Board Bios

San Juan Community Home Trust Board of Directors 2017-19 

Chary Caren has lived on San Juan Island since the fall of 2003 when she purchased land here, a house in Victoria through Nickel Brothers, and united the two in order to have a well-built, attractive and affordable home.  Before coming to San Juan Island she taught in communities with diverse populations: Appalachian children in Ohio, a Quaker school in Philadelphia, more than a decade in the Navajo Nation at Chinle, Arizona and additional years in Tubac/Tumacacori/Rio Rico, Arizona.  Along the way she has been co-owner of a small gallery in Tubac, Arizona and a board member of various civic and educational organizations.  She feels extremely privileged to be involved with the San Juan Community Home Trust when there is such a need for more permanently affordable housing and finds it particularly exciting now when the Home Trust is engaged in the recycling and rejuvenation of wonderful well-built homes to provide that needed housing.   Chary was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2012 and serves as Secretary.

Sarah Crosby has lived on the island full-time since 1997, though has been coming here since the late ’70s.  Now retired, she has worked as a volunteer for many island organizations including the Community Theater and the Library as well as several other non-profits.  After a career first in banking and later in the travel industry, she turned her sights on politics and good government.
  Sarah joined the Home Trust board in November of 2014 and now serves as the Board Chair.  She is currently on the board of the League of Women Voters of the San Juans and has been its Program Chair for five years.  When not working with the Home Trust, League and other non profits she enjoys film, gardening, travel and reading above all.  Her interest in the Home Trust relates to feeling strongly that we are a stronger community if we all work for and with each other to build that community.  Having a population of diverse ages, economic levels, ethnicity, backgrounds and talents has the best chance of surviving well and rising to the challenges of our modern world.   Sarah is Chair of the Home Trust Board and was elected in 2014.

Gay Graham – Since graduating from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, I have had many opportunities, including full-time volunteering for the re-election of my Congresswoman from the 1st. District in Oregon and then serving as one of her staffers in the Portland office for two and a half years. I was elected to the Lake Oswego, Oregon, City Council and served for six years until I reached term limit.  Until 2005, when we bought a Cannery Village condo, my husband, Ron Hanson, and I had been island wannabes.  The “commute” from Lake Oswego to Friday Harbor grew very tiresome, so we sold our home of twenty-eight years, sold the condo and bought our home on Laughing Meadow Lane in 2013.  My volunteering here on SJI has primarily been focused on the philanthropic activities of Soroptimists of Friday Harbor with emphasis on fund raising.  The Household Essentials Program for the Family Resource Center was my brain-child, but it’s the FRC who ran with the idea and made it the success that it is today.  I am a member of the Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund and am currently coordinating the publication of a Community Resource Guide.  I believe that affordable housing is essential in strengthening our island’s economic health, viability and livability.   Gay was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2016.

Marilyn Gresseth – Marilyn is totally a NW gal, growing up east of Seattle and summers fishing and beachcombing around Puget Sound, but did not discover the San Juan Islands until she was in college. She and her husband John, an architect, moved to San Juan Island in 1992, buying an old farm house that they are still remodeling.  In 1994, Marilyn opened the Garden Path Café, which she operated for 18 years.  It was her employees who originally brought the Island housing problem to her attention.  Marilyn and John have two sons who work in the family’s architectural office.  She works for them in the office part time, spending the rest of her time gardening, with her family, and volunteering.  She has done everything from managing a community P-patch, to politics, to most recently being the treasurer of the San Juan County Economic Development Council.  She looks forward to helping with the Home Trust in the coming years. Marilyn was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2017.

Robert Kleven, AIA, CPHC – Bob first visited the Northwest in 1986 with his wife and son and immediately fell in love with San Juan Island.  Avid sailors and outdoor enthusiasts, the Kleven family immediately sold their home in Florida and moved to the Seattle/Tacoma area to take advantage of all that the Northwest has to offer.  They finally ‘made the leap’ by moving  to Friday Harbor in January of 2015.  Bob has worked in the architectural field since the 1970s and became licensed in 1982.  He currently maintains licensure in the states of Washington and Alaska.  He has had long-standing interests in housing, energy conservation and sustainability, and he recently acquired Certified Passive House Consultant status.  He began his career as a hospital designer and planner, but for most of the last 35 years, he has worked primarily in the private sector on larger-scale multifamily residential, hospitality and commercial/retail projects.  He served as a Principal and Director of Design in a mid-sized firm for many years and then as Director of Architecture for a large development company.  Along the way, he provided custom design and construction document services to Habitat for Humanity families in the greater Tacoma area.  Bob believes in the importance of finding solutions that are affordable, comfortable, and a source of pride for the new owners and the community.  Years ago, he first became aware of the daunting housing affordability issue faced by workers in large cities and in remote destination communities, much like what we are seeing now right here on the island,  He believes we are further constrained by our relative isolation and, therefore, the importance of finding and providing permanently affordable housing opportunities is all the more pressing.   Bob was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2016.

