Interview by Kate Calamusa / Photos Courtesy of RBAW
NWY: You recently took the helm of the Recreational Boating Association of Washington (RBAW)—welcome! Tell our readers what you are most excited to bring to your new role.
KB: I am excited to share my expertise and experience with RBAW. Initially, I will take on a tactical role and eventually grow into strategic and public relations roles. Under the leadership of RBAW’s volunteer board, I will help grow RBAW’s membership, revenue base, and geographical presence across the state of Washington.
NWY: What are a few reasons why you think boaters should join RBAW if they haven’t already?
KB: To help amplify the voice and interests of recreational boaters that contribute to an $8 billion industry in our state. Whether that is for policy and legislation that affect boaters, communication and education for boaters and state agencies, or to help preserve and grow boating opportunities, there are lots of reasons to get involved with RBAW!
NWY: Over the past few years, RBAW has helped spearhead the Mind the Zone safety awareness campaign on Lake Union. How do you expect this campaign to evolve in the years to come?
KB: RBAW is proud to have been selected to create and run this safety and awareness campaign in summer 2022 (funded by the state of Washington) that was then extended through the summer of 2024 by the city of Seattle. We will continue to advocate for safe waters, open for all to enjoy responsibly—and look for ways to evolve the message to reach even more users of Lake Union.
NWY: The boating community is very invested in the rehabilitation of Lakebay Marina: What are the next steps in that project?
KB: RBAW traces its founding to the efforts of its members to purchase Sucia Island in the San Juans and donate the property to the State of Washington as one of the world’s finest marine parks. Our goal is to renovate the Lakebay property with new upland parking facilities, install restrooms, replace all the docks, and rebuild the boat ramp. When these renovations are complete our plan is to transfer the property, like Sucia, to Washington State Parks for long-term management. The renovations needed are significant and will cost millions of dollars that we hope to cover with grants, private donations, and public dollars. To date we have already raised over $3 million, and we will likely need another $5 million to complete the project. Looking forward, we’re seeking federal, state and private monies to help fund more improvements to get this South Sound gem ready. We have begun by removing the old docks and fuel tanks and we are currently working on the master development plan that will identify all the improvements needed and the timeline for providing them.
NWY: In addition to safety campaigns, and the preservation of boating grounds, RBAW is heavily invested in promoting boating issues in the legislature. Which issues are currently top of mind for the upcoming session?
KB: Washington boaters pay some of the highest annual vessel taxes, so we’re always focused on fair and equitable treatment of boaters and how those taxes are used to create better boating in our state. We are actively working with the Department of Revenue on their process to calculate the value of vessels in hopes of treating longer-owned boats more fairly. These two topics are top of mind for RBAW’s 2024 priorities.
About the Expert: After graduating from the University of Washington, Tacoma, with my bachelor’s degree, I was in search of my new career. I stumbled upon a path of working with non-profit associations and fell in love. For over 17 years now, I have been working as an executive director, managing associations’ daily activities and helping boards of directors ensure that associations achieve their missions and visions. I earned my Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential in 2017, which is the marker of a committed association professional who has demonstrated the wide range of knowledge essential to manage an association in today’s challenging environment. Learning the recreational boating industry is fascinating, interesting, and fun! Developing lasting relationships with passionate and caring volunteers is very fulfilling. Plus, advocating for recreational boating interests and issues is such a rewarding challenge. I am excited for the future of RBAW, the future of recreational boating, and the legacies RBAW will create for future generations to enjoy. I cannot imagine a better job! For more information on RBAW, go to: rbaw.org.