Imagine what it takes to build a movement. A movement to protect wild places, start from the ground up—bring together activists, community leaders, and other organizations all in the name of conservation. It takes hard work and dedication. No short cuts. Do the work, one person at a time.
This is the movement Karen M. Fant, co-founder of Washington Wild, built in the 1970s and carried with her through the early 2000s. It is a work ethic and drive that was passed along to those around her, including at the time, Program Manager, Susan Melrose. In the early 2000s, Washington Wilderness Coalition was continuing to build the grassroots conservation movement in Washington State. Susan was in the middle of it all and surrounded by legendary activists—many of which were women.
Karen Fant was a mentor to Susan. She was surrounded by other key female activists, including Polly Dyer, one of the co-founders of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Sierra Club. It was hard for Susan not to be inspired by these incredible individuals and the co-founder of what is today, Washington Wild.
This July, Susan Melrose is re-joining the organization as Washington Wild’s new Director of Operations. She is excited to get back to her roots in environmental conservation, but also to bring a new perspective from when she first worked at the organization from 2000 – 2002. For the past 9+ years Susan served as the Executive Director of a community focused organization, West Seattle Junction Association, giving her added skillsets and a deeper understanding of what it takes to run a successful nonprofit. Susan is looking forward to streamlining processes, digging into the nuts and bolts of the organization, and overall continuing to build a strong organization into the future.
As Susan reflects back on the early days of Washington Wild, and those that inspired her, she also turns to the sheer beauty of the places we work so hard to protect.
“I’m an adventurous spirit. I have traveled all over the world, backpacked through Europe, have been to over 20 different countries –but the Pacific Northwest, and Washington in particular, is still one of the most beautiful places in the world. I love when you’re on a peak in the North Cascades and looking ahead at healthy, vibrant and blanketed forests all around you. Backpacking along clean rivers, old growth trees, and experiencing interconnectedness within each ecosystem. It is just the right thing to do—to leave these special places in-tact. With all of our actions it is important to think long term. I want my son and future generations to experience these wild places first-hand.”
Wilderness is definitely a passion for Susan and has been since her early days at Washington Wild. As Washington Wild’s new Director of Operations, Susan is thrilled to continue to build on the conservation movement Karen created and to get others involved—one person at a time.