Behind the Board: John Newhoff

by Kelly Sanderbeck, Donor Development Manager

We’ve asked each of our Board members to reflect on why our parks are important to them, AND why they choose to spend their time, talent and treasure to support them. This go round, I’d like to introduce John Newhoff, who’s been on the Board since 2012.

John Newhoff at Stehekin Newhoff

Why do the parks matter to you?

I’ve been visiting national parks since I was little – originally Lassen, Yosemite, Point Reyes National Seashore – without know anything about national parks. As I’ve grown older. they’ve been a continual part of my life where I’ve spent many hours with close friends and family hiking, enjoying nature, backpacking, and exploring. This year saw me at Mt Rainier, Olympic, North Cascades, and Rocky Mountain national parks.

How did you discover Washington’s National Park Fund and why did you choose to get involved?

My friend David Barbrack introduced me to the Fund and asked if I’d like to be involved. This eventually lead to joining the Board. I think that as citizens, and human beings, we have a responsibility to do more than just sit by and let life go by. We have a responsibility to make a choice and do something to give back and help our world and fellows.

What do you do or have done in your ‘real’ life?

In the real world, I own and work for Portage Bay Solutions, a small software development company in Seattle. We have 5 employees and do custom database development work for a wide range of clients, including a number of school districts in the state, manufacturing companies like 3M, and many small and medium-sized business. My family is spread out across the west coast with siblings in and around Seattle, cousins in Portland and Medford, and my parents, nieces, and more siblings in the bay area in California.

Would you share a favorite memory from the parks?

Hmm, this is a difficult question. I’m going to go with a night when I was 10 years old staying with my family at Jenny Lake Lodge in the Grand Tetons. It was early June and we were on the mythical Yellowstone road trip with mom, dad, four kids, and a station wagon. A late season snow fall started and my parents took my older sister and I for a short walk through the snow to the lodge for apple pie while my younger two siblings slept in the cottage.

Another much more recent favorite was just this fall when my parents and my two sisters were able to join me at the fund’s fall fireside circle event in Stehekin. My mom is unfortunately stuck in a wheelchair most of the time and so it was a real blessing to be able to visit such a remote part of North Cascades National Park with her. The Buckner Harvest Festival in Stehekin is a pretty unique event and the wheelchair accessible park service shuttle was able to get us right into the orchar for the festivities.

What is something interesting that people might not know about you?

I sailed from Bermuda to Portugal in 2007 with my brother and his wife. We were 18 days at sea from Bermuda to Flores, the first island in the Azores chain. I think the only time I’ve seen the green flash was one of those days. (from Wikipedia: green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur just before sunset or right after sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper limb of the Sun’s disk. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two. Rarely, the green flash can resemble a green ray shooting up from the sunset (or sunrise) point. Green flashes occur because the atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to separate out into different colors. Green flashes are a group of phenomena which stem from slightly different causes, and therefore some types of green flashes are more common than others.)

What’s your hope for Washington’s National Park Fund in the next 10 years?

I would like to see the fund significantly grow its endowment funds as a part of a long-term goal of sustainable funding for Washington’s parks. In addition, I would like to see greater awareness in Washington of the needs the parks have and the role of the Fund in helping to meet those needs.

What’s your hope for the parks in 100 years?

I would hope to see that the National Park Service has lived up to its mandate to preserve the parks as a wild place for future generations. I would hope that I would easily recognize places that I have visited before, except the trees are bigger…!