Our C4C Team
2019 BOARD MEMBERS & ADVISORY Group members
ROBYN HOLDMAN • BOARD PRESIDENT
Robyn grew up in a small farming community near Pendleton, OR. The rural setting cultivated in her an appreciation for hard work and a deep respect for how cooperation and shared purpose—plus a nurturing measure of country diplomacy—often give rise to a warm and satisfying sense of true kinship. Affection for those values guided Robyn’s career aspirations. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from American University in Washington, D.C.
Robyn later became Special Assistant to the Director for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, where she helped coordinate industry development efforts. In addition, she spent nearly a year living in Japan, serving as a cultural ambassador for Oregon to the key industrial district of Toyama, on the Sea of Japan.
In 1998, Robyn moved to Central Oregon and transitioned to a career working with nonprofit organizations—further applying her skills in process and project management to her passions for outreach, community development, team-building and communication. Her experience has included assisting the Boys & Girls Clubs, Hospice of Bend-La Pine, and Volunteers in Medicine. She also helped establish the Nonprofit Resource Council and the Nonprofit Network for Central Oregon.
As she and her husband were looking toward retirement, they desired that sense of familiar connection with others that living in a small community had delivered so poignantly in Robyn’s youth. They moved to Sisters from Bend in 2006.
Robyn learned about Speak Your Peace from a fellow Bend Rotarian—a former Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation president who had guided that area’s implementation of the SYP Civility Project. The program’s tools, Robyn speculated, might serve Sisters well when the community faces challenges.
"I spent almost all of 2015 talking with local residents and leaders about ways Sisters might build a stronger platform for respectful communication—thinking that it could serve us well as we address economic development and societal issues and opportunities.”
Pursuit of that goal ultimately led to the development of the Sisters Country Civility Project—in partnership with SYP—and formation Citizens4Community, for which Robyn currently serves as chairperson.
Bruce Rognlien • BOARD MEMBER
"Given my past experience, it seems natural to help promote smart, healthy growth—in this case, by promoting civility within our community. I’m not shy about speaking up about the importance of civility. And I believe the Sisters Country Civility Project and Speak Your Peace basically help reinforce the "golden rule” in a manner that will help our community build—and rebuild—trust."
Born in LaPorte, IN, Bruce earned a business science degree from UCLA and served in the U.S. Navy before working as an automotive aftermarket rep for A. Walt Runglin Company (1962-1972). Next, as president of Cardillo Travel in Los Angeles, he grew the company into the fourth largest agency in the country. Then, after purchasing Associated Travel from Cardillo in 1980, he led it to become the 13th largest corporate travel management company in the U.S., employing 550 people across 28 states.
Bruce retired from Associated Travel as Chairman Emeritus in 1998 and went on to teach a course in entrepreneurship for four years at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. For many years he has enjoyed finding—and investing in—promising start-ups. Also, Bruce has dedicated countless hours serving on boards for Boy Scouts of America and the Christian International Scholarship Foundation; and he has been involved in community programs including Step Up On Second—which helps those with mental illness recover their lives and productivity.
He and his wife, Marleen, are Sisters residents; they also enjoy visiting Southern California, where their children still reside.
AMY BURGSTAHLER • BOARD MEMBER
As a former newspaper editor, creative director and Sisters City Councilor, Amy brings to C4C her passion for fostering meaningful communication, developing innovative solutions and encouraging civic engagement.
She worked for the Sacramento Bee, the University of California, Davis, and an award-winning midwestern-based advertising agency before relocating to Sisters with her husband and son in 2014.
“Throughout my career I’ve sought to connect people with information and new perspectives and to help highlight stories and values that bring people together and that ultimately build a greater sense of community—a sense of connection that inspires involvement. I was particularly drawn to help develop C4C—and the Civility Project—because of the positive platform it provides to build understanding and increase effective engagement.”
Kent Neff • BOARD MEMBER
Kent has been coming to Sisters Country for more than 40 years—first as an owner of a house in Sisters Country, then as a frequent visitor, and now as a permanent resident. He and his wife, Linda Wolff, live in the City of Sisters.
Inspired by his love for Sisters and his appreciation for the positive attitudes and can-do spirit of its residents, Kent joined Citizens4Community soon after the group's formation. During the last several years, he said, he has observed a number of situations in which area residents voiced their opinions disrespectfully, and communication broke down. He believes this affected the community's ability to work together in Sisters to get things accomplished, especially when the issues were controversial.
"I want to work with other residents of Sisters Country to help our conversations remain respectful, while still encouraging people to freely express their opinions. We need to protect our right to disagree; and I believe we can best protect this right by practicing more civil conversations with each other."
Kent has worked many years as a consultant to organizations, groups and individuals, helping them communicate with each other more respectfully, share their opinions more effectively, and work together more productively. It is experience that he believes will prove helpful to Citizens4Community.
