After graduating with a BA from University of Nevada, Kait traveled around South America to slowly learn, but quickly forget, the Spanish language. One of her most memorable and rewarding experiences abroad was living in the small village of Urubamba, Peru where she volunteered as an assistant teacher and community outreach coordinator at an orphanage and school for children with disabilities. The children and teachers of Urubamba shaped Kait’s commitment to building inclusion in communities.
Kait started working at Max Higbee Center in 2013 as the Program Manager where she enjoyed sharing her love for outdoor recreation. Kait enthusiastically developed and managed the Higbee Hikers Program that explored the incredible Bellingham trail network. In 2014, Kait took on a new leadership role as the Executive Director that she describes as a joyful experience of working with MHC's passionate staff and dedicated Board to grow programs, create new partnerships, and envision a caring and inclusive community where everyone belongs.
After joining Max Higbee Center as a Recreation Leader in July 2017, Alyssa knew she had found the opportunity to strengthen community resilience for which she had been searching. She has been a community supporter of Max Higbee Center for many years, primarily through volunteering with April Brew's Day, and is excited to support MHC through her role as Program Director. Alyssa holds an MS degree in Resilient & Sustainable Communities and an Assistive Technology Applications Certificate from California State University Northridge, both of which she pursued after her fantastic interdisciplinary Bachelor's degree experience in Bellingham's very own Fairhaven College. Alyssa is passionate about working with people to facilitate access, success, and an equitable, joyful, and sustainable community. She enjoys spending down time on her mini farm, slow hiking with her rescue dog, and staying up too late reading good books.
Doug has been working at the Max Higbee Center since June of 2015, but this isn't his first rodeo. Years ago Doug was told that he could go to the zoo if he came and volunteered at a camp for children with special needs. Although he thought he'd be volunteering for one day, he instead spent seven summers there, eventually even working as the camp director. After getting an English degree from WWU, he continued working with people with disabilities, this time in the Bellingham School District. After working as a substitute, he found a job for a few years as a paraeducator in the Life Skills classrooms at Sehome High School, where he also volunteered as a JV baseball coach. In his spare time, Doug enjoys running when he finally talks himself into it, reading, and paying way too much attention to the Mariners for how bad they usually are. His favorite part about the Max Higbee Center is getting into conversations with members, especially conversations that make him or the members laugh.
Ana is thrilled to be joining the Max Higbee Center in moving Whatcom County towards a more inclusive, just, and thriving community. She’s called Bellingham home for the past four years, working in jobs that have all revolved around connecting people to outdoor spaces. She believes that play is the best way to learn; about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Ana is excited about connecting members of the MHC to the many opportunities of play our community has to offer! Through this work she hopes to become a better advocate for people with disabilities and other folks in marginalized communities. Outside of work, Ana enjoys hiking, cooking, biking, gardening, and spending time with her people.
Recreation Services Director
Sam first got involved with the Max Higbee Center as an intern during the winter of 2019. During her internship, she helped coordinate volunteers for the Hearty Party 5k before transitioning to group program support for the remainder of the quarter. She graduated from WWU in June 2019 with a degree in Human Services and became a Recreation Leader in September 2019. She was thrilled to be a part of such a fun and inclusive Bellingham community and looked forward to learning from and sharing creative ideas with members and staff along the way! In February 2022, Sam took on the role of Recreation Services Manager. She is looking forward to creating a new one-on-one service for our community members, as well as expanding on our current one-on-one offerings. It has been a unique challenge navigating the past couple of years, but she hopes to continue building strong community connections while respecting the health and safety of those we serve. When she is not working she can be found rollerblading around town (as long as it's not raining), exploring the many trails that Bellingham has to offer, or painting on miniature canvases. But most of all she enjoys staying in with her cats and reading a good book.
Community Connections Coordinator
Ronnie moved to Bellingham in 2016 to attend Western Washington University. She had a couple majors in mind but knew she wanted to work in a setting with folks with disabilities. She found out about the Therapeutic Recreation major and never looked back! Being able to combine her love for recreation along with her passion for inclusivity has been a dream come true. Now as a graduate she has fallen in love with Bellingham and is always looking for ways to get more involved in the community. Ronnie loves to spend time outside, read, and watch Disney movies.
