2020-21 BYC Board of Trustees Candidates


  • Click here to learn more about the candidates for the Flag Officers.
  • Click here to download and print an Official Election Ballot.
  • Return to the BYC Elections Notice.

Candidates for Trustee were asked to respond to the following items to provide voting members pertinent information about the candidates. Each individual’s responses are the numbered paragraphs following their bio.

  1. How should BYC move forward as we manage COVID considerations?
  2. How can we foster retention and recruitment during membership renewal season?
  3. What vision do you have for the club during your tenure?.
Neil Bennett

Neil Bennett

PC Neil Bennett – Why I am running for First Year Trustee in 2020

Somewhere along the line, I am sure it must have been said, “what is a Past Commodore good for, anyway?” Well, there are a lot of answers ranging from the rightfully affronted to the sarcastic, but one answer is..here we go, with nothing to lose:

Why did agree to run for Trustee? Well duh, I wanted the best outstation in the Salish Sea and awesome reciprocal rights.

Why did I get involved as a member? The long answer is…I am a graduate of the State of Washington’s most liberal, liberal arts college, The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, WA. Even more, I am a member of the first four year graduating class of 1975. I went sight unseen as a freshman, after ONLY applying to TESC, nowhere else, after merely writing an entrance essay. I made it in one shot, although I did try to drop out between 2nd and 3 years. As Karma would have it, there were few options left when I came to my senses; at late registration the only course work I could even vaguely see myself completing was spending the entire year studying the works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

Well, that year kicked my ass. I actually really had to study, think, study, think and think again. One particularly enlightening moment came when, faced with an impossible intellectual challenge, the Professor offered the seminar (yeah, a year of small group study-no hiding) an ‘opt out’ option, it dawned on me that the ‘opt out’ was harder than the actual assignment. So, I did the damn assignment.

The Clue is in that paragraph. The reasons why I want to become re-involved as a BYC member and Trustee are: 1) I still get to think. TESC (and Western for Grad School) taught me how to think in ways that are helpful, collaborative and productive, lucrative and rewarding; 2) Reciprocity – The second best thing about BYC membership is wearing club colors while checking into the Inter Continental hotel in New Orleans and receiving a double/double upgrade from the Front Desk Manager whose uncle in Des Moines, IA was also a Yacht Club member and past Commodore…the ultimate in reciprocity; and 3) I want to be involved in the success of the BYC through the efforts of the BYC Event Center. I can accomplish more and contribute to the Club if I am elected as Trustee.

AND …I still want to encourage members to ‘Cast No Wake Upon Our Burgee’

Response to Trustee Questions
  1. The safety and well-being of our members is our first concern and should drive all decisions. The economic viability is the larger competing demand. I believe the current Board of Trustees, committee chairs and Event Center Management team have considered both demands in developing the operating strategies in light of current regulatory guidance. I will encourage gradual, thoughtful and safety driven reopening and redevelopment of Club usage decisions.
  2. The current Board is developing member benefit programs to encourage both new members and retain existing members. I will actively continue to support the use of social media for member events, socially distant activities, and communication with members.
  3. I believe all current Board of Trustees share the vision of the continued economic viability of the club and will pull together to contribute to its success. I believe the Event Center and Marina Room have demonstrated the economic contribution to the Club’s continued success. I envision more contributions in the future.

Respectfully submitted,
PC Neil


Jane Bright

Jane Bright

A sailor by marriage, I am thoroughly addicted to cruising and to the fun, beauty and occasional excitement of sailing. For over 30 years, we cruised New England before moving to Bellingham in 2015 and joining BYC in 2016. Now we love cruising the Pacific Northwest, even if Canada won’t have us at the moment. On both coasts, being part of our yacht club community was and is an important part of our lives.

Professionally, I had a long career in Human Resources for The Gillette Company and Fidelity Investments, flunked retirement and then ran my husband’s software and web design company. Volunteer work includes leading environmental groups in the Boston area and working on safety upgrades for Bellingham’s train crossings.

Having run both for-profit and volunteer organizations, I know the latter is harder even without a pandemic and major economic downturn. When approached to run for Trustee, I started thinking about the challenges and opportunities including that we have no idea how long this will last.

Response to Trustee Questions
  1. Keep members engaged, give prospective members reasons to join and manage our finances prudently are priorities. We also must be prepared to move forward with in-person activities on short notice and build online involvement with our members in the interim.

    COVID’s many challenges start with understanding the rapidly evolving Phase requirements. BYC is a club, a rented facility and employer. Clarifying what we can and can’t do both currently and prospectively under the Phases keeps changing, so finding opportunities to use the building and hold social events is an on-going requirement.

    After study BYC’s finances, where we make and lose money, what our fixed costs are and also chat with the Bridge, I will better understand options. I would also seek input from our members and ask for their suggestions on how they would like to stay involved.