Jane Paxson • BOARD MEMBER
Jane grew up in the small town of Vermillion, South Dakota, and attended the university there. Inspired to see the world, she learned some German and French and went to Europe three times during her college years. After a few years in banking, floral design and real estate in Colorado, Jane and her husband had two daughters. She finished a degree in education at Portland State University and taught elementary school for the Beaverton School District for 24 years. Jane also completed a Masters in Education Administration at Lewis and Clark College.
After retiring in 2014 and traveling in a motor home for six months, Jane and her husband moved to Sisters. She volunteered with Heart of Oregon as C4C brought their tenets to this group of students aged 16-22. She says her work on C4C's Values and Visioning quilt project helped affirm her interest in local volunteerism.
"I and other volunteers asked residents about their vision for the future. It was rewarding seeing the many things which bind Sisters’ residents together—among them a love of nature, mountains, clean air and water, and our small-town feeling. This is a wonderful place to live and still it can be better!”
Now, as chair of the C4C Program Committee, Jane has been working with Wendy Birnbaum, Jodi Winnwalker and a large team of volunteers to develop three summer 2018 events to bring people together for fun, music, dancing and celebration in our beautiful town.
James Barnett • Board member
James Barnett has been an Alaska attorney in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska since 1974. He is former deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and elected member of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly—the city council of Alaska's largest city. Although they maintain their residence in Alaska, he and his wife recently established a second home in Sisters Country.
"Given both my legal background and involvement in Alaska public policy issues over the years, I am keenly aware of C4C's mission and see its use as an opportunity to change the manner of political discourse locally. If done well, C4C's processes can serve as a model for other parts of the state and even the nation in these turbulent times."
Jim has been a volunteer in a number of organizations in Anchorage. Among other things, he was the long-time president of the local historical society and chaired the Anchorage Centennial celebration in 2015. He has written and edited a series of history books on Alaskan themes, including Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage (Univ. of Washington 2015). His latest project was published by Washington State University Press, and a comprehensive analysis on the Anchorage centennial is due from University of Alaska Press later this year.
WENDY BIRNBAUM • ADVISOR/VOLUNTEER
Wendy practiced law for 25 years in Southern California. She was a family law attorney and mediator for 15 years. She has a strong belief in the strength of positive communication to address and resolve issues. While in California, she served on nonprofit boards for homes for abused children, Orange County Bar Association and committees for food banks, education and mentoring.
She closed her law practice in 2005 to travel and explore the world. She and her husband lived in Peru for 8 months in 2007. For six months they lived in a small Peruvian city in the Andes where she volunteered to work with indigenous children as part of an after school and Saturday program. Through her absorption of the culture, people, language and rhythm of life, she gained a wealth of appreciation for life’s values and meaning and the art of communication beyond language.
Wendy and her husband Bill moved to Sisters in 2008. She was the Coordinator for the Hispanic Coalition English classes for Hispanic adults in Sisters and childcare for 3 1/2 years. The English classes offered an opportunity for adults to learn English and for the Anglo tutors and Hispanic students to build relationships and a sense of mutual community which transcend to today. She served on the Community Schools Committee as a representative for the Hispanic Coalition to assure that the Hispanic students and families received all services available to them. She currently chairs the September All-Community Fiesta (Fiesta de Independencia) presented by C4C to help strengthen and build relationships among our diverse local populations. Wendy also is a mentor for the ASPIRE program for high school juniors and seniors to help them focus on their plans after high school.
“I am passionate about the opportunities for the residents of Sisters to embrace and adopt C4C's Civility Project to engage in respectful communication about the issues that face this rich and wonderful community, and to reach consensus that will enhance living here.”
Clark Brody • ADVISOR
A career educator, Clark's experience spans elementary to high school, and includes positions from music teacher, to principal, to assistant superintendent for a school district. He retired from the Department of Education as Deputy Superintendent. As a state level administrator, there were always diverse perspectives to account for; and his focus was to be sure everyone had an opportunity to be heard and understood. Clark brings to C4C a passion for collaboration and skills in organization, communication and process development.
He and his wife love Sisters Country and have called it home for the past six years. During that time, he said he has observed a number of challenges reported by the media—issues that deteriorated and became personal and unpleasant.
"Through C4C, I want to inspire opportunities for learning. And I want to help our community develop tools to improve communication in a manner that also remains respectful to others who do not share the same point of view. As we improve communication, I believe it will foster more creative problem solving and improved collaboration in Sisters Country."
Jeff Campbell • AdvisoR
Jeff was born and raised in Eastern Oregon, where an early life full of physically demanding work and a penchant for tinkering with all things mechanical and electronic led to his decision to pursue higher education. The first of his family to go to college, Jeff carved a path familiar to many but foreign to him.
After earning a degree in engineering, California’s Silicon Valley beckoned. Jeff spent 15 years in the nation’s heart of high tech, building a successful career in the electronics industry and ultimately traveling the globe. During a trip to Bangalore, India, to provide supervision on construction of a new engineering facility for Juniper Networks, Inc. he was struck by the disparity of class and caste; and in him a new understanding of self developed. These experiences compelled Jeff to provide encouragement and financial resources for family and friends to pursue higher education.
