Sandra Whiting, executive director of the Goosefoot Community Fund, will be retiring from her position in early 2023. She has served at the helm of the South Whidbey Island based community and economic development nonprofit organization since August 2013.
The position has been anything but dull or predictable. When she started nine years ago, it was just herself and one half-time staff person.
“I plunged a toilet or two, when I wasn’t working on strategies to strengthen Goosefoot’s financial position,” Whiting recalls with laughter. “Those early days were a real challenge. Our tiny staff, along with a hard-working board, just kept focusing on ways to turn things around in our favor.”
And turn around, they did. Rather quickly, actually. In 2014, during Whiting’s second year, the Goose Community Grocer — owned by Goosefoot — began realizing profits as the customer base kept getting larger and more loyal. The store’s success enabled Goosefoot to put those profits towards building up its organizational capacity and fulfilling its vision of a thriving South Whidbey.
Since then, Whiting has overseen the distribution of over $1 million in grants over the past six years from Goosefoot to nonprofits serving the island community. She encouraged the development of in-house programs focused on affordable housing, food security, and small business education. As a leading voice in developing Goosefoot’s Commitment to Racial Equity Statement, Whiting takes seriously the organization’s support of the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.
One of Whiting’s biggest challenges was overseeing a change in Goosefoot’s 501(c)(3) status from a private operating foundation to a supporting organization. This complex legal reorganization was required by the IRS for Goosefoot to retain its tax-exempt status. In this new capacity, Goosefoot welcomed three other local nonprofits to sit on its board and share in its governance structure, making it a community-based organization in the truest sense.
These accomplishments are all on top of leading an organization serving as the landlord to over 15 businesses located across 16 acres of commercial property that Goosefoot owns at Bayview Corner and Bayview Center.
And staff? Goosefoot now has a staff of nine to oversee their growing programs and operations. A director of finance was the organization’s most recent addition in 2021.
“It’s a dream come true to finish my professional career this way,” Whiting said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to overcome hurdles and celebrate successes with. They say an effective leader lets others lead. Well, I’ve had the pleasure to follow an incredibly talented and dedicated staff. Working at Goosefoot has been one of my proudest life accomplishments.”
Whiting’s plans for retirement include art projects, traveling with her partner Susanne and enjoying their Clinton farm, Sweetwater Creek. As an accomplished visual artist, she’s looking forward to making art — not financial statements — her priority.
No changes in Goosefoot’s current strategic direction or programs are anticipated.
“Goosefoot is on very solid footing with programs that are well established and thriving,” Goosefoot’s board president Chris Salomone said. “Our expectation is that the new ED will build upon Goosefoot’s current activities, community relationships and collaborative efforts.”
To assist with identifying a new executive director, the Goosefoot board of directors has hired the Valtas Group, a Washington-based search firm that specializes in recruiting leadership for nonprofit organizations.