Meet the Crew

Administrative Staff

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

Sara Welsh
Director of Youth Programming

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

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

Angela Morovic
Director of Administration

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. She plans to bring her passion for creating inclusive outdoor experiences into her work as part of our administrative team. 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

Riley Ghio
Fleet Manager

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.

2023 Seasonal Staff

Waterfront Operations

Anna Wohnoutka

Waterfront Operations Coordinator

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.

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!

Adelaide Symmes

Adelaide grew up hiking and skiing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. After graduating from St. Lawrence University as a Poli-Sci/Latin American Studies major in 2019, she made the move out west to explore some new mountains and water. For 3 years she worked managing and translating documents for Spanish speaking populations in the state of Washington, and most recently she was a Ski Instructor at Mt. Baker Ski Area. In her free time you can find her backpacking, paddling, mountain biking, and cooking up all sorts of yumminess in her backyard. She is super psyched to be on the CBC staff this year!

Paddle Programs

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!

Takoda Jessen

Takoda grew up in Seattle and when they weren’t in the library you could find them around (and in) the waters of Puget Sound on various types of boats, especially kayaks! Takoda spent their summers going on kayak trips through the San Juan Islands and Hood Canal since they were a teen, and spent 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 Programs

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.

Youth Programs

Reed Hutton
Youth Paddle Coordinator

Reed grew up in Teton Valley, Idaho where he fell in love with whitewater kayaking at a young age. Reed’s paddling endeavors have taken him across the globe competing at the highest level and seeking out rivers both turbulent and meandering. Reed loves being in their kayak and spreading the stoke for kayaking! For the past four years, Reed has been the Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Kayak Club, a whitewater kayaking non-profit that created paddling opportunities for over one hundred area youth annually. Recently relocating to Bellingham, Reed instantly fell in love with the CBC and could not be more excited to explore sea kayaking in the Salish Sea.

Cooper Snell ​

Cooper holds a US Sailing Level 3 Coach Certification and is pursuing a degree in Physics at WWU. He first fell in love with competitive sailing at Western and has been a part of the leadership team for the last two years. Cooper hopes to share his passion for sailing and physics with the Bellingham community.

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 instructor at the CBC. He has just graduated from 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 favourite place to be. She really enjoys sailing small boats and teaching people how to sail. This fall she will be a Junior 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. Sammy will be attending the University of Washington in the fall to study engineering. Go Dawgs!

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!

CBC Interns

Bella Neff
Marketing Intern

Bella came to Western Washington University in 2019 and is currently in her last year studying Journalism and Public Relations. Originally from Tacoma, she has a deep love for being by the water and is stoked to be the Marketing and Public Relations Intern at the CBC this spring!

Christa Robertson
Recreation Intern

Christa was born and raised in rural Montana where she learned to love wildlife and the great outdoors. After attending high school in West Texas, she migrated back up north to Bellingham to pursue a degree in Recreation Management and Leadership with a minor in Geology. She learned to sail on the WWU Sailing Team and now hopes to share that passion with the community by advocating for inclusive and accessible outdoor sports! When she’s not on the water, you can find Christa playing her banjo, tap dancing, or making travel plans.

Briar Swayne
Community Health Intern

Briar is a senior at Western Washington University, majoring in Public Health and minoring in Psychology. She grew up with a family of avid hikers and campers and was always surrounded by nature. Growing up in Kirkland WA, the lake was her favorite place. Briar loves to read, hike and paddle board! She is very excited for the opportunity to intern with the CBC this summer and get experience working directly with the community and to learn all about what its like to work in the world of outdoor recreation!

Carrley Smith
Bioluminescence Intern

Carrley is a recent graduate of Western Washington University in environmental science with an interest in wildlife conservation. Growing up in the land-locked state of Colorado, she was mesmerised by the ocean and all the incredible life that calls it home. Since moving to Washington, she has spent much of her time on the water and learning about the natural and human history of the Salish Sea. If you let her, she’ll tell you all that she knows! She is thrilled to join the CBC team this summer!

The Board

Jim Johannessen | President

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.

Astrid Leust | Vice President

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.

Deborah Dempsey | Treasurer

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.

Craig Cooper | Secretary

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.

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.

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.

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 . 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.

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.

Melanie Lyons

After growing up in Utah, pursuing graduate work in Missouri and living and working in Hood River, Portland, Seattle and overseas, Melanie is happy to have landed in Bellingham in 2017. She enjoys exploring the beautiful northwest corner of Washington State and its environments including the Salish Sea and the San Juan Island archipelago. The Community Boating Center has been central in providing educational opportunities and a place to learn the foundations of Bellingham Bay-based recreation including sea kayaking and sailing. Melanie’s professional background is in communications and international humanitarian aid work and she is looking forward to bringing the spirit of service, community and inclusivity to her work as a board member who serves on the Programs and Grants Committees.

Kristine Elliot

Kristine moved to Bellingham from Breckenridge, Colorado in 2018 with her husband and teenage son. Shortly after arriving, she discovered the CBC and quickly fell in love with being on the water. Her family are now all active outrigger canoe paddlers and members of Bellingham Bay Outrigger Paddlers (BBOP). Kristine also loves to sail and when not chartering a boat to roam the Salish Sea, she takes out one of the J-24s to explore Bellingham Bay. When not on the water, Kristine is a Senior Vice President at Merkle, Inc., a global customer experience agency. Kristine enjoys hiking, gravel and mountain biking, skiing, cooking and is learning to not kill every plant she touches. She and her family love to travel the world exploring new places – both on the water and on land.

Robin Meyer

Robin has been a Bellingham resident for 18 years. Moving here from Tacoma, Washington to go to Western-where she studied Political Science & Economics. Water has been an integral part of her life forever, growing up swimming & sailing with her parents. Her grandparents were sailors in upstate New York, meeting at the sailing club and living happily ever after. Her father was a marine carpenter, so the dinner table conversations often revolved around the ships coming to life (and usually included drawings). Robin worked in social work for 15 years-serving young adults experiencing homelessness and through that work, got to develop a passion for bringing folks to places where they can play. She now works as the Sales Manager for Girl Meets Dirt, a small business based on Orcas Island. Recreation & connection are essential to the health & wellbeing of our entire community and Robin is committed to helping open those doors so all may be represented in the world of water sports. Robin loves open water swimming, paddle-boarding, hiking, reading, & writing. In her spare time-you can find her by (or in) the water.

Book Online Now