Board of Directors
The Northwest Maritime Center is lucky to have the dedicated support of our community, including an active and well-connected Board. We are grateful to our Board for all the time and energy that they bring to our organization, as well as their vision and optimism.
Stephen Oliver, President
Steve is currently chairman of the Board of First Federal Savings and Loan. He retired from the practice of law in 2010 after serving as President of the Platt Irwin Law Firm, the largest law firm on the Olympic Peninsula, for many years. Steve’s law practice emphasized maritime, banking and municipal work as well as real estate development and environmental law and personal injury litigation. He served as general counsel to First Federal for 20 years and as general counsel to the Port of Port Angeles for over 30 years. Steve is a past president and current board member of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation and has served on the boards of many other charitable organizations during his career. He and his wife Kelley own and sail Blackbeard II, a 43′ Bill Garden ketch.
Kris Morris, Vice President
Kris is founding partner of and counsel to the retained executive search firm Morris & Berger. During the past 25 years, the firm has received numerous honors, including being named one of the 50 leading retained executive search firms in North America. Kris and her colleagues specialize in service to the nonprofit sector. Clients include secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, policy organizations, foundations, arts organizations, and human and social service agencies.
Prior to entering executive search, Kris was an administrator at Occidental College, where she had graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and where she remains a Trustee Emerita. Between college years, Kris owned and operated a 32-foot Monterey style commercial fishing boat out of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
She remains active in the philanthropic community, and has served on numerous boards and commissions, including current service on the Port Townsend Arts Commission and previous service on the Greater Los Angeles Boards of the American Red Cross and United Way. On a national level, Kris has been a frequent speaker on topics ranging from change management and institutional leadership to cultural competency.
Peter Geerlofs, Treasurer
Peter founded Port Townsend Family Physicians in 1976 and practiced medicine in the community for 20 years, as well as serving as Public Health Officer for 10 years. He founded Medifor, a medical software company that was subsequently acquired by Allscripts, where he was Chief Medical Officer for almost ten years. The last seven years have been devoted to writing fiction. Peter is currently working on his third novel while finding time to explore the Inside Passage on his 44’ steel Diesel Duck, Seaducktress.
Peter was raised in West Orange, New Jersey. He attended college at Earlham in Richmond, Indiana and Medical School at New Jersey College of Medicine. He completed a three year residency in Family Practice at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is currently completing an MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard.
Kim Aldrich has been on and around boats since before she can remember. She learned to sail—and got her aesthetic boat sense—from her father, a lifelong sailor, racer and serial wooden boat owner.
Kim has worked in Mortgage Lending and Real Estate for over 20 years, served as President of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, and is the Skipper of the Jefferson County Sea Scout Ship Falcon, a program under the umbrella of the Northwest Maritime Center.
Having grown up with ships and the sea, Kim is passionate about getting kids out on boats. Having experienced the quiet soul and the self-reliance that comes from being out on the water, she wants to continue to try to create that with youth.
John’s family has a rich seafaring history. Both of his grandfathers were sea captains, and John grew up sailing and racing on San Francisco Bay. His father built him his first sailboat when he was eight and taught him the basics.
John was hired by the Berkeley Fire Department at age 21 and spent the next 32 years as a firefighter, EMT, and officer. He went to school to become a Hazardous Materials Specialist and was on the Haz Mat Team from its inception. John was also on the cliff rescue and heavy rescue teams and responded to wildland fires in the western states. He received the certificate of valor for his actions in the Oakland Berkeley Firestorm and was one of the first truck companies on the scene of the Loma Prieta earthquake. John has spent a large part of his life in public service, including 10 years as a volunteer flight medic for the East Bay Regional Park Services Helicopter Division.
During a road trip to Washington, John and his wife Una happened upon the road sign to Port Townsend, and after a visit fell in love with the town. They retired here in 2013, and John started volunteering at the Northwest Maritime Center shortly thereafter, helping with boat maintenance, driving Martha J on the weekend harbor tours, and sailing in the Thunderbird Club. He also took advantage of the many classes offered at the Center and got his Captain’s License.
Both John and Una got their MAST license as well so they could volunteer bartend at NMMC events, and both have worked every day of the last three Wooden Boat Festivals as volunteers. John has also renewed some of his medical certifications and has joined the Event Medical Team for the Festival.
