Team

We are a committed team of people who believe in the vitality and possibility that every community offers. The Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island, outside of Seattle, WA., is our fiscal agent.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Jerry Millhon

Team Leader

Jerry Millhon founded Thriving Communities as an initiative of the Whidbey Institute while he was the institute’s Executive Director from 2010-2015. His skill in organizing and managing projects and mentoring leaders helped the institute recommit to teaching and supporting leaders of all levels, from local to global. He launched Thriving Communities in 2011 to focus on celebrating, connecting, filming, and encouraging people who are building better futures close to home—leaders of all ages and experiences who are facing local challenges head-on.

Hannah Guggenheim

Filmmaker, Freeland, Washington

Hannah Guggenheim is a documentary filmmaker. Her work varies from screening films at festivals to teaching in departments of universities, to engaging in creative social justice collaborations. She is also the founder of Hannah Guggenheim Films, directing, shooting, and editing social impact stories for PBS, nonprofits, governmental agencies, and independent artists. She has worked for premier branding agencies and designers as well as worked on innovative guerilla marketing campaigns. Her experience in education ranges from teaching documentary filmmaking at San Francisco State University, digital editing at UC Monterey Bay, and film production at Ex’Pression College for Digital Arts. She lives with her wife and son on Whidbey Island.

Michael B. Maine

Media Consultant

Michael B. Maine is a socially engaged artist who focuses his work primarily around issues of identity, systems, and social equity. The goal of his work is to encourage people to think beyond their assumptions help reach their own conclusions on how to change themselves and their environment. Michael finds inspiration within the various communities in which he is engaged. He organized We Out Here, a six-day festival celebrating Black excellence in the Seattle area in 2019 and has served as board president for both Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking and Reel Grrls.

Ross Monagle

Filmmaker

Ross Monagle is a filmmaker in Milwaukee, WI. He has a passion for producing videos about people and organizations who have unique and impactful story to tell. In Milwaukee, he works at a music and video production studio as a videographer and editor, working on everything from short web-based video, :30 TV spots, and feature-length documentary films. Ross enjoys every opportunity he gets with Thriving Communities to meet new individuals in all parts of the country, learn what it means to be part of a community, and shine a light (literally) on the people making a difference. Though he rarely smiles on set, it's not because he isn't having the time of his life, but because his lovely wife and 3 kids woke him up too early.

Ann Jess

Visual Graphics

Visual Graphics of all gatherings. See below for bio.

EMERITA CO-INSPIRATORS FOR THRIVING COMMUNITIES

Lynne Willeford

Early Co-inspirator

Lynn Murray Willeford touched many lives on South Whidbey and beyond with her kindness, focus on community, her writing, and her brilliance. She was the co-inspirator for Thriving Communities in 2011. She died in February of 2022. She left a sustaining legacy of community activism, inspiration, and collaboration on Whidbey Island. She is a legend and a model for our work.

Stephan Schwarts

Friend +Early Advocate

Stephan Schwartz is the columnist for the journal Explore and editor of the daily web publication Schwartzreport.net in both of which he covers trends that are affecting the future. He also writes regularly for The Huffington Post. 

ADVISOR TEAM

Andrea Caupain

Advisor

As CEO of Seattle’s Byrd Barr Place, Andrea leads an organization committed to building more equitable and vibrant local economies and developing new approaches to empowering low-income people. During more than 20 years as a passionate advocate for racial and social equity, she has worked on the legislative side as well, for the Governor’s Commission on African-American Affairs and with the Washington State House of Representatives. Andrea’s vision puts people, equity, and communities of color at the center of a movement to advance intergenerational well-being in Washington State.

Aimie Vallat

Advisor

Aimie created REEL WITNESS in 2009 to produce documentaries to build conversations around tolerance, peace, and respect for our diverse human voices. Since then, RW has developed films about sustainability, food security, and our refugee community. RW created powerful visual stories for Thriving Communities for six years, celebrating grassroots leaders and groups that are creating lasting change in the Pacific Northwest. Present Moment, RW’s first documentary, was nominated for an Emmy award in 2015. After the first Travel Ban issued by the US government in 2017, RW also made Little Rebel about an asylum seeker from The Gambia, and in 2019, This Being Human, the story of an unaccompanied minor who fled Iraq to seek an education in America.

Ann Jess

Advisor

Anne has always been a visual thinker. In the math and computer science fields, she honed her skills in systems thinking, analysis, process mapping, deep-listening, and synthesizing skills. She has always appreciated the arts, and now blends her business skills and artistic flair to create Live Graphical Recordings (visual representations) for change initiatives. Anne also facilitates using large Visual Templates (guides) and creates Synthesis Charts (timelines and story maps). Anne's experience includes software development, systems analysis, database design, organizational consultation, coaching, and facilitation. She received her MA in Organizational Development at Seattle University. She believes in the power of visuals. See examples of Anne's work at TheDoodleBiz.com.

