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.
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.
Family Support Program Coordinator, Mother
Esther Iles has been supporting children and families for the past forty years. She worked in Early Childhood Education for most of that time taking on various roles, from teacher, to Supervisor to Coach. Infants and toddlers are her specialty which led her to acquire an endorsement from the Washington Association for Infant Mental Health. She is passionate about the social and emotional health of children birth to 5 and their families as this lays a secure groundwork for a healthy and resilient community. She has lived on Whidbey Island with her family for 28 years. She has a deep connection to nature and loves to spend time walking the many lovely trails on the island with her husband, friends and dogs. She also enjoys just being at her home in the woods with a pond and plentiful wildlife. Esther is dedicated to helping others, nurturing her community and striving for the health of the planet. She is pleased to be working with Mother Mentors, supporting families and building community in her own backyard.
Marketing & Outreach Coordinator, Mother
Tasha Miller came to Whidbey Island four years ago after becoming a parent in Tokyo. Arriving to the island with two children under two and one more on the way, she found comfort and community instantly when she showed up to her first Playscape play and learn session. She is passionate about nurturing parents and supports a vision for alloparenting in the spirit that children deserve caregivers who are thriving, not just surviving.
Along with her meaningful work at Mother Mentors, you can find Tasha chasing her children and chickens and collaborating with the global motherhood collective she co-founded, Mother Wild. She co-facilitates retreats for mothers and an online community that helps mothers connect to each other and themselves.
Board of Directors
Kristin Lasher (Emerita)
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 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 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.
Jane moved to Whidbey Island in 2012 and learned of Mother Mentors almost immediately.
With three grandchildren living 2,000 miles away, she was eager to connect with young families
and support them as they nurture their children. Her first connection was as a mentor, then as a
Playscape volunteer and Board member.
Jane spent her career in commercial real estate development in San Francisco, focusing mostly
on financial and legal matters. Retiring to Whidbey Island provided the opportunity to be active
as a singer and pianist, spend time in the garden, and enjoy as much time outdoors as possible.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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 shopkeeping at the Parent Pantry, to some of our founding Board members who rolled up their sleeves and made a full-time job of creating the programs we provide.
“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.”