Confluence Gallery to seek her replacement
By Natalie Johnson
Methow Recycles announced last week that longtime Executive Director Betsy Cushman will be succeeded by Sarah Jo Lightner, currently the executive director of Confluence Gallery in Twisp.
“It’s an organization that’s completely beloved by the community and used by the community,” Lightner told the Methow Valley News last week.
A news release on the hire from Methow Recycles cited Lightner’s experience in nonprofit organizations, her years of business ownership and “enthusiasm for the organization’s mission.”
“Sarah Jo’s impressive work at Confluence Gallery and her energetic vision for the future of Methow Recycles really won us over,” said Missy LeDuc, Methow Recycles board president, in a statement. “The board, staff, and I are very eager to work with Sarah Jo to expand our
The nonprofit Methow Recycles was founded in 2001 and prioritizes both recycling and, especially in recent years, waste reduction measures.
Building a legacy
Cushman has been the executive director of Methow Recycles since 2001, but announced last year her intention to retire this spring.
Under her leadership, the nonprofit has grown to include more than five employees, an 11-member board, 40 volunteers and a $350,000 operating budget. In 2020, the organization saw a 10% increase in recyclables dropped off over the previous year.
“Betsy has over the last 25 years poured her entire life into it and has been very dedicated to the mission of making how we see our waste part of our society,” Lightner said. “And for me the exciting thing is I get to take over from a founder, which is really big work. I know how much energy is put into creating something.”
“I am thrilled that Sarah Jo will lead Methow Recycles into its next chapter,” said Cushman, in a statement. “I have so much respect for her skills and contributions to the community. I expect the strength of both organizations to shine during this transition process and am excited to watch how Methow Recycles evolves in the years to come.”
“We so are grateful to the entire team participating in the interview and selection process,” said Shirlee Evans, Methow Recycles vice president. “Their expertise and commitment to Methow Recycles and its place in the community is truly inspiring.”
Lightner is a longtime Methow Valley resident who was born in Missouri and raised in Nebraska. She studied agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska and silversmithing at Oregon College of Art and Craft.
Lightner worked in the restaurant industry for 23 years and ran her own Creole restaurant for 12 years. She moved to the Methow Valley in 2010 and began working at Confluence Gallery in 2015. She has been its executive director since 2018. She is the mother of twin girls and has also built a silversmithing studio at TwispWorks.
Lightner said she is especially interested in engaging with the community, the problem of how to reuse single-use plastics and the possibilities of green industry.
“It’s a huge, open-ended world right now,” she said.
Lightner is currently scheduled to leave Confluence Gallery in early April, and said the board will soon begin looking for a new executive director.
“We want to make sure both organizations are supported in the process,” she said.