I want to introduce you to our newest member of the leadership team: Katie Oman who has just accepted the position of Chief Operations Officer here at the Maritime Center. It’s a big job, with big shoes to fill, but I couldn’t be more excited about who we found to fill them through this next exciting period of rebirth, growth, and change.
The COO role is a big job. Truly a co-leader of the organization, the COO is responsible for making sure that the staff and systems keep humming along. Even in our COVID-reduced posture, we are a complicated organization—9 business units and nearly 40 regular employees—not to mention the contractors, seasonal staff, and volunteers. There are a lot of moving parts, and we’re expecting a lot of growth, which is its own set of work. Since Heidi Eisenhour left the position to go help run Jefferson County (she was elected County Commissioner back in November) we’ve been waiting and dreaming for someone like Katie to apply.
We needed the best, not just the best available—it’s a big job, in a complicated time for a complicated organization. We didn’t need just anyone, we needed the exact right person. When we put out the listing into the world, I dared to have notions about what a perfect candidate might look like. My first priority was organizational chops, ideally non-profit, and ideally someone who had a passion for our mission, or at least experience in it. Also, as a person we are all going to work with a lot, someone who wasn’t grating on the nerves…and I wanted them to know our communities, ideally already live in Port Townsend, and be able to start right away. I laughed and then wrote it off as high hopes with long odds.
Katie comes to us with all of the traits we were hoping for, and then some. Starting with her organizational chops, Katie has worked in management consulting for arts and cultural non-profits across the country (and right in our backyard) both as part of a big firm and as her own business. Her clients have ranged from the small and humble to large, statewide institutions. Early in her career she worked in maritime education on the east coast in Mystic Seaport, and South Street Seaport in NYC—I actually met her 15 years ago when she was a volunteer sailing instructor at the Center for Wooden Boats. She was a good instructor and one of the few who had a 100ton captain’s license. Better yet, all of the interviewers and references lauded her keen mind and personability. Better still, she already lives in the Port Townsend area and currently serves on the board of the Jefferson County Community Foundation.
Anyway, I’m not sure if I’m taking this as proof of the universe manifesting what we need, and/or mild regret that I didn’t add an endowment to the list of things I wished she came with, but I am truly thrilled that she’s coming onboard and excited for what that means for the future of the organization. This was a big missing piece of our post-COVID puzzle, and now we are off to the races.
Jake Beattie | Executive Director