After years in the city, that familiar, persuasive voice of rural Oregon remained—tugging—coaxing a return. And, in 2006, Jeff came back to his home state, choosing to settle in Sisters Country. He spends his personal time in the outdoors, skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months and playing golf, cycling, hiking and running in warmer months. The outdoors and exercise have always been somewhat of an obsession for Jeff, and a better place than Central Oregon was not to be found.
His lifelong desires to contribute and to make a difference led him to pursue a seat on the Sisters Park & Recreation District board of directors. First elected in 2009, Jeff helped grow SPRD into the vital, responsive and fiscally sound community asset it is today. He currently serves as board chair.
Jeff joined Citizens4Community after attending C4C’s Speak Your Peace events held in January. He concluded that supporting and encouraging civility could help fundamentally strengthen Sisters Country.
He brings to C4C strong management skills, a proclivity toward innovative thinking, a keen belief in self-determination and a broad range of edifying life experiences—from years of working traditional jobs to leading an international engineering organization. His diverse background and his zeal for collaboration and problem solving inform his community service and help drive his passion for it.
“I use these words often: ‘Do the greatest good with what you have.’ I think about them and say them aloud with regularity. I’m not often presented with a perfect set of circumstances; and I prefer to take what resources I have and apply my best effort toward making something good.”
Jack McGowan • ADVISOR
In 1970, Jack McGowan left a promising career on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, came West and never looked back. A chance encounter that year with the singer Paul Simon on a New York City street corner cemented his desire to become an Oregonian after Paul described his travels here.
Since that time, Jack has become involved in numerous business and community building initiatives, including: serving as press secretary for the Portland Mayor, running his own Issues Management firm, directing marketing for the Oregon Zoo, reporting as an international correspondent for the NBC Affiliate in Portland, and, for 18 years, serving with his wife, Jan, as Co-Executive Directors for Governor Tom McCall’s statewide non-profit organization SOLV (Sustaining Oregon’s Legacy by Volunteering). Jack and Jan helped expand SOLV to be one of the Northwest’s largest volunteer non-profits—registering more than 80,000 annual volunteer engagements in approximately 250 Oregon communities.
Jack has been involved in many civic activities, including serving on the organizing committee of “Flight For Freedom”—a statewide response to the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. “Flight For Freedom” coordinated the travel of more than 1,000 Oregonians to New York City about three weeks after the attacks—as part of a nationwide show of solidarity and to set an example of citizen spirit and courage in the face of terrorism.
Jack and Jan were married in Camp Sherman 30 years ago and have long called Sisters their “kiss the ground” home.
Jack has been accorded the Oregon Statesman Award, the Portland First Citizen Award and the Governor’s Tourism Award and has received an Honorary Doctorate from Pacific University for his work on building community and civility across Oregon.
Among numerous other volunteer activities, he currently is chair the Sisters Folk Festival, serves on the board of Oregon Public Broadcasting and chairs OPB’s statewide Community Advisory Board.
“This initiative of Citizens4Community rings true to my heart. In today’s fractious world, where a lack of respect, tolerance and civility is all too accepted as the norm, C4C and the Sisters Country Civility Project offers a quiet but important alternative that can help create a healthier and better future for the community.”
Jan McGowan • ADVISoR
Since forming Jan McGowan Nonprofit Consulting in 2008, Jan has worked with more than 60 organizations, helping them focus, strategize and plan for success. Her work supports strategic, fund development and business planning. Jan also facilitates board and staff retreats and supports organizations with special projects—such as organizational assessments, hiring, policy development and executive coaching.
For the past six years, Jan also has been an advisor and trainer for the Nonprofit Learning Center at Walla Walla Community College, where she has presented on planning and board development topics. She also is a past presenter at the High Desert Nonprofit Conference.
Jan’s experience with nonprofits comes from serving in several positions at SOLV, including Associate Director, from 1991–2007. She helped grow and manage SOLV from an all-volunteer effort with annual budget of $10,000 into a $2 million per year organization employing 30-plus employees and engaging some 75,000 volunteers statewide.
Prior to her experience at SOLV, Jan worked from 1985-1990 as coordinator of the Mayor’s Office of International Relations in Portland, where she served as staff to eight Sister City nonprofit associations.
Jan is a Senior Fellow and past board member of the American Leadership Forum of Oregon, where she chaired the Fund Development Committee for six years. She also is a past board member of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and past president of the board for Circle of Friends in Sisters, where she continues as a current board member. Additionally, Jan served on Sisters' 2013 Local Option leadership team.
“I developed the following statement for my business: ‘Effective nonprofit organizations channel the passion of individuals who dream and imagine a better world. They play a critical role in meeting the needs of communities, society and the environment.’ And Citizens4Community is the perfect example of this concept in action. Indeed, through C4C’s Sisters Country Civility Project and Speak Your Peace, we dream—I dream—of a better world: one that is more understanding, inclusive and kind.”