Sees more potential for organization’s future
By Natalie Johnson
After six years as executive director of TwispWorks, Don Linnertz plans to retire this October, but he knows the organization he’s put so much work into will end up in good hands.
“I feel such a sense of peace,” he said. “The organization has grown so much in the last six years. … It just feels like it’s at a high place and I think it can go even higher and I’m excited for the next person to be able to bring it there.”
Linnertz has had an eventful tenure as executive director of the organization, beginning in 2015. He told the Methow Valley News he was first introduced to TwispWorks at Winterfest in 2013. At that time, the organization was still in its beginning stages.
When he first interviewed for the job, Linnertz told the board he would develop all of the leasable space on campus and develop a business model to sustain the facility.
Now the facility can sustain itself on rental income alone, he said, though TwispWorks’ programs still require community support.
“Don has helped build the organization into a problem-solving entity for all residents and businesses in the Methow Valley,” said Board Chair Perri Howard in a statement. “TwispWorks would not be the organization is it today without Don’s collaborative spirit and keen leadership.”
Having a self-sustaining facility was a requirement for TwispWorks to get the deed to the property, another accomplishment Linnertz is proud of.
When donors bought the U.S. Forest Service property for $1 million, they promised to give TwispWorks the deed and forgive the loan if the organization could make the facility self-sustaining in 10 years.
“That’s what happened in 2019, so that I’m super proud of that,” Linnertz said.
While that was his major goal in his tenure, Linnertz says he’s a Type A personality — he just couldn’t stop there.
When Twisp’s Community Solar project ended in 2020, TwispWorks bought the buildings, which still have solar panels on them. With that purchase, all of the buildings on TwispWorks’ campus are now owned by the organization.
“I couldn’t have done it without this community being supportive, without an incredible board, without a staff that was nimble and flexible and willing to work hard,” Linnertz said. “It’s been a team effort for sure. It’s been fun to be the captain for a while but it’s somebody else’s turn.”
At 55, Linnertz is going into retirement earlier than many, but two recent life events have encouraged him to pursue a lifestyle at a different pace going forward.
“In 2017, I lost my father to a massive heart attack at age 72 which was kind of a ‘Whoa, 72, life is fleeting,’” he said.
Then last December he had surgery to put a stent removing a 75% blockage in one of his arteries.
“To some extent a couple of those really punctuating events in life made me kind of go, you know, I love what I do, I have stated clear goals from the outset I have achieved all of those goals and more, and so it’s time to have a different level of stress in my live and a different level of activity,” he said.
The TwispWorks board is currently beginning the hiring process for a new executive director. They’ve created a hiring committee and are working with consultant Craig Howard of First Creek Partners on finding a quality candidate, Linnertz said.
The TwispWorks board is also taking emails from interested applicants at firstname.lastname@example.org.