A little more than three months after taking on the role of interim executive director at TwispWorks, Sarah Brown has been named the nonprofit’s permanent executive director, the organization announced earlier this month.
At first, Brown wasn’t planning on staying in the role in the long term, but wanted to help TwispWorks transition after the retirement of former Executive Director Don Linnertz.
“As I got deeper and deeper into the interim position and realized just how much potential there is for collaboration across the valley and the region and the state … It was irresistible to me,” she told the Methow Valley News recently. “I really like working in collaboration with other organizations.”
Linnertz retired in October after leading TwispWorks for six years. When he announced his retirement, Linnertz said he was proud to be leaving the organization in a good position to grow in the future. Under his leadership, TwispWorks became financially self-sufficient, allowing it to secure its deed from donors that purchased the property from the U.S. Forest Service.
“I feel such a sense of peace,” he told the Methow Valley News in April. “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.”
Now that the work to develop TwispWorks into a self-sustaining organization is complete, Brown is looking forward to expanding its work on economic and cultural development in the community.
“The economy in the Methow is only limited by our imagination,” she said. “We have a lot of potential here for growing the economy.”
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and summer 2021 fires, TwispWorks gave out emergency grants to area businesses. TwispWorks also runs the Methow Investment Network, which allows people to invest in a loan program for small businesses. Brown is also excited about working on projects such as the Valley’s housing crisis and working with groups like Resilient Methow to help the valley adapt to climate change.
Brown is working with the TwispWorks board now on strategic planning, specifically updating its master plan.
“I feel very fortunate to have found a position in the Methow that suits my skills so well and allows me to be working toward helping the community solve its problems,” she said. “It’s pretty dreamy. … I feel really lucky and excited.”
Brown has lived in the Methow Valley full time since 1998, and she and husband, Brian Fisher, are raising their two children here.
From 2017-2018, Brown studied rural social innovation in Hungary on a Fulbright fellowship and she completed her master’s degree in public administration at Cornell University from 2019-2020. She has owned and operated a small family farm out of Carlton, and has served on the boards of local and regional nonprofit organizations, including Room One and the Methow Housing Trust.
“I am eternally curious and I’m an optimist,” she said. “I really encourage people to reach out if they want to connect about economic and cultural vitality or just the state of the Methow in general.”