Staff Transitions

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— Florence Williams

Summer is right around the corner and with the changing season comes a flurry of activity in Portland, Odin Falls, and Mazama. Wilderness course enrollments are, again, strong and there is a growing excitement and challenge that stems from being the country’s best-in-class character education.

As NW Outward Bound School (NWOBS) continues to grow and thrive, we have crossed a significant threshold. We have achieved five consecutive years of growing our student body and financial health, while maintaining highest standards and impact. The Board of Directors and the Executive Director are grateful for our exceptionally strong field staff and leadership team who have helped to achieve our successes. As we look forward, we will continue to build and strengthen student enrollment while fine-tuning our operations. The success of NWOBS now provides a stable base to look towards the future needs of the School and our students.

Transitions at NW Outward Bound School

As we move towards the School’s next stage, we announce the transition of our Executive Director, Mitsu Iwasaki. As a leader and a mentor, Mitsu, brought stability and evolution to the School; he and the senior leadership team worked to orient the School to be relevant to the present and adapt to the future. They questioned old narratives and assumptions, challenged ideas that we had held as true and absolute, took sensible risks, became market centric, created a disciplined approach to business and fiscal management, and strengthened our pillars; the foundations of the school are firmly in place and NWOBS has become the successful organization that represents forward-thinking leadership.

The challenge of looking forward while still navigating current challenges requires a focused strategic plan, developed through input from staff and board. The priorities of that plan are: to ensure NWOBS’ values are present throughout the school, to serve an increasing and broadening student base, to fill all positions with qualified individuals who can make the deepest impact, and strengthen our presence in the Pacific Northwest. And as the School continues to evolve, Mitsu and the Board believe that it is time for new leadership. Mitsu and the board have been working together on the transition process to ensure key operational & programmatic items are institutionalized, and key new staff and a new Executive Director are onboarded with success. Mitsu will stay fully engaged as the search commences for the next Executive Director, and we begin the upcoming summer enrollment season. The Board is grateful to Mitsu for his contribution to NWOBS and his continued commitment to building excellence within the School and its programs.

Advocacy is the New Philanthropy

Development and engagement have evolved into a combined entity to meet the needs of our shifting demographics and the world of philanthropy. We are proud to celebrate our new Chief Development & Engagement Officer, Susanne Orton, who brings decades of expertise in advocacy and philanthropy. Building the narrative that moves hearts and minds, combined with ever evolving digital strategies that connect us, is an instrumental part of development process. The Board and Executive Director strategically focused on these skills in the recruitment of this position. Susanne will partner with our Executive Director and leadership team; connecting and developing fundraising strategies while growing the brand and impact of NWOBS through community relations, public relations, storytelling and technology.

Learning through Experience

We also are happy to announce Tami Ankeny, our new Student Services Director, who joins us with a diverse background as an Outward Bound instructor, camp program director, backcountry guide, managing the administrative office of an international NGO, facilitating challenge course experiences, and working in university student affairs. Tami loves utilizing the outdoors as a classroom to offer new experiences that get people out of their comfort zone and provide opportunity for technical skill development, personal transformation and growth. With a BA in Recreational Studies and a Masters in Organizational Leadership, Tami will continue to focus on a student and parent-centered approach to our enrollment and student services processes. Our belief is that an Outward Bound student’s journey starts from the moment they have a ‘call to adventure’ with our Student Services team. Tami will ensure that from the first call to when they leave for the airport, our students experience is informed by our core values and focused on learning.
The Board of Directors recognize change is rarely easy. Because challenge and discovery is our way of life, we also know we are all well equipped to manage it. We honor our past and look forward to the future and what it holds for NWOBS. As our partners in this journey, we hope to hear from you. Please reach out with your questions or comments to Mitsu or NWOBS’ Board Co-chairs Kathleen Wood or Dan Mahoney, and stay connected with us at
Contact info:

Kathleen Wood, Board Co-Chair, 503-314-2139

Dan Mahoney, Board Co-Chair, 503-701-9997

Mitsu Iwasaki, Executive Director, 425-922-2940


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