Meet the Staff
Susan Fortin, Director
Susan Fortin joined the student leadership division of AWSP in 1991. Her professional teaching career included six years at Willapa Valley Jr/Sr High (Willapa Valley SD) and seven years at Rainier Secondary (Rainier SD). Teaching in small schools, advising multiple clubs and coaching prepared her for the fast-paced, multi-faceted student programs she currently directs at AWSP. After graduating from Franklin Pierce High School (Franklin Pierce SD), Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Western Washington University and a teaching certificate from Central Washington University. School administration was to be her next career step, but the opportunity to lead programs for AWSP intervened, providing a unique and creative challenge. She has no regrets about her decision. Susan and her husband Marty live and work in Randle. Their daughter Kate recently graduated from The Evergreen State College.
Joe Fenbert, Program Director
Joe Fenbert joined AWSP in 1993 as an assistant challenge course manager at Cispus and a program coordinator for AWSL. As an ASB officer at Federal Way High School (Federal Way SD), he attended Mt. Rainier leadership camp at Cispus in 1979. Joe served on the staff of the Mt. Baker session of leadership camp staff, and was on the founding team that launched Cascade middle level leadership camp in 1993 and La Cima leadership camp in 2004. His professional education career includes eight years teaching middle level students at Tonasket Middle School (Tonasket SD) and Evergreen Middle School (Everett SD) and three years teaching in Venezuela and Honduras. He graduated from Green River Community College where he was the ASB president and from Eastern Washington University where he lettered in track and field and earned a bachelor’s degree in education. He currently serves on the school board of the White Pass SD. Joe and his wife Roanne, an elementary teacher, live in Randle and have two sons.
Karen Johnson, Administrative Assistant
Karen Johnson joined AWSL as office support in February 2007. Before that, she was administrative assistant to the City of Poulsbo fire chief for 12 years. In 1996, as an empty-nester, Karen challenged herself to follow her dream and move to Montana, where she worked for a building contractor and property manager for 10 years. When Karen returned to Washington, she built her home in Randle and found a rewarding job in the mountains, working with Washington Student Leadership. A California native, she graduated from Washington High School in Fremont. She has two sons and four grandchildren. She recently sold her house in Randle, moving up to Cispus for the last couple years before her retirement, where she and her labradoodle Izzy enjoy hiking and swimming in the forest and streams right outside their door.
Van Anderson, Administrative and Program Support; Webmaster
Van joined AWSL in spring of 2015 to help with summer leadership camps, and continues to provide program and administrative support for AWSL. The son of two public school teachers, he grew up in the community around Cispus, graduating from White Pass High School (White Pass SD) and the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics. Out of college, he worked for the Cispus Center AmeriCorps team with the thought of getting certified to join the teaching profession, but decided instead to detour into private non-profits, spending the next five years building houses for Habitat for Humanity in Washington, D.C. Van is excited to return to his roots and continue his lifetime of service by joining AWSL in building the leaders of tomorrow.
Heather Muir, Administrative Assistant
Heather joined AWSL at the start of 2017 and will be taking over for Karen Johnson upon her retirement. Heather is a graduate of White Pass High School (White Pass SD), and lives in the local community with her husband and 3 children. She is a certified Emergency Medical Responder, and previously worked as the office manager for the Glenoma Fire Department. Her service to community includes serving as den leader for a local Cub Scout troop as well as volunteering with many community organizations.
James Layman, Program Specialist
James Layman joined the AWSL staff in the summer of 2017 as a Programming Specialist and Eastern Washington Support. James has been involved in student leadership with AWSL since the summer of 2001, having attended Mt. Baker Leadership Camp and serving as a Junior Counselor at Mt. Triumph Leadership for three summers. James currently serves as Co-Director of Mission Peak Leadership Camp and is a Senior Counselor at Mt. Triumph and Chewelah Peak Leadership Camps. A graduate of Central Valley High School who attended Eastern Washington University with focuses in Music Education, Psychology and African-American History, James has taught band and marching band throughout the Spokane area at Gonzaga Prep, St. Aloysius, St. Charles, All Saints Catholic Schools and Mt. Spokane High School. James lives in Spokane, WA where he enjoys hanging with family and friends.
Melissa Rossell, Administrative Assistant
Melissa Rossell joined AWSP in 2017 as an Administrative Assistant. Before joining us here she worked as a Paralegal for 11 years in the Tacoma area in various different areas of law and then moved into the legal department at Regence Blue Shield as an Other Party Liability Investigator for 8 years. A Washington State native born at the old Madigan Army Hospital, she graduated from Franklin Pierce High School in Parkland. As an FP Cardinal, she was active in student leadership organizing assemblies, participating in track & field, the debate club and choir. During her senior year, she was selected as the African American leadership representative. Also during high school, Melissa went on a mission trip to Mexico to work at an orphanage doing repairs to the facilities and teaching the children. Melissa has two beautiful daughters, a Morkie named Lynyrd and her daughter’s cat Lucy. Melissa decided in 2016 to leave the city life, trading in her high heels for Romeos and hiking shoes. Melissa and her youngest daughter currently live in Packwood and are loving all their new adventures up here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest mountains.