Board of Directors
Robert W. Merry (Chair) a Washington native, spent forty years in Washington, D.C., as political reporter, newsroom executive, corporate CEO, political commentator, and historian. He covered Congress, the White House, and national politics for The Wall Street Journal for a decade, then spent 22 years at Congressional Quarterly as the company’s top editor and CEO. At CQ he won a reputation as a pioneer in digital publishing. After CQ was sold to The Economist of London in 2009, Merry became editor of the foreign policy journal The National Interest. Merry’s books include biographies of postwar columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop, and President James Polk, who took America into the Mexican War and expanded U.S. territory by a third. The Alsop book won an Ambassador award from the New York-based English-Speaking Union, while the Polk biography was a New York Times bestseller. Merry now lives on Whidbey Island, where he is working on a book on William McKinley and America’s march toward empire.
Judy Morton (Vice Chair) has spent over forty years of her professional life in health care. She taught management / leadership at the University of Washington Dental School, served as Director of Organizational Development for the physician group practice at Pacific Medical Center, led the Service Quality Department at Group Health, served as Vice President of Quality at Premera, and was the Chief Quality Officer for the Swedish system of hospitals. Over the last ten years she has focused her work on consulting and partnering with various health care leaders and teams as they work to improve key aspects of organizational performance. Judy also served as a senior examiner for the U.S. Department of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige Award for several years. Judy’s Ph.D. is in Education and Business from the University of Washington. She and her husband Bill are Pacific Northwest natives and have recently moved to Whidbey Island.
Debra Drake (Secretary) received her B.S. in English literature, theater, speech, and journalism at The Ohio State University where she was student director of the OSU Children's Theater. Debra spent 20+ years as corporate human resources executive in the technology and telecommunications industries where she specialized in organizational development, executive coaching, leadership development, and mergers and acquisitions. She was on the executive management committees for the CompuServe / WorldCom-MCI / AOL merger as well as the the AirTouch Communications / Vodafone / Verizon Wireless mergers. She is a graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership’s ‘Executive Development Program’ and the Michigan Ross Executive Education’s ‘Advanced Human Resources Executive Program’. She has been an award-winning interior designer for the past 16 years, specializing in residential design. She was secretary of Island Shakespeare Festival’s board of directors and served on the Executive Committee. She recently joined the board of directors of CADA (Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse). An avid photographer, her photos have been featured in the Whidbey Camano Land Trust annual calendar and local publications.
Kathleen Conroy brings over 25 years of business experience to WICA, having spent the majority of her career consulting for Deloitte and in executive roles for Cisco Systems. Her strengths in strategy, partnerships, and digital technologies are complimented by her passion for the arts, theatre, and Whidbey. A few of her favorite theatrical experiences include seeing Patti LuPone in the original Evita, catching The Cherry Orchard in Moscow, Russia, discovering Communicating Doors in London’s West End, and happening upon a haunting play titled Bones at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. Kathleen, her partner Anne, and their goofball pooch Ella live in Langley and split their time between Whidbey and Seattle, when not traveling internationally.
Thom Hall is a former journalist, political aide, and entrepreneur. He graduated from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1971, and was editor of the campus newspaper during his senior year. Following graduation, he continued in journalism as a reporter for the Middletown (Ohio) Journal and the New Haven (CT) Register. In 1975 he attended the University of Virginia and received a master’s degree in government. Moving to Washington, D.C., he worked for U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) 1977-84. Initially he was hired as press secretary and speechwriter. He later became legislative director and was responsible for legislative issues for budget, appropriations, energy and more. In 1985 Thom left Capitol Hill and started a business called Capitol Reservations, a hotel reservations business for tourists and businessmen coming to Washington, D.C. (forerunner to Hotels.com). He was an early adopter of the internet, transitioned to an online booking system, and operated a successful business for almost 20 years. He and his wife Marshall left Washington, D.C. in 2004, traveled extensively, and then moved to Whidbey Island in 2007. Each summer they take their silver Airstream to explore the beautiful Northwest. Thom’s hobbies include biking, golf and black and white photography (still shooting film). Since coming to Whidbey, he has participated each year as a judge in the University of Washington Business Plan Competition and is always impressed with the high quality and enthusiasm of the young entrepreneurs.
