Sonja Mathews, Board President
Sonja is a management consultant and has held senior executive roles in Research, Strategy, and Marketing for USAA, PepsiCo, and Metromedia. She specializes in helping companies maximize their potential through better marketing, experience design, product innovation, and people development. Sonja’s main focus is to help the Boat School execute its Strategic Plan and its contribution to students, craftsmanship, and the community.
Kathleen Brooker, Board Vice President
Kathleen Brooker brings exceptional experience working with non-profits, public development authorities and the public. Kathleen served as the president and CEO for Historic Denver for 15 years before taking on the role of executive director for Historic Seattle for seven years. With her national credentials and breadth of experience in preservation leadership, she continues to promote collaboration and community partnerships. As a consultant with Artifacts Historic Preservation, Brooker provides a specialized skill set providing technical expertise for small nonprofits within Washington state as they work to steward their resources.
Richard Schwarz, Board Treasurer
Richard is currently CEO of SAFE Boats International, a 100% employee-owned company and a leading manufacturer of high-performance aluminum boats for commercial, military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue agencies around the world. Prior to joining SAFE Boats Richard was Chief Financial Officer for Senior AMT and Senior Aerospace Ketema, two component manufacturers for the leading OEM’s in jet airplane markets. Richard has managed finance, human resources, contracts, and IT for operations in the US, Mexico, and Australia. Richard holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles and an M.B.A. in Management from San Diego State University. Richard has served on the school’s finance committee since 2019.
Bob Hartman, Board Secretary
Class of 2020 Boatbuilding
Bob and his wife Ruth have a daughter Lily, and a son, Ansel. After 28 years working as an attorney with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10 (EPA) in Seattle, which covers Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, Bob retired in 2018. During his time with the EPA, he worked on issues including environmental enforcement, solid waste disposal, hazardous waste management, environmental justice, tribal issues, safe drinking water systems, lead paint, amount others. Prior to the EPA, he was a United States Naval Officer for about 5 years, stationed at Fort Story Virginia and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer. Immediately before the Navy he taught 7th and 8th grade in the inner city of St. Louis. He is passionate about the environment, boats, and learning.
Linda Newland, Board Member
A maritime lawyer and former school district administrator, Linda is the past Commodore of Pacific Coast Yachting Association. She holds a 100-ton Captain’s license, is an American Sailing Association (ASA) certified sailing instructor, and specializes in teaching women to sail. At the annual meeting of the Women’s Sailing Foundation at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Linda was elected president for the June 2014 to June 2015 Foundation Board team. Elected to the Foundation Board in 2005, Newland served as Vice President form 2009 to 2010 and again from 2013 to 2014.
Lynn Schwarz, Board Member
Lynn and her husband relocated to Port Hadlock from San Diego, where she had a 20 year career in the biotech industry. She’s worked for several successful start-up companies and had extensive experience with executive coordination and fundraising. Lynn is committed to helping the Boat School continue to grow opportunities for education and career development within our community.
Angela Hewitson, Board Member
Class of 2017 Boatbuilding
Angela is currently serving as the Public Engagement Manager at the Northwest Maritime Center. As an impassioned advocate for sustainable and intersectional community development, her works centers on making transformational maritime experiences, education, and employment accessible to all.
Jane Guiltinan, Board Member
Jane is a retired naturopathic physician, educator, clinical researcher, and academic administrator. She retired as Dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University in 2017 after 33 years at the school and now serves as Dean Emeritus. Her expertise includes curriculum and faculty development, accreditation, Title IX, student mentoring programs and budget and personnel management. She loves being on the water, especially in kayaks. Her interest in NWSWB comes from her passion for student centered learning that engages and inspires each student to discover their unique abilities and interests, developing and supporting outstanding instructors who love to teach, and building effective, collaborative, and sustainable academic administrative teams.
Stephen Gale, Board Member
Class of 1996, Boatbuilding
Stephen was born in the UK and is now a US citizen. In 1985 he moved to New York and worked in the finance sector, then sailed in blue waters for a few years and ended up in Port Townsend in 1995 and attended NWSWB. He remained as an instructor until early 1998 then went to work locally as a shipwright for Baird Boat Co. Upon Ernie Baird’s retirement in 2004, Stephen was one of the co-founders of Haven Boatworks, LLC. Since 2005 he was managed the business and, in 2017, became the sole owner. While remaining firmly rooted in traditional wooden shipwrighting, the company increasingly took on systems and mechanical work. They slowly grew from a crew of six to over forty employees, working on every kind of boat, from the smallest to some of the largest, and in all hull materials. Stephen sold the business in October 2022. The Boat School enabled me to pursue a career which was more fulfilling than I could ever have imagined. I am deeply grateful to it. The satisfaction to be had as a shipwright is of a kind that is increasingly rare in the workplace. I would particularly like to assist anyone who would like to try the trade.
David Blessing, Board Member Emeritus
Class of 2003, Boatbuilding
David grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Physics. For most of his working life, until 2002, he was a nuclear power engineer, working on nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy. When it was time to choose another career beyond submarines, David came west to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, where he could pursue his passion for wooden boats. The School provided a deeply satisfying transition. After graduating, he worked for a while building wooden sea kayaks. In 2004, an opportunity came up to join the Lockheed Martin team developing the design for a nuclear powered spacecraft for scientific exploration. Subsequently, he has been working on advanced reactor designs for commercial application. In his spare time, he skis, hikes, climbs, and sails a wooden sailboat that the Boat School built for him. His time on the Board gives him an opportunity to give back to the School.
J. Michael de la Garza, Board Member Emeritus
Class of 2004, Boatbuilding
Michael brings to the board a valuable and broad spectrum of business knowledge, including small-market television production as well as restaurant, retail, and corporate management experience. Prior to attending the Boat School, Michael served as Director of Inventory Management Services for Long Island-based Henry Schein, Inc., the world’s largest distributor of healthcare products to office-based practitioners. A life-long sailor, Michael sailed small boats at the New Jersey shore as a child, cruised the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s and most recently was a partner in Concordia Yawl #76, Sumatra. Since 2008 he has been a part of Champion Productions in Port Townsend which creates fundraising, promotional, and commercial videos for local and national clients.