Faim Melic – “I came to the island in 1998 with my wife Dina, looking for a better life after leaving war-torn Bosnia & Herzegovina.  I was the first to buy a Home Trust home (2004). Having affordable housing enabled me to save some money and I started my own masonry business, which I have owned for the past 10 years.  Affordable housing concerns me since many people can’t afford to live here, and people like me can’t find workers. I look forward to contributing my time to the Home Trust and its mission of permanently affordable housing for low and moderate-income residents of San Juan Island.” Faim was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2017.

Bridget Nyberg was raised in Cowlitz County and graduated from the University of Washington in 1997.  In the following years she worked in administrative and planning positions in Seattle.  Bridget moved to San Juan Island in 2002 and has since worked in numerous, varied settings.  She and her two lovely children are the very happy occupants of a Home Trust home, and she thinks it is very exciting to be a part of this great island effort – providing fellow community members an opportunity to own cozy, affordable homes of their own.   Bridget was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2016.

Chris Pope – “I came to the island in 1974 with Betsy, my new bride, to join my brother Sam and sister-in-law Anne in a building supply business–Pope Building Supply.  We sold that in 1990, and undertook a property development in town, remodeling six buildings and adding one, along Nichols and A streets, into what is now known as Nichols Walk.  Concerned about the lack of affordable housing and the many challenges that creates for our island community, I joined the board of the Home Trust in its early days and served 4 years.  The Home Trust has come a long way in the years since, and I look forward to rejoining the team to help chart its future.” Chris was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2017.

Chinmayo Ricketts has been a resident of San Juan County since 1974, raised her children on Stuart and San Juan Islands and now has grandchildren here. Through the years Chinmayo has had many varied jobs and vocations.  In total she has been (and still is!) an Artist, Art teacher, early childhood educator; she’s waitressed, hosted, catered, has been a cabinet maker and re-finisher, built boats, done sign painting, fished, gardened and booked music for a small café.  She now books music for the Port of Friday Harbor and does elder care.  Much of Chinmayo’s time has been spent in volunteering: she was a 4- H Leader, helped at the fair and volunteered at the schools.  She created and implemented Public Art in the form of tile murals and beach rock mosaics, working with large numbers of children and adults to complete these Public Art pieces.  In 2012 Chinmayo was thrilled to finally buy her own home in Sun Rise.  After living in her beautiful townhouse for a year she felt it was time to give back and joined the SJCHT Board.  She says she is “always amazed at the volumes of good work our board accomplishes.” Chinmayo served as Board Secretary from 2013-2015 and feels that being on the Board has given her and her community a voice.  In 2014, she was elected to become an Ambassador for the National Community Land Trust Network, one of 6 original Ambassadors nationally.  Six homeowners from CLTs all over the country were chosen and groomed to speak with members of Congress to advocate for more Federal funding for affordable housing in the 2015 Budget.  She continues to train as a CLT Ambassador to better serve her community and help others to experience the wonderful opportunities for the betterment of all through Affordable Homes.   Chinmayo was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2013.

Ashley Sherlock – Ashley graduated from Friday Harbor High School in 2001 and attended Seattle University until 2005. She has worked in the finance and hospitality industries, and recently as a medical assistant, moving back to San Juan Island in 2012.  Ashley volunteers for the Family Umbrella Group (providing scholarships for children in need to attend local preschools), and was recently elected secretary of the Friday Harbor Elementary School PTO. Ashley feels the island has a housing crisis and the Home Trust provides much needed affordable housing to permanent residents, helping support the workforce our island needs to be viable and successful.  In her free time, she enjoys playing at the beach and park with her 6-year-old son and improving their ‘new’ Salal home.  Ashley was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2017.

AJ Tokunaga and her family moved to the beautiful town of Friday Harbor in May 2015. She has been involved with the banking industry for the better part of 20 years with a primary focus in residential lending; her background includes many years of focusing on low-moderate income loans and first-time homebuyer education. She has volunteered for various organizations and causes that are dear to her heart and she is looking forward to assisting the Home Trust achieve their mission of creating permanently affordable housing for low-to-moderate income residents of Friday Harbor.  AJ was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2017.

Karen Vedder has lived on San Juan Island since l974.  She and her husband Jim took advantage of the owner builder ordinance to build their affordable pole house from trees on their property.  Karen has worked as a biologist at the UW marine lab; been a newspaper reporter covering county government; and, more recently, served as the chief civil deputy for San Juan County.  Since retiring she has worked and volunteered for the Land Bank.  She believes that the vibrant culture of the island is dependent on a diverse community.  Without affordable housing the island becomes an enclave of the affluent and that is a future that none of us wants.  She looks forward to working with the other board members to continue to provide attractive homes for people who would otherwise not be able to be homeowners.  Karen was elected to the Home Trust Board in 2017.