Marion Jouas is a relative newcomer to magical Whidbey Island, having arrived in 2015 after living around the world with her husband, an Air Force officer. She was also an Air Force officer, retiring in 2008 as a Lieutenant Colonel after 24 years of active and reserve duty. Marion grew up in Pennsylvania, where she attended Thomas Jefferson University and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Nursing. She subsequently obtained a Masters Degree in Health Care Management from Georgetown University. Marion is a registered nurse with years of practice in cardiac, critical care, and burn medicine, which has taught her the importance of music, art, theater, open discourse and expression to health and healing. She also gained an appreciation for art and culture as a US representative with her husband at numerous international and diplomatic events in Europe and Asia. Her leadership experience while in the Air Force was invaluable as a board member for overseas Red Cross chapters, an International Welfare Board in Okinawa, and several non-profit organizations for military members and their families. Because of her years of dedication and support to our military and their families, Marion received the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Distinguished Public Service Award in 2014. She is thrilled that our welcoming island inspires such a variety of art and culture, and has WICA as a venue to channel this revelry. Marion looks forward to using her experience and energy to support WICA in bringing new and exciting quality in the arts to Whidbey Island.
Earl Lasher (WICA Foundation liaison) received a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington in 1966 and is the founder of the Seattle law firm of Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson. He is one of the owner of Ray’s Boathouse and Yarrow Bay Grill restaurants; the founder and director of the federally chartered Commerce Bank; a finalist for Appointment to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; a Superior Court Judge Pro Tem; an adjunct professor at the University of Puget Sound Law School; former member of Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation, Northwest Hospital Foundation, Friends of Youth, YMCA of Greater Seattle, and Odyssey Maritime Museum. He is a professional watercolorist. Earl was a past board chairman of WICA and returns to the WICA board of directors as the liaison for the newly-formed WICA Foundation.
Karen Leeds received her B.A. in English literature from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. Following graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and served in Ethiopia where she taught English as a Second Language to ninth graders. Upon her return to the U.S., Karen moved from New York to Los Angeles and worked as an executive assistant at advertising agencies whose clients included the Century Plaza Hotel, Varian, Raytheon, and Toyota Motors. In the early 1990’s, she and her husband Bill formed The Leeds Company, which designed lead generation and marketing programs for medical and high-tech clients. They closed the company when they moved to Whidbey Island in 2001, where they formed Leeds Consulting Group, which currently provides the same services. Karen is a photographer and a member of the Whidbey Allied Artists where she is co-chair of the show committee. She has been a volunteer at the Admiralty Head Lighthouse for the past six years, serving as a docent and in the gift shop, and has been a volunteer at WICA since moving to Whidbey.
Deborah Maietta was in the multi-family property management business for over 30 years. For the past ten years she was Senior Vice President of Sares-Regis Group, based in Irvine, California, with over 17,000 apartment units in five states. Over her career, Deborah has worked with non-profit boards in the development and management of their sponsored cooperatives and apartment communities, with affordable housing programs, with REITS, and with respected institutional owners. She served on several association committees throughout her career, including the publishing committee for IREM, (Institute of Real Estate Management) Chicago, a speaker for MHA (Multi-Housing Association) Minneapolis, and was a Board member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Orange County. As Senior Vice President, Deborah was dedicated to education and personal development of the firm’s employees, where she founded a comprehensive academic program, as well as established a business lending library. She was a CPM (Certified Property Manager), and earned her B.A. Degree in English in St. Paul, Minnesota. In her early years, she dabbled with poetry and had a few poems published in small press magazines. Deborah and her husband, Craig, have made Langley their full time residence, and Deborah currently serves on the Langley Historic Preservation Commission.
Robert McClain is a New York native who spent his 40 year business career immersed in business development and executive leadership for a variety of large and small US and International companies. These endeavors provided an interesting career, much travel, and some pretty good stories. Bob, and his wife Nancy and two cats, moved to Clinton in 2005 where they began living the Whidbey dream. After Bob retired in 2014, he and Nancy started to really settle in to Whidbey life with gusto, engaging more with their neighbors, friends, and the community. They are also both active members of Useless Bay Golf & Country Club. Always respectful of WICA and its enormous contribution to the community, Bob appreciates the opportunity to use his skills to serve both.
Ann McDonald has lived full-time in Greenbank for 30 years. Her youngest child attended South Whidbey schools, where Ann co-coordinated the Art Docent Program as a volunteer for five years. She remembers when WICA was in the planning stages and the excitement of attending the first event when “the curtain went up." Ann was an elected Coupeville Port Commissioner from 2006 to 2011. During that term she represented the Port of Coupeville on the Washington Public Ports Association Legislative Committee. She has served on many local boards and committees including the Island County Economic Development Council, United Way, and the Washington State Regional Transportation Planning Organization. A WSU Master Gardener since 1988, she has taught classes in garden design to the general public at the annual MG Gardening Workshop. Ann recently closed her outpatient treatment agency in Everett, retiring as a Substance Use Disorder Counselor. She currently works as an Island / Skagit County Superior Court Family Law Guardian ad Litem.
