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Our Team

Our team is made of the wonderful individuals who give their time to further our mission as staff, board members, and volunteers. Get to know our team and help us reach more families through mentoring and Playscape programs.

Staff

 

Kate McVay
Executive Director

Kate grew up in the mid-west and has been a social worker for over 25 years. When she moved from Chicago to the northwest in 1993, Kate became involved in developing and managing programs for homeless and at-risk youth — including youth in the foster care system. She then worked for a number of years at the University of Washington’s Northwest Institute for Children and Families, evaluating community-based social service and educational programs. Recently she has worked on public policy issues affecting vulnerable children and families. Kate has also served as a board member and consultant to a wide variety of not-for-profit organizations.

As a parent and a community member, Kate is passionate about bringing together parents, families and organizations to give our children the best head-start that life may offer. She is honored to be part of Mother Mentors and to work in her own community with such a wonderful group of mothers, fathers, grandparents, caregivers and volunteers!

“I have had some challenging jobs during my career, but the most challenging and most rewarding job I have ever had is being a parent!”

Teresa Bain
Early Learning/Family Support Coordinator, Mother

Teresa Bain has been working alongside families of young children for over twenty years.

After getting her degree in education, she taught in public schools, homeschooled her own daughters and owned and operated a preschool.   Her preschool focused on creating a rich learning environment for children’s natural curiosity.

Before being hired as the Family Early Learning and Support Coordinator, Teresa volunteered in the Mother Mentors program because she believes parenting young children in a healthy way is valuable for both families and the communities they live in.  She is delighted to be able to support caregivers and children through her work with Mother Mentors.

Couloir Jensen
Playsouth South part-time Facilitator

Couloir moved to Whidbey Island eight years ago from Portland, Oregon. She and her husband are the owners of a community business called South Island Crossfit, a family gym and fitness center. Couloir brings to Playscape an MA in Teaching with an emphasis on Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has taught preschool through second grade and special education. She also brings experience teaching in other countries.

Couloir first learned about Mother Mentors when she brought her young son Grayson to Playscape looking for a place to play and a parenting community. “I love Playscape and I love working with young children and seeing their enthusiasm for life and learning.

Board of Directors

 

Kristin Lasher

Kristin has been a passionate supporter of young mothers since she was a mother herself, isolated, overwhelmed and unsupported. Her passion comes from not only her own experience as a mom, but as a child from a loving and caring family, who believed in serving the community around them. Kristin has a degree in Political Science and Education from the University of Washington. She has served on the Board of Trustees for Cornish College, United Way of King County and the League of Women Voters. She is a weaver and textile artist. Her greatest challenge in life has been raising 3 little girls, born in the first 3 years of marriage. Her next challenge has been to support unconditionally those 3 women as they raise their own children.

Linda Ridder

Linda became a mom while still a teenager. She started college as a mom with a nine-month old son and a need to work to help finance her education. Her early marriage and family experiences led her to pursue a career in marriage and family therapy and education. After earning degrees from Purdue and The Pennsylvania State University, she earned her Ph.D. from Florida State University as a single parent while working full-time running a rural Florida mental health clinic and maintaining a part-time private practice. After remarrying, she pursued an academic and administrative career, mostly at Miami University of Ohio, starting their first women’s center, then as a Professor teaching 24 difference undergraduate and graduate family focused courses, researching and publishing in her field, and heading up two different academic departments before retiring and moving to Whidbey Island.

Scott Wessel-Estes

Scott Wessel-Estes started his legal career as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. Following his involvement in cases related to child abuse, and becoming a father, Scott began work as an Assistant Attorney General representing Children's Administration. He has dedicated his life to working for children, and was very active as a Youth Advisor and a facilitator for the "Our Whole Lives" sexuality education program for children and youth. Scott and his wife, Pamela, are the parents of two children, Seth and Brianna. Now that their children have "left the nest," Pamela and Scott moved into their dream home on South Whidbey in the Spring of 2016. Scott continues his work on behalf of children through the Attorney General's office, and is also excited about the opportunity to be on the board of Mother Mentors. Scott is an avid hiker, although he now spends more time 'beach combing' and just being at home.

Lynn Launer

Lynn has been a technical recruiter in the software industry for the last 30 years, having started at Microsoft when it was a small company.  She also spent ten years on the Board of Directors for Humanity’s Team.   The work of Humanity’s Team is based on the simple message: We Are All One.

Lynn has been residing on Whidbey Island for over 25 years and serves the community as a volunteer doula, working with people at end-of-life, serving as their advocate. Lynn is also an End-of-Life Duala and is the God Mother for the child of one of her patients that lost her life to cancer.   This has raised her consciousness about the need to help parents with their caregiving, both in health and sickness.

Patrice O’Neil

Patrice O'Neill is a retired Family Practice Physician who ran the Freeland Clinic for 42 1/2 years. She and her husband (deceased) raised three children, all of whom graduated from South Whidbey High School.

