Dear KIAC Friends and Partners, 

It’s been an honor to be a part of the KIAC team for the past four years. It is, therefore, a bittersweet moment for me to announce my retirement. I will be leaving behind good friends and colleagues, and good work that has challenged and inspired me. 

A little over four years ago, I drove to Bremerton for a job interview for a position with Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center. I didn’t know very much about the organization, other than that they were doing meaningful, on-the-ground work, assisting and empowering immigrants in our region, a population that was under attack by the Administration at the time. 

The interview was held in a tiny office space that lacked heat and hot water and flooded during heavy rainfall. But from those first meetings with staff members/founders, Martitha May and Ray Garrido, and two board members, I knew I wanted to be a part of the work at KIAC. I joined as Executive Director in November 2017. 

A lot has happened over these four years.  For one thing, while our office still isn’t very fancy, we now have ample space in which to do our work, we have both heat and hot water, and the only flooding I’ve seen came from the upstairs tenant’s plumbing. 

Thanks to an amazing group of staff and board members, a cadre of devoted volunteers, and our generous donors and supporters, KIAC has changed in many ways.  We have grown in staff/volunteer size, in the number of programs and services we offer, and in the financial stability that underpins our work. We’ve weathered political storms and a world-wide pandemic. And through it all — every day — this incredible team has shown up and brought their best efforts to the work. Our clients bring their best as well, working hard to make better lives for their families and contributing so much to our community.

The need for succession planning has been clear to me for some time. Last summer, I asked the Executive Committee to begin the process of planning for my successor. I informed the full board at the October meeting. The arrival of my first grandchild has shifted my priorities in a happy way, and the recent recurrence of a health issue made it clear that this is the right time for me to step away from the pressures of the position.

After my announcement in October, the board formed a committee to create a well-executed and positive transition. The committee will keep you informed as the succession plan progresses. I have been working with them and will assist with the transition so that KIAC’s good work continues uninterrupted.

From a personal perspective, this has been a difficult decision.  I’ve been in the non-profit world since 1986, and I’ve worked for big organizations with large staffs, budgets, and endowments. But I’ve never been connected to people as committed and generous as all of you. 

KIAC has always been a team effort, and I am so honored to have been part of this team. I look forward to assisting with the transition and am excited to see what comes next. I thank you all for the opportunity to have been a part of KIAC.
With gratitude,

Sally Tellekson, Executive Director – KIAC

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