For 11 years, I have had the honor of serving as executive director of Highlands Council. After exploring what is next for me professionally, I accepted a position with Visit Issaquah; my last day at Highlands Council is Feb. 28. This new role will provide me the opportunity to use the community-building skills honed at Highlands Council to support Issaquah’s economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic and beyond.
In the last two years as executive director, I led Highlands Council to achieve three significant organizational goals, including completing the community rebranding project, setting up a community shuttle program to solve stakeholder mobility challenges, and establishing the Issaquah Highlands Community Fund to steward charitable contributions to benefit our urban village. I am also proud to have led the organization out of the ashes of the 2009 recession to the pinnacle of performance by March 2020, when the organization was debt-free and could provide healthcare benefits to employees.
During my tenure, Blakely Hall was well-maintained and upgraded with sound baffling and an art gallery and art-making space, funded primarily by grants. Highlands Day grew from a block party to a professionally-produced, award-winning summer festival. Connections earned national recognition, and our digital media envied by surrounding neighborhoods in the region. I founded the Highlands Youth (HY) Advisory Board; today, neighborhood families covet a seat on the HY. I am also proud that the community enjoys 10 Little Free Libraries, a program I established in 2013.
I am most proud of recruiting, developing, and retaining the most talented and mission-dedicated staff in our organization’s history. I am confident the team will continue to execute with excellence as the Highlands Council Board of Trustees determines next steps regarding organizational leadership and greater community relations.
My family still lives in Issaquah Highlands and loves this urban village. I look forward to having more time to visit with neighbors at community events as a fellow guest. See you around the neighborhood!
Christy Garrard was the executive director of Highlands Council, and is a Dahlia Park resident.