Bill Nesbeitt commenced studying violin in 1948 under Trude Huttenbach, who had toured the great stages of Europe as an incredible young concert violinist. After years of pleasure derived from fine arts under Trude's instruction, Bill received offer of a scholarship to attend the Julliard School of Music in New York City. Although Bill greatly appreciated that honor, he elected to accept appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1957. Graduating in 1961 with a commission, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army. Years later, after doing a small part helping defend the free world, he separated from the Army and entered the business world. Bill held various positions – chief engineer of a heavy construction firm, manager-of-manufacturing of a mid-sized conglomerate, corporate technical director of a Texas manufacturer, and president/executive director of an international association of pipe manufacturers. In the entrepreneurial business world, his positions included vice president of a pipe, valve, and fitting company serving six southwest states and president of a consulting company serving the water, wastewater, and irrigation industries. Those years culminated in his service for a decade as the CEO of an industrial biotech corporation operating in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. In the course of those business years, Bill never abandoned an abiding love for the arts. He enjoyed the high privilege of serving two terms as board president of a large symphony orchestra for budding young musicians.
Ken Pilcher “graduated” in 2013 from a 35-year career as a high-tech entrepreneur, inventor and scientist, but he just can’t help staying in the game as a board member, advisor and coach to a number of start-up and early-stage companies in the Seattle/Portland area. A graduate of the University of Washington in Electrical Engineering, Ken supports his alma mater by endowing a fellowship in the department of Bio-engineering.
Ken is the lead inventor of the Clarisonic Skin Care System (one of Oprah’s Favorite Things and overall cool device), now owned by L’Oreal. Prior to Clarisonic, Ken was director of research and development for Optiva Corporation, maker of the sonicare toothbrush, now owned by Philips. His product development experience includes skin and oral care products, medical electronics, and spaced-based data acquisition and avionics for the NASA Space Shuttle.
Ken is a named inventor on more than 35 US patents and pending patent applications. His passion for innovation and invention has taken a new direction into the field of enhanced methods in plant micro-propagation as a source of botanical pharmaceuticals, emphasizing systemic anti-inflammatory compounds.
Not just a Techno-geek, Ken brings to WICA expertise in the areas of intellectual property development & analysis; strategic, financial & business planning; private equity placement; budgeting; Marketing communications; organizational & Board development; team-building & leadership; contracts & negotiations; vendor management; cost-savings; networking & information technology and performance-to-cost. Ken is also a former nonprofit board member of both the Seattle Peace Chorus and Ten Thousand Villages, a pioneer in the area of Fair Trade retailing.
Washington state natives, Ken and his wife Quincy feel themselves increasingly attached to the South Whidbey community since they moved there in 2014 from Seattle. A life-long patron of the Arts in the Pacific Northwest, Ken is delighted to serve as a member of the WICA board and to be able to apply his perspective, experience and expertise in the furthering of WICA’s mission.
Angela Vosburg was co-owner of China City Restaurant and Properties, LLC for sixteen years where she created processes and protocols for front of house activities and oversaw customer relations, marketing, human resources, and cross-location training and development. Utilizing her industry resources and exposure, she consistently spearheaded innovative fundraising events and community involvement. After growing and establishing the Freeland and Oak Harbor (Whidbey Island) restaurant locations, the corporation opened a third location in Mill Creek, building and designing their own footprint. Finding a love for that aspect, she is now pursuing her career in design at Flat Rock Productions. She has served on numerous boards and committees, executively as chair and co-chair, as well as volunteered for many organizations: American Cancer Society, Rotary of South Whidbey, Relay for Life, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Readiness to Learn Foundation. She has been a director of the Greater Freeland Chamber of Commerce since 2008. Angela was adopted from South Korea at six months of age and was raised on Whidbey Island. She still has a passion for dance, and she danced for many years and performed on the WICA stage with the Seattle Shakespeare Theater and for Kaleidoscope. A 2001 graduate of South Whidbey High School, Angela currently resides in Freeland with her son Jacob.
Kathy Wilson left a 17-year career at IBM as Vice President of Marketing for the U.S. and joined Talegen Holdings as a Managing Director. There she worked with a variety of insurance companies to help develop technology, personnel, and marketing strategies to position them for mergers with other insurance companies. Kathy and her husband Clyde have been on Whidbey since 1997 and joined the WICA Stage Two Capital Campaign in 2007. They recently retired to Whidbey as full-time residents.