  2. BYC has a sport that lends itself to social distancing and provides much-needed mental health benefits, a large and versatile physical plant and an enthusiastic membership with many volunteers. In addition, Whatcom County has added about 30,000 new residents over the last 10 years and certainly some newbies are boaters.

    Let’s start by asking our members, both current and past, what they like and dislike about BYC. Professionally, I often found out more by talking to past employees than to current employees.

    Retention is vital and often easier than recruiting new members, so let’s increase the activities members like and consider retention options for members hit financially by the pandemic. For example, if it’s the bar and socializing, let’s do some Zoom cocktail hours with instructions on how to make popular cocktails. If it’s classes, let’s do more of those on Zoom. As to recruiting, let’s explore how we increase our visibility and accessibility to the general public and especially, to new residents.

  3. I would like to see BYC not only weather this storm, but also strengthen and broaden the boating community. We have seen just how critical social connections are and boaters know how easy it is to connect with fellow boaters even when new to the sport. We are well positioned to expand and grow the BYC community…and that helps our finances in the process.

    I’d like to be part of figuring out how BYC gets through this historic and challenging phase and do it in a way that makes us proud as well as successful while even having some fun in the process. I’d be honored to help BYC find our way to the future.

Respectfully submitted,
Jane Bright


Rachelle O’Haleck

Rachelle O’Haleck

I’m a Washington native from Tacoma, then Seattle, and now enjoy living in Bellingham for the last six years. It’s been great exploring the San Juans and Mt.Baker with my partner David. We used to be avid sailboat racers, though you’ll see we’ve gone the opposite direction and now zoom around in our go-fast boat, Miss America. I currently work as a real estate broker at Bayside Realty and serve on the BYC Event Center Committee where I’ve helped successfully book over $60K in revenue! My background is in the marine world as a buyer for Fisheries Supply and LFS. I also managed the Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle for several very successful years. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of our boating community and am ready to bring my experience to the table. Let’s create some great memories together and pass on a great legacy for the future generations.

Response to Trustee Questions
  1. This is the perfect time to come together and accomplish projects that will improve the club’s outlook for the future. Let’s get our website going, update our accounting system to Quickbooks online, install a new audio-visual system in the Marina Room, tackle all cleaning and repairs, remodel/refresh both sets of bathrooms, update any and all data, cheer up the juniors space, create stricter management and market pricing of the commissary kitchen, streamline policies and procedures. Let’s make sure our online and physical presence is relevant, up to date, and attractive to the membership and community at large.
  2. We can start by updating the membership roster and data. This is a project that easily coincides with the launch of the new BYC member web portal. This is a great time to engage members through surveys, volunteer work, and planning for 2021. Communication is key and it would be great to make sure that all of our members are getting the weekly email and have joined our Facebook page. We may also consider reaching out via phone and mail. A simple thank you and reminder of the benefits of BYC membership. Fundraising for a cause or specific club projects could be a great way to reach out. Bartender training can begin online as can our fall presentations. Everyone loves pictures, let’s get folks sharing those online! We can also have some safe interactions on a very small scale at the club. Let’s start getting creative about our fun and planning next year’s adventures to share.
  3. My vision for the next two years is to generate a ton of revenue through the BYC Event Center and dial in our rental program to provide long term income and stability for BYC. Oh, and throw some great parties with some of that money! We can create a lot of great memories if we generate the revenue to take great care of our facility and membership. New revenue can also help us host more sailing events and provide scholarships for juniors. BYC events and meeting space also touch the community at large. Let’s continue to foster great relationships with the many organizations and businesses in Bellingham.

Respectfully,
Rachelle O’Haleck


Tierney Owens

Tierney Owens

Background
Tierney is a born and raised Washingtonian that has been part of the BYC since childhood. Initially afraid of boats, her friends and adopted family at the club helped her get over that fear. At age 12, she went out on the Wednesday night racing committee boat for one night to take pictures, and ended up a consistent volunteer for 10 years. She regularly volunteered for Wednesday nights as well as at PITCH and other regattas. She joined the BYC on her own at age 18 in 2011 and has been a member ever since. While not active for a few years, she started attending regularly again 2 years ago and chose to pay active dues before turning 30 because she wanted to have a voice and a vote within the BYC. You may also know her by her chocolate chip cookies. She currently works as an office manager at a local internet company and pre-covid could be found in the BYC lounge most nights.

