Advisory Council

Whatcom Young Professionals Advisory Council 2021

Whatcom Young Professionals (Whatcom YP) is a program of the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and abides by the Chamber’s policies, code of regulations, articles of incorporation, and all other governing documents, as informed by the Chamber Liaison. The Whatcom YP program is managed by a volunteer Advisory Council composed of Whatcom YP members.

Alivia Jelinski

she / her / hers

Member Engagement & Events

Alivia is the Director of Operations for the Ben Kinney Real Estate Team powered by Place. She was born in Canada, but moved to Bellingham at three months old and has spent most of her life in the United States. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Commerce from the University of British Columbia, a Certificate in Hospitality from Charter College, and a Master of Business Administration from Washington State University. Alivia has served the Whatcom YP Council since January 2016 and has made so many valuable connections and memories since then. She loves getting to know new people and building lasting relationships in her community. In her free time, Alivia enjoys spending time with friends and family, cuddling with her cats, doing yoga, and finding new adventures!

Alexandra (Allie) Damitio

she / her / hers

Operations & Communication

pic coming soon!

Allyson Farrar

she / her / hers

Operations & Communication

As a born and raised Southern California girl, Allyson never could have guessed that she would have found herself settling into the Pacific Northwest. A move to the Seattle-area in the early 2000s had her vowing to return south once she graduated high school. But, as Bellingham tends to do, she was lured to school at WWU where she completed her studies with a degree in Communication. When graduation arrived, she packed up her belongings and said her final goodbye to the city she had come to love (but never planned to return to).

Fast forward just one year later, and sure enough, she was back. After a stint at a local organic cereal company, she made a move to a new kind of business, or shall we say, businesses – restaurants, luxury collision repair shops, and fitness studios. Since 2013, Allyson has filled the position of Business Manager for the US side of Walker Group Ventures – a firm that creates innovative companies throughout the United States and Canada, including several in Whatcom County. She actively manages the business operations for Scotty Browns Restaurants (Barkley Village + Bellingham International Airport), No. 1 Automotive Body Repair, and barre3 Bellingham, with more local businesses set to open in late 2020.

Outside of her passion and dedication for her work, Allyson is active in the Bellingham community. She has served as a Bellingham Chamber of Commerce Ambassador since 2019, and most recently has taken her love of the performing arts and put it into becoming a volunteer at the Mount Baker Theatre. While this is her first year on the WYPs board, she was awarded as one of the organizations Top 7 Under 40 recipients in 2017, and has felt a strong desire to give back to young professionals in the community ever since. Being on the board as the new Special Events Coordinator will allow her to do just that.

In her spare time (lol, what is that) Allyson enjoys being active with her husband and dog, cooking, and indulging her foodie ways by trying every restaurant in town!

Allyson Farrar | WYPs Advisory Council

Brad Baron, P.E.

he / him / his

Operations & Communication

Spend a little time at Barron AC Electrical & Plumbing, and you’re bound to run into Brad.  As Chief Operating Officer, he takes part in and oversees the Sales, Operations, and Service divisions at Barron.  And he’s always got a joke to share.  With a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering from the University of Washington (go Dawgs!), he spent a number of years as a Professional Engineer before bringing his experience to the Barron Team.  Born and raised in Bellingham, he enjoys spending time outside with his family (wife and three sons) and friends—hiking, boating, skiing and camping.  Brad is a Volkswagen enthusiast and enjoys time behind the wheel of his 1979 Westfalia Camper.

Carla Simonis

she / her / hers

Community Stewardship

Carla is a new member to the council. She moved to Washington state in November of 2018 has been working at Janicki Industries as a sales engineer. She hails from North Dakota and was very active in the Bismarck-Mandan Young Professionals Network there sitting on their leadership council as a service chair. She is thrilled to get involved in her new community and hopefully bring something extra to the table with her past experience. Carla lives with her husband south of Bellingham and they have been having fun exploring the area for all its sights, foods, breweries, and activities trying and failing to pick just one favorite.

Carla Simonis | WYPs Advisory Council

Jennifer Neustedt

she / her / hers

Community Stewardship

Jennifer has lived in Bellingham since 2011 but had grown up in Tacoma and on the weekends she would stay with her dad in the Seattle area.  She is a mom of four kids, two of which are adults and live in their own.

