Board of Directors 2019-2020
Heather MacKay Brown has lived in Lynden with her family since 2005. She grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe before moving to South Africa to complete her college education.
Her career has been mostly in the public sector, as a water and environmental policy specialist. She served for several years as senior specialist scientist in the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry working on water quality standards, national water policy, and water law, and then as a research manager at the Water Research Commission of South Africa, where she managed national portfolios related to water policy, water law and governance, and water in the environment.
She chaired the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands from 2005 to 2012, and was a member of the Panel’s international working group on water resources and river basin management.
Her local work has focused on water and agriculture in Whatcom County, helping farmers and planners find ways to protect and enhance both working farmlands and water resources.
Heather has a BSc in Physics and Applied Math from Rhodes University and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Port Elizabeth. She has taught high school science and math, graduate programs in several universities, and professional training programs in water management.
Heather joined the LWVBWC in 2014 and has helped to develop toolkits on gun safety and climate change for the League. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in Whatcom County, sailing the coastal waters with her family and exploring local trails with her horse.
Allison Aurand is the principal of Castanea Associates, which offers marketing and communications support to businesses, non-profits, and other organizations; the owner-operator of Flying Change Stables, LLC, just south of Lynden; and mother to 3- and 6-year old boys. She spent her previous career working in land use and agricultural policy issues, in both the private and public sector. She worked throughout the Mid-Atlantic region on comprehensive strategies to bridge economic, family, and land use issues related to agriculture, and worked with a coalition of organizations to lobby for the successful passage of a statewide farmland protection program in Virginia.
She moved home to Washington and continued working on the same issues while Director of the Skagit Farmland Legacy Program, in addition to her responsibilities to the County related to farmland preservation and local land use policy and planning. While working for Skagit County, Allison developed the policy and framework for the Washington Office of Farmland Preservation, and served as the sole lobbyist for the related bill, which passed in 2007. Most recently, she served as Communications Director for the international Timber Framers Guild and continues as the editor of the organization’s member magazine. Allison has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College (MA). She serves as Co-President of LWVBWC in 2019-20.
Michael Jay began his career as a science educator and helped develop the first California Technology in the Curriculum guide in 1984. While at Apple, he held roles in many different parts of the organization; the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow, competitive analysis, and curriculum-related marketing. In 1994, Michael founded Mediaseek Technologies in Bellingham, where he provided unique services to over 300 publishers and laid the groundwork for many innovations in standards and instructional resource integration that followed.
Michael has chaired many education and education industry conferences and remain engaged in several national and worldwide education initiatives. As president of Educational Systemics he works to create lasting change in how we learn and educate through his work with corporations and other institutions. Underlying Michael’s involvement is a commitment to educating all so they can make informed decisions for themselves, as part of the community in which they live, and to evolving our commitment to work as part of a thoughtful society both locally and globally.
Annette Holcomb grew up in Illinois and was fortunate to live in many interesting places during her adult years. She taught junior high school, worked on the support staff of a community mental health center, and for the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Stanford University. Her last and longest employment was in information systems & technology at Safeco Insurance in Seattle. She and her husband chose Bellingham as an excellent place to spend their retirement years and moved here in 2009.
She was first involved with the League of Women Voters on the Big Island of Hawaii and then again in Seattle where she was an active member of the board for several years. She earned a BA in History from Cornell College, studied computer science at Clark County Community College, and earned a certificate in teaching English as a second language. She taught English and citizenship preparation classes in Bellingham and in Seattle.
She is the mother of two grown sons, has two granddaughters and a supportive husband.
Candice Ambrosio has lived in Whatcom County for over 40 years. She is a lifelong resident of Washington, born and raised in Shelton. She graduated from Western Washington University and has worked in a variety of arenas, including managing the White Spot Cafe; the Fragrance Garden; co-owning a remodeling business with her husband, which was sold after 24 years; serving as Finance Director at the YWCA; and most recently being a life coach from her home in the county.
Candice enjoys spending time in the garden, cooking, reading, clogging, and doing volunteer work. Her favorite time is spent with her family, including 3 grandsons and 2 great-granddaughters. She was a charter member of the Whatcom County Library Foundation and served as their treasurer for 9 years. She has volunteered for numerous local programs and organizations and is honored to serve as treasurer of LWVBWC.
Helen Campbell transplanted to Bellingham in 1995 when she married her husband, a Bellinghamster born and raised in this beautiful place. Helen has an adult son with developmental disabilities, which prompted her becoming a strong supporter and advocate for disabled persons and their rights.
Helen retired from the insurance industry several years ago. During her years working in commercial insurance, she earned the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation. She was an active volunteer with the National Association of Insurance Women, including teaching continuing education classes, and served as President with the Seattle Insurance Professionals. She was also the NAIW Washington State Director.
