Small towns, big shoes to fill: LCSNW says farewell to two Board members

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Advocacy, Staff Spotlight

LCSNW wishes the very best to Mike Wilson and Barbara Smithson, who left the Board of Directors at the end of 2022.

When you live in a “ville,” you tend to have a distinctly non-urban perspective — with some exceptions, such as Nashville and Jacksonville — that other people may overlook.

Barbara Smithson and Mike Wilson brought that valuable rural frame of reference to the LCSNW Board of Directors for the last six years. Barbara, of Brownsville, Washington, and Mike, of Prineville, Oregon, stepped down at the end of 2022 after serving two terms each.

As LCSNW moves into a new year, the agency extends a grateful farewell to Barbara and Mike, and we welcome Cathy Neer of the Tri-Cities as an additional at-large Board member. The Board will have 10 members until the vacant Washington and Oregon positions are filled.

“Those of us who live in smaller communities know that none of us are big enough to solve big problems alone,” said Mike, pastor at Prineville Presbyterian Church. He joined the Board as an at-large member in 2017, three years before LCSNW closed its office in the Central Oregon city of 11,000 people, and he remained an important contributor thereafter.

Barbara is also familiar with life outside a busy freeway corridor. She lives on the Kitsap Peninsula, in unincorporated Brownsville, near Bremerton. On the LCSNW Board, she has represented the Southwest Washington Synod of the ELCA Church. Serving on an ecumenical board with colleagues from three states has reinforced for her that leaders can overcome the rural-urban divide, among other differences. “We don’t need to be siloed. We can hold hands.”

At the November meeting, the Board recognized Mike for “his commitment to justice in theology, advocating for the best outcomes for the community and clients.” They also commended Barbara, saying she “carefully examined the ends statements and outcomes, asked very important questions, and advocated for continued services in rural communities.”