She misses living in a large city area, but loves everything Whatcom County has to offer.  Her favorite things to do here is going to Blaine and Birch Bay to comb the beaches for seashells, visiting Boulevard Park, and eating at the various restaurants downtown.  She also enjoys going to trivia nights with friends and having a few drinks.

Previously holding the position of Director of Sales at Holiday Inn Express, she has since just recently decided on a career change.  Having been a member of WYPs since 2018 she is excited to now serve on the council.  (Her favorite WYPs events are anything with cocktails and fundraising!)

Kellan Herndon

he / him / his

Operations & Communication

Kellan Herndon is joining the WYPs council as Treasurer in 2020! He was born and raised in Bellingham, and is excited for the opportunity to serve the young professional community here.

He earned a degree in Fire Science at Everett Community College in 2015, and moved on to earn a B. S. in Human Services at Western Washington University at the end of 2016. Through learning about case management in that program, he became interested in education and went on to earn my Masters in Education in Integrated Curriculum in 2018. No working for Edward Jones as a Financial Advisor, he is focusing on educating clients about wealth-management based on their priorities and future needs.

When he’s not working with numbers, you can find him at the mountain, skiing, hiking, or backpacking with his wife, Christine.

Kellan Herndon | WYPs Advisory Council

Luke Holtgeerts

he / him / his

Education & Professional Development

Luke is the Director of Live Events at Veritas Media Productions and a co-founder of the Bellingham Youth Media Project . Luke’s background in film & media production began 11 years ago and has grown from homemade narrative shorts for just fun – to festival awards on the national & international level. Luke’s skillset may be filmmaking but his passion is in community growth and media education. Outside of serving on the council for the Whatcom Young Professionals, Luke serves on Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Media Arts Cadre, is on Bellingham School District’s CTE advisory committee, and consults with various high schools in the state to further develop their media programs. In his spare time, Luke finds personal validation in playing board games with friends and doing sudoku when he should probably be working in the yard.

Luke Holtgeerts | WYPs Advisory Council

Mason Gray

Education & Professional Development

Bio coming soon!

Rhys Hansen

they / them / theirs

Community Stewardship

Rhys is an artist and social change entrepreneur working in food systems, land justice and community equity. Their career path has centered on cooperative enterprise, community organizing and catalyzing the power of business for good. Currently, they work at Sustainable Connections as the Food & Farming Program Manager and own Terra Cognita: a boutique graphic design, illustration, and conference production company, They joined Whatcom Young Professionals after moving to Point Roberts in 2018, and delights in meeting new people at every event. In addition to WYPs, Rhys serves on the boards of the Whatcom Food Network, Puget Sound Agrarian Commons, is an active member of Salmon Nation, Defiance Exchange, and has worked as a food and agricultural systems advocate throughout the Salish Sea since 2010. When not working, Rhys likes to travel, knit and weave, kayak and paddleboard on our beautiful local waterways.

Stephanie Wiley

she / her / hers

Member Engagement & Events

Stephanie works in Alumni & Constituent Engagement for WWU, and is the co-owner of Agora Events. Originally from Bellingham, she spent her 20’s following exciting opportunities to California, Arizona and Kenya, before coming back to her hometown. Since moving back to Bellingham, Whatcom Young Professionals has been a huge part of finding her community, both professionally and personally. She loves bringing people together and helping to support the community through events. In her free time, she loves to hike with her pup, Huck, expand her cocktail repertoire, read, and travel as often as possible.

Suzanne Baker

she / her / hers

Education & Professional Development

Suzanne is the WYPs Buzz Chair. She currently works as the Curriculum & Records Manager for Fairhaven College at Western Washington University in addition to teaching in the Karen W. Morse Institute for Leadership at Western. She has lived in Bellingham since 2014. Suzanne has been an active member of WYPs since October of 2016 when she started attending socials and the weekly Buzz in an effort to get to know more young professionals in the area and create a local network of both colleagues and friends. In addition to working with college students and inspiring young leaders in higher education, Suzanne is always looking for a new adventure. She enjoys CrossFit, running, hiking, skiing, and wandering throughout the Pacific Northwest and is always dreaming about her next international travel adventure.