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 Manager
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.
Virtual Program Coordinator
Art began working at the Max Higbee Center in March of 2017! He has been active in experiencing all programs at the center! He is pursuing a degree in Recreation from WWU, and has an Associate's Degree from Whatcom Community College. Art moved to Washington in 2006, he spent 2 years living in Seattle and working for the Parks Department at Garfield Community Center before moving to Bellingham to pursue education. He originally is from Anchorage, Alaska, where he has 13 years of experience with Parks and Recreation eventually becoming the Recreation Supervisor for Citywide Youth Programs. His sister Sarah was involved in Special Olympics in Anchorage and that inspired Art to volunteer with the organization. His sister is also a new member at the center.
Art is inspired to help build new communities, strengthen existing communities, to help build connections between people by creating shared experiences and the challenge of trying new things, and creating opportunities to give back!
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.
This is Kelsea! She began working with the Max Higbee Center in 2017 as a Recreation Mentor. Her interest in the MHC vision began when she started volunteering there through Western Washington University’s Therapeutic Recreation program. During the Rec program, Kelsea also worked as a Therapeutic Recreation intern at the Utah State Hospital’s forensics unit in the Summer of 2016. There, she developed and implemented recreation programs for those with various mental illnesses and criminal charges. Her passion for recreation spawned from her participation in an outdoor leadership organization for four years in high school and early college. During those and subsequent years, she discovered what an important role recreation served in creating meaningful human connection while also allowing individuals to lead an independent, self-directed lifestyle. To Kelsea, recreation means a space where curiosity and creativity are manifested, where everyone can be their genuine and unique selves, where cultural and physical barriers are broken down, where individual potentials are tapped, and where people come together out of a desire for enjoyment of the richness of life! These are spaces Kelsea loves creating and strengthening with the folks at the Max Higbee Center!
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.
Marie is currently attending Western Washington University as a student at Fairhaven College where she is pursuing an Interdisciplinary Concentration with a focus on Community Building in Education. Along with her major, she is also working on double minoring in Education & Social Justice and Environmental Justice. In her hometown, Fort Collins, Colorado, Marie graduated from an expeditionary learning school where she discovered her love for the outdoors and her passion for community. Marie has volunteered as a counselor for an outdoor recreation camp in Colorado as well as a one on one support staff for teenagers at a science based camp in Oregon. One of her favorite community experiences was the time she spent in Isla Mujeres, Mexico in January and December of 2017. Here, she worked in collaboration with a local NGO as a dental assistant to provide dental services to children, teenagers, and young adults. Through these experiences Marie discovered the joy and excitement of working with others to foster community and teach applicable life skills that allow people of all demographics to pursue their interests. She is excited to be working at Max Higbee where she can do exactly that! In her spare time, you can find Marie outside, either rock climbing, hiking, or working on her latest art project.
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.
Neco - pronouns: she, they, or Neco
Neco is originally from Minneapolis, MN and from a young age has participated in theatre and various performing arts. She has worked in theatre and arts education since 2012 and graduated from Western in 2020 with degrees in Theatre Performance, and Exceptionality & Disability, and a minor in Education and Social Justice.
Neco's hobbies include traveling, improv, video games, and searching for the best mac and cheese. They love teaching theatre in all-ability inclusive settings and increasing access to performing arts in the disability community! Everyone has creativity, talent, and art to share, and Neco is thrilled to be involved in any part of an artists' journey.
Starting as an intern at Max Higbee in the Spring of 2019, they officially joined the team in September 2019 working with the after-school program. She now works remotely from Minnesota in virtual programs!
Jaiya is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina and took on an interest in rehabilitative therapy from a young age. Jaiya has been shadowing and studying therapy ever since 2009 and is completing her therapeutic recreation course at WWU, where she first participated at Max Higbee as a volunteer. Jaiya officially joined the Max Higbee staff in September 2021, working as a recreation leader. Her career goals are to work in adaptive sports and recreation, and eventually become an occupational therapist. Jaiya’s hobbies include drawing, creative writing, video games, and walking wherever see can.
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.
Brenna moved to Bellingham in 2021 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin- Madison with a degree in Rehabilitation Psychology. Brenna is very excited to be working with the Max Higbee center and hopes to bring her love for outdoor activities along with her excitement for trying new things to her position working with the Rec program. She comes to Max Higbee with experience interning with her university’s Adapted Fitness program, where she worked with community member to develop and work towards health and lifestyle goals. Additionally, Brenna is passionate about creating inclusive and accessible spaces as well as building community, and know Max Higbee is the perfect place for both!
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).
Babak earned his BS in Economics at CWU right as COVID-19 rocked our world. Economics and finance did not turn out to be his passion and so he immersed himself in the community here in Bellingham and is currently involved in peer mentoring and support services at Whatcom Community College while pursuing his degree in Mechanical Engineering. Babak values his Bellingham community greatly, he works hard to stay involved and grow as a human being. Babak Joined the Max Higbee Center in July of 2022 as a recreation leader because he felt that MHC values aligned with is own. He loves the natural beauty of our region and believes everyone should have a chance to enjoy it and find respect for it regardless of their physical or intellectual ability. Babak believes he has a responsibility to propagate a sense of community, respect for nature and social service.