Letters to Our Community

hand-carved boat shop sign

Dear Friends,

As you may have heard through our recent announcement, we have had a leadership change at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop. Sonia Turanski has stepped down as Executive Director, and I am stepping in as Interim Director. We will miss Sonia’s creativity and drive, but we are also excited for the new possibilities that are inherent to any change. I am grateful for the trust placed in me by the Board and staff, and am eager to fulfill that trust by guiding us collaboratively into our new program year.

As you know, the past eighteen months have brought tremendous change to the Carpenter’s Boat Shop. During that time, I shifted in the seniority ranking from relative newcomer, with only a decade of association with the Boat Shop, to the most senior staff member. There is no question that I miss our beloved Kim Hoare and the Carlucci family. They have all left their imprint on our campus, our programming, and on the hearts of so many of us. 

I have also learned a great deal from Directors Nat Shed and Sonia Turanski. They have helped me to think deeply about the organizational systems that help us pass on knowledge, and they have pushed me to explore the creative balance between maintaining tradition as accumulated wisdom and integrating new ways of thinking. They have helped prepare the way for this moment, when the world is changing at an astonishing pace, and we the Boat Shop have been taken up by the current, with the opportunity to ride it toward exciting new possibilities.

My hope for this Interim period is to deliberately reflect on how we do things and why we do things, to honor what is serving us well and to redesign systems that now need to serve us better. Already, we are actively innovating with a new program format and a central new element: the Four-Month Apprenticeship and the Individual Capstone Project – weekly time devoted to diving deeper into a personal interest, and the challenges and learning that come with it. These shifts are fully in line with our mission, and it is our hope that they build on the forty years of innovation and valuable learning we have already done as an organization. Having apprenticed under Bobby Ives and taught under Kim’s leadership, I would like to serve as a bridge between our history and our future, setting us up well for new leadership in the coming year.

I hope that this letter is the beginning of a longer conversation with many of you. I look forward to your calls and emails. We need you, our community: we need your feedback, your questions, your ideas. We need the support that you so generously give us in the form of time, labor, supplies, and money. We count on your encouragement, which has meant so much during these transition months. With your help, we will ride these winds of change with integrity and a sense of adventure!

With deepest appreciation,

Sarah K. Highland
Interim Executive Director




I am excited as we are in the midst of a new season at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop. We have been in a time of great challenges trying to plan a residential program while responsibly minimizing risks posed by a global pandemic. We have recently transitioned leadership in the Boat Shop, and are grateful for Sarah stepping up as Interim Director to lead the staff and programs and help us explore a new four-month format for the apprentice program. We will be organizing a search soon for a permanent Director, but are thankful for Sarah’s leadership and experience while that comprehensive process takes place.

Last spring, under the guidance of our friend and gifted organizational consultant Bob Wright, the Boat Shop finished a new strategic plan that will be our guidance for Boat Shop work, decisions, and aspirations. Its core is an Identity Statement that took the input from staff, Board members, our community, past apprentices, friends and donors, and refocused and affirmed a set of values and direction for the Boat Shop. This will help us remember what is most important for the Boat Shop, and is how we will try to stay true to our mission.

Our mission is: “Building boats, nurturing lives, helping others.

The Carpenter’s Boat Shop provides a unique opportunity for people searching for new direction and meaning in their lives to create deliberate space for personal growth through boat building, community living, serving others, and spiritual inquiry.”

We will accomplish our mission guided by a set of core values rooted in a commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and a balanced life informed by the principles of work, service, spirituality, hospitality, study, and recreation.

To many of you, this mission and these concepts are not new and have guided the Boat Shop for many years. But it was important for us to check in with people connected with the Boat Shop, past and present, to firmly establish the direction and commitment for our future. It is so important to find ways to stay connected to our community and how we can be of service during this time when we must also stay isolated. These commitments are what we will aspire to and will keep in front of us as we make our day-to-day decisions about programs, Boat Shop life, community service, and the many challenges of keeping the Boat Shop as a place where people come to grow.

Thank you for your interest in the Carpenter’s Boat Shop! We are excited – times of great challenge often encourage great growth, and we look forward to the years ahead and the contributions that the Boat Shop, through its people, service, and community, can make to the lives that we touch.

Ken Elowe
President, Board of Directors
Carpenter’s Boat Shop