Response to Trustee Questions
  1. Until we can open again, perhaps use social media (for example, the members only Facebook page) to engage as a community. Use it to poll members as to what events or things they want to see at the BYC. Have a weekly topic/forum about different boating scenarios, have people share their stories and experiences, etc . Try to keep people involved with a sense of community until we can open our clubhouse again.
  2. While I’m not sure how realistic it is to attract new members during the pandemic while the club house is closed, I believe we need to call upon long time members to continue their membership to support our club in a time of need. I feel we all need to contribute if we want our club to remain post COVID, even if some may feel like they aren’t getting anything out of it right now. Those who have been around long enough know how fun the BYC can be. However, for anybody new who joined in our last membership drive right before COVID and the subsequent business shutdowns, perhaps we can roll over or discount dues to keep them around. Otherwise, if everything closed when right after they joined, I personally can’t think of reasons that they would want to stick around when they don’t get to know what our club is like and have not had the chance to participate in anything before the shutdown.
  3. I would love to try to bring in younger members. This of course is dependent on how COVID plays out and what functions we are able to open for. I would also love to help grow the yacht club’s social media presence, which these days is a bigger deal than before. Whether that be sharing photos from events or information about events to attract new folks, I’m up for it all. Really though, I just want to focus on making the club a fun, welcoming place to be and will help in any way I can. The BYC has been a second home to me for the majority of my life and I will do whatever I can to help it succeed.

Respectfully submitted,

Tierney Owens


Mark Santosuosso

Mark Santosuosso

Hello, I’ve enjoyed the club for about 10 years and have built many relationships and memories here. I’ve served on the board once before and would like to do it again and give back to the club I love.

I promise to do my best and listen to our membership wants and needs.

I hope to open up our Tuesday night music jams again as soon as possible.

I will continue to help with building and house and support Inati bay in any way I can.

Thanks.

Response to Trustee Questions
  1. I have not let COVID disrupt my life or livelihood. I do understand we need to follow state laws but hope to get creative and open as soon as possible. I’d like to promote our membership to enjoy the club while closed while still following state guidelines.
  2. I don’t think we take advantage of all the boaters that walk by our club every day. The club needs to be more inviting to new members as they pass by our club especially around our deck. I’d like to work with the bar manager to help with this as well as creating the best atmosphere inside the bar.

    I’ve seen the club chase new membership thru the years with just a few sticking around. People are just so damn busy. We need to just keep doing what we do, enjoy the club, pass the word, keep having classes downstairs. I’ve played around with the idea of taking advantage of our commercial kitchen and having some cooking classes and would like to get some input on that.

  3. I like our club. My vision would be to keep up with all we have been doing, keep fresh ideas flowing, support each other and do whatever we need to keep things rolling.

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Santosuosso


Karen Tapley

Karen Tapley

Hello BYC,
My name is Karyn Tapley and I am running for 1st year Trustee. My husband, Joe, and I have been members of BYC since early 2017 before we bought our Bayliner 4588 to live-aboard. I am an Ob/Gyn and Cosmetic Surgeon by training, but have left clinical medicine for other interests. I currently write, do speaking engagements, teach some online courses, and have started a consultation business. I am currently completing my MBA and a master’s certificate in Financial Planning due to the COVID shutdowns. I qualified for my 100 Ton Master Captain’s license last fall. I served as a Trustee in 2017 & 2018, so I understand the job and needs of the Club and have skill sets that have improved even more since my last period of service. Coupled with the current Bridge’s leadership experience, I think these skills will be complementary.
Thank you for your consideration.

Response to Trustee Questions
  1. The truth is that we are at the mercy of the State Government. The bottom line is that we must follow the rules to protect the club as much as possible. Luckily, there is new, compelling information coming out of the CDC that is lowering and categorizing the numbers significantly, which may prompt changes for the better, or propel us into stage 3 sooner than we hope. Thankfully, we have several board members, including myself, with professional credentials that can wade through the constantly changing information and make faster decisions than a board without such influence.
  2. Under the specter of COVID, this is going to be a CLUB WIDE process. According to my friends in yacht sales, the season has been brisk with sales and surveys, despite the shutdown. In addition, YouTube and other social media sites are flooded with younger people entering boating as a full-time lifestyle (especially sailing….but Gen X is heavily represented in MotorYachts). We have to work together to change the personality of the yacht club to attract these young sailors, perhaps by creating a real social media presence (an updated Website/Landing Page, and perhaps even a YouTube Channel devoted to Club events, etc).
  3. I think my vision is similar to others on the board. We need more members. We need ACTIVE members willing to volunteer time and effort to make the club better…but we have to reward people with accolades, etc. People like to be recognized for a job well done, right then and there, not just when “expected” (during formal ceremonies). Perhaps put a very visible plaque on the wall that we recognize a “Member of the Month” on and they get a free drink and a t-shirt or something? People LOVE giveaways :)

    My “ big idea” however, is that I’d love to see the BYC store expand and offer more clothing, gear, stickers, etc….this is lost revenue…and more importantly it’s “free” advertising. I would wear BYC in the marina pretty much daily….if we had anything in the store I could buy. I imagine others would too, especially new members who want to “fit in”. Baseball caps, t-shirts, etc. Modern styles. I even have a good connection, if we don’t already have a discounted vendor locally.

Respectfully submitted,

Karen Tapley