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Dan Vradenburg Volunteer of the Month, November 2014

By November 5, 2014January 28th, 2015Front Page, Volunteer

My home and heart belong to the northwest.  Born in Seattle, I have briefly ventured away three times:  for three years to attend law school in St. Louis, MO.; for one year with my wife Jennifer to work on a new program in the Mojave Desert at Ridgecrest, CA; and for two years when we (and our two children Nick and Ali) moved to Philadelphia, PA. where we both worked at Boeing Helicopters.  But during those brief times away we have always felt the pull to return to our “home” in the northwest.

For the past 19 years home has been on the eastside.  Three years ago we moved to Issaquah Highlands.  Before that we lived in Lakemont on Cougar Mountain adjacent to Issaquah.  We were drawn to the Issaquah Highlands for its livability and harmony with our environment.  How many places can you experience on literally a daily basis the ability to walk to a great restaurant or a world class theater or go the other direction and be immersed on a trail in the woods or be thrilled by the sight of a blue heron in flight or deer that cross your path?

I currently volunteer in the Issaquah Highlands because the enhancement and vibrancy of our neighborhood matters to me and my family.

My volunteering began over 20 years ago when our children started daycare.  I volunteered and served on the Board of Directors of KIDSPACE in Seattle and New Gulph Children’s Center in Villanova, PA.  I also served on the Board of Directors of Cedar Grove Farms Homeowners Association in Broomall, PA.

My next volunteer experience occurred about a year later after we had returned to the northwest and were walking our two children (ages 3 and 5) into their classes for the first day at their new school, The Open Window School (a school for highly capable students).  Another parent informed us that the head of school had just been fired and asked what we were going to do.  I said we liked the kids’ teachers so we plan to hang in there, but maybe I will get involved.  The school was a sub-lessee to the YMCA who had a lease from the Bellevue School district.  The school population had dropped from 105 to 85.  The next month, four of us were elected to the Board of Trustees.  I was elected Vice President and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and served in that capacity for three years as well as an additional three years as President of the Board of Trustees.  During that period of time I lead the development of their strategic plan as well as the planning, development and construction of a new building near the top of Cougar Mountain for 315 students.

This very rewarding experience taught me that a few dedicated passionate individuals can make a significant difference.  What you receive in return is even greater.  It always makes me ask what you want your legacy to be.  Are you going to be on the sidelines or are you in the game on the field.  I am always looking for a way to make things happen in a way that accommodates everyone’s interests.

Less than a year after we moved into our home in Issaquah Highlands we received notice of a proposed new Lakeside Urban Village located across from the Park and Ride and continuing up the hill adjacent our home, located at the beginning of Katsura Street.  I immediately got connected with a number of my neighbors. The proposal called for erection of nearly 400 apartment and townhomes up to seven stories high. This seemed incongruous with surrounding primarily 2 story single family homes in the Issaquah Highlands. The next several months were filled with meetings, letters, and speeches to the Urban Village Development Council, Issaquah Development project managers and staff, the Issaquah City Council and the developers.  We were ultimately able to reach an agreement that the maximum height would be four stories across from the Park and Ride and three stories (with the first story below grade) for the townhomes on the hill adjacent to the single family dwellings.

This positive experience energized me to seek an opening on the Board of Directors for the Issaquah Highlands Community Association.  I have served on the Board the past 15 months as well as on the Architectural Review Committee.  In August this year I was elected to serve as Vice President of the Board.  As a member of the Board, my goals are to ensure Issaquah Highlands remains the most livable planned community achievable in harmony with our environment and the continued development of our community and adjacent developments as well as to create a collaborative, win-win relationship between and amongst the Board of Directors and the neighborhoods of Issaquah Highlands.

My recommendation to you is very simple.  Volunteer early and volunteer often.  It is a rewarding experience and you can make a great difference.

Dan Vradenburg