her last quarter at Western Washington University where she is majoring in International Studies and Communications, with a focus in marketing.

Sophie North

Sophie grew up around boats in Kenai, Alaska. After traveling for four years with their family, they settled in Bellingham and learned to sail and race at the CBC. On the water they love sailing in high wind, bioluminescence paddles, winning races, and sharing Bellingham bay with new people. Off the water they’re curious about trees, mushrooms, archery, travel, and ultralight backpacking.

Riley Ghio

Riley Ghio is a Bellingham native and an avid sailor! Since his earliest experiences learning to sail at Lakewood, Riley has pursued anything and everything to do with sailing! Outside of the CBC Riley enjoys mountain biking, fighting wildfires and working on his ever expanding fleet of project boats.

Matt Halliday

Matt is a PNW native and loves hanging around the Salish Sea. He has spent 9 years working in the outdoor industry in a variety of roles and organizations. He’s excited to bring his passion for teaching and seapersonship to the CBC as a sailing and paddling instructor.

Caroline Hurley

Caroline is from Olympia, where she learned to sail in middle school and started racing in 8th grade! She is a second year student at WWU majoring in Elementary Education, and she plans to continue sailing for WWU and leading the team as a co-captain next year. She’s spent the past 6 summers as a sailing instructor and the past few winters as a ski instructor, and is very excited to be working at CBC this year! When she’s not sailing or studying, she loves to be traveling or doing anything outside.

Evan Maudlin

Evan was born and raised in Bellingham, and has been doing camps at the CBC ever since he was in elementary school. Now, he works as a youth apprentice at the CBC. He is a junior at Bellingham High School and, when not sailing, he enjoys hiking, reading, and going out for coffee with friends.

Emma Moore

Emma has been sailing for most of her life and has really gotten into it over the last 5 or so years. The outdoors is her favorite place to be. She really enjoys sailing small boats and teaching people how to sail.  In the fall of 2022, she will be a Sophomore at Bellingham High School and is on the high school race team. She plans to continue doing so as long as she can!

Ash Elliot

Ash moved to Bellingham from Breckenridge, Colorado in 2018. He will be going into his junior year at Sehome High School this fall. He is a graduate of the CBC Interns program and loves helping kids and adults get out on the water. Ash is also a member of Bellingham Bay Outrigger Paddlers (BBOP) club. This summer he will be traveling to Spain for his first foreign exchange experience. Ash loves to travel – both across the US and to foreign countries, with Peru and Italy being some of his favorite places.

Sammy Farkas

Sammy is currently a senior at Sehome High School, and sails on the Whatcom sailing team. Growing up in Bellingham’s nature wonderland, she has naturally devoted her life to the outdoors. She finds immense joy in skiing, mountain biking, running, and swimming, but above all sailing is her all time favorite. She has competed in national and international competitions in her Opti and Laser over the last eight years, and is extremely excited to be able to pass on her wealth of sailing knowledge to young sailors with the same dreams.

Keller Morrison

Keller grew up sailing on Bellingham Bay and Lake Whatcom. He sailed competitively at Sehome High School for four years and was the team captain his senior year. He is currently the Sailing Club Team Treasurer at Brown University and still actively competes. Keller has been instructing sailing for three years and is passionate about sharing his love for sailing with people in the community.

Ian Beatty

A Bellingham native, Ian has grown up sailing on Bellingham Bay and sailed at Bellingham High School for four years. He was the team captain his senior year and is now currently a student at Western Washington University, pursuing an education in Marine Biology.

Fleet Manager

Kira Blumhagen

Kira is currently a student at Western, where she is studying Energy and Sustainability. Kira fell in love with sailing as a kid, when her dad would take her out in a Laser, and has only gotten more involved from there. She sailed non-stop through high school, and plans to continue with the WWU sailing team as long as they’ll let her. This season, Kira is super excited to keep CBC running smooth as the Fleet Manager, as well as helping out with other classes and programs.

You can contact Kira at fleet@boatingcenter.org

Environmental Science Intern

Lucy Greeley

Lucy is currently enrolled at Western Washington University studying the new Marine and Coastal Science major! People often ask Lucy, “what her favorite marine critter is” with which she can excitedly tell you all about the peacock mantis shrimp! For example, did you know they can see 12 primary colors? Additionally, Lucy likes to say she grew up in classic PNW fashion: kayaking around Seattle and playing lots of soccer. Beyond being infatuated by anything to do with water, Lucy enjoys rock climbing, being a DJ for KUGS, gardening and listening to live music!

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.

Patrick Harris

Patrick Harris grew up in Kirkland, Washington and is a graduate of Western Washington University. He lived a block from Lake Washington and water sports were always a part of his life. As a teenager, he waterskied with his family, learned how to sail on a Laser and San Juan 21 in high school, and later mastered Hobie sailboats. In 2021, he took J-24 sailing lessons offered through the Community Boat Center with his daughter to qualify for boat rentals. He had such a positive experience that he decided to apply as a CBC Board member. He is passionate about hiking, biking, golfing, sailing, traveling, and exploring national and state parks. Patrick spent 37 years in public service with a career focus in three municipal parks and recreation departments. As a former Parks Operations Manager and Director of Parks and Recreation, he served for 27 years as the Park Resource Manager with the City of Bellevue. His career experiences included grant writing, special events, collaborating with non-profits and developing partnerships, as well as park operations, project management, budget management and environmental stewardship. His professional interests have paralleled the CBC mission including public access to boating, public recreation and marine stewardship.

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.

Vicki Lesh

Vicki has lived in Bellingham for 33 years. She is an avid outdoors person who loves to be on the water and in the mountains. Vicki grew up in Oregon and loved fishing, crabbing and clamming with her family. Her dad was a wooden boat builder and she has taken on this love as well, building her own Pygmy Coho kayak. A graduate of the University of Oregon in Outdoor Recreation and Education, she has focused her work on youth at risk. Vicki’s professional experience in residential treatment, special education and youth recreation programs aligns with her passion for giving every community member opportunities to develop themselves and feel like they belong. Vicki has had the opportunity to develop youth recreation programs for the Lummi Nation and continues to be active with family and community events today. Vicki, is part of the LGBTQ+ community and recognizes the importance of equity for all and looks forward to providing a safe place for youth and adults within the queer community to have experiences on the water and getting in touch with the Pacific Northwest culture. This past year Vicki has joined former board member Greg Zimmerman on his sailing team Somethin Better. She has traveled from Bocas Del Toro, Panama to Colon, Panama on a 46’ steel hulled sloop sail boat and some casual cruising prior to racing. She is an active kayaker and has taken some adventurous canoe trips on the John Day River in Oregon and up north in the back country of British Columbia. Vicki, is presently involved with the CBC board development committee and future enrichment programs. She also looks forward to helping around the boatyard working on boats and maintenance.

Astrid Sloan

Astrid has lived in Bellingham for 20+ years and loves getting on the water and out into the mountains. She raised two daughters in Bellingham, who have gone on to study and graduate from the University of Washington. She brings with her a love of being on the water that has grown in the last four years after paddling with Bellingham Bay Outrigger Paddlers (BBOP). Since then she has been regularly sea kayaking and sailing on our beautiful Salish Sea. Seeing how much the CBC has to offer our community, Astrid is eager to get involved and to expand her community of water loving folks. She brings with her career experience in Operations, IT Project Management, as well Volunteer Management.