When not volunteering, John and Una enjoy hiking with their dogs, travelling, camping, and music.
Mark is the publisher at Fine Edge Nautical & Recreational Publishing. He is also the new Editor and Publisher of the annual Waggoner Cruising Guide, the most popular cruising guide in the Northwest and British Columbia. The Waggoner is often referred to as “the bible” for Northwest cruising. Mark has always enjoyed boating, and while working in the corporate world he annually would charter in the San Juan Islands and British Columbia as well as other places around the world including the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Greek islands, Honduras, Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay area. Mark holds a U.S. Coast Guard Masters license with endorsements for towing and sail, and is a NAUI-certified scuba diver. In addition to boating, Mark is an instrument-rated, twin-engine private pilot with over 2000 hours of flight time. He is a long distance cyclist, and has completed several Seattle to Portland (STP) cycling events.
Joe Finnie of Rainshadow Properties, Inc., operates the Bishop Victorian and Swan hotels in Port Townsend. Joe has served on the board of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and as a Port Townsend City Council member.
Richard Firth is currently a Director of Maritime Audit Services for the Risk Advisory & Assurance Services Group of Carnival Corporation, the largest travel and leisure Cruise Company in the world. He currently provides oversight of audits, investigations and focused reviews for Holland America Line and Seabourn, with additional responsibility over Princess Cruises and P & O Australia, all wholly owned subsidiaries of Carnival Corporation.
Prior to working in Seattle, Richard sailed at sea for 17 years as a Deck Officer for numerous Cruise Lines including Cunard, Seabourn and Princess Cruises. His final appointment at sea was Staff Captain, 2nd in command with Princess Cruises.
Since Richard arrived in the USA, he became a member of the Citizens Academy Alumni Association (CAAA) for the FBI in Seattle. The CAAA continues to connect community leaders who have shared in the Citizens Academy experience and organizes networking events that support the current Citizens Academy class and community outreach programs.
Richard was born and raised in South Yorkshire in the UK and studied Nautical Science in North East England where he eventually obtained a British Master Mariners License Unlimited Tonnage.
Richard currently resides on Bainbridge Island with his wife Lynne and their son Connor.
Blaise is an accomplished shipwright and is affiliated with Haven Boatworks, a Port Townsend boatyard specializing in the restoration and repair of wooden boats. Blaise has extensive boating experience in Alaska and is a graduate of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.
An architectural designer, Gary came to Port Townsend as a weekend resident in 1973, and became a full time resident in 1997. He was involved in the historic restoration of Port Townsend’s Siebenbaum Building, Delmonicos, and several residences. He serves as vice-chair of the City of Port Townsend commercial design review advisory group, is a volunteer with Centrum and Habitat for Humanity, and has worked on Shoreline Master Plan revisions. Gary was born and raised in Missoula, Montana, and served in Korea with the U.S. Army. He holds a BS in Architectural Design from Montana State.
David’s introduction to marine trades came in l971 with his first exposure to wooden boatbuilding on the Chesapeake Bay. A few years later he was teaching boatbuilding at the Apprenticeshop of the Bath Marine Museum in Bath, Maine. David arrived in Port Townsend in 1978 as an itinerate shipwright. Later David was project manager and general manager at Admiral Marine Works Inc., during which time the company grew from 20 to 160 employees. Most recently he was a founder and the chief financial officer of Townsend Bay Marine, a full-service composite boatbuilding and repair partnership, from 1999 – 2015. David has served on the board of directors of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, The Wooden Boat Foundation, and was previously on the Board of the Northwest Maritime Center from 1999 to 2012. David has a B.A. from Harvard College and holds a certificate in project management from the University of Washington. He was a member of the Port Townsend City Council from 2008 – 2015 and was the City’s Mayor from 2012 – 2015.
Stuart has been a pilot at Puget Sound Pilots for thirteen years, transferring to Washington after a 12-year career as a pilot in Western Alaska. While working in AK, he maintained a home in Chimacum, and now lives in Seattle with his wife Laura. He has had leadership roles at both pilot organizations, serving as either an officer or member of the board of directors, as well as on various standing committees. Stuart’s interest in the Northwest Maritime Center revolves around professional training in the Pilothouse, as well as youth education through onsite programs and the Maritime Discovery Schools initiative. He divides his boating time between salmon fishing in a 16-foot Lund, and rowing/sailing a 15-foot Lowell dory.