Kari started at Max Higbee Center in 2017. Before moving to Bellingham, she served 8 years in the Navy and began volunteering as a trip leader for Military Outdoor Recreation, which soon led to a job as a guide. It was quickly apparent that her passion was in building community through helping others and providing experiences in the field of recreation. After completing her service, she was introduced to the Therapeutic Recreation program through WWU. She first worked with MHC through the recreation program, which inspired her to seek an internship in a community setting at the National Ability Center and solidified her choice to continue her career in community recreation. She graduated in March of 2017 and became a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Kari started out as a Recreation Mentor, continued on as a Recreation Leader and later, Program Manager, and now lives in Maine with her pup Karma. Kari continues to support Max Higbee Center in an administrative role.
Weekend Program Coordinator
Zach first discovered Max Higbee through the Recreation program during his first year at Western Washington University. Throughout his college years, he volunteered for a variety of the center's programs and events. After graduating in March of 2018, the chance to take on the role of Recreation Leader was possible, so he leaped on the opportunity. With his passion for inclusive play and an energetic spirit, he works hard to create a fun and welcoming environment. He says that his daily goal is to bridge the gaps between any and all demographics who participate in recreation programs. He spends his free time enjoying the outdoors, playing Magic the Gathering, and "hanging" out in his hammock.
Kristina is currently attending Western Washington University, soon to graduate with a degree in human services and communication along with a minor in gender studies. She was first introduced to Max Higbee Center on her hunt to find an internship. She started interning in April 2018, but ended up falling in love with everything that makes Max Higbee Center such an empowering community, so she has been an official staff member since June 2018. Her goal is to create a welcoming environment where members can thrive through the intersections of community, self-agency, friendships, recreational activities, and laughter.
Kristina’s interest in working with people with disabilities stems from her close relationship with her nephew who has a disability. This also led her to work in a classroom environment for a year, aiding with providing an education for young adults with disabilities in 2012. Her love for recreation sparked after moving to Bellingham from Seattle for university. Her favorite activities to do outside of Max Higbee Center include kayaking, skiing, yoga, skateboarding, plant-based cooking, reading comic books, and playing various games with her partner and friends.
Kyann Flint, a Recreation Leader at Max Higbee, is a disabled woman living life with the motto of “Defying the Defined Disability.” She strives to educate society on how social barriers, like ignorance and ableism, limit the disability community. Kyann is also the Director of Accessibility for Wandke Consulting, a member of the CareerConnect Committee through the APH, and a mentor for the Here Now Next Pilot Program through Seattle Children’s Hospital. Kyann has an extensive background in speaking with diverse audiences and is a lover of coffee and travel.
Jackie started participating in Special Olympics unified sports through their time at Western Washington University in 2014. Many of the athletes attended Max Higbee Center, as well, which is how Jackie got involved volunteering. Through both these opportunities, Jackie experienced an environment that was accommodating and accepting. This was important to them, being someone who is neurodivergent. Jackie then went on to become a Job Coach, still working with people with disabilities but came back to Max Higbee to focus on fun and recreation. They believe recreation and connection to others is often devalued but crucial to all our lives and well being. Jackie loves to spend time outside and learn new things (they often have a new hobby every couple weeks or months but often come back to painting and group activities).
Ever since moving to Bellingham, Sam has been excited about the existence of the Max Higbee Center and feels very lucky to have gotten to work there as a Recreation Leader starting in the fall of 2022. Sam has always been passionate about creating accessible recreational opportunities and encouraging creative, open-minded, and genuinely welcoming communities, both of which are found in abundance at Max Higbee. Sam grew up in Michigan on the greatest lake of all, then moved to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon where she studied Family and Human Services, Special Education, and Environmental Studies. She has found great joy getting to work with many wonderful people through roles as a Special Olympics coach, art class assistant, adaptive recreation instructor, inclusion specialist/camp counselor, and paraeducator for a lovely little group of third-grade buddies.