Since retiring, Helen has pursued her artistic side through painting and photography. She has participated in the Allied Arts Holiday Festival, and has taught art classes and hosted small art retreats over the past several years. Helen and her husband have both been active volunteers in wildlife habitat preservation and environmental issues. They are National Wildlife Federation Habitat Stewards and their yard is a certified wildlife habitat with NWF and WDFW. Helen enjoys working in the garden, bird watching, and relaxing with a book and a cup of tea.
Jan Catrell is a life-long resident of Washington state, with 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren, all of us residing in Bellingham, the “city of subdued excitement.”
Jan graduated high school in Tacoma, studying psychology and theatre at Western Washington University where she earned a BA. She earned an MA in Business and Counseling from the University of Puget Sound.
Jan’s career was spent in Federal service, working variously for the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Census Bureau, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Treasury as a Customs Inspector, and retiring as an original member of the Department of Homeland Security on its establishment after 9/11.
Working as a Customs Inspector at the Port of Blaine, WA, for 20 years, she became a hazardous materials cargo expert and a radiation detection coordinator; these assignments eventually led in the year 2000 to a position in the Customs International Training Division in Washington, DC. In cooperation with the Department of State, she coordinated training missions to over 25 countries in Central Asia, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Since her retirement in 2008, Jan has enjoyed volunteering with a number of not-for-profit organizations, including the American Red Cross, the Whatcom Literacy Council, the United Methodist Church, the WWU-sponsored Academy for Lifelong Learning, the Department of Energy’s Hanford Advisory Board in Richland, WA, and the League of Women Voters in Bellingham/Whatcom County. She also advocates for the homeless in Bellingham, and for the orca population in the Salish Sea.
For the League, Jan has observed the election process for the Whatcom County Auditor’s office, registered voters around the county, worked on a position paper for Women’s Economic Security, participated with the Climate Committee, and is now serving as a LWVBWC Board Director.
The League of Women Voters is celebrating the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020. Jan is pleased to be involved with the League at this historic time.
Shovia Muchirawehondo was born in Chicago, Illinois, and graduated from University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. During her undergraduate years, she served as the Diversity Director of Student Affairs. Shovia then taught internationally in Ghana, West Africa, for several years. Shovia worked as a Legislative Assistant with the Wisconsin State Legislature and as a substitute teacher for the Madison Metropolitan School District. She worked also for several years as a data analyst and supervisory manager with both Verizon Wireless and Wipro Technologies in Atlanta, Georgia. Shovia is also a published author of The Inner Eye, a book of poems.
Shovia moved to Whatcom County a couple of years ago. She is a remarkable mom of three teenage boys and brings an ease and commitment to equity and social justice with both passion and compassion. She engages with matters of concern to her family within the context of the larger community. Shovia is very active in the Bellingham community; she is a board member of the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force and has been working directly with the Bellingham School district in support of equitable and safe schools. She is also helping to create a collaborative process to ensure that all children attending public schools in Bellingham experience a safe, nurturing, and engaging school environment. Shovia is also a member of the Generations Forward Equity and Honoring Cultures committee as well as a board member of the Happy Valley Neighborhood Association. In building connections, she has actively engaged in making Bellingham an increasingly inclusive, healthy place for families to live, a vibrant community that embraces all its diversity. In 2018, Shovia was encouraged by community leaders to run for the city council at-large position to provide the city with a much needed and under-represented perspective as a single mom, passionate and friendly who advocates for all, especially those who historically have not had a voice.
Nominated as one of the top 5 candidates out of 23 applicants, Shovia intends to continue building her political involvement.
Since 1990, Allison Williams has served the Whatcom County Health Department in both direct service and systems level roles, most recently as a community health specialist in the parent-child division. She collaborates with a wide variety of community partners on projects related to the health and well-being of young children and their families, a population whose well-being she believes is a bellwether of that of our community and our nation. Recent projects have focused on children with special health care needs and their families, perinatal mental health, child development, and community health assessment. The role of social determinants, social support, equity and inclusion inform her work and shape her strategies to ameliorate health disparities.
Growing up in a military family provided wonderful and varied environments both in the U.S. and abroad and after spending formative years in the Washington, DC, area, Allison considers that city her hometown. She earned a BA in French Language and Literature from the University of Kansas and then returned to DC to join a collectively run wholegrain bakery that supplied the DC area food coops as well as the University of Maryland.
Allison and her husband moved to Bellingham in 1987. After raising two daughters and building enduring friendships, it is home. Over the years, she has volunteered her time to a variety of local organizations including Whatcom Hospice, WFC Rangers, and Whatcom Jobs with Justice. She has been a union member for 26 years, serving several times as a member of the contract negotiating team. She joined the League of Women Voters and the Racial Equity/Healthy Democracy Committee in 2016.
Not an early riser by nature, she’ll get up early for good water to row or paddle on and for her two young granddaughters.