Lynn began her sailing career late in life with an ocean passage from Hawaii to Seattle and repeated the magical experience again four years later as First Mate. For the past 25 years she has been in information security and risk management, working for large corporations – Microsoft, Barclays and Oracle. Her background includes being a founding member of the Cloud Security Alliance, working on national critical infrastructure protection projects with IT-ISAC and Telecom and Electrical Power Interdependency Task Force. Her volunteer work includes being former board member of the National Women’s Sailing Association and currently serving on the advisory board for the Executive Women’s Forum. She enjoys sailing locally with her spouse Nancy aboard Tethys.
A resident of Whidbey Island, WA, Herb is originally from Boston, where for 35 years he practiced law primarily as a business litigator, after obtaining his B.A. from Michigan State University and an LL. B. from Boston University School of Law. Herb is a veteran of not-for-profit boards, such as the Cambridge (MA) Community Economic Development Corporation, the Cambridge Boys & Girls Club, the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, president of the New England Amateur Athletic Union, chairman of the Massachusetts State Boxers’ Fund Board and, as a Korean combat veteran, the boards of military veterans’ organizations. Herb’s interest in maritime history and wooden boat sailing began early, having been raised on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay and Boston’s North Shore. In his youth, Herb served as a seaman with the U.S. Merchant Marine. One of his current interests, besides his commitment to the NMC/WBF, is collecting museum-quality ship models, mostly sailing vessels.
A lifelong native of the Pacific Northwest and grandson of H.W. McCurdy, Neil carries on the family’s maritime tradition through a variety of interests and business endeavors. He is currently the COO of OceanGate, Inc., a provider of manned submersibles for commercial, scientific and exploration applications. Prior to OceanGate, Neil spent 10 years as V.P. of Worldwide Sales & Service for Grand Banks Yachts Ltd. He was an early employee and instrumental in the growth and development of YachtWorld.com, the world’s largest online yacht brokerage multiple listing service where he served as VP & General Manger. He enjoyed an early sales career that started in broadcast television, then into wireless telecommunications before delving into the marine industry.
Neil, and his bride, Ann, of 30 years have three grown boys. All avid sailors, Eagle Scouts and active mariners. When he’s not on the water, he’s skiing in the mountains, riding his bike or working on his sailboat, Discovery.
Carlyn Stark, Board Emerita
A lifelong boater and the first donor to the Northwest Maritime Center project while on the WBF board in 1995, Carlyn contributes in multiple ways to WBF and NWMC. Respected regionally for her role in bringing the 100 year old Schooner Martha from California to Puget Sound, she is also well known for her decades of work with Four Winds Camp on Orcas Island. Her namesake boat, the Carlyn, sails throughout the sound as an integral part of youth maritime education programs.
Jim Whittaker, Board Emeritus
Jim Whittaker, internationally renowned mountaineer, adventurer and environmentalist, is best known as the first American to summit Mt. Everest, on May 1, 1963. A visionary business and community leader, Jim was the first full-time employee of one of the country’s largest outdoor retailers, Recreational Equipment, Inc. – REI – retiring as its President and CEO after 25 years with the company. Jim is a talented and inspirational public speaker, who has given presentations to hundreds of corporations and organizations for more than four decades. He has led numerous, high-profile climbing expeditions, including the first ascent of Mt. Kennedy (with Senator Robert Kennedy) in the Canadian Yukon in 1965, the first American ascent of K2 in 1978, and the spectacularly successful Mt. Everest International Peace Climb in 1990. He is an accomplished blue-water sailor, having twice skippered his own boats on the 2,400-mile Victoria-to-Maui International Yacht Race. He and his wife Dianne Roberts, along with their two sons, made a four-year, 20,000-mile Pacific sailing journey to Australia and back to their home in Port Townsend, Washington, aboard their 54-foot steel ketch, Impossible. Jim is the author of the best-selling, award-winning memoir, A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond. (Bio courtesy of jimwhittaker.com.)