When she’s not at work (and sometimes when she is at work) Sam loves dancing, being outside, knitting too many hats, playing cards, riling up other people’s dogs, and generally romping around.
Sam "Bird" Burdic
Say hello to Bird! He is thrilled to join the Max Higbee Center team after volunteering for several programs starting at the end of 2019. Though his name is Sam, MHC has many "Sams" on the team, so feel free to call him by his nickname: Bird!
After transferring to the University of Washington from Whatcom Community College, Bird realized he missed the community of Bellingham and contributing to people's well-being through his work. He moved back and became a Licensed Massage Therapist through WCC, and also had the opportunity to become a direct support professional for people with disabilities. After helping connect people to themselves and to their communities, Bird is excited to help support more folks in accessing the community in fun ways!
When not working, Bird enjoys meditation, yoga, playing drums, swimming, and learning and practicing healthy body mechanics.
Logan Hyer-Long joined the Max Higbee Center after graduating from Western Washington University in 2022 with a degree in Theatre Education. Through teaching theatre at BAAY and Taproot Theatre Company, they became passionate about increasing access to the arts and recreation. He believes communities have the power to create happy and meaningful lives and that recreation provides a clear path toward connection. Logan is a passionate member of the Bellingham community and is dedicated to keeping it a place full of love, hope, and play. Outside of the Max Higbee Center you can find them involved in local theatre, playing music, refereeing soccer games, and hiking in the rain.
Fina was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington and lived in several places in the Pacific Northwest before arriving in Bellingham in April in 2022. They became a Recreational Mentor at the Max Higbee Center in January of 2023 and are exuberant to be working somewhere that invites independence, relationship building, and creative silliness. Fina's passion for supporting individuals with disabilities is strongly connected to being raised by a physically disabled mother, who began developing Primary Lateral Sclerosis soon after they were born. Fina is an artist of several sorts including painting, sculpture building, modern dancing, (occasionally) music, and worked for Hilltop Artists as a flame-worker for four years before moving out of Tacoma. In their free time, you can find Fina creating, reading novels, or wandering the forests.
Eric has spent a large part of his life working in resorts and restaurants around the country as a bartender, waiter, and manager. He's lived in 10 different states including Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and Florida (all the four corners).
While living in Alaska he began volunteering with people with disabilities through a program called ORCA (outdoor recreation and community access). After a year of volunteering, he was hired as the Activities Coordinator for the program and worked there for several years. With ORCA, he took groups of people on all sorts of outdoor adventures, including hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing. In the years since he's also worked for LOV-Dane (Madison, WI) helping people with disabilities get more connected in their communities, and also with crisis response. Most recently, he's been volunteering with the Horse Heritage Program helping people develop skills and confidence from horseback riding.
In his spare time, he enjoys anything outdoors and attending live music events.
Sage moved to Bellingham in 2021 to begin attending Western Washington University. Her love for adventure in the outdoors inspired her to pursue a major in Recreation Management and Leadership while minoring in Environmental Education. Sage believes in creating welcoming, equitable recreation opportunities for all individuals, especially those with marginalized identities. After their involvement in adaptive recreation through Camp TEAM in 2022, they became interested in supporting individuals with disabilities through new recreation experiences and personal development. Sage’s passion for accessible, community oriented recreation engagement inevitably led them to Max Higbee in 2023. Sage loves to spread joy through her exuberant leadership and encourages members to be silly and have fun!
Outside of work, Sage is a full time student who enjoys hiking, climbing, yoga, crocheting and spending time in nature!
Makenna has been involved with Max Higbee Center since 2008. She has primarily volunteered at the Weekend Program and events, such as April Brews Day. In addition to volunteering at Max Higbee Center, Makenna worked at The Arc of Whatcom County as the Volunteer Coordinator for seven years, and volunteered at the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention for five years.
Makenna enjoys helping members with activities at Max Higbee Center. She also likes hanging out with friends, using her computer, and watching a variety of shows on different streaming services.