Things are happening at Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC) and a lot of that has to do with some special volunteers! We are excited to introduce our newest board member, Mark Wright, who has served on our Development and Communications Committee for the past two years prior to becoming a board member in June. He is like a gift that keeps on giving! He rarely misses a Committee meeting and contributes creative ideas to our evolving communications efforts. And he's always ready with a kind word for the staff -- whether it's affirmation to Anna about the Faithful Green Leaders Training or encouragement to Natalie for all her great work on fundraising efforts, he's a joyful person and will bring a lot of smiles to the team! Mark is the Principal of Rockville-based Mark Wright Communications LLC and has been a writer, editor, and communication strategist for over 30 years. He has helped a variety of industries and organizations, including two stints as Executive Director of the Association for Commuter Transportation, a nonprofit for individuals and organizations in the commuter mobility/transportation demand management field. He's currently the Vice-President of Membership for the DC Metro Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

Following a devastating accident in which he was injured while at a 7-Eleven by a car that drove into the store, Mark worked to raise awareness of the common but under-the-radar vehicle-into-building crash problem through articles and media appearances, as well as co-founding an initiative called the Storefront Safety Council. Mark is the Environmental Stewardship Committee chair at his church, Christ Episcopal Church, Rockville, and is in the process of helping to build a plan of action with his green team there. IPC's Board of Trustees is made up of 15 volunteers who all devote a lot of time and expertise to build out the IPC vision, programs, and help us raise funds to support our work. Their dedication continues to amaze us staff, as they always find time to support this work, share their expertise, and make financial donations to contribute. We are so grateful and would be nowhere without our board! 

We also want to give a shout-out to two other special volunteers: Nick DiPasquale and Steve Raabe. They both have donated valuable insight to our Strategic Planning process over the past few months. Nick played an important role in interviewing a series of foundations to gather their input and perspective on where IPC should go in the next 3-5 years. It's difficult for foundations to have those conversations directly with grantees, but Nick handled the conversations on our behalf, affording the foundations the necessary confidentiality and providing IPC with important feedback that we otherwise would not have gathered. Nick retired from his leadership role as Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program a few years ago, and consults with a variety of environmental nonprofits in his retirement. He also gave a transformative presentation to our board back in 2019 that many board members still talk about as being an ah-ha moment for them. 

Steve shared his expertise in the field of social behavior change and public polling as he briefed our staff on the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Index and how to utilize the data to inform our planning and strategies. The Index is data from over 5,200 interviews that his company conducted with people throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed to gather insight on the types of desirable behaviors people have already adopted, and which groups of people might be more likely to improve their behaviors with some support. This data will be shared publicly in the months ahead and he gave IPC a sneak-preview of how the online tool can be manipulated to filter for specific groups of people in specific regions and learn whether there are opportunities to change hearts and minds. Steve also happens to be our landlord in Annapolis, and gives us a good price we should say -- so he gives to IPC is so many ways! 

We are forever grateful for the many ways volunteers contribute to IPC and this movement for change. We wanted to highlight Mark, Steve, and Nick for going above and beyond to share specific skills and expertise that help professionalize the work we do, thereby strengthening the outcomes of our work. We wouldn't be here without so many volunteers -- from past board members, to green team members, to donors -- thank you for being on this journey with IPC!