Anne Stadler

Advisor

Anne is a wise elder. Her specialty is offering services that support self-organizing individual and collective leadership. She opens space for the emergence of spirited leadership and inspired forms for collective evolution. A founder and organizer of local, national, and international peace efforts, and an award-winning television producer at KING 5-TV in Seattle Washington, Anne has decades of experience in guiding the formation of emergent communities.  She is a pioneer and fluent practitioner of Open Space Technology and Appreciative Inquiry.

Carolyn Tilden

Advisor

Rooted in love, Carolyn cultivates deep relationships so she and others can courageously face their reality and be energized by the possibility of what wants to emerge. Founder of CataQuest Consulting, Carolyn’s leadership development work is grounded by her first-hand experience leading large-scale corporate initiatives as well as her personal journey to overcome roadblocks of her own making. Her work is a catalyst for challenging the status quo by talking about what really matters to inspire reflection and conscious action.

Christopher Thorsen

Advisor

As founder of Quantum Edge, and through roles such as Founding Consultant of Interaction Associates, an internationally known facilitation and training firm, Chris has advised senior executives of major corporations and non-profit organizations for over 40 years. He has helped CXOs exponentially grow companies, revitalize moribund cultures, establish global presences, and develop entirely new technologies. He taught conflict resolution to representatives of opposing factions during a war in Cyprus. A master and teacher of Aikido, Chris pioneered the application of principles of Aikido [The Art of Peace] and Bohmian Dialogue [from the work of David Bohm] to leadership, team synergy, and organizational strategy. He is also a master of Haiku, the Zen poetry of deep presence in Nature.

Dale Neinow

Advisor

Dale Nienow is the Former ED Center for Ethical Leadership, Seattle, WA. Dale creates Gracious Space where people can work across boundaries to form collective leadership. He is known for helping people open up to deeper dialogue and new relationships that will move groups and communities forward on their compelling issues.

Eugene “Gus” Newport

Advisor

Eugene "Gus" Newport is a civil rights activist and early architect of the Dudley street Community in Boston, MA. In his hometown of Rochester, NY he began his political career as Chairman of the Monroe County Non-Partisan League. He served as Mayor of Berkeley, CA from 1979 to 1986. As a Martin Luther King Scholar at MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning he began to work with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative now over 25 years of sustainable success.

Jeff Vander Clute

Advisor

Jeff Vander Clute is a veteran technology entrepreneur, consciousness coach, and organizational transformation consultant committed to harmonizing human systems with Earth’s ecosystems. Jeff has grown companies in the online, medical imaging, social enterprise, and consciousness domains, and he has advised numerous other businesses and charitable organizations. Along the way, he has developed unique methods for leadership transformation and inspired decision-making that enable teams to operate with greater wisdom and achieve world-changing results. Jeff delights in helping complex living systems – especially organizations that are contributing strongly to social and environmental well-being – to evolve and thrive during these times of disruption and new possibilities. He is able to see the gifts that are seeking to be born and facilitate the emergence of people's awakened selves in alignment with the trends of shifting consciousness on the planet. He creates and leads retreats, workshops, and other transformational experiences for people who are ready to dive into their radical potential as change agents. Jeff is a longtime member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, past chair of the Source of Synergy Foundation, and a co-founder of The Consciousness of Money, Enlightening Journeys and Expeditions, and Sourcing The Way -- jeffvanderclute.com.

Jim Anderson

Advisor

Jim Anderson is the founder and President of Key-Connections, a leadership development coaching and consulting company located in Evergreen, Colorado. For the past twenty plus years Key-Connections has allowed Jim to focus his attention on creating and applying tools to support individuals and organizations in developing self-awareness, strengthening leadership skills, and consistently achieving desired results.

Rhea Miller

Advisor

Rhea Miller is a social artist and community organizer, speaker, and author of Cloudhand, Clenched Fist: Chaos, Crisis, and the Emergence of Community. She served over 10 years as County Commissioner of San Juan County. While there, she focused on environmental protection and sustainability. Currently, she’s the Community Liaison for the Lopez Community Land Trust. Her TEDx talk “When We Change the Way We look at Things (the Things We Look At Change)” includes stories of unlikely alliances that spurred community action.

Lisa Holden

Advisor

Lisa Holden is the Vice President Accountable Care for Independent Health Care Plan (iCare) located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin since 2014. She is responsible for providing leadership in the design, staffing, and directing of iCare’s care management for more than 40k members across the state. Holden has extensive and varied experience in nonprofit management, government affairs, public policy, coalition building and leadership. She recently co-founded an Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) business with her husband Dan, following an 18-month certification program. They will soon open a nonprofit EFL program for Veterans. 

Danita Green

Advisor

Danita Rountree Green, M.A., TLSC is a wordsmith, trauma healer, and co-CEO of Coming To The Table-RVA, a nonprofit committed to racial healing in the city known as the former Capital of the Confederacy. As the only African American in leadership of an inclusivity group in RVA, she facilitates the "courageous yet clumsy" conversation on race, social equity, and the legacy of the American Slave Trade for a mixed-race audience with over 1200 online members and 300 active participants seeking to heal the wounds of the past.