Strategic Priorities

Planning for the future.

Our strategic priorities unify our efforts as we mobilize communities to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea. Our priorities are not rigid or hierarchal—we use them as a compass to envision our efforts, make decisions, and measure success. They are our chart as we navigate what it means to be environmental changemakers in this region’s vivid and interconnected landscape of sea, shoreline, and life.

“What we pay attention to shapes our lives no matter what species we are. Plant roots sense and sidestep rocks before they hit them. Songbirds avoid tornados by listening for them from hundreds of miles away…”

— Elin Kelsey, from her book Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis

This is what we’re paying attention to …

Thoughtful strategy takes a village

To arrive at our final 2022 through 2025 strategic priorities, a planning process was led by professional facilitator, Maketa Wilborn, who led our Staff and Board in assessing the following: 

  • Current programs and staff capacity 
  • SPOT analysis: strengths, problems, opportunities, and threats 
  • Emerging local, regional, transboundary, and global issues impacting our work 

We also gathered community input via: 

  • a strategic advisory group 
  • community interviews 
  • member and donor surveys 
  • a sector analysis 

Carrying the strategies forward

Friends of the San Juans staff, from left to right, (top) Ken Putney, Data and Gifts Administrator; Lovel Pratt, Marine Protection and Policy Director; Eva Schulte, Executive Director; Jess Newley, Community Science and Education Director; Jan Sanburg, Operations Manager; D. James McCubbin, Legal Director and Staff Attorney; (bottom) Tina Whitman, Science Director; Katherine Dietzman, Science and Education Coordinator; Shannon Davis, Deputy Director; Ayn Gailey, Strategic Communications and Event Specialist; Elise Cope, Communications and Outreach Director

These are some of our strategic priority milestones to date: 


  • We expanded our K-12 education programming and launched our virtual reality experiential science program, including underwater videos from across the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea.  
  • Our staff team developed a robust action plan that guides our work daily and used it as a compass in reporting success and accomplishments to the board of directors. 
  • We strengthened our team’s communications, legal, and advocacy expertise, which resulted in wins for Southern Resident killer whales and shoreline restoration.


  • Our strategic plan helped recruit a new Executive Director, Eva Schulte, who now guides our staff team and board directors. Under Eva’s leadership, we continue to advance our organization’s strategic priorities, including systemic change in vessel traffic monitoring and safety, scientific research to understand recent declines in eelgrass better to reduce future losses of this vital habitat, and shoreline protection and restoration to help recover salmon and Southern Resident killer whales. 

Thank you!

We are so thankful to the following individuals for their contributions, time, and energy in developing our strategic priorities!

Current Friends’ Staff and Board
and former team members:

Janet Alderton
Ken Burtness
Katie Fleming
George Lawson
Brent Lyles
San Olson
Michael Riordan
Michel Vekved

Community Interviews:

Angela Anderson
Jeni Barcelos
Russel Barsh
Glen Bruels
Stephanie Buffum
Peter Fisher
Joe Gaydos
Nora Nickum
Joe Symons
Bill Watson
Jacques White

Strategic Advisory Group:

Sam Barr
Tom Cowan
Debby Clausen
Megan Dethier
Maria Gimenez
Patti Gobin
Gene Helfman
Jay Julius
Kaia Olson
Kyle Loring
Barbara Marrett
Ayla Ridwan
Farouk Seif
Carson Sprenger
Ron Zee

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or want to learn more about our strategic priorities and process.

I feel like I have found the home that I could not find anywhere else I have traveled and lived. Thank you, Friends of the San Juans, for protecting all of the islands and the Salish Sea.

Janet Burke

member, Henry Island