Pat’s first medicine related earnings were for a freshman med school paper on childrens interactions with caregivers in a Korean orphanage. She has been a mentor and long time volunteer at Playscape South and now enjoys her work on the board of Mother Mentors.

Niki VanSice

Niki grew up in Iowa and in 2002 moved to Anacortes, WA and then down to down to Whidbey Island in 2006. She started attending Playscape shortly after the birth of her first child in 2014 and felt like Playscape “saved her life.” Now the mother of two beautiful young children, having a community of parents to share the joys and challenges of raising children has been very important to Niki and she has been involved in almost every aspect of Mother Mentors from knitting afghans for the auction to leading a parent discussion on how to ask for help. She joined the Board of Directors in 2019. As a stay- at- home mom she enjoys putting time into projects that further community connections like Mother Mentor.

Jane King

Jane is a clinician and counselor and has worked for the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station’s home visiting program for at risk infants for 18 years. Jane is a long time resident of Oak Harbor and has raised four children there. She is passionate about meeting families where there are and helping them navigate the challenges that confront families who are engaged in active duty military service. Jane helped facilitate the early Playscape groups in Oak Harbor and loves the ways in which Mother Mentors connects families to support and to each other.

Sarah Santosa

Sarah grew up in Minnesota and migrated to Seattle in 2013, where she met her husband Ansel and set up a successful retail bridal/wedding business. After adopting baby Gwen in November of 2018, Sarah and her husband decided to buy an old farmhouse and move their young family to Whidbey Island. Sarah heard about Mother Mentors from a friend and began to attend the parent-child infant groups, met other new parents, gained confidence as a parent and established a circle of support that lasts to this day. She is passionate about the role Mother Mentors plays in helping parents and caregivers feel supported and connected in a semi-rural community.

Dana Kelly

Dana Kelly moved to Whidbey Island 43 years ago with her husband Doug. Their two daughters grew up here, left the Island for college and returned a decade later with young families to this place they love.   Dana got her degree in nursing from the University of Washington. She was a Public Health Nurse on Whidbey for many years and spent the last 12 years of her career working at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. She worked with the midwives there providing maternity support to their very diverse patient population and the last years, worked in the Lactation and Postpartum clinics. Dana retired four years ago.

Being a young mother on rural South Whidbey in the early 80’s was very isolating. As a Public Health Nurse, she often wished there was a mother’s support group on Whidbey to which she could refer patients. When Mother Mentors was initiated here it felt like such a gift to the community! Helping with her own grandchildren has reminded her just how grateful young moms are for someone who can help out, giving them a break from the burden of the 24/7 of parenting and working. She is glad to be supporting this organization that builds connections and support for young families.

Rachel Harbaugh

Rachel grew up in the Bellevue area of Washington and met her husband in 2011. They married in 2015 and welcomed their son, Finn, at the end of 2017. As a Navy family, they have moved around a bit, but are both Washington natives and feel very much at home on Whidbey Island. Rachel discovered Playscape North/Oak Harbor very soon after moving to the island and found the community to be very welcoming and supportive. Rachel has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from EWU. She is passionate about helping others and loves what the Mother Mentors organization stands for - advocacy, diversity, inclusivity, assistance, and community.

Megan Gaydosh

Megan is a California native who re-located from the Bay Area to the island in 2017 with her husband, Josh. She worked as a Special Education Teacher at South Whidbey Elementary before having her two sons, and is currently a substitute teacher and stay-at-home parent.

Megan was introduced to the Mother Mentors’ Baby Group when her first son was an infant. There, she was able to form a beautiful circle of mom friends, where she was provided a safe space to vent and connect over the joys and struggles of new parenthood. This was a saving grace during a time that felt very overwhelming and lonely. Megan is passionate about the work Mother Mentors is doing for the community, and hopes to pay it forward by contributing to the organization that helped her thrive (and survive) as a new mother.

Jesse Thetford

Jesse and his wife, Katie, have lived on Whidbey Island for over 15 years and have two wonderful young daughters. Jesse grew up in Oregon and moved to Whidbey after graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University. He and his wife both work at Boeing.

As a new parent, Jesse got involved with Mother Mentors after discovering Playscape, which has been an invaluable resource and social outlet for his family. He currently serves on the Board as the treasurer and enjoys giving back to the community and making a positive impact in this role. On his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family and favorite hobbies, such as kitesurfing, mountain biking and snowboarding.

Volunteers

Every non-profit organization requires a strong network of support in order to thrive. Mother Mentors is a relationship-based program so we value the time and energy invested by our volunteers. The women and men who volunteer in support of our Whidbey Island families are committed, caring, wise and wonderful people with a deep desire to partner with parents in the important work of raising healthy, happy human beings.

Being a volunteer can mean everything from a retiree who spends two hours a week with a family to some of our founding Board members who rolled up their sleeves and made a full-time job of creating the programs we provide.

Mother Mentor volunteers Sept. 2015

“For me, mother mentoring can be very gratifying, filling up an empty nester’s heart with joy, making new friends, sowing a bit of wisdom and companionship for families who are on their most important journey of life.”