Even as we at Washington Sea Grant have increasingly had opportunities to see each other and work together in person, it has been far too long since we’ve been able to bring the whole organization together. This made it an incredibly powerful experience to gather on the beautiful Skokomish lands and waters at the Alderbrook Resort in Union, Washington for a two-day retreat over the summer.
This retreat provided a time for us to reflect on where we are as an organization, to learn together, and to assess what we can do better. We acknowledged that we have been through a lot together and individually over the past 2.5 years — and we celebrated having emerged from this time as a stronger and more cohesive team. We reconnected or met each other for the first time in real life, and we got to know each other more deeply through personal (not professional) biographies that we all prepared in advance of the retreat. We also had some bittersweet farewells as we celebrated Nicole Faghin, who recently retired.
We spent most of the first day in a training with Pat Hughes from Trillium Leadership Consulting on the concept of “Gracious Space,” which is a leadership model to foster a safe environment in which members of a group can better collaborate. The tenants of Gracious Space can be applied to our work and daily life, and we identified some specific actions that we can take as an organization to adopt these principles. The second day, we had an insightful presentation on the broader human resources landscape and how it influences factors such as professional development, work satisfaction and retention. We finished with a productive reflection on our progress towards our WSG Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 10-Year Roadmap and identified some gaps in our approach to date. It was great to see some of our newer staff step up into leadership roles in several of these presentations.
My hope is that we all left the retreat reaffirmed in our commitment to the work of Washington Sea Grant — I know that I sure did.
